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Rovaniemi is the administrative capital and commercial centre of Finland's northernmost province, Lapland. It is situated close to the Arctic Circle and lies between the hills of Ounasvaara and Korkalovaara, at the confluence of the Kemijoki River and its tributary, the Ounasjoki. It is first mentioned by name in official documents from 1453, existing effectively as a set of small villages whose inhabitants earned their living mainly in agriculture and fishing and hunting. The exploitation of Lapland's natural resources in the 1800s boosted Rovaniemi's growth and logging sites and gold fever attracted thousands of people to Lapland.

Because of the beautiful and unspoiled nature and with its numerous recreational opportunities, tourism is nowadays a vital economic factor. The city has a large number of hotels and restaurants located both in the centre and on the outskirts of the town. Rovaniemi's most prominent landmarks include the Jätkänkynttilä bridge with its eternal flame and the Arktikum House, a museum of Finland’s and the world’s Arctic regions, rises out of the bank of the Ounasjoki river. Lapland is also known as the land of Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights as the number of auroral displays can be more than 200 a year whereas in southern Finland the number is usually fewer than 20.

About 10,000 of the inhabitants are students. Rovaniemi is home to not only the University of Lapland but also the Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences, which comprises institutes of information and traditional technology, business, health and social care, culinary studies, forestry, rural studies and sports.

University of Lapland

The University of Lapland is an international, multidisciplinary institution whose areas of expertise include Arctic affairs and tourism research. Teaching and research at the University centres on northern and Arctic issues, tourism, art and design, law, education and social sciences. The University’s research, educational and artistic activities support the communities, businesses and society at large in northern Finland. A multidisciplinary research facility, the Arctic Centre, conducts internationally recognised, cutting-edge research on the interaction between people and the environment in the Arctic, and presents this work in lay terms for visitors to its Science Centre Exhibition.

Every fourth lawyer in Finland, every third university-educated expert in art and design and nearly ten percent of the social scientists and the educational professionals have graduated from the University of Lapland.