Norwegian Mapmaker Wants to Give a Mountain to Finland for its 100th Birthday

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Norway has a fairly diverse topography.  According to the Norwegian government’s tourist site, the country has over 300 peaks that are at least 6,561 feet (or 2,000 meters) high (while there is no standardized definition, mountains in general are defined as being at least 1,000 feet high).  Norway’s highest mountain is Galdhøpiggen which is 8,100 feet (2,469 meters) above sea level.  Finland, in contrast, claims its highest peak as a spur on the mountain of Halti known as Hálditšohkka which is 1,324 m (4,344 ft) above sea level.  The highest point of Halti actually lies in Norway with a peak elevation of 4,478 feet (1,365 meters).

This state of discrepancy has spurred a retired Norwegian mapmaker to propose that Norway shift its border 660 feet (200 meters) in order to gift the mountain of Halti to Finland in honor of its 100th anniversary of independence from Russia in 2017.  Bjørn Geirr Harsson, a retired cartographer with the Norwegian Mapping Authority, said his memories of a 1975 survey of the mountain inspired the idea when he was reading about the upcoming celebration.  Harsson sent a letter during the summer of 2015 to Norwegian authorities proposing the idea.  After six months of silence, his son came up with the idea of promoting the proposal via Facebook to garner support.  The campaign has been successful and the Facebook page now has over 15,000 likes and the idea has received media attention.  Even Norwegian government officials are beginning to support the idea, with the Washington Post recently reporting that a spokesman for the prime minister of Norway is seriously considering actually gifting the mountain.

The topo map with the proposed boundary change that Harsson sent to the Norwegian government. Source: Halti som jubileumsgave Facebook page.

The topo map with the proposed boundary change (where the red arrow is pointing) that Harsson sent to the Norwegian government. Source: Halti som jubileumsgave Facebook page.

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