The History of Lappland, Norrbotten and Västerbotten
Left Photo: Copyright © Luleå Kommun Infoavdelning;
Right Photo: Peter Engström Copyright © Arvidsjaur Turist
For many thousands of years people have lived and built communities in the region that makes up present day Lappland, Norrbotten and Västerbotten. ReSearch (in Swedish)ers who have interested themselves in the history of the northern provinces have found archaeological remains of earlier peoples which has led to a reassessment of the provinces history.
Six thousands years ago lived hunters and gatherers along the Little and Big Luleå Rivers and around Vuollerim. These people lived in a completely different climate than the present. Archaeologists have made interesting findings. Among other things, they have found flint from Russia which have lead them to think that maybe these people have wandered to the area from the east. Not only were the rivervalleys inhabited. Findings along the coast show that many of the islands were inhabited by earlier fishermen.
Many archaeological finds, dated back to the time of Christ, are from many of the larger rivers. From excavations of burialgrounds and other holy places, archaeologists have determined these to have been made by earlier ancestor to today's Laplanders.
The Laplanders are Scandinavia's aboriginal people. They were nomads who wandered freely over all of Scandinavia with their reindeer herds. They brought their own culture, traditions and language.
There are approximately 10 000 Laplanders still living in Sweden. Their nomadic life has changed considerable. Some Laplanders are still reindeer herders but many have other occupations.
The excellent arts and crafts produced by the Laplanders are often displayed in exhibitions during the summer seasons.
The Pite and Lule River Valleys are first mentioned in text dating from Middle Ages. The central power around the Lake Mälaren were interested in extending their control to the north. The Middle Ages are also the period when national boundaries became important. The Nöteborg Peace Treaty in 1323 marks the start of the struggle for control over Northern Scandinavia. All three of major powers in Northern Europe, Sweden/Finland, Norway/Denmark and Russia, laid claims to the region.
Formally the territory, known as Norrbotten and Lappland, was created in 1810. Sweden lost Finland to Russia and new national boundaries were drawn up. Two provinces was divided to make three. They became Norrbotten, Lappland and Västerbotten.
Norrbotten and Lappland's modern development started when the demand for dried fish from the middle of Sweden increased. At about the same time the demand for furs also increased. The fish and furs were traded for implements, hemp, flour and silver in large markets in Torneå, Jokkmokk and Enontekis.
One way of getting more people from the south to the north of Sweden was the Lappmarks Proclamation of 1673 which reduced taxes for anyone willing to move to what was then called "Lappmark". During this period the trade increased. Wood and timber, tar and charcoal were above all the main merchandise. The timber industry has continued to be an important part of the industrial production in the provinces.
Today's Lappland, Norrbotten and Västerbotten are still dependent on it's natural resources.
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