A 2008 photo of Halti mountain, on the Finnish and Norwegian borders, in Enontekio, Finland. (Mikko Stig/Lehtikuva via AP)

This week, a spokesman for the Norwegian prime minister told reporters that the country was considering giving its neighbor Finland a pretty big gift for its 100th birthday.

How big exactly?

Well, put it this way: It's literally a mountain.

The unusual proposal is spurred by the differences in topography between the two nations. Norway has lots of mountains: 1,000 or so that exceed 5,413 feet above sea level, according to the country's tourism authorities. Yet its Finnish neighbors do not live in a plentiful land of peaks. Finland's highest point is the mountain of Halti, which stands at about 1,331 meters or 4,340 feet, making it a "one-thousander," as it is over 1,000 meters above sea level. That's big, but not exactly huge: Mount Everest is an eight-thousander.

Norway's tallest mountain is Galdhøpiggen, which at 8,100 feet is a two-thousander. Worse still, while a spur on Halti known as Hálditšohkka is the tallest peak in Finland, the actual top of the mountain isn't in Finland. It's in Norway. And in Norway, that peak is pretty puny, not even scratching the top 200 mountains in the country.

Late last year, an idea that originally came from a Norwegian named Bjørn Geirr Harsson began to circulate: Norway should give the peak of Halti to Finland. Harsson, a 75-year-old former employee of the Norwegian Mapping Authority, later told reporters that he actually came up with the idea while flying over the mountain in 1975, but it only went public when his son created a Facebook page "Halti as an anniversary gift."


The page called for Norway to give Finland the mountain as a gift to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Finland's declaration of independence from the Russian Republic in 1917. All it would require, according to Harsson, is shifting Norway's border by 65 feet. “We would not have to give away any part of Norway. It would barely be noticeable," Harsson told reporters. "And I’m sure the Finns would greatly appreciate getting it."

The idea caught on, with reports that the Norwegian Mapping Authority was interested in the proposal, and local politicians near Halti wrote to Oslo to voice their support. On Twitter, Finland's Foreign Ministry expressed its own support for the plan:

But initially there was little word from Norwegian authorities and some said that the plan would contradict Article 1 of the country's constitution, which says that the country is a "free, independent, indivisible and inalienable realm." Other legal experts disagreed, pointing out that minor border changes have been agreed upon a number of times in the past.

The idea gained a little more momentum this week, however, and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said she was aware of the issue during an interview with Norway's TV2. "There are some formal challenges and I haven’t yet decided my own view on the matter," Solberg said. "But we are considering it."

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