At Christmas 1520 Gustav Vasa fled on skis from Mora towards Norway to escape Danish troops. At Lima, near Salen, local men caught up with him and persuaded the future king to turn back. Since 1922 almost 750,000 skiers have repeated the achievement, albeit skiing in the opposite direction.
Mora marks the end of the race. The winning time is usually just over four hours, but some entrants can take ten hours. The text on the finishing line reads: In the footsteps of ourforefathers for the victories of tomorrow.
six provinces of southern norrland cover almost a quarter of the country. The character shifts noticeably from the coast with its industry and fishing to the farming communities up along the river valleys, then westwards through forests to the mountains of Harjedalen and Jamtland. Natural resources such as timber and waterpower have had a visible impact on the region.
In the Middle Ages, the southeasterly province of Gastrikland belonged to Svealand and its gently rolling landscape is more akin to that of neighbouring Uppland than Norrland. An offshoot of the Bergslagen mining district extends into this area and iron-working formed the basis of today’s manufacturing industry. The trading port of Gavle has long been a gateway to Norrland.
The pass between Kolberget and Digerberget in the province of Halsingland is another gateway to the north, beyond which the mountainous Norrland landscape becomes more evident. Huge wooden mansions stand proud with their ornate porches and exquisitely decorated interiors. These houses are evidence of the successful trade in the green gold of the local forests in a landscape of which 80 per cent is covered with productive woodland.
Exploitation of the forests had an even bigger impact on the provinces of Medelpad and Angermanland. At the end of the 19th century, the timber barons of Sundsvall and Adalen made themselves a fortune. Today, processing wood into pulp and paper is still a key industry. The smell of sulphur can be quite striking – or could it be the herring dish surstrdmming, best sampled by those who dare at one of the fishing villages along the High Coast, a unesco World Heritage Site (256).
The provinces of Jamtland and Harjedalen only became part of Sweden in 1645- There is often talk of the Republic of Jamtland among diehard locals who seek self-rule. The mountains stretch out to the west, attracting visitors both to the ski resorts and to the upland areas where the wildlife and countryside can still be enjoyed undisturbed.
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