East-West border crossing trade and relations in this area go back all the way to the Stone Age. Archaeological findings indicate periods of most intensive exchange. Any map tells how the Sami have influenced the names of lakes, mountains and places in all four states in the Region. One finds words such as “jokk”, “jaur” and “tunturi” on all sides of the borders. Key events in recorded history are:
- 890 - Norwegian Viking chieftain Ottar reports to the English king Alfred the Great that most of the area was sparsely populated by hunters and fishers that he called “Ter-Lapps”.
- 1000-1200 - The first Russian state, Novgorod, gradually takes over the territories along the coast of the White Sea.
- 1300-1500 - Military expeditions are sent from Karelia to Norway and vice-versa in attempts to dominate the region.
- 1553 - The English explorer Richard Chancellor arrives at the river Dvina and establishes trade Moscow-Britain via this northern river.
- 1570-1595 - Swedish raids against northern Karelia and the Kola Peninsula.
- 1584 - Archangel, i.e. Arkhangelsk, is founded at the estuary of the Dvina river, greatly due to foreign trade, and soon dominates the Russian part of the region.
- 1596-1597 - The final voyage of the Dutch explorer Willem Barents, who never reached the Far East but who made important discoveries in the Arctic. Much later, in 1878 the Finnish-Swedish explorer Adolf Nordenskiöld manages to sail through the North-East Passage.
- 1740-1918 - Intensive and mutually advantageous trade between Arctic Norway and Northwest Russia (the Pomor trade) that even led to a common “language”: Russenorsk.
- 1944 - German troops that tried three years to reach the ice-free port of Murmansk were driven out of Finnish Petsamo and Norwegian Kirkenes by the Soviet Army.
- 1987 - The General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev encourages a new form of co-operation between the East and West in the North.
- 1993 - The Kirkenes Declaration is signed, establishing the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.