Stretching northwest of Arvidsjaur out towards the Norwegian border, the municipality of Arjeplog, roughly the size of Belgium, supports a population of under three thousand – two-thirds of whom live in the lakeside town, ARJEPLOG, 85km from Arvidsjaur. Set away from the main inland road and rail routes, it’s a tiny, unassuming sort of place, barely one main street leading to what passes as a main square. The surrounding area is one of the most beautiful parts of Sweden, with nearly nine thousand lakes and vast expanses of mountains and virgin forests. The air is clear and crisp, the rivers clean and deep and the winters mighty cold – in 1989 a temperature of -52°C was recorded here. January and February, in particular, are bitter, dark and silent months, but it’s during winter that Arjeplog is at its busiest: hundreds of test drivers from across the world descend on the town to put cars through their paces in the freezing conditions, with brakes and road-holding being given a thorough examination on the frozen lakes; the ABS braking system, for example, was developed here.
In summer, Arjeplog is a likeable, peaceful little place, where hiking, canoeing and fishing are all popular activities, each offering the chance of blissful isolation, be it by the side of a secluded mountain tarn or in a clearing deep in the pine forest. In late July you can go cloudberry picking in the surrounding marshland, and in the autumn you can hunt for lingonberries, blueberries and wild mushrooms.