Samiska barn på konfermationsläger
Large number of Sami in one single picture. Photo: Jan Gustavsson.

How many Sami are there per reindeer?

  • There are 20,000 - 40,000 Sámi in Sweden.
  • 50,000 - 65,000 live in Norway.
  • Around 8,000 live in Finland.
  • Around 2, 000 live in Russia.

The last census of the Sami people in Sweden was made in 1945. In the 70s a scientist estimated that there are around 20,000 Sami in Sweden. Other calculations based on old reindeer owner registers and the Sami parliament electoral register arrive to almost 50,000 Sami. But if all those who actually have Sami genes, look at themselves as being Sami, we don't know.

Reindeer husbandry
There are around 250 000 reindeer in Sweden. There are 51 samebys (reindeer herding districts) altogether. The area where the reindeer are allowed to graze covers at least 50% of Sweden's land surface. This doesn't mean that all the lands are suitable or available for grazing. There are more than 4,700 reindeer owners in Sweden. All reindeer are private property even though they are semi-wild animals.

Predator compensation is allocated to samebys that have wolves, bears, lynxes, wolverines or golden eagles on their land. The Swedish state has decided that we want predators in our fauna, but since they kill and eat reindeer, the reindeer owners are compensated, at least up to 50 % of the loss.


  • In 1904, the first Sami political organisation was formed, called Lapparnes Centralförbund.
  • The first local Sami association, Fatmomakke Lappförening, was formed in 1905.
  • A new reindeer grazing law was adopted in 1928, in which the Sami's rights were confirmed by law; however, only Sami who tended the reindeer enjoyed the entitlements that the law provided.
  • The organisation Same Ätnam was established in 1945.
  • In 1950, the National Association of Swedish Sami (Svenska Samernas Riksförbund, SSR) was created.
  • In 1956, the Nordic Sami Council was created as a collaborative body for the Sami people in Russia, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
  • The Sami Youth Organisation of Sweden (Sáminuorra) was established in 1963.
  • The Sami Women's Organisation (Sáráhkká) was established in 1988. The organisation has members in all four countries that make up Sápmi.
  • The Sami Parliament in Sweden was inaugurated in 1993.
  • The Sami Parliament in Norway was established in 1989.
  • The Sami Parliament in Finland was created in 1973.
  • 8,322 Sami have so far (2013) entered the Sami electoral register in Sweden and may vote in elections for the Sami Parliament in Sweden.
  • Elections to the Sami Parliament in Sweden are held every fourth year.
  • There are 31 MP's in the Sami Parliament's highest decision-making body, the Plenary Assembly.

The Sami language is recognised as an official minority language in Sweden. Sami is divided into three main languages: Eastern Sami, Central Sami and Southern Sami.These languages are divided into nine varieties. It is estimated that 40-45 % of the Sami know their native language. Those who speak Sami are at least bilingual - many know three or more languages. The Sami language has been oppressed and marginalised in all countries during the 20th century. There are no reliable figures on how many speakers there are. These are estimations:

  • About 17 000 speak North Sami, 6000 live in Sweden and the rest in Norway and some in Finland.
  • ~ 800 people speak Lule Sami in Sweden and Norway.
  • ~ 700 people speak South Sami in Sweden and Norway.
  • ~ 500 people belong to the Scolt Sami language group, most of them in Finland.
  • ~ 500 people belong to the Enare Sami language group, all of them in Finland. är en webbplats för dig som vill veta mer om samerna och sápmi.

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