Get to know the culture of the Sami people

Get to know the culture of the Sami people

The Sami history and ancient religion are full of tales and mysteries.

A long time before any national borders existed, the Sami people of Arctic Europe lived in a wide area that stretches over the regions now known as the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Russian Kola Peninsula. This area is internationally best known as Lapland, but the Sami people of Norway call their area Sapmi.

Largest Population

Norway is the country with the largest population of Sami people, around 40,000. In the village of Karasjok in Northern Norway, the Sami people have their own parliament, working to represent the Sami population, and to protect and promote their unique culture. The Sami flag has a circle as symbol for the sun (red) and the moon (blue). These colours may also be found in the characteristic detailed embroidery on the traditional Sami clothing.

Most of all the Sami people are known for their free semi-nomadic mountain lives, constantly moving reindeer flocks between the summer grazing land by the coast and the Lapland tundra in the winter. There are about 100,000 reindeer in the Norwegian part of Lapland. The very tasty reindeer meat is considered to be healthy.


The clothing and traditional handicraft of the Sami people (known as duodji) shows that their society has always been very aesthetically oriented. Regular artefacts have been decorated and richly ornamented. Duodji training used to be a natural part of the upbringing and from ancient times was known as a Sami specialty.

In the old days, the Sami shamans (known as noaiddit) had a lot of respect in the area, also from other Norwegians. There are countless stories of shaman achievements, both in terms of clairvoyance and their abilities to use witchcraft.