The city of Rovaniemi has a land area of 7,581,51 square kilometres where a total of 62,922 people including 1,559 foreigners live in the seven districts, 15 suburbs and 49 outlying villages. Most of the people live in the city centre and the adjoining areas while some do live in the nearby rural areas, said statistics and city officials.
“About 12% of the inhabitants live in countryside or villages and 88% live within 10 kilometres from the city centre,” City of Rovaniemi International Relations Director Tuula Rintala-Gardin told. Of the Rovaniemi residents 60,524 people speak native Finnish language while 128 speak Swedish, 180 Sami and 2102 different foreign languages.
Recorded history goes back to the Stone Age
From pre-historic times one settlement after another set up camp in Rovaniemi. In recorded history this chain of settlement goes back to the Stone Age. At around 750-530 B.C, Rovaniemi saw the advent of agriculture in the form of periodic clearance of new land for agriculture and slash-and-burn cultivation. Meanwhile, the artefacts found in the area suggest that an increasing number of travellers from Karelia in the east, Häme in the south and the Arctic Ocean coast in the north arrived here at around 500 A.D. onwards.
One cannot talk about the people of Rovaniemi until the time when the area was first given its name. The oldest surviving instance of the name in writing dates from 7th September 1453 when the bailiff of Ostrobothnia confirmed a transfer of land between the farms of Korkalo and Rovaniemi, although the name must have been in existence much earlier.
Most experts relate the name Rovaniemi to be of Lappish origin, as ‘roavve’ in Saami denotes a forested ridge or hill or the site of an old forest fire. In the dialects of southern Lapland, however, ‘rova’ means a heap of stones, a rock or group of rocks in a stretch of rapids, or even a sauna stove.
Rovaniemi has changed from a single district into a capital of Lapland
Rovaniemi was initially a district detached from Kemi in 1785 and it then got its own municipal administration in 1867. Rovaniemi Market Town was established in 1929 and the City of Rovaniemi in 1960. Finally, the town of Rovaniemi and the rural municipality of Rovaniemi merged on January 1, 2006 to form the present-day Rovaniemi.
“Rovaniemi and the surrounding rural municipality of Rovaniemi merged into one municipality on 01.01.2006. The reason for this merger was in many ways economic, since the population was in decline,” said Tuula Rintala-Gardin.
She also informed that after the merger, up till now, the population has grown +5%, number of employed +7%, number of companies +37% and GDP/person +37%.
According to the above figures, the merger has proved auspicious.
City of Rovaniemi- Daily Finland Report