Scientific work on the Kola peninsula and Petsamo

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Scientific work on the Kola peninsula
by Leif Rantala

Finnish scientific work on the Kola peninsula and Petsamo
During the period when Finland was part of the Russian empire (1809-1917) the Kola Peninsula was a popular place for scientific field work. According to a research made by the University of Lapland, there were not less than 73 scientists, who went to the Kola Peninsula during this period. Many among them met with colonists and described their everyday life. Especially the geologists were eager to study the inner part of the Kola Peninsula.
During the Petsamo epoch many Finnish scientists went to that area. Specially the Skolt Sami were a popular subject to study.

Norwegian scientific work on the Kola peninsula
There were rather few Norwegian scientists on the Kola Peninsula before 1917. The most well-known scientist is professor J.A. Friis, who in 1867 travelled around the peninsula together with his cousin, professor L.K.Daa and described the life of the colonists on the Murman coast.

Russian scientific work on the Kola peninsula
The first Russian scientist visiting the Kola Peninsula in 1771 was the botanic Nikolai Ozeretskovsky. In 1837 the first Russian scientific expedition was arranged to the Kola Peninsula with four scientists as participants. The following scientist on Kola was Wilhelm Boehtlingk, a geologist from St. Petersburg and Schrenk researching flora. The report of Boehtlingk is published in Swedish. The number of Russian scientists was obviously smaller than the Finns. Though Finland was part of the Russian empire, the Finnish scientists needed a recommendation from the local governor if they wanted to make field work in Russia.

Scientific work recently about the colonists
The person who has devoted most work on the colonists on the Murman coast is Morten Jentoft. His book “De som dro östover. Kola-norrmennenes historie” (Those who went eastwards. The History of the Norwegians of Kola) from 2001, has already become a classic. This book was been translated into Russian, too, but its title has been changed to “Ostavshiesya bez rodiny. Istoriya kolskikh norvezhtsev” (Those who lost their fatherland. The History of the Kola Norwegians). Other Norwegians who have made scientific work in this field, are Jens Petter Nielsen and Einar Niemi. On the Russian side the Barents Centre at the Murmansk State Pedagogical University has published many articles in its series Vestnik. On the Finnish side one has to mention the translation of D. N. Bukharov´s book “Poezdka po Laplandii osenyu 1883 goda” (Travel around Lapland in the autumn of 1883). The translator, Marja Leinonen, has made a big effort to find the right place names among the often totally misspelt place names in the original book. In Finland there have been published many books and articles on the Petsamo time. It is a very popular topic nowadays.

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