Finnmark independence referendum, 2018
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The Finnmark independence referendum is scheduled to take place in May 2018, a sharp response to the Norwegian governments decision to subjugate Norway's most northern county under the neighbor Troms rule from January 2020.
This decision has indeed upset the local population and they have called for a referendum, where the future status of the largest of Norway's counties will be at stake. Although small in population (about 75,000), its landmass and offshore resources such as gold, fishery and oil are waste, and it is believed that the new country can sustain itself.
The details of an actual independence from Norway is not at all clear, and there is expected to be a long provisional period where the details are settled. It is suggested that within this period the local population will be granted citizenship in Norway proper.
Finnmark has a significant Samii population, which sees this as a great opportunity to become "masters in their own house", after being rather ill treated by Norwegians for two centuries. It is therefore suggested that the new state will have at least two official languages, namely Samii and Norwegian. The third ethnic group of Finnmark, the Kvens may gain greater acceptance for their language and culture, but will probably not become an official language of the state. What is certain, is that Nynorsk will not be taught in Finnmark's schools after its independence.
The area of Finnmark is 48,600 km, about 15% of Norway, whereas the population is 76,000, about 1,5% of Norway's. Furthermore, the offshore areas are great and rich in fisheries and oil, which will give huge incomes to the country. Besides the loss of a large portion of it's area, a loss of Finnmark will make a significant influence on the Norwegian (proper) military force, as the remaining country no longer will share the border with Russia. Hence, the loss of income from Finnmark may very well be balanced by reduced military costs for Norway.
An independent Finnmark on the other hand, must come in good terms with its neighbors Finland and Russia, possibly having a joint military force with the former.
The Svalbard archipelago which is lying directly north of Finnmark will nevertheless remain in Norway. In fact, Norway has just in case of a Finnmark independence, governed Svalbard from Tromsø in Norway proper since the acquisition in 1920.
Process towards independence
The independence of Finnmark would be an unprecedented event in Norwegian history. Over a thousand years, several areas has been separated from the motherland, but that has been by force (Bohuslen, Jemtland, etc.) or by treaties (The Hebridies, Orkneys, Iceland, Greenland). This will in fact be the first time an integrated region of Norway will seek independence.
- Finnmark as an independent country (In Norwegian), nrk.no
- Ready for plebicite in Finnmark about the subjugation to Troms (In Norwegian), nrk.no
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