Kemijärvi is a city in the southeastern part of Lapland. The city
has a population of 7,302 and an area of 3,930.91 km2, of which
426.78 km2 are water bodies. The population density is 2.08
inhabitants / km2.
About 5,300 people live in the central area of Kemijärvi, of which about 4,300 in the city center and about 1,000 in the Kallaanvaara-Isokylä area.
Kemijärvi has been the northernmost city in Finland since 1973, but in the municipal association that took place at the beginning of 2006, the Rovaniemi area expanded so that Rovaniemi now extends further north than Kemijärvi. However, Kemijärvi's city center is still the northernmost of Finland's urban centers. Kemijärvi is one of the wilderest cities in Finland. Kemijärvi's neighboring municipalities are Pelkosenniemi in the north, Salla in the east, Posio in the south and Rovaniemi in the west.
The first permanent settler of Kemijärvi was Paavali
Ollinpoika Halonen, who moved from Niskankylvi in Utajärvi to
Kemijärvi in about 1580. His wife was Anna Laurintytär Halonen and
his children were Paavo, Olli and Pekka Halonen. Paul's residence is
now known as Halosenranta. Other pioneers who arrived at the same
time were Pekka and Matti Kärppä of the Kärpä family, coming from
Muhos along the Oulujoki River, who inhabited two of all 13 houses
in Kemijärvi according to the 1631 house list. Four of these
remained permanently inhabited: the house of Paavo Halonen, the
houses of Pekka and Matti Kärpä and the house of Heikki Häikä called
Luusua. Ämmänvaara in the area of Kemijärvi municipality is an
ancient Sámi place of sacrifice. When the first new pioneers
arrived, the Sámi no longer lived in the area of what is now
The Kemijärvi parish was separated from the Kemi parish in 1779 and the Kemijärvi municipality was founded in 1871. The Kemijärvi church village was formed into a large-scale community in 1912 and in 1957 the church village was separated from the municipality into a town and the former Kemijärvi municipality changed to Kemijärvi rural municipality. This was the last time the word rural municipality was added to the name of a Finnish municipality. The period of separation lasted only 16 years, as in 1973 the Kemijärvi township and the Kemijärvi countryside merged. At the same time, Kemijärvi became the city of Kemijärvi.
The coat of arms of the former Kemijärvi countryside, which had originally been affixed to the entire municipality of Kemijärvi before the separation of the town, was taken as the city's coat of arms. The population of Lake Kemijärvi was at its peak just before the union of rural and urban areas, when a total of more than 16,000 inhabitants lived in these municipalities. Ecclesiastically, the center of Kemijärvi has never been separate from the surrounding sparsely populated area; During the existence of the Kemijärvi township and the rural municipality, the inhabitants of both municipalities belonged to the same Kemijärvi parish and therefore there were no parishes whose names would have been the Kemijärvi township and rural parish. Kemijärvi Church was built in 1950, originally located in the then municipality called Kemijärvi and in 1957–1972 in a township.
The closure of the Kemijärvi pulp mill in the spring of 2008 attracted a great deal of attention. The continuation of the local industry was then generously supported by public funds. Arktos Group, which was to start manufacturing glulam beams, became the successor of the factory. However, production could not start and in early 2012 the company underwent a corporate restructuring.
Keitele Group opened the property of the former pulp mill. Its factory produces softwood sawn timber, planed timber and glulam.
In 2015, it was reported that a biorefinery investment of EUR 700-800 million is planned for Kemijärvi, which will create an estimated 1,000 jobs. Numerous complaints were registered about the biorefinery's environmental permit in 2019.