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Kautokeino kommune
Guovdageainnu suohkan
—  Municipality  —

Coat of arms

Finnmark within
Kautokeino within Finnmark
Coordinates (city): 69°14′16″N 23°29′22″E / 69.23778°N 23.48944°E / 69.23778; 23.48944Coordinates: 69°14′16″N 23°29′22″E / 69.23778°N 23.48944°E / 69.23778; 23.48944
Country Norway
County Finnmark
Municipality ID NO-2011
Administrative centre Kautokeino
 - Mayor (2004) Klemet Erland Hætta (SáB)
Area (Nr. 1 in Norway)
 - Total 9,708 km2 (3,748.3 sq mi)
 - Land 8,964 km2 (3,461 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 - Total 2,947
 Density 0.3/km2 (0.8/sq mi)
 - Change (10 years) -6.1 %
 - Rank in Norway 273
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Official language form Bokmål and Sami
Data from Statistics Norway

About this sound Kautokeino (Norwegian) or Guovdageaidnu (Northern Sami), (also Koutokeino in Kven) is a municipality in Finnmark county, Norway. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino. The municipality was part of the old Kistrand municipality until 1851.

Guovdageaidnu/ Kautokeino is one of two the cultural centers of Northern Sápmi today (other being Kárášjohka - Karasjok). The most significant industries are reindeer herding, theatre/movie industry, and the public education system.

In the village of Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino, about 2000 of the 3000 people in the municipality reside. The village of Máze has 400 people, while the remaining live in 14 smaller villages. Recently the population has increased about 80 people each year. Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino has different demographics than the county of Finnmark and Norway, in that more than 50% of the population is younger than 30 years. Also, the number of people older than 66 years is half of the national average. [1] For the last couple of years, Kautokeino has been plagued by high rates of unemployment, peaking at 10% in 2006/2007.[2]


General information



The first element in Guovdageaidnu is guovda which means "middle" or "half" and the last element is geaidnu which means "road". Combined it means "half way", since the location is half way between two traditional migrating points. It is also the geographic centre of Northern Sápmi. Kautokeino is a Finnicized form of the Sámi name Guovdageaidnu, and also used by Norwegians.

The name of the municipality was Kautokeino until 1987 when it was changed to Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino. [3] It was the first municipality in Norway to get a Sami name. In 2005, the name was again changed, such that the either Guovdageaidnu or Kautokeino can be used [4]


The coat-of-arms is from modern times. They were granted on 4 September 1987. The arms show a gold-colored lavvu on a blue background. The lavvo is still in use by reindeer herders who follow their herds around according to season and availability of food for the animals, and so it was chosen as the symbol for the municipality.[5]


Pikefossen waterfall in the Alta-Kautokeino river, Kautokeino municipality.

Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino is the southernmost municipality of Finnmark and shares border with Alta, Norway to the north, Kárášjohka - Karasjok to the east, Nordreisa and Kvænangen in Troms county to the west, and Enontekiö (Finland) to the south.

At 9,704 square kilometres (3,747 sq mi), it is the largest municipality in Norway. A total of approximately 10,000 lakes cover 640 square kilometres (247 sq mi). A significant part of Finnmarksvidda (Finnmark plateau) is located in Kautokeino municipality. The gender ratio amounts to 86 women for every 100 men. More than 50% of the population is less than 30 years old.

The Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino River runs from a lake at the Finnish border, north through the villages of Guovdageaidnu (Kautokeino) and Máze before it leaves into Alta municipality and changes name to Altaelva. The river is collectively known as the Kautokeino/Alta-vassdraget and was the site of a major political controversy in the late 1970s and early 80s.


Kautokeino is the largest (area) municipality in Norway

Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino is located in the Arctic highlands of Northern Norway. During five weeks of summer, the sun doesn't set, and during six weeks of winter, the sun doesn't rise.

Average precipitation is 360 millimetres (14.2 in) per year, which is one of the lowest average amounts of precipitation in the country. It is also claimed that this is comparable to parts of the Sahara desert, with the major difference being that with the lower temperatures and greater vegetation, Kautokeino doesn't dry up as fast.

During summer, temperatures typically range between 12 °C (54 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F). While this is nice for humans, the temperature, combined with 10,000 lakes, makes it a haven for mosquitos. Consequently, both humans and reindeer tend to flee to the coast for the summer. Sihcjavri in Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino municipality has recorded the warmest temperature ever in Northern Norway: 34.3 °C (93.7 °F) on 23 June 1920.

While winter usually lasts from mid-October until mid-May, the hard winter is only for December-February. During hard winter, temperatures can drop as far as −45 °C (−49 °F) and beyond. The yearly average temperature over the last 30 years is -2.7 °C.

The dry climate, however, makes the cold temperatures more bearable; −12 °C (10 °F) in Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino feels the same way as 0 °C (32 °F) feels on the coast. The dryness combined with cold also makes Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino a prime spot to watch the Aurora Borealis.


Lying south in the county, and bordering with Finland, Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino has a very interesting birdlife. There are virtually thousands of lakes in the municipality, and these combined with the Alta waterway system provide habitats for a whole host of wetland species. Whooper Swan can sometimes be found while Spotted Redshank are not uncommon.


In addition to the administrative centre of Guovdageaidnu (Kautokeino), the municipality has 15 smaller villages:

  • Máze (Masi) is the largest of the villages. Máze is located in a river valley. There is a school and a church located in Máze. The current church has 150 seats was built of wood in 1965. The first chapel was built in the 17th century. The second by Thomas von Westen in 1721. This church was burnt during World War II in 1944. It was the site of a major political controversy in the late 1970s and early 80s, when it was proposed to flood village to build a large hydroelectric dam.
  • Láhpoluoppal is a village located northeast of Guovdageaidnu at the Láhppojávri lake. The village has a school, chapel and mountain hut (Norwegian: fjellstue). The chapel has 70 seats and was built in 1967.
  • Šihččajávri is located south-east of Guovdageaidnu (Kautokeino). The Norwegian Meteorological Institute has a weather observation station in the village, and often the place has the lowest temperature in Norway.
  • Ávži is a village 10 kilometres (6 mi) east of Guovdageaidnu. During the Sami revolt in Guovdageaidnu, the group of Samis that captured the rebellions was organized here.
  • Siebe is a village south of Guovdageaidnu.
  • Mieron is a village north of Guovdageaidnu. Many of the Samis who traveled to Canada to teach the Inuit about reindeer herding were from Mieron.
  • Stornes is a village north of Guovdageaidnu. Close to Stornes is a slate field with distinct green quartzite marketed as Naranas.
    Naranas quartzite.
  • Šjuoššjávri is a village northeast of Guovdageaidnu near the border with Karasjok with a chapel and a mountain hut. The chapel was built in 1968 and has 75 seats.
  • Čunovuohppi is a small village with few houses and is 11 kilometres (7 mi) west of Guovdageaidnu. The village has a mountain hut (staffed by Madame Bongo).
  • Suolovuopmi is north of Guovdageaidnu near the border with Alta. It is the location of a mountain hut, and is used for metrological observations.
  • Gálaniitu is southwest of Guovdageaidnu and has a mountain hut.
  • Áidejávri is south of Guovdageaidnu close to the Finnish border.
  • Ákšomuotki (Økseidet) is south of Guovdageaidnu.
  • Soahtefielbma is about 10 kilometres (6 mi) west of Guovdageaidnu.

Institutions and media

Several Sámi institutions are located in Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino, including:

  • Beaivváš Sámi Theatre. The National Sámi Theatre. As a national stage company, they play a major role in making Sámi history and culture visible.
  • Sámi Joatkkaskuvla ja Boazodoalloskuvla is the Sámi High School and Reindeer Herding School. The high school has emphasis on Sámi, rather than Norwegian culture. Most teachers speak Sámi as their mother tongue allowing for classes to be taught in Sámi. In addition to ordinary courses, students can also study duodji (traditional Sámi crafts) and reindeer herding. In fact, it is the only high school in the world that features a reindeer herding class.
  • Sámi allaskuvla - the Sámi University College. The College has national responsibility for Sámi higher education, including teacher-, and journalist-training. The college attempts to develop the syllabuses on the basis of Sámi needs, and attempts to develop Sámi as an academic language.
  • Nordic Sámi Institute. The Nordic Sámi Institute is a Sámi research institution. Research topics include the Sámi language, culture, reindeer husbandry and legal research. The institute published the DIEĐUT magazine.
  • Sámi giellaossodat; The department of language at the Norwegian Sami Parliament. This department is the administration for the Sámi language board, it allocates the extra funding given to the municipalities that have Sámi as an official language (like Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino), and it administrates various projects related to Sámi languages.
  • The department of education at the Norwegian Sami Parliament.

The Sámi are also internationally active with regards to indigenous people issues and reindeer husbandry. Therefore, the following institutions are also located in Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino:

  • Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The center attempts to collect, organize, and disseminate the knowledge and understanding of indigenous peoples’ and Sami peoples’ rights.
  • International Centre For Reindeer Husbandry.

Guovdageaidnu/ Kautokeino is home to the following Sami media companies:

  • Áššu a Sami language newspaper.
  • DAT Sami publishing house and record company.

Cultural events

Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino is perhaps the cultural center of Northern Sápmi today, and hosts several of the most well known Sami cultural events. The biggest event is the Sámi Easter Festival. Easter has traditionally been the time when the Sámis gather to celebrate weddings and confirmations. Today, also the Sami culture is celebrated with many yoik concerts, Sami theater shows, reindeer races, snowmobile races, ice fishing competitions, parties, and the Sámi Melody Grand Prix; a Sámi version of the Eurovision Song Contest where in addition to the best song, the best yoik is also selected. In addition, the Sami Film Festival is usually held during the Easter, which is notable for having an outdoor cinema made of snow [6].

In June, the annual Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino Walk/Bicycle Ride, has Sámis return to Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino, just to walk a few kilometers, or ride a bicycle for twice the distance.

In August, there is the White Fish festival, as well as the Autumn Festival. The latter is a weekend-long party full of concerts, but also includes Snowmobile races on the (unfrozen) river. If you go too slow or make too sharp a turn, the snowmobile will sink.

Notable residents


External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Proper noun


  1. A municipality in Finnmark, Norway


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