The road from Ivalo to Murmansk through Raja-Joosepi checkpoint is the northernmost along the EU, Russian border. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Lapland, Kola border traffic hits six-year low

Raja-Joosepi and Salla checkpoints saw a decline in border-crossings of 12% and 14% in 2016.
January 10, 2017

Not since 2010 have so few people travelled across Finland’s two northernmost border checkpoints to Russia.

202,410 people were counted for passport control at the two roads between Lapland to the Kola Peninsula last year, down from 233,230 in 2015. Statistics from the Finnish Border Guard show a decline year-by-year at both checkpoints since peak-year 2013 when 386,942 people crossed the border between Russia and Finland in the high north.

Unlike at Storskog on the Norwegian, Russian border where the majority of border-crossers are Russian citizens, there are more Finnish citizens crossing at Salla than Russians. 70,858 Finns were counted, while 60,860 were Russians. Very few other nationalities were allowed.

By April 10th last year, Russia and Finland closed the border for citizens from other countries. The restrictions that lasted half a year came after nearly 2,000 asylum-seekers entered Finland from Russia in the north last winter.

At Raja-Joosepi, more than there times more Russians than Finns crossed the border. The town of Ivalo not far from the border is a shopping destination for people from Murmansk. 

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Less Christmas shoppers

Early January is traditionally a period with peaking traffic when Russians have Christmas holidays and drive to neighboring Norway and Finland for shopping. Figures from Russia’s Customs Service show a small decline this year.

Some 900 less border-crossings were counted at Salla, Lotta/Raja-Joosepi and Storskog/Borisoglebsk in the period from December 30 to January 8 compared with the same period last season. 

Salla saw the sharpest decline with 500 less travelers. The reason is most likely because there are less people driving all the way from Murmansk to Rovaniemi, a tour that requires a overnight stay. 

Storskog/Borisoglebsk had most border-crossers with 7,582. At Salla, 7,123 were counted in the period, while 3,928 border-crossings were counted at Lotta/Raja-Joosepi.

Road towards Salla border checkpoint between Lapland and Russia’s Kola Peninsula. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

 

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