Birthday Gift

Jon Henley “Norway considers giving mountain to Finland as 100th birthday present”


At 1,324 metres above sea level, the highest point in Finland currently lies on a bleak mountain spur known as Hálditšohkka, part of a far larger fell known as Halti, more than 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle.

Halti’s summit, at 1,365 metres high, is a kilometre away in Norway. But moving the border barely 40 metres further up the mountainside would put Hálditšohkka’s 1,331-metre summit in Finland – and make the country’s highest point seven metres higher.


The originator of the idea is a retired geophysicist and government surveyor, Bjørn Geirr Harsson, 76, who learned last year that Finland would celebrate the 100th anniversary of its independence from Russia on 6 December 2017 and recalled being puzzled by the location of the border when he flew over Halti in the 1970s.

Harsson wrote to the ministry of foreign affairs in July 2015, pointing out that the gesture would cost Norway a “barely noticeable” 0.015 sq km of its national territory and make Finland very happy.

The border, a straight line drawn in the 1750s, was “geophysically illogical”, he has since told Norwegian media, and it was unfortunate and unfair for Finland that its highest point was not even a proper peak.


Responding, the foreign ministry said that although it appreciated the suggestion, article 1 of Norway’s constitution unfortunately stipulated that the country is a “free, independent, indivisible and inalienable realm”.

The deputy chair of the parliamentary scrutiny committee, Michael Tetzschner, also told Aftenposten earlier this year that the plan was “bewildering” and “a joke”, stressing the constitution “clearly prohibits the surrender by the state of any part of Norwegian territory to another power”.

But Øyvind Ravna, a law professor at the Norwegian Arctic university, told the paper the constitution did not apply to minor border adjustments, pointing out that Norway’s borders with both Finland and Russia had moved in recent times to reflect changes in riverbeds and the shifting position of sandbanks and islets.

See also

Richard Orange “Norway launches campaign to give Finland a mountain”
Chiara Palazzo “Norway is considering moving a mountain to neighbouring Finland”
Ed Adamczyk “Norway considers a mountain as a birthday gift for Finland”