The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Norwegian plan to gift Finland a mountain

If you judge countries purely by their mountainous terrain, Finland is a bit of a loser. Halti, Finland's tallest, is around 1,324 meters, or about 4,340 feet, making it a "one-thousander" as it is over a thousand meters above sea level. That may sound impressive, but bear in mind that the tallest peak in the United States is a six-thousander and Mount Everest is a eight-thousander.

To add insult to injury, the mountain's summit is actually in Norway, standing just over 40 meters above the tallest peak in Finland. And worse still, Halti is pretty much irrelevant in Norway – it doesn't even scratch the top 200 highest peaks.

Now an online campaign is calling upon the Norwegian government to give Finland a new peak. Dubbing their project "Halti as an anniversary gift," the organizers say that Norway should give Finland the peak of the mountain to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Finland's declaration of independence from the Russian Republic in 1917.

"Let's take Finland to new heights!" the Facebook page for the group, which has just over 2,500 likes, says.

The Local, citing Norwegian press reports, says that Bjørn Geirr Harsson is likely the man behind the idea, though even he doesn't know who set up the Facebook page (Harsson suspects it was his son).

A 75-year-old former employee of the Norwegian Mapping Authority, Harsson says that he had the idea when flying over the mountain in 1972. “We would not have to give away any part of Norway. It would  barely be noticeable," he said. "And I’m sure the Finns would greatly appreciate getting it."

It isn't as dramatic an idea as it may sound – according to Harsson, the border would only need to be moved around 65 feet and it would have little effect on the overall size of Norway.

It's unclear at present whether the proposal will gather anymore steam: The current head of the Norwegian Mapping Authority is also said to be on board with the proposal, but Norway's foreign ministry has not yet responded to a letter sent by Harsson earlier this year. The idea has caught attention of some Finns, however, with the official Twitter account of the Finnish Embassy in Norway tweeting a link to a news story about the proposal.

Overall, the response seems pretty positive.

"This is a brave idea," one commentator wrote on the website of Finnish newspaper Ilta Sanomat. "It will be remembered in Finland for a thousand years."

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