"Your mountains so lofty. Your treetops so tall.
Finland, Finland, Finland. Finland has it all."
So went the song "Finland" by Monty Python. And whether it's amazing maternity benefits or the air guitar world championships, phone-based mobility systems or opportunities for a viable career in reindeer herding, Finland really does have a lot going for it. (I say this as an unashamedly biased half-Finn.)
So now one of Finland's neighbors, Norway, has been wondering what to get a country that supposedly has it all. And the answer that some Norwegians have come up with harkens back to the Monty Python song too: What if Norway gifted Finland with a loftier mountain? Or, more precisely, what if Norway realigned its borders so that the summit of a mountain called Halti, which currently sits just inside Norway, was ceded to the Finns?
But why would Norway do this? Well, it's one of those cases where the gift giver is really not losing very much, while the significance of the gift to the recipient is significant indeed.
When you look at the raw numbers, Norway would lose less than 0.015 square kilometers, and a peak that doesn't even rank among the highest 200 spots in Norway. And yet the summit, at 4,478 feet above sea level, would instantly become the highest spot in Finland. (Finland's current highest elevation is at 4,344, and is on the slope of the very same mountain.)
All of this came about because of a Facebook campaign called Halti som jubileumsgave (Halti as a centennary gift) which was organized by Bjørn Geirr Harsson, a geodesist and engineer for the country’s mapping authority. While the idea has not yet been officially explored or adopted by the country's governments, dignitaries and citizens from both sides have been weighing in with mostly positive feedback — and the story has become somewhat of a viral Internet sensation.
It's not hard to see why. With international politics feeling combative and somewhat divisive (excluding the monumental climate deal in Paris of course), it's nice to see nationalism expressed not in what a country can achieve through brute force, but in what it can do for others.
I suspect the only question that many Scandinavians will be asking themselves is this: if Norway does gift Finland a mountain, then what the heck is Sweden going to give its neighbor that could even vaguely compare? (Something tells me Russia is not going to be ceding any territory any time soon.)