They descended from Finnish peasants and fishermen who emigrated from the northern parts of Finland and Sweden to Northern Norway
Kvens (Kven: kvääni, Finnish: kveeni, Norwegian: kvenar, kvener, Swedish: kväner, Northern Sami: kveanat) are a Balto-Finnic ethnic minority in Norway. They descended from Finnish peasants and fishermen who emigrated from the northern parts of Finland and Sweden to Northern Norway in the 18th and 19th centuries.
There is a theory among some academic groups that due to the discrimination and suppression by the Norwegian authorities the term Kven became derogatory in the late 19th century. Therefore, many Kvens preferred to be called ‘kainulaiset‘. But with the revitalization of the Kven culture in the 1970s, Kvens themselves started using the term. However, even in the 1990s there was a debate whether the Norwegian terms ‘finne‘, ‘finsk‘, or ‘finskætted‘ (respectively a Finnish person, Finnish, and of Finnish origin) should be used instead. However, today the term Kven is accepted and used, for example, in the name of the Kven organization in Norway (Norske Kveners Forbund).
In 1996, the Kvens were granted minority status in Norway, and in 2005 the Kven language was recognized as a minority language in Norway.
The Kven language is a Finnic language. From a linguistic point of view, Kven is a mutually intelligible dialect of Finnish, but for political and historical reasons, it received in 2005 status of a legal minority language in Norway, within the framework of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
Kven differs from Finnish since the Kven population was in effect isolated from other Finnish-speaking people. The Kven language has come to incorporate many Norwegian loanwords, and Finnish words that are no longer used in Finland are still used. In a 2005 government report, the number of people speaking Kven in Norway is estimated to be between 2,000 and 8,000, depending on the criteria used.