Sápmi

Sápmi is the Sámi people’s own name for their traditional living territory. The Sámi people are the indigenous people of the northern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula and large parts of the Kola Peninsula. The Sámi people therefore live in the four countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia.

There is no reliable information as to how many Sámi people there are; it is, however, estimated that they number between 50,000 – 100,000 in all.

  • In Sweden, there are around 20,000. This is approximately 0.22% of Sweden’s total population of around 9 million. The north-west part of the Swedish territory is the Sámi people’s traditional territory. These lands are traditionally used by the Sámi for reindeer herding, small farming, hunting, fishing and gathering.
  • In Norway, the are around 50-65,000. This is between 1.06 and 1.38% of the Norwegian total population of approx. 4.7 million.
  • On the Finnish side of Sápmi, there is around 8,000. This is approx. 0.16% of the Finnish total population of around 5 million.
  • On the Russian side of Sápmi, there is around 2,000. This is a very small proportion of the total population of Russia.

Sápmi Parliaments

There is a Sámi Parliament in Sweden, one in Norway and one in Finland. On the Russian side, the Sámis are organised into NGOs. In 2000, the three Sámi parliaments established a joint council of representatives, called the Sámi Parliamentary Council.

The Sámi Parliamentary Council should not be confused with the Sámi Council, which is a central Sámi NGO representing large national Sámi associations (NGOs) in all four countries.

There are also other important Sámi institutions, both regional and local, inter alia, the Sámi University College, which is a research and higher education institution for the Sámi society’s needs, and where the language of work and tuition is mainly the Sámi language. 

UN Declaration

Sweden, Norway and Finland voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in September 2007, while Russia abstained.

Yearly Update

Download the 2016 yearbook article on the indigenous peoples in Sápmi to read more about major developments and events during 2015.