Haparanda, Swedish Lapland
Haparanda is located by the Torne River and Bothnian Bay, on the border to Finland. On the other side of the river it has a twin city: Tornio. There are two countries, two cultures, and two time zones. Finland’s clock is one hour ahead of Sweden, so you can celebrate New Year’s Eve twice! Many of the people living here speak three or four languages; Swedish, Finnish, Meänkieli and English.
Haparanda has an interesting history that explains the languages. Gustav II Adolf founded the city of Tornio in 1621. At that time Tornio was the northernmost city of the world. After the War of Finland in 1809 Sweden lost Finland to Russia and the new border was drawn to River Tornio. The village of Haparanda became a part of Sweden and Tornio a part of Russia. Later on Finland won the civil war and was declared independent from Russia in 1918.
The Torne river is Sweden’s longest river, it rises near the Norwegian border and flows for 570 km to the Bothnian bay. It has always been important beyond borders and fishing. Timber and furs from across northern Scandinavia and Russia arrived by water for shipping on to the rest of the world via the Baltic. From Haparanda 15 km up north along the Torne river you find an area called Kukkolaforsen (Kukkola rapids) and a small fisher village called Kukkola. It also has a twin city on the Finnish side, with the same name. These villages are special because they have a unique way of fishing that is derived from the Middle Ages. As the rapid river is shallow, the fishermen built causeways a bit over the river that trapped the bigger fish and let the smaller pass. Then they picked them up by net.
Haparanda Skärgård National park
Haparanda also has a wonderful Archipelago that is partly a National park, Haparanda Skärgård National park. The islands have a variety of nature and fauna. There are beaches and forests with berries and mushrooms. Cosy cottages and a rich wildlife with mooses, foxes and rabbits.