Spa town in Finland
Kuusamo is a town and municipality in Finland. It is located in the Northern Ostrobothnia region. The municipality has a population of 15,391 (31 August 2017) and covers an area of 4,977.13 square kilometres (1,921.68 sq mi) of which 830.81 km2 (320.78 sq mi) is water. The population density is 3.09 inhabitants per square kilometre (8.0/sq mi).
Kuusamo is a major center for winter sports and receives approximately a million tourists every year. One of the largest ski resorts in Finland, Ruka, is situated in Kuusamo. Ruka is also the host of many international competitions in ski jumping, cross country skiing and Nordic combined. The 2005 World Championships of Freestyle Skiing was held in Kuusamo. Kuusamo Airport is located 6 kilometres (4 mi) north-east from Kuusamo town centre.
Around one million tourists visit Kuusamo annually. In 2002, 291,222 overnight stays were registered, 17% of which were by foreign guests. There are around 6,000 cottages (mökki) in Kuusamo, more than any other municipality in Finland.
The Ruka ski center, centered on the 492-metre Rukatunturi, is one of the largest in Finland with a total of 16,000 beds, four hotels and 28 restaurants. Activities include skiing, snowmobile tours and excursions with reindeer and dog sleds. Ruka benefits from a long snowy season, from mid-October to mid-June.
In summer, Kuusamo is a popular wilderness destination for fishing, kayaking and hiking. The most famous hiking trail (as well as Finland's most popular) is Bear's Ring (Karhunkierros), which runs for 80 km (50 mi), mostly in the Oulanka National Park.
While Kuusamo mainly attracts visitors because of its natural beauty, the city has produced little of interest in the traditional sense. Because the city center was completely destroyed in the Lapland War and then had to be rebuilt quickly and economically, Kuusamo is seen as largely uninteresting from an architectural point of view. In contrast - at least considering the small population - the cultural life of the city is relatively lively.
The Kuusamo Hall in the town center, completed in 1996, acts as a convention and cultural center. In it one can find regular musical and theatrical performances as well as changing art exhibitions. The Kuusamo Local History Museum is an outdoor museum that has been established on a historic farm. Additionally, a school museum is set up in the old school of Kirkkoketo.
The church in the center of Kuusamo was built in 1951. It stands on the site of the old wooden church from 1802, which was burnt down in 1944 Lapland War by German troops. At that time German soldiers buried the two church bells (one endowed to the church by Charles XI of Sweden in 1698, and the other originating from the year 1721) in the cemetery to secure them from the advancing Soviet troops. The bells were considered lost until 1959, when the former German regimental commander visited Kuusamo and revealed the location of the buried bells. Today these same bells are housed in the rebuilt church.