Norway Plans to Give a Mountain to Finland

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. border / ˈbɔr dər / (n) – the mark of division between two territories

    Tourists should refrain from stepping on the border of a restricted area.

  2. commemorate / kəˈmɛm əˌreɪt / (v) – to celebrate the memory of an important event, person, etc.

    The construction of the statue commemorates the country’s national hero.

  3. token / ˈtoʊ kən / (n) – a representation of something

    I gave my friend a book as a token of appreciation.

  4. dispute / dɪˈspyut / (n) – a conflict

    The two countries finally decided to end their dispute.

  5. inalienable / ɪnˈeɪl yə nə bəl / (adj) – incapable of being taken away

    Human rights are inalienable.


Read the text below.

Norway considers giving part of a mountain to Finland for its 100th Independence Day.

In 1972, Bjorn Geirr Harsson, / pjœtn gaiř ˈhær sʌn / a retired Norwegian geophysicist, conducted a gravity survey on the border between Norway and Finland. At the time, he discovered that Norway’s highest point is on a mountain, while Finland’s is on only a hillside. He then came up with the idea of having Norway give a mountain to Finland.

Although the chosen mountain, Mount Halti, is within the boundaries of Finland, its two peaks are covered by Norwegian territory. Norway plans to give Finland the peak near the border between the two countries, which is only 31 meters from Finland territory. The adjustment of the border would only amount to a territorial loss of .009 square miles for Norway.

Apart from commemorating Finland’s 100th anniversary of independence from Russia this year, the gift would serve as a token of friendship between the two countries. Harsson said that Norwegians expect nothing in return, and there is a sentiment that the gesture would set a good example for other countries that are involved in territorial disputes.

Despite Norway’s efforts, the proposal for the gift was turned down in October 2016. Two criticisms were raised against the initiative. The first was raised by Norway’s prime minister who pointed out that adjusting the territory violates Article 1 of Norway’s constitution, which holds that Norway is “indivisible and inalienable.” The second was from the indigenous Sami community of northern Europe, who argued that the land should belong to neither country, and insisted that their reindeer should be allowed to wander across the territory without restrictions.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that Norway should give the mountain to Finland? Why or why not?
• Aside from gifting a mountain, what other actions can be good examples for nations fighting over borders?

Discussion B

• What is the importance of giving gifts?
• What are other ways of showing appreciation to friends aside from giving gifts?