Barents Region

The Barents Region is a name given, by political ambition to establish international cooperation after the fall of the Soviet Union, to the land along the coast of the Barents Sea, from Nordland in Norway to the Kola Peninsula in Russia and beyond all the way to the Ural Mountains and Novaya Zemlya, and south to the Gulf of Bothnia of the Baltic Sea and the great lakes Ladoga and Onega. Among the projects is the Barents Road from Bodø in Norway through Haparanda in Sweden and Finland to Murmansk in Russia. One concrete sign of the increased communication within the region is the establishment in 2006 of an IKEA warehouse in Haparanda, targeting customers 500 km away in Murmansk and northern Norway. The region has six million inhabitants on 1.75 million km2, with three quarters of both belonging to Russia.

The regional cooperation was formally opened on January 11, 1993, initiated by Norway under foreign minister Thorvald Stoltenberg. It includes the administrative regions Nordland, Troms, Finnmark in Norway, Västerbotten County, Norrbotten County in Sweden, Lapland Province, Northern Ostrobothnia, Kainuu in Finland, and Murmansk Oblast, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Komi Republic, Republic of Karelia, Nenets Autonomous Okrug in Russia. The four countries take turns at chairing the cooperation. Norway's participation is coordinated from the Norwegian Barents Secretariat in Kirkenes. Sweden's and Finland's participation is administrated from the county administrations in Umeå (Västerbotten) and Rovaniemi (Lapland). In January 2008 there was established an International Barents Secretariat which is to provide technical support for the multilateral coordinated activities within the framework of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Barents Regional Council. This Secretariat is located in Kirkenes in the same building as the Norwegian Barents Secretariat.

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