Norrbotten County (Norrbottens län) is a county in the north of Sweden. It borders to Västerbotten County and the Gulf of Bothnia. It also bordersthe counties of Nordland and Troms in Norway, and Lapland Province in Finland.
There were people in this part of the country as far back as the Stone Age, 9 000 years ago. Reindeer husbandry and the Sami culture are a couple of thousand years old.
The mountain area in Norrbotten, which is part of the Scandinavian mountain chain, is a near hundred km wide zone running from north to south. All of Sweden’s mountains above 1800 meters are located in this area. Many of them are in the Sarek area and the Kebnekaise mountains, our two most extensive high mountain regions.
Arjeplog, Arvidsjaur, Boden, Gällivare, Haparanda, Jokkmokk, Kalix, Kiruna, Luleå, Pajala, Piteå, Älvsbyn, Överkalix and Övertorneå
Languages: Sami, Meänkieli, and Finnish may be used in dealing with government agencies, courts, municipalities, preschools and nursing homes in parts of Norrbotten County. Sami language has an official minority language status in Arjeplog, Gällivare, Jokkmokk and Kiruna municipalities. Finnish has the same status in Gällivare, Haparanda, Kiruna, Pajala and Övertorneå municipalities.
Norrbotten has 248 637 inhabitants (2012), which represents three per cent of Sweden’s population.
Norrbotten is rich in natural resources such as forests, iron ore and water power but it also has large untouched areas of natural value. The county has eight national parks, hundreds of nature reserves and some ten rivers.
The forests right below the timberline most often consist of heaths with short birch thickets of
knotty, windblown trees. This belt of birch forest, which is simply called "mountain birch
forest", forms a narrow strip between the barren timberless mountaintops and the coniferous
forests that covers most of the country. That the treeline is made up of birch and not coniferous trees is unusual in the rest of the world, and it is only in Nordic countries and the Kamchatka Peninsula in North-eastern Siberia that this phenomenon occurs.
In the coniferous forests nearest the mountains are the last large primeval forest areas in Sweden, where several of the forest animals and plants on the verge of extinction still live. These forest are Europe’s last continuous primeval forest areas aside from Russia.
The forests, iron ore and water power have made a major contribution to industrial development throughout Sweden. The basic industries of Norrbotten still play a crucial role in the Swedish economy.
Workplaces by sector in Norrbotten, 2007: (number / percentage)
Agriculture, forestry, fishing: 10 547 / 36,4 %
Manufacturing: 3 512 / 12,1 %
Service: 14 879 / 51,4 %
Total: 28 938 / 100 %
Transport Infrastructure in Norrbotten
Kallax, Luleå’s airport, is one of the country’s largest, measured by the number of passengers. There are also airports for passenger traffic in Kiruna, Gällivare, Arvidsjaur and Pajala. Kallax is also the base of the largest wing of the Swedish Air Force.
Luleå University of Technology with its 11 000 students is an important driving force in the development of society and the dissemination of knowledge in the entire county. Within CDT, the Centre for Distance-spanning Technology, researchers and computer companies are working together to implement the results of IT research. The space operations in Kiruna and the car-testing operations inland are other examples of the county’s international hi-tech activities and research.
The culture of Norrbotten County is in many ways different from the rest of Sweden, since so many different cultures can be found there; the Sami culture, the Finnish culture (Tornedalians) and the Swedish settler culture (combined with the climate, midnight sun, and mid winter darkness). Many of the old Swedish and Finnish dialects have survived in the area, and are spoken by a great number of people. The people in Norrbotten County have a saying: "I am not a Swede; I am a Norrbothnian".
The coast has the historical cities of Luleå and Piteå. Luleå’s Gammelstad ("Old town"), which is 10 km north of the present downtown, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.