Today (6. February) is Sámi national day. The Sámi (also called Saami, saamenlaiset in Finnish) are the only indigenous population recognized by the EU and primarily inhabit an area called Sápmi, which encompasses northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. While the Sámi population is estimated to be around 75,000, around just 9,000 are thought to live in Finland. There are about 10 Sámi languages, two of which have gone extinct. These languages are in the same Finno-Ugric language family as Finnish.
The Sámi are somewhat self-governing, having their own parliaments whose members are selected by votes from the Sámi population within their respective countries. Finland’s Sámi population was the first to found a parliament, in 1973. The Sámi in Russia have not been recognized as an official indigenous population and therefore are still struggling to organize a parliament.
The livelihood of many Sámi people now often reflects both their traditions and the growth of cultural tourism. Many people recognize duodji, Sámi handicraft that often incorporates materials such as wood, bone, and antlers. Reindeer husbandry also remains a very important part of their culture and enjoys a healthy local economy in northern Finland.