In 1996, Laponia was inscribed on the World Heritage List by the UN body UNESCO. That means the area is important for the whole world to care for and protect. Its selection is based on the combination of unique nature and the cultural values present in Laponia. The area bears traces of the Earth’s early history but also of mankind’s. The landscape has been formed in interaction with a living Sámi tradition where reindeer herding has been pursued for a long time.
When UNESCO decided to include Laponia among the World Heritage Sites, it was because it meets certain criteria, which UNESCO calls ”Outstanding Universal Values”. Here some examples of what is behind Laponia’s designation as a world heritage site:
The indigenous peoples number approximately 370 million people in 70 countries. In Sápmi, the Sámi home area in Norway, Sweden and Finland and Russia, there are at least 80,000 Sámi.
Indigenous peoples have their origins in those who lived in the area for a long time before other ethnic groups arrived or before present-day national boundaries were drawn up. Indigenous peoples are nearly always in a minority in a country and have their own language, their own culture and customs. Through their special relationship to land and water, they are in need of other rights than other minorities in order to preserve and develop their lifestyle and culture.