A process of local government restructuring is underway in Finland. Responsibilities are being passed horizontally from small municipalities to major municipalities as Finland works to reduce the number of local authorities in the country. The process began in 2005 with the introduction of the Project to Restructure Local Government and Services (PARAS).
In the last seven years the number of municipalities in Finland has fallen by one quarter.
The largest merger by the turn of the year happened in the northern town of Oulu, where four neighboring municipalities became part of Oulu, making the city’s population swell from 144,000 to more than 185,000.
On New Year’s Eve Some 10,000 spectators gathered in the Raksila stadium to celebrate Oulu’s re-birth as Finland’s fifth largest city, YLE reports.
Oulu is also the fifth largest city in the Barents region, surpassed by the Russian towns of Arkhangelsk (356,000), Murmansk (307,000), Petrozavodsk (263,000) and Syktyvkar (235,000).
Oulu is known as a major high-tech center with one of Finland’s largest universities.
Oulu is also known as the home town of the Air Guitar World Championship and the men’ choir Mieskuoro Huutajat (Screaming Men).
The Faroese economy benefits greatly from its monopoly of the Russian salmon market. The islands’ biggest marine produce company, Bakkafrost, has seen its stock surge about 100 percent over the past year, including re-invested dividends.
August 9th, the Barents Region celebrated the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The day was commemorated in several parts of the region, including Karasjok in Northern Norway and Teriberka in Northwestern Russia.
Sports in the Barents region have joined forces and established Barents Games. This weekend athletes from all over the region met in Oulu to compete in 14 differents sports during the Barents Summer Games. See our slide show from the competitions.
People participating in culture-, sport and Barents cooperation projects can from October apply for visa to Norway without paying a single ruble, says Marit Egholm Jacobsen with the Norwegian Consulate General in Murmansk.