The Cultural Hub of Lapland - Visit Sea Lapland

The Cultural Hub of Lapland

Sea Lapland is the historical and modern trade hub of Lapland, as the area is located along major transport routes and is a gateway to Lapland. Tornio is the oldest city in the region, celebrating its 400th anniversary in 2021. The jubilee year highlights the city’s great history.

The long history of Sea Lapland guarantees a diverse culture that is visible in people’s lives as well as in the architecture

Sea Lapland, with a richly varied past and a highly colorful cultural history, is the most prosperous region in all of Lapland. Due to its location by the sea with its outflowing rivers, trading and travel became very prominent in the region since the early 1500s, eventually enabling the region to develop into a center of boundless creativity.

Two cities and three communes form the Sea Lapland area: the twin-city TornioHaparanda and the city of Kemi, and the communes of Keminmaa, Simo and Tervola. The three salmon-rivers, the Simojoki, Kemijoki and Tornionjoki, all flowing down to the Gulf of Bothnia, are situated in the region. The various areas in Sea Lapland carry different characteristics, but the heart in each is similar.

In the course of history, Sea Lapland has belonged to Sweden or Russia and has also been divided in two. There has been different designations of the area during history, referring to location far away or east or west depending on the host country. For a long time, the area was also called the Kemi-Tornio area. After the turn of the new millennium, it was decided to call the area Meri-Lappi in Finnish and Sea Lapland in English and Swedish.



Town of Kemi was established in 1869. Kemi, housing the only deepwater harbor Ajos in Lapland, is highly competent in addressing the needs of the business sector in the region. The paper mills Stora Enso, Metsä-Group are located in Kemi.

The Icebreaker Sampo and the SnowCastle, the world-renowned destinations for travelers, are based in Kemi. Kemi offers the cultural services of a big city: the City Theatre, the City Orchestra, the Regional Art Museum, Children’s Culture Centre, the Indoor Swimming Hall and the Ice-Stadium, Golf Course as well as the internationally rewarded Yachting Centre, are right in the city area. (Source: Kemi)


The commune of Keminmaa is situated in the nooks of the Gulf of Bothnia on both sides of the River Kemijoki. The longest river in all of Finland, the River Kemijoki, flows from here through Lapland all the way to the eastern border to Russia. Keminmaa is an old established salmon parish with roots that go back to the early part of the millennium when Keminmaa functioned as the center of the so-called Lapland of Kemi. The city of Kemi was founded by the Russian emperor in 1869, when a small part of the municipality was demarcated as a city. The rest of the area became the rural area of ​​Kemi, which was renamed Keminmaa in 1979. Foundations of two churches, found on the mouth of the River Kemijoki, show that there has been a permanent settlement as early as in the 1400s in these areas. St Michael’s Church, built in the 1500s, is still used for sermons and is open for tourists during the summer season.


Tervola is a Southern Lappish commune situated on both sides of the River Kemijoki up north towards Rovaniemi from the city of Kemi. Little by little along this commune nature will let you feel you are approaching the Lapland of the North. The history and traditions apparent in this commune, and the friendly people of the area will make your visit enjoyable while you marvel the unique nature of the shores and fields of the River Kemijoki. Tervola is known as a farming commune with old buildings dating back to the early century, and vast forest areas, as well as Northern hills, open up the further up in the commune you travel.

In Tervola you will find great opportunities for fishing from spinning and trolling to fly fishing. During the winter you may try your luck in ice-fishing while enjoying the fresh cool air under the ever increasing sunlight, particularly in the springtime. Summer offers you opportunities for berry-picking or hiking leisurely in nature and you may even venture for canoeing or boating and rafting on the rapids of the many side-rivers of the River Kemijoki.


Tornio has been a central trading and meeting place of the North Calotte since the 17th century. It received its town charter in 1621.

The archipelago’s fantastic sandy beaches, unspoiled nature, and unique wildlife can be experienced by everyone all year round. The Tornionjoki-river is the longest free-flowing river in Northern Europe. The river creates a feeling of solidarity and community. The famous Kukkolankoski rapids (16 km north of the town center are an unforgettable experience for the visitors. (Source: Tornio)

The city forms a cross-border twin city together with Haparanda on the Swedish side. Tornio and Haparanda are currently set to merge under the names TornioHaparanda and HaparandaTornio. A new city center is under construction on the international border and several municipal services are shared. The towns also share a joint golf course, situated at the border. The IKEA store in Haparanda has to signpost in Finnish as well as in Swedish, and all prices are signposted in two currencies. (Source: Wikipedia)


Simo is the Southernmost commune in Sea Lapland with about 3000 inhabitants. Simojoki river flows through the villages of Simo and falls into the sea. Simo wants to profile itself by the commune of renewable energy and Simo has the most wind mills in Finland. There is now a windmill park with 37 windmills on the Seashore. The windmills produce 450 GWh energy (in 2017), that is already more than twice the energy needed in Simo, Kemi, and Keminmaa. Tourists can enjoy experiences based on the waters and nature in this peaceful commune.