No exact numbers are available regarding the size of the Sámi population in Norway, but estimates place it somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000. Approximately 15-25,000 Sámi people live in Sweden, while there are over 6,000 in Finland and 2,000 in Russia. Approximately 11,000 people have registered in the Sámi electoral roll, which comprises a list of all Sámi people over the age of 18 who have registered to vote and take part in elections to the Sámediggi (Sámi Parliament).
The Sámi reindeer husbandry area encompasses Norway’s five most northerly counties and the municipality of Engerdal in Hedmark County.
The traditional sources of livelihood of the Sámi people comprise include husbandry, hunting and fishing, farming and duodji, or Sámi handicrafts.
Sami National Day and the Sámi flag
Starting in 2004, Sámi National Day on 6 February is an official flag day in Norway. Sámi National Day is celebrated in Norway, Sweden Finland and Russia, and serves as a symbol for a united Sámi nation across national boundaries. The date commemorates the first Sámi congress, held on 6 February 1917, which laid the foundation for the development of today’s nation-wide and cross-border Sámi cooperation.
In April of 2003, the Act relating to use of flags on municipal public buildings was amended to include the Sámi flag. Norwegian municipalities and counties are now permitted to fly the Sámi flag on any occasion.
The Sámi flag was inaugurated in 1986 by the Sámi Council, an international non-governmental organization with Sámi member organizations in Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Chapter 1 Section 6 of the Sámi Act gives the Sámediggi the authority to lay down regulations concerning the use of the Sámi flag in Norway.
The Sámi flag was flown from the Government Administration Complex for the first time on Sámi National Day 2003. In future, the flag will be flown from the Government Administration Complex on every 6 February as a symbol of the role of Sámi culture in Norway. The flag will also be flown from the Storting (Norwegian parliament building).