The person who coined this phrase really hit the nail on the head. The area represents a piece of northern nature at its very best with rivers, forests, mountains and lakes, giving the region a particular character and profile. When viewed from above, the central area is similar to a precious stone with the blue ribbon of the Pite River along the edge, enclosed by high, steep mountains.
Pearl number one is Storforsen, some 40 kilometres upriver. Here, with its 82-metre fall, we have Europe’s biggest free-flowing rapids - an impressive and powerful natural spectacle which has become by far the biggest tourist attraction in the area.
About 9,000 people live in Älvsbyn, which has a population density of only five people per square kilometre. The geographical location is favourable, and in less than one hour you can reach the towns of Boden, Piteå and Luleå which together with Älvsbyn form a cluster of around 150,000 inhabitants. Airports are found in Luleå and in Arvidsjaur, both within an hour’s travelling distance.
Industry in Älvsbyn is dominated by Älvsbyhus, Polarbageriet and RFN. Älvsbyhus is the biggest manufacturer of pre-fabricated houses in Sweden with an annual production of around 1,000 houses. The Polar Bakery (Polarbageriet) has a history that goes back 100 years, when baker’s apprentice Johan Nilsson arrived in Älvsbyn. Today the company is being run by the fifth generation of Nilssons, and every twelfth loaf that is sold in Sweden comes from the Polar Bakery. RFN is the Defence Department’s extensive land-based proving facility for robots and other ordnance.
Around these three major workplaces, a significant number of small companies have emerged. Among them, the land-based car testing facility built by Arctic Falls and equipped with every conceivable refinement.