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They have inhabited the northern arctic and sub-arctic regions of Fenno-Scandinavia and Russia for at least 5,000 years.It is hypothesized that the Komsa followed receding glaciers inland from the Arctic coast at the end of the last ice age (between 11,0 years B.C.) as new land opened up for settlement (e.g., modern Finnmark area in the northeast, to the coast of the Kola Peninsula).
Finns living in Finnish Lapland generally call themselves lappilainen, whereas the similar word for the Sámi people is lappalainen.
The term "Lapp" was popularized and became the standard terminology by the work of Johannes Schefferus, Acta Lapponica (1673), but was also used earlier by Olaus Magnus in his Description of the Northern people (1555).
There is another suggestion that it originally meant "wilds".
In Norway, however, Sami were still called Finns at least until the modern era (reflected in toponyms like Finnmark, Finnsnes, Finnfjord and Finnøy) and some Northern Norwegians will still occasionally use Finn to refer to Sami people, although the Sami themselves now consider this to be a pejorative term.
Finnish immigrants to Northern Norway in the 18th and 19th centuries were referred to as "Kvens" to distinguish them from the Sami "Finns". The word Lapp can be traced to Old Swedish lapper, Icelandic lappir (plural), probably of Finnish origin; compare Finnish lappalainen "Lapp", Lappi "Lapland" (possibly meaning "wilderness in the north"), the original meaning being unknown.