Karigasniemi

Karigasniemi (Northern Sámi: Gáregasnjárga) is a village in Finnish Lapland, in the municipality of Utsjoki. It’s located on the eastern (right) bank of the Inarinjoki (Anárjohka) river, which also is the border to Norway. Somewhat downstream Inarijoki meets Karasjoki (Kárášjohka) to form Tenojoki (Deatnu, Tana).

Karigasniemi at regional road 970.

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There are Sámi, Finnish and Norwegians in the village. In old times nobody bothered about the borders and families lived on both sides of Teno – as they still do. The three languages are all heard and used side by side (and can be studied in primary school). Many live in one country and work in the other, also others participate in events and go shopping across the border.

The Sámi are the majority in Karigasniemi. Some have traditionally got their livelihood mainly from fishing in the river – but income has always come from many sources – others from large scale reindeer husbandry. Both traditions are strong in the area, although, of course, modern occupations are common and people live modern lives in many respects. Tourism is important.

Tenojoki is the most productive of the salmon rivers in northern Europe, giving 15–20 percent of all salmon caught in European rivers. There are 9,000 fishing tourists annually at the river, catching a yearly average of 40 tonnes of salmon.

The village got connected by road in the 1940s. There is an old postal route through Muotkatunturit Wilderness Area to the south-east.

Karigasniemi is at national road 92 (here called Karigasniementie east, Norjantie west from the centre). It becomes national road 92 of Norway on the other side of the river. The scenic regional road 970 (Ylätenontie) follows Inarinjoki and Tenonjoki 100 km downstream to Utsjoki. Local road 9704 (Inarijoentie) goes upstream (south) to the village Angeli.

There are daily coaches along road 92 from Rovaniemi via Ivalo and Inari, some continuing to Karasjok, Alta and Nordkapp. For Utsjoki there is a transfer at Kaamanen (for coaches along E75).

Crossing the border is undramatic because of Nordic cooperation and the Schengen agreement. Norway is not part of EU, though, and different legislation apply, so goods may need to be declared, pets need to have their papers in order and fishermen and boaters need a certificate about disinfection. There is a common customs office at the Finnish side.

The village itself is small enough to be seen by foot. Bike or car is nearly necessary for getting anywhere else (unless the coach happens to pass suitably). In wintertime there are snowmobile tracks (check fees and regulations when renting a snowmobile: driving outside official routes, possibly also along some marked tracks, requires landowner permission). If driving on the river, mind ice safety.

Most services are very close together near the road crossing. The old village is 3 km along the road upstream.

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