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Finland may gain mountain through Facebook campaign

A retired Norwegian surveyor has inspired the launch of a social media campaign proposing that Norway donate a mountain peak to Finland in 2017, the centenary of Finland's independence. The campaign suggests that the border be extended some 200 metres, which would grant Finland a new geographical high point.

halti suomelle facebook ryhmä
"Halti as a jubilee gift", the Facebook page that hopes to find Norwegians in favour of changing the borders so that Finland could have a real summit. Image: Facebook

A Norwegian student has opened a Facebook campaign page that hopes to help in gifting Finland with a mountain of its very own. The campaign is supported by thousands, including Norway's Land Survey chief. The news was first reported by Norwegian English-language paper The Local.

Paraphrased, the Facebook page's description runs: "This page is meant to help find out how many Norwegians would be interested in presenting Finland with the summit of the Halti mountain, located 20 metres across the border, for the country's independence centenary in 2017."

In Norway the 1,365 metre high Halti is not even in the country's top 200 highest peaks. Finland's official highest point (at about 1,324 metres) is currently located on the ridge of one of Halti's smaller summits, known by its Sámi name Haldičohkka. Extending Finland's border just a couple hundred metres would guarantee Finland a new highest point of elevation.

Idea from 43 years ago

The man behind the idea is a retired employee from Norway's Land Survey, Bjørn Geirr Harsson.

"Isn't it quite an idea? We would not be donating a piece of Norway, the change would be invisible. And I'm sure that Finns would appreciate it," Harsson says.

He says the idea came to him in 1972 when he was flying over the border to collect data.

"I remember wondering at the time, why on earth hasn't Finland been given this summit."

Harsson himself is not the author of the Facebook page, however, as that honour goes to student Sondre Lund.

"It's such a small thing, but such a big thing also. All the Nordic countries have great relations, this is just a part of that," Lund told CNN.

The leader of Norway's survey authority Statens Kartverk, Anne Cathrine Frøstrup says she thinks it's a great idea.

"It would be a wonderful gift for a country that has no high mountains, and where the highest point isn't even a peak."

Support and opposition

The initiative to raise Finland's high point already has more than 8,000 likers on Facebook, but not everyone is as enthusiastic, including Norwegian officials. Ambassador Åge Grutle told media concern Lännen Media on Saturday that Norway will not be taking an official stance on the suggestion.

Ex-Senior Engineer Pekka Tätilä shoost the idea down in Helsingin Sanomat.

"It feels like a big joke, and the change would only be a difference in statistics," Tätilä says of the idea that has engaged thousands. "It's just trivia."

Edit: Altered to show that the summit in question is only 20 metres across the Finno-Norwegian border, but that the border extension suggestion represents an area of approximately 200 metres.

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