<<The Sami people, also spelled Sámi or Saami, are the indigenous people inhabiting the Arctic area of Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. Their traditional languages are the Sami languages and are classified as a branch of the Uralic language family. The Sami languages are endangered.
Traditionally, the Sami have pursued a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping and sheep herding. Their best-known means of livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding, with which about 10% of the Sami are connected and 2,800 actively involved on a full-time basis. For traditional, environmental, cultural and political reasons, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sami people in certain regions of the Nordic countries.
The Sámi are often known in other languages by the exonyms Lap, Lapp, or Laplanders, but many Sami regard these as pejorative terms. Variants of the name Lapp were originally used in Sweden and Finland and, through Swedish, adopted by all major European languages: English: Lapps, German, Dutch: Lappen, Russian: лопари́ (lopari), Ukrainian: лопарі́ , French: Lapons, Greek: Λάπωνες (Lápones), Italian: Lapponi, Polish: Lapończycy, Spanish: Lapones, Portuguese: Lapões, Turkish: Lapon.
The word Lapp is defined in the Lexicon Lapponicum as "Fenn". The first known historical mention of Fenni was by Tacitus, about 98 CE. The exact meaning of this old term, and the reasons it came into common usage, are unknown; in Scandinavian languages, lapp means "a patch of cloth for mending", which may be a description of the clothing, called a gakti, that the Sámi wear. Another possible source is the Finnish word lape, which in this case means "periphery". Originally, it meant any person living in the wilderness, not only the Sámi people. It is unknown how the word Lapp came into the Norse language, but it may have been introduced by the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus to distinguish between Fish-Fennians (coastal tribes) and Lap-Fennians (forest tribes), supporting the second etymology. It was popularized and became the standard terminology by the work of Johannes Schefferus, Acta Lapponica (1673), but was also used earlier by Olaus Magnus in his Description of the Northern peoples (1555). There is another suggestion that it originally meant "wilds". An alternative interpretation, made by the Portuguese philosopher Damião de Góis in 1540, derives Lapland from "the dumb and lazy land", because a land where no vegetables grow is lazy and does not speak.
The noun Lapp is an indication that the Sami people and Nordic history are related to a larger ancient history of Europe. In the North Sámi language, láhppon olmmoš means a person who is lost (from the verb láhppot, to get lost). The term Finn is occasionally used locally for the Sámi people in Norway, whereas local Finnish speakers are called kvæn. Finn seems to have been in much wider use in ancient times, judging from the names Fenni and Phinnoi in classical Roman and Greek works.
Terminological issues in Finnish are somewhat different. Finns living in Finnish Lapland generally call themselves lappilainen, whereas the similar word for the Sámi people is lappalainen. This can be confusing for foreign visitors because of the similar lives Finns and Sámi people live today in Lapland. Lappalainen is also a common family name in Finland. As in the Scandinavian languages, lappalainen is often considered archaic or pejorative, and saamelainen is used instead, at least in official contexts.