Oulanka National Park is a national park in the Northern Ostrobothnia and Lapland regions of Finland, covering 270 square kilometres (104 sq mi). It was established in 1956 and was expanded again in 1982 and 1989, and it borders with Paanajärvi National Park in Russia. The first inhabitants in the area were Sami people from Lapland who lived here until the end of the 17th century, which was when they had to give way to Finnish settlers.
Although hunting, fishing and later farming was the primary occupation of the people who lived there, today the most notable activity in Oulanka is tourism. From the 1930s, the Finnish Tourist Association kept boats on the river and renovated the wooden cabins found across the park for accommodation purposes. These cabins can be used free of charge by any hikers in the area, given that they follow some basic guidelines and rules regarding the state of the cabins, the wood supply, and protecting the surrounding nature.
Oulanka National Park is a unique and versatile combination of northern, southern and eastern nature. The landscape is made up of pine forests, river valleys with sandy banks and rapids, and in the north of vast mires. It has a unique river ecosystem and is an example of untouched and unlogged boreal forest, close to the arctic circle, which is protected by World Wide Fund for Nature from intensive reindeer herding. The area is rich in animal and plant species, even endangered ones. Near the visitor's center is the Oulanka Research Center, which is part of the Thule Institute and was established in 1966 to facilitate research in biological and geological sciences. The research center also offers its facilities to visiting tourists or hikers, during the less busy seasons.