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General information

Finnmark - the northernmost county in Norway covers more than 48 000 km2. With only 72 000 inhabitants there should be plenty of space for everybody. The most important towns are Alta (18 000 inhabitants), Hammerfest (9300), VadsÝ (6000) and Kirkenes (9400).

The climate is cold, stormy and strongly seasonal. In Kirkenes there is midnight sun from 20th May until 20th July. Conversely from 20th November to 21st January the sun never rises. Temperatures vary a lot during the year and they are most extreme in the inland regions:

In Karasjok the maximum annual range is from above 30oC to below -50oC, and the ground is snow-covered for about six months. Because of the Golf Stream Finnmark has the longest icefree coast in the Arctic. Annual precipitation is approximately 300 mm. Plant and invertebrate production is highly seasonal with a superabundance of insect and plant food in summer.

Finnmark is probably the most popular county for birdwatchers. The wild and untouched Norwegian nature attracts many visitors from all over the world. They come to experience the variety of landscapes: mountains, fjords, valleys, bird cliffs, virgin forests, salmon rivers and endless wilderness with more than 60 000 lakes. There are still large predators around: Wolf (Canis lupus), Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), Wolverine (Gulo gulo) and Lynx (Lynx lynx) may all be seen if you're lucky.

Other birders come to Varanger to add to their "life list" eastern bird species which otherwise rarely appear in Europe.

The locations mentioned here are perhaps best reached by car, but some can be visited by passengers on board the coastal express (Hurtigruten) which plies the coast between Bergen and Kirkenes.