The Barents Region

The Barents Region consists of northernmost parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and North-West Russia. Sometimes the area is also referred to as the Euro-Arctic Region. The Russian regions are currently not active in the Barents Regional Council, and the collaboration continues mutually between remaining counties.

Fisher Susanne Olsen Utse in the Barents Sea.

The region is characterized by its remoteness, harsh climate, and varied nature. The midnight sun lights up the northern parts of the region twenty-four seven from May to July and in the wintertime, the northern lights can be seen on the pitch-black sky. Furthermore, no other part of Europe contains as much forest, fish, minerals, oil, and gas. All these components of the region combined create the backbone of economic and business development in the region.

The Barents region is home to several indigenous peoples. There are around 85 000 Sami inhabitants living in Sápmi, the traditional area of the Sami people. Sami culture plays an integral role in the region's identity.

The Barents Region in Norway, Sweden and Finland includes the following counties or their equivalents:

  • in Finland: Lapland, Oulu Region, Kainuu and North Karelia
  • in Norway: Nordland, Troms and Finnmark
  • in Sweden: Norrbotten and Västerbotten


Lapland is the northernmost region of Finland. Its area is over 100,000 km² and comparable to the size of Portugal. The region has around 180,000 inhabitants. Rovaniemi, the largest city of the region is also EU's northernmost urban center, and acts as a hub for Lapland's economy and tourism. While traditional industries like forestry and mining are important, Lapland's economy is powered by its thriving tourism sector.

Arctic Spirit Conference in Rovaniemi. Foto: Jonas Karlsbakk/Barentssekretariatet

Oulu region

The Oulu region is located in the middle of Finland, reaching all the way from Bothnian Bay to the eastern boarder of Finland. The area of over 45,000 km² makes the region second largest in Finland after Lapland. The region is home to over 400,000 inhabitants, most of which live in the city of Oulu. The vibrant city of Oulu has a diverse university, the second busiest airport of Finland, and exceptionally nice bicycle paths.

Bicycling in Oulu.


The region of Kainuu is located in the East of Finland and has the area of 22,000 km2. The region has in total over 22,000 habitants, and the biggest city of the region is Kajaani. The Kajaani region is known for its vast forests, culture, and relaxed way of living. Vuokatti, which is a large center for Nordic skiing and other winter sports, is located in Kainuu.

Sunset near the town of Paltamo in Kainuu.

North Karelia

North Karelia in the Eastern Finland below Kainuu has the area of approximately 20,000 km2 and is home to around 165,000 residents. Joensuu, its largest city and administrative center, offers both urban atmosphere and outdoor activities. National Park of Koli is located in North Karelia. The breathtaking nature of Koli is regarded as the National landscape of Finland and has inspired Finnish artist and writers for centuries, including the Finnish painter Eero Järnefelt and author Aleksis Kivi.

Koli National Park.


Norbotten, Sweden's most northern region, spans over 98,000 km2 and is home to around 250,000 residents. Its largest city, Luleå, has a unique archipelago with over a thousand islands, and many rivers. The city is also known for its University of Technology. City of Kiruna in Norbotten is a fascinating city with historic mining community and outdoor opportunities. Kiruna is surrounded by deep forests, large marsh lands, lakes, rivers, and mountains – including Kebnekaise which is Sweden’s highest mountain.

Kebnekaise mountain. Photo: Joakim Poromaa Helger


With a population of approximately 270,000 inhabitants spread across an area of over 55,000 km2, Västerbotten is Sweden's sixth-largest county. Umeå, the region's largest city and a location of one of Sweden's largest universities, Umeå University. The region is characterized by Vindelälven river, sustainable tourism options and delicious cheese which has been named after the region – Västerbottensost.

Umeå University campus. Photo: Jacob Christensen


Finnmark region has approximately 75,000 residents spread across an area of over 48,000 square kilometers. Finnmark is Norway's largest county by land area. The city of Alta serves as its largest urban center, famous for its ancient rock carvings. Most eastern city of Finnmark is Kirkenes, which is the center for Barents cooperation. Also International Barents Secretariat is located in Kirkenes. Visitors are drawn to Finnmark by its spectacular fjords and vast wilderness.

Barents pride in Kirkenes in 2022. Photo: Ole-Tommy Pedersen/Barentssekretariatet


With approximately 165,000 inhabitants in the region of Troms and an area of over 25,000 square kilometers, Troms is known to have a long history of activity and exploration in the Arctic. The region has Northern Norway’s largest city Tromsø, which is a dynamic urban city with the main campus of UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Tromsø is multicultural with its growing international population, host of many arctic organizations and has picturesque views over the mountains and fjords. The region of Troms is rich in natural resources and economically stable.

Summer night in Tromsø. Photo Credit: Mark Ledingham, Tromsø kommune


Nordland, situated below Troms in central Norway, is a region of natural beauty and cultural richness. Roughly 250,000 inhabitants live in the area of over 38,000 square kilometers. Bodø, its largest city and administrative center, known for its football team. Bodø is also the first city above the Arctic Circle to gain the title European Capital of Culture, which it is for year 2024. The economy of Nordland thrives on a variety of industries, including fishing, aquaculture, tourism, and energy production.

Hamnøya fishing village in Nordland.

To read more, visit the Barentsinfo portal