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National park Hossa offers a breathtaking glimpse into Finland's prehistoric past

Finland has declared a new national park in Hossa in northeast Finland. The area is thousands of years old with rock paintings and tar pits silently telling previously hidden tales about Finns and their relationship with nature.

To commemorate 100 years of independence, Finland opens its 40th national park, Hossa. The 11,000 hectare park, situated between Kainuu's Suomussalmi and Northern Ostrobothnia's Kuusamo and Taivalkoski, celebrates its opening today, Saturday.  President Sauli Niinistö and his wife, Jenni Haukio, attended the celebrations.

Forest path
Hossa offers outdoorsmen more than 100 kilometres of marked paths that hikers can follow in search of historical finds or just to revel in the bounty and beauty of nature. Image: Jari Salonen

A popular hiking area since 1979, Hossa was promoted to a national park to honour the important role Suomussalmi played in the fight for Finnish independence; it was the place where the first Declaration of Independence was announced, and the location of one of the most important fights of the Winter War. Residents in the region have welcomed the new national park, with high hopes it will generate a buzz in the local economy and create jobs.

Lakescape
A serene evening view of Huosiusjärvi, one of more than 130 clear-water lakes and ponds in the national park. Image: Jari Salonen

Hossa is known for its heath forest ridges with pines, crystal-clear lakes and old forests.

Rock painting
Hossa's rock paintings suggest that the artist was a shaman depicting himself in different phases of a sacred trance. The images also seem to conjure up other-worldly creatures. Image: Kimmo Hiltunen

It is also home to one of Finland's largest rock paintings, discovered in 1977.  The norther regions of Suomussalmi have been inhabited for over 8,000 years. The Värikallio rock paintings were painted on a cliff rising vertically from the Somerjärvi lake, and are estimated to be 3,500 to 4,000 years old.

The painting has 40–60 small pictures depicting human figures and animals, which are thought to have been painted by shamans. Researchers believe the paintings illustrate the symbiotic relationship Finland's ancient ancestors had with nature. 

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