Whilst Lapland’s strong cultural identity is evident in every town and village across the north, it’s a much trickier task to try to pin down the region geographically. The word Lapland means different things to different people. Mention it to a Swede (the Swedish spelling is Lappland) and they’ll immediately think of the northern Swedish province of the same name which begins just south of Dorotea, runs up to the Norwegian and Finnish borders in the north, and stretches east towards (but doesn’t include) the Bothnian coast. For the original inhabitants of the north, the Sámi, the area they call Sápmi (the indigenous name for Lapland) extends from Norway through Sweden and Finland to the Russian Kola peninsula, an area where they’ve traditionally lived a semi-nomadic life, following their reindeer from valley bottom to fell top. Most foreigners have a hazy idea of where Lapland is; for the sake of this guide, we’ve assumed Swedish Lapland (the English spelling) to be located within the borders of the administrative province of Lappland but have included all of Route 342 – The Wilderness Way, or Vildmarksvägen – beginning in Strömsund, which crosses into Lappland, as well as the Torne Valley, which also lies partly within the province.

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