Immigrants in Lapland
At the end of 2016, the total population of Lapland was 180,207, of whom 3,994 were foreign citizens. This accounts for 2.2% of the entire population in Lapland.
While there are immigrants in all municipalities in Lapland, the majority are living in the sub-regions of Rovaniemi (1,592 people, 2.4% of the population) and Kemi-Tornio (1,531 people, 2.6% of the population), where the immigrant population is also showing the strongest growth. In proportion to their population, significant numbers of foreigners are also living in Northern Lapland and Fell Lapland. The proportion of foreigners is 3.8% of the population in Muonio and 3.6% in Utsjoki.
The unemployment rate among foreigners living in Lapland is about 27%, which is relatively low by national comparison. The unemployment rate among foreigners has gone down in recent years.
Lapland is international
All in all, more than 80 foreign languages are spoken in Lapland, the most common ones being Russian, Arabic, Persian, English and German. The majority of the foreign-language speakers in Lapland are aged between 30 and 34 years, and thus younger than the mainstream population. This helps to correct the distorted age distribution of the region.
Immigrants are brought to Lapland by different reasons: the majority come for family reasons, while some arrive to work or study. The University of Lapland and the Lapland University of Applied Sciences offer degree programmes taught through English. These institutions are also popular as destinations for exchange students. Tourism is a significant industry in Lapland. Tourism also means that internationality is part of daily life in many municipalities. The geographical location of Lapland and cross-border cooperation with three other states (Sweden, Norway and Russia) lend their unique characteristics to the region.
Lapland has extensive experience of reception and integration activities
Some immigrants also arrive in Lapland because they need international protection: the share of refugees is relatively high in Lapland. Rovaniemi, Kemi and Tornio have received quota refugees for many years, and reception centres have also operated in Rovaniemi and Kemi for an extended period. In autumn 2015, about 2,500 asylum seekers arrived in Lapland. At that time, new reception centres were also set up in smaller towns.
Active third-sector stakeholders, including the Finnish Red Cross’ Lapland District, Rovalan Setlementti association, Toivola-Luotolan Setlementti association, Arctic Immigrants association and Misters association, offer activities that promote integration in Lapland. Lapland also has its regional Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations ETNO, which promotes equality in the region.
Local networks of immigration and integration work (MAKO) operate in Rovaniemi and Meri-Lappi. The MAKO networks are open to all those who carry out or are interested in integration work in the area. Web-based and labour market oriented integration training have also been actively developed in Lapland.