Slow Down in Karigasniemi
Karigasniemi is located on the border of Finland and Norway. In the village and its surrounding areas are living some 500 inhabitants. The closest neighbour, Karasjoki, on the Norwegian side of the boarder is only 18 km away. It is also a short journey to the Arctic Ocean. There is good access from Karigasniemi to the Porsang fjord or all the way to the North Cape. The route 970 takes you from Karigasniemi to Utsjoki following the 100 km journey alongside the River Teno continuing from there to Nuorgam. This “Route Teno” has been given the title of the most beautiful route in Finland as it travels alongside the river through breathtakingly beautiful fells and valleys – you cannot find anything like it elsewhere in Finland. In the village you can hear people speaking Finnish, Norwegian and the Saami language all around you. Despite their differences, the people of Karigasniemi live in perfect harmony with their three languages and cultures.
Saami children living in Karigasniemi are entitled to use the Saami language at school, but their curriculum also includes Finnish lessons. On the other hand, Finnish-speaking children have the opportunity to take courses in the Saami language, in addition to their compulsory Finnish studies. Elective courses in Norwegian are also offered in Karigasniemi, so children may start to study Norwegian as early as in comprehensive school.
However, the intensive language immersion course of children living in Karigasniemi often begins in the cradle. Families living on opposite sides of the border have been interacting with each other for centuries. Love across the border has resulted in many marriages and there are numerous bilingual families on both sides of the border. Some people living in Karigasniemi cross the border every day to go to their day jobs on the Norwegian side and many also use the Norwegian language at work. People also cross the border for various recreational activities and events.