The area of Petsamo (Pechenga in Russian) in northern Lapland, indigenously inhabited by Samis, came to Finland in 1920 and to the Soviet Union in 1944. It is now part of Russia. It contains an ice-free harbour, Liinahamari, and deposits of nickel.
The harbour Liinahamari in Petsamo was important for the Finnish economy during the First World War as the Baltic Sea was blocked by the Germans. In the Treaty of Tartu, 1920, Bolshevist Russia ceded Petsamo to Finland.
Deposits of Nickel were found 1921, after Petsamo became a part of Finland, and in 1934 it was estimated that the deposits contained over five million tonnes of Nickel. Mining operations started in 1935 by Canadian and French corporations.
Construction of a road from Sodankylä through Ivalo to Liinahamari started in 1916 and was completed in 1931. After that Petsamo became a popular tourist attraction as it was the only port at the Barents Sea that could be reached by an automobile.
In the Winter War the Soviet Union occupied Petsamo. In the following peace agreement only the Finnish part of the Kalastajansaarento (Rybachi) peninsula was ceded to the Soviet Union. Although the Soviet Union had occupied Petsamo during the Winter War they left it to Finland, possibly to appease the governments of the foreign mining corporations operating there.
In 1941, during the Continuation War, Petsamo was used by Nazi Germany as a staging area for the attack towards Murmansk. In 1944 the Red Army occupied Petsamo again. Petsamo was ceded to the Soviet Union according to the Paris Peace Treaty. Finland ceded the Jäniskoski area with its hydroelectric plant to Soviet Union 1947 in exchange for Soviet confiscated German investments in Finland.
After the war the Soviets expanded the mining operations which had a catastrophic impact on the environment.
- Skolt Sámi History (http://www.siida.fi/saamjiellem/english/historia.html)