|Author (Corporate)||European Economic and Social Committee|
|Content Type||Overview, Report|
The Sámi are the only indigenous people of the European Union. The total Sámi population is estimated to be some 80 000 with over 50 000 living in Norway, some 20 000 in Sweden, and some 9 000 in Finland. There is also a small Sámi population living in Russia. The figures are an estimate due to varying definitions of Sámi in different countries.
Today, many Sámi live outside the Sámi homeland (Sápmi) of the northernmost part of Fennoscandia (Scandinavia and Finland). This has brought new challenges for the provision of education, services and communications in the Sámi language. Sámi livelihoods have traditionally included reindeer herding, fishing, hunting, gathering natural products and making handicrafts. Today, a common way to make a living is to combine traditional trades with tourism and related services. Nature-based occupations may play a relatively small role in terms of turnover but are of deep cultural significance – they are a way of life.
The Sámi languages belong to the indigenous languages, and are closely related to the Baltic- Finnic languages (like Finnish or Estonian). The most widely spoken is North Sámi, with some 20 000 speakers in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Inari Sámi is spoken exclusively in Finland, Skolt Sámi in Finland and Russia, both with only some 300 speakers. Sámi culture and art, like Sámi handicrafts, or duodji, and Sámi music, best known for yoking, or luohti, have a strong connection to the cultural roots of nomadic Sámi. Today’s artists and craftspeople combine their roots with influences from all over the world. The traditional and modern go hand in hand.
|Subject Categories||Politics and International Relations|
|Countries / Regions||Europe|