Politics

Some Norwegians want to give Finland a fun gift: A mountain

norway mountain.jpg

A panoramic view of the mountains near the border between Norway and Finland.

Credit:

Facebook: Halti som jubileumsgave

Still shopping for that perfect gift? You might take some inspiration from Norway.

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Norway’s neighbor to the east — Finland — will be celebrating its centennial in 2017. 100 years since independence. So, to mark the centennial, some friendly Norwegians have come up with the idea of giving Finland an unusual present: a mountain.

Bjørn Geirr Harsson was the first to come up with the idea. He is a geodesist (someone who studies the measurement and representation of the Earth, including its gravitational field, in three-dimensional time-varying space). 

“If we look at Finland’s situation, the highest point in Finland is situated on a hillside, and the top of the hill is in Norway some 150 meters away from the border," he says. "The Norwegian top is about 5 meters higher, so it’s not very much. Anyway, they have no highest mountain, they have a highest hillside.”

Harrison says he discovered this geographical feature way back in 1972 when he was working for the Norwegian mapping authority. In the course of carrying out gravity measurements, Harsson had to land a helicopter on Halti Mountain.

“I was surprised to see that I was on a mountaintop and from there I could see some 150 meters down on the hillside, there was the border of Finland. I got the idea that Finland should have a little piece of this mountain, so that they’ll have a mountain as the highest point, and not a hillside.”

Harsson has now proposed a slight realignment of the national border between Norway and Finland, so that the actual mountain top would be within Finland’s territory.

“The little triangle that Norway will give to Finland will just be 0.015 sq. kilometers, and that is so little it will not really change the official area of the two countries.” Soon enough, Harsson had another inspiration: he realized that Finland’s centennial was coming up in 2017. What better way to congratulate them, than with a new mountain?

A map of the mountain Norway may give Finland

A map showing the adjustment Norway would need to make to its border to give Finland the mountain. The arrow pointing to '1331' on the map is the mountaintop, and would become the highest point in Finland.

Credit:

Facebook: Halti som jubileumsgave

The gift idea is gathering some momentum now that it’s been picked up online. In just a month or so, the Halti som jubileumsgave Facebook page has attracted more than 10,000 likes.

“We have a ridiculous amount of mountains, so since Finland's anniversary is coming up in just two years we want to give them a symbolic gift, and give Finland a part of our country, “ says Sondre Solberg Lund Lund, the man behind the Facebook campaign. “Let's take Finland to new heights!”

Harsson says he’s really surprised and delighted to see all the support.

Still, it seems unlikely that a government would unilaterally hand over territory, even if it’s just larger than a postage stamp. The director of Norways Mapping Authority decline to comment on the proposal but the Finnish Ambassador in Norway has been tweeting about the story  in Norwegian, Finnish and English.

So, what would Harsson say to persuade Norway’s prime minister to adopt his geographical proposal?

“I wouldn't say that Norway is losing something, we are just adjusting the border a little bit. We can see from history that the border has been altered, there have earlier small changes.

"So, I actually have a hard time thinking of arguments against it. I think it would be a very nice gift from the Norwegian people to the people of Finland as a gift.

"In a world when countries are trying to grab as much as possible from others, and we can show that we really offer a part of the country. It’s a very special case, and if we give Finland this mountaintop, or change the border just a little bit, they will have a mountain as the highest point in Finland.

"I think they will really, really appreciate it. We really want to give Finland something special when celebrate their 100 years anniversary.” 

A mountain would be a pretty special gift indeed.