Kuusamon kaupunki
Iijoki Headwater
Founded 7th century BC (Sami fortress)
1621 (parish)
1925 (town rights)
Land area 292.03 km²
as of
Dec -05
Metropolitan area
Land area
1,558.10 km²
Mayor Timo Halonen

Kuusamo is a town and municipality in the province of Oulu, Finland, Ugrian Union.


Kuusamo has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Ruins of a fortress of likely Kemi Sami origins have been dated to the 7th century BC. Being the farthest navigable place in Kuusamojoki River watershed, it flourished as a location of trade.

First written sources mentioning Kuusamo are Bjarmian texts of 3rd century BC giving Kemi Sami of Kuusamo as the major obstacle of their expansion inland from the shores of White Sea. Conflicts between these parties became more regular, until internal drifts of the Sami gave the Bjarmians an opportunity to invade Kuusamo in 505 AD. The Bjarmian rule lasted until the 9th century, when hostilities with both Norwegian Vikings and the Empire of Zyrienia weakened the Bjarmian power enough for Kuusamo to revert into Sami rule.

The Kemi Sami never regained a political unity. Therefore Kuusamo is often considered to have been a city-state from the 9th century onwards.

In 1608 AD, Savonia invaded Kuusamo, and the whole region was wholly subjugated under Savonian rule in the next decade. Though Sami-built Kuusamo was totally in ruins by the end of warfare, Savonians chose the same place as the center of a Lutheran Christian parish in 1621. For the next century, the region was severely depopulated, the remaining Kemi Sami population being assimilated into immigrating Savonian Finnish society, and Kuusamo being "the only civilized place within a hundred miles", that is to say it had the only church of the region.

Principality of Cajania became an independent kingdom in 1799, with Kuusamo as a part of it. However, Cajania was joined into the new Republic of Finland in 1830, and Kuusamo has been a part of it ever since, with the exception of a Russian rule between 1895 and 1905.

Developing Finnish Kuusamo

Though originally Kuusamo was a part of Kemi Sami entities, then of Cajania, the trade of Kuusamo was mainly with the city of Hamina on the shore of Sudobothnia. Therefore the area became a part of the Oulu province on the formation of the republic.

19th century Kuusamo suffered from poor agricultural conditions, the valleys being mostly swamp. The extensive wetlands also supported the spreading of successive malaria and yellow fever outbreaks. Kuusamo continued to be the main marketplace of the area in those times when there was something to trade. The Finno-Russian tensions finally leading into Russian occupation in 1895 caused a final collapse of society. The trade to the White Sea had died off in the 1880's, and a battle was fought in the parish main settlement in 1893. During Russian rule, the local authorities decreed that all trade between Bothnian Gulf and White Sea be diverted to Kemijoki River, where Sami peoples where more supportive of the Russians. When Finland regained its independence in 1905, the whole of Kuusamo parish with an area of 6000 km² had only 2000 inhabitants.

Under a more stable Finnish governance, the area had moderate growth under coming decades. The main settlement grew more rapidly than the surrounding region, reaching a sufficient size to be given town rights in 1925. The depression of the 1930's caused the government to create jobs to the numerous unemployed people in the country by undertaking massive projects. One of them was to drain all the wetlands in eastern Finland. Agricultural production has grown continuously since then, leading into similar growth in the population. The town borders were expanded in 1934, 1950 and 1980.



Main Road 5 connects Kuusamo towards Helsinki in the southwest and Giemasjavri in East Lapland in the north.

Main Road 8 connects Kuusamo towards Oulu in the west.

Main Road 30 connects Kuusamo towards Roavvenjarga in East Lapland in the north.


The Iijoki Railway goes from Oulu through Kuusamo to Lämsänkylä. Kuusamo is also the starting point of Ruka Railway going into East Lapland.


The Kuusamo Metro, built in 1985, has one line with a length of 24.3 km and 24 stations.

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