Karesuvanto, Exploring Finland

Karesuvanto (Gárasavvon) – Exploring Finland

Karesuvanto is a small settlement in northern Finland, in the Enontekiö municipality in Finnish Lapland. It lies at the border with Sweden, with its sister village Karesuando just across the Muonio River. The Sámi name of the village is Gárasavvon and it is a part of the cultural Sámi region of Sápmi, an area that spans the northern parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Russia.

A Short History of Karesuvanto

Finnish Karesuvanto and Swedish Karesuando were for a long time the same village. Måns Mårtensson Karesuando was the first inhabitant in 1670 when he settled in these previously Sámi lands. The village was a part of the Enontekiö Parish and it wasn’t until 1809 that a national border divided it into two parts. This was the year that Sweden lost Finland to Russia and the river through the village became the new border. As Finland became independent in 1917 the river became the border between Finland and Sweden.

The Second World War included several major conflicts in Finland and Karesuvanto was not spared. The Finnish participated in the war against the Soviet Union and was eventually forced into a truce. The demands included that Finland would expel or disarm any German soldier still within their territory. This led to the Lapland War in 1944 and Karesuvanto was eventually burnt down.

It wasn’t until 1980 before a bridge was built between Karesuvanto and Karesuando, once more linking the two sister villages.

Things to Do and See

Swedish Karesuando acts as a gateway for the far north of Swedish Lapland. For Finnish Karesuvanto it has mostly become a rest stop along the road towards Kilpisjärvi and Norway. Here you will find a restaurant with a souvenir shop and a small gas station.

It is also close to the border with Sweden, making it possible to drive, cycle, or even walk across a national border.

How to Get to Karesuvanto

  • Flights: Enontekiö Airport (ENF) is a short distance to the east.
  • Car: Karesuvanto lies along the E8, with Tromsø to the north and Tornio and the rest of Finland to the south. There is also the E45 in Sweden towards Gällivare and Gothenburg and the Road 99 towards Pajala and Haparanda.

The driving distance from 5 major Finnish cities, according to Google Maps:

  • Helsinki – 1085 kilometers (12 h)
  • Turku – 1125 kilometers (12 h 30 min)
  • Vaasa – 797 kilometers (9 h 30 min)
  • Oulu – 480 kilometers (5 h 50 min)
  • Joensuu – 864 kilometers (10 h)

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