Meänkieli (literally “our language”) is a Finnic language or a group of distinct Finnish dialects spoken in the northernmost part of Sweden along the valley of the Torne River. Its status as an independent language is disputed, but in Sweden it is recognized as one of the country’s five minority languages[needs clarification].
On April 1, 2000, Meänkieli became one of the now five nationally recognized minority languages of Sweden, which means it can be used for some communication with local and regional authorities in the communities along the Finnish border. Its minority language status applies in designated local communities and areas, not throughout Sweden.
Meänmaa (Meänkieli for ‘”Our Land”‘), or sometimes Torne Valley or Torne River Valley (Finnish: Tornionlaakso; Swedish: Tornedalen) lies at the border of Sweden and Finland. It is named after the Torne River flowing through the valley and into the Gulf of Bothnia.
Geographically the townships and municipalities that make up the area are Haparanda, Övertorneå, Pajala and Kiruna in Sweden, and Tornio, Ylitornio, Pello, Kolari, Muonio and Enontekiö in Finland. Culturally the Swedish municipality Gällivare is also considered part of Meänmaa due to the large share of Meänkieli-speaking population in it. Torne Valley should not be confused with Torne Valley Sub-region.