Lapland (Lappish, Sameanda and Somella-da), the land inhabited by the Lapps, the northernmost portion of the Scandinavian peninsula and the European continent, comprised in Norway, Sweden, and Russia. It constitutes portions of the Norwegian provinces of Tromso and Drontheim, of the Swedish lans of Norrbotten and Westerbotten, and of the Russian governments of Uleaborg in Finland and Archangel. On the north is the Arctic ocean, east the White sea, and south the gulf of Bothnia. The coasts are indented with numerous bays, and faced with small islands. Near the gulf of Bothnia the surface of the country is a plain covered chiefly with forests of spruce and fir. The ground then rises gradually, terminating in lofty peaks of rock, exceeding in certain places 6,000 ft. in height. The descent from these ridges to the Arctic ocean is more abrupt than that toward the south. The limit of perpetual frost is 3,500 ft., so that there are many summits half a mile above the snow line. The rest of the surface is generally rocky, and, except in a few favored spots like the valley of the Alten, displays little vegetation besides sturdy forests and a few stunted bushes and perennial moss.
There are many lakes, among them the Enare and Imandra, connected with the sea by streams, which are inconsiderable in autumn and winter, but become large rivers in the spring. The most important watercourses are the Tornea, Kemi, Kalix, Lulea, Pitea, Umea, Tana, and Alten. The climate is much milder on the seacoast than in the interior, and owing to the Gulf stream many of the northern fiords never freeze. The mean annual temperature at Cape North is about 30° F. In winter the sun is for many weeks below the horizon, and in midsummer there are weeks of continuous day. - Of the 160,000 inhabitants of Lapland, only about 15,000 or 20,000 are Lapps (in their own language, Sabme or Sam), who form a subdivision of the Finnic race. (See Finns.) They were originally inhabitants of Finland, but were gradually pushed by the Finns further north and west to their present territory. According as they are fishermen or reindeer herdsmen, they are distinguished as "sea Lapps" and "mountain Lapps," and either occupy settled habitations or lead a nomadic life.
They are extremely small in stature, and their hair is black and straight presenting a great contrast to the tall and blond Norwegians and Swedes. Their skin is yellow, the forehead broad, the head poised on a short and round neck, the nose well formed, the cheek bones protruding, the chin pointed, the cheeks hollow, and the lips straight and thin. They are agile, but quickly exhausted by labor, rather from bodily weakness than laziness. They dress in furs, with trousers and shoes of reindeer skin. They protect the head by means of a sort of cowl, but the Russian Lapps generally wear fur caps with ear covers. The dwellings of the mountain Lapps are small tents, consisting of a skeleton of bent sticks, covered with a coarse cloth. In the middle is a hole which serves as a Hue for the fireplace underneath. The sea Lapps have better habitations, generally consisting of wooden huts with several apartments. They live exclusively on animal food; bread, which they obtain of Russian tradesmen, is considered a delicacy. The women are very skilful in making garments, and the men cut out of wood with astonishing ingenuity, considering the imperfect tools they employ, all the utensils they need. Many still hunt with bow and arrow, but some of them have gained possession of guns.
Polygamy, though not prohibited by custom, is very rare on account of the high price which has to be paid for women. The daughter of a rich man costs sometimes as much as 100 reindeer, while a poor girl is seldom sold for less than 20. The price is considered as a repayment of the expenses incurred in bringing up a daughter, and also as a remuneration to the father for losing her services. The Lapps have been converted to Christianity, and belong to the Lutheran church in Norway and Sweden, and to the Greek church in Russia. When heathens, they worshipped five orders of divinities: supercelestial, celestial, atmospheric, manes, and demons. Radien Ath-zie, the highest god, created everything; he was assisted by Ruona Neid, the fruitful virgin; and his son Radien Kiedde kept the world in order. A great god was Storyunkare, the lord of beasts, of the chase, and of fishing. Tiermes brought sometimes weal, and sometimes woe; he carried the hammer; his bow was the rainbow, and in his wrath he slew men and beasts with lightning. His symbol was a rude block of wood, which no female durst approach.
The magicians of the Lapps prophesied by means of a drum, on which they painted the images of the gods and of things about which inquiry was made; having slept with this under his head, the magician on awaking told what he had seen in his dreams. - The Lappish language is related to Finnish, but has of late incorporated many Swedish words. There are several dialects of it. Nouns possess no grammatical gender, but the singular and plural are distinguished, and in several cases also the dual number. There are 11 cases, and the degrees of comparison for adjectives. The first ten numerals are akta, livekte, kolm, nelye, vita, kota, kyetya, kaktse, aktse, and lokke. Ordinal numbers are formed by adding at. The verbs have causative, diminutive, intensive, inchoative, and several other forms, as well as special forms for negation. Postpositions take the place of prepositions. - See Henrik Helms, Lappland und die Lapplander (Leipsic, 1868); Pettersen, Lappland (Stockholm, 1871); and Hermann and Karl Aubel, Ein Polarsommer: Reise nach Lappland (Leipsic, 1874).