Coat of Arms
|Total islands||14 large + a number of smaller|
|Major islands||Gotland, Fårö, Gotska sandön, Furillen|
|Area||3,183.7 km2 (1,229.2 sq mi)|
|Length||176 km (109.4 mi)|
|Width||52 km (32.3 mi)|
|Coastline||800 km (500 mi) (including Fårö)|
|Highest elevation||82 m (269 ft)|
|Highest point||Lojsta hed|
|Largest settlement||Visby (pop. 23,600)|
|Population||57,221 (as of 2009)|
|Density||18.25 /km2 (47.27 /sq mi)|
Gotland (//; Swedish pronunciation: [ˈɡɔtland] ( listen), older spellings include Gottland // or Gothland //,), Gutland in the local language Gutnish, is a province, county, municipality, and diocese of Sweden. It is Sweden's largest island. The province includes the small islands of Fårö and Gotska Sandön to the north, as well as the even smaller Karlsö Islands (Lilla and Stora) to the west. The population is 57,221, of which about 23,600 live in Visby, the main town. The island of Gotland and the other areas of the province of Gotland make up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area.
The island's main sources of income are agriculture along with food processing, tourism, IT solutions, design, and some heavy industry such as concrete production from locally mined limestone. From a military viewpoint, it occupies a strategic location in the Baltic sea.
The island is the home of the Gutes (the tribal name of the Gotlandic people), and sites such as Ajvide show that it has been occupied since prehistory. A DNA study conducted on the 5,000 year-old skeletal remains of three Middle Neolithic seal hunters from Gotland showed that they were related to modern-day Finns, while a farmer from Gökhem parish in Västergötland on the mainland was found to be more closely related to modern-day Mediterraneans. This is consistent with the spread of agricultural peoples from the Middle East at about that time.
Early on, Gotland became a commercial center, with the town of Visby the most important Hanseatic city in the Baltic Sea. In late medieval times, the island had twenty district courts (tings), each represented by its elected judge at the island-ting, called landsting. New laws were decided at the landsting, which also took other decisions regarding the island as a whole.
Orkneyinga saga was written around 1200 CE by an unknown Icelandic author. The Hversu account is only known to have survived in one single copy in Icelandic Flateyjarbók from 1387 CE, but may have been written earlier. According to Orkneyinga saga, Norwegian rulers were descendants of king Fornjót who "reigned over Gotland, which we now know as Finland and Kvenland". The Hversu account states that a descendant of Fornjót "ruled over Gothland, Kvenland (Kænlandi), and Finland".
Gutasaga contains legends of how the island was settled by Þieluar and populated by his descendants. It also tells that a third of the population had to emigrate and settle in southern Europe, a tradition associated with the migration of the Goths, whose name has the same origin as Gutes, the native name of the people of the island. It later tells that the Gutes voluntarily submitted to the king of Sweden and asserts that the submission was based on mutual agreement, and notes the duties and obligations of the Swedish King and Bishop in relationship to Gotland. According to some historians it is therefore not only an effort to write down the history of Gotland, but also an effort to assert Gotland's independence from Sweden.
It gives Awair Strabain as the name of the man who arranged the mutually beneficial agreement with the king of Sweden; the event would have taken place before the end of the 9th century, when Wulfstan of Hedeby reported that the island was subject to the Swedes:
The Discovery of Muscovy –
The city of Visby and rest of the island were governed separately, and a civil war caused by conflicts between the German merchants in Visby and the peasants they traded with in the countryside had to be put down by King Magnus III of Sweden in 1288. In 1361, Valdemar Atterdag of Denmark invaded the island. The Victual Brothers occupied the island in 1394 to set up a stronghold as a headquarters of their own in Visby. At last, Gotland became a fief of the Teutonic Knights, awarded to them on the condition that they expel the piratical Victual Brothers from their fortified sanctuary. An invading army of Teutonic Knights conquered the island in 1398, destroying Visby and driving the Victual Brothers from Gotland. In 1409 Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen of the Teutonic Knights guaranteed peace with the Kalmar Union of Scandinavia by selling the island of Gotland to Queen Margaret of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
The number of Arab dirhams discovered on the island of Gotland alone is astoundingly high. In the various hoards located around the island, there are more of these silver coins than at any other site in Western Eurasia. The total sum is almost as great as the number that has been unearthed in the entire Muslim world. These coins moved north through trade between Rus merchants and the Abbasid Caliphate, along the Silver-Fur Road, and the money made by Scandinavian merchants would help northern Europe, especially Viking Scandinavia and the Carolingian Empire, as major commercial centers for the next several centuries.
The authority of the landsting was successively eroded after the island was occupied by the Teutonic Order, then sold to Eric of Pomerania and after 1449 ruled by Danish governors. In late medieval times, the ting consisted of twelve representatives for the farmers, free-holders or tenants. Since the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645, the island has remained under Swedish rule.
On 16 July 1999, the world's largest Viking silver treasure, the Spillings Hoard, was found in a field at Spillings farm northwest of Slite. The silver treasure was divided into two parts weighing a total of 67 kg (148 lb) (27 kg (60 lb) and 40 kg (88 lb)) and consisted mostly of coins, about 14,000, from foreign countries, mostly Islamic. It also contained about 20 kg (44 lb) of bronze objects along with numerous everyday objects such as nails, glass beads, parts of tools, pottery, iron bands and clasps. The treasure was found by using a metal detector, and the finders fee, given to the farmer who owned the land, was over 2 million crowns (about US$308,000). The treasure was found almost by accident while filming a news report for TV4 about illegal treasure hunting on Gotland.
The traditional provinces of Sweden serve no administrative or political purposes today, but are historical and cultural entities. In the case of Gotland, however, due to its insular position, the administrative county (län), Gotland County, and the municipality (kommun), Gotland Municipality, both cover the same territory as the province. Furthermore, the diocese of Visby is also congruent with the province.
Gotland was granted its arms in about 1560. The coat of arms is represented with a ducal coronet. Blazon: "Azure a ram statant Argent armed Or holding on a cross-staff of the same a banner Gules bordered and with five tails of the third." The county was granted the same coat of arms in 1936. The municipality, created in 1971, uses the same picture, but with other tinctures.
The Gotlandic flag displays the Gotlandic coat of arms, white on red ground, known from the 13th century in the shape of the seal of the Gutnish Republic with the proud ram. It reads: "Gutenses signo xpistus signatur in agno".
Gotland is Sweden's largest island, and it is the largest island fully encompassed by the Baltic Sea (with Denmark's Zealand at the Baltic's edge). With its total area of 3,183.7 km2 (1,229.2 sq mi) the island of Gotland and the other areas of the province of Gotland make up 0.8% of Sweden's total land area. The province includes the small islands of Fårö and Gotska Sandön to the north, as well as the Karlsö Islands, (Lilla and Stora) to the west, which are even smaller. The island of Gotland has an area of 2,994 km2 (1,156 sq mi), whereas the province has 3,183.7 km2 (1,229.2 sq mi) [3,151 km2 (1,217 sq mi) of land excluding the lakes and rivers]. The population is 57,221, of which about 23,600 live in Visby, the seat of the municipality as well as the capital of the county. About two-fifths of the island's population live in Visby.
Gotland is located about 90 km (56 mi) east of the Swedish mainland and about 130 km (81 mi) from the Baltic states, Latvia being the nearest. Gotland is the name of the main island, but the adjacent islands are generally considered part of Gotland and the Gotlandic culture:
Gotland contains many popular beaches, such as Tofta Strand, and Hundfria strand.
The highest point of the island is Lojsta Hed which stands 82 m (269 ft) above sea level.
Gotland is made up of a sequence of sedimentary rocks of a Silurian age, dipping to the south-east. The main Silurian succession of limestones and shales comprises thirteen units spanning 200 to 500 m (660 to 1,640 ft) of stratigraphic thickness, being thickest in the south, and overlies a 75 to 125 m (246 to 410 ft) thick Ordovician sequence.
It was deposited in a shallow, hot and salty sea, on the edge of an equatorial continent. The water depth never exceeded 175 to 200 m (574 to 656 ft), and shallowed over time as bioherm detritus, and terrestrial sediments, filled the basin. Reef growth started in the Llandovery, when the sea was 50 to 100 m (160 to 330 ft), and reefs continued to dominate the sedimentary record. Some sandstones are present in the youngest rocks towards the south of the island, which represent sand bars deposited very close to the shore line.
The lime rocks have been weathered into characteristic karstic rock formations known as rauks. Fossils, mainly of rugose corals and brachiopods, are abundant throughout the island; palæo-sea-stacks are preserved in places.
The island's main sources of income are agriculture along with food processing, tourism, IT solutions, design and some heavy industry such as concrete production from locally mined limestone. Most of Gotland's economy is based on small scale production. In 2012, there were over 7,500 registered companies on Gotland. 1,500 of these had more than one employee.
|Gotlands largest employers in 2012|
|Gotlands Kommun ("Gotland Municipality")||5950|
|AB Svenska Spel ("Swedish Games")||425|
|Destination Gotland (Ferries and accommodations)||400|
|Försäkringskassan ("Swedish Social Insurance Agency")||375|
|PayEx ("Payment solutions")||325|
|Samhall AB (Providing employment for disabled persons)||275|
|Cementa (Concrete industry)||235|
|Högskolan Gotland ("Gotland university")||225|
|Attendo Sverige AB (Personal assistance)||175|
|COOP Gotland ek för. (Swedish consumers co-operative)||125|
|Gotlands Bilfrakt AB (Freight company)||125|
|GEAB (Gotland electrical company)||125|
|Gotlands Hemstjänster AB (Personal assistance)||125|
|Omsorgshuset I Stockholm AB (Personal assistance)||125|
|Posten meddelande AB ("Swedish Post")||125|
|Riksantikvarieämbetet ("Swedish National Heritage Board")||125|
|Skatteverket ("Swedish Tax Agency")||125|
|Wisby Assistans AB (Personal assistance)||125|
Gotland occupies a strategic location in the Baltic sea from a defence viewpoint. In somewhat belated recognition of this fact, the Swedish government decided in March 2015 to begin reestablishing a permanent military presence on Gotland, starting with an initial 150 troop garrison, consisting primarily of elements from the Swedish Army. It has been reported that the bulk of this initial garrison will make up a new motorised rifle battalion, alternatively referred to in other reports as a "modular-structured rapid response Army battalion". A later report claimed that plans were at an advanced stage for a support helicopter squadron and an Air Force "fast response Gripen jet squadron" to also be based on the island to support the new garrison and further reinforce the defences. Prior to the disbandment of the original garrison, there had been a continuous Swedish military presence on Gotland in one form or another, for nearly 200 years.
After the standing down of the original garrison, a battalion of the Swedish Home Guard is based on Gotland for emergencies as part of the Eastern Military Region (MR E). The unit, 32:a Gotlandsbataljonen (the 32nd Gotland battalion), acts as a reserve component of the Swedish Amphibious Corps. Among the residual war reserve stocks reported to be still in storage on Gotland in March 2015, were 14 tanks (Stridsvagn 122s) at the Tofta skjutfält (the Tofta firing range), but without any crews or dedicated maintenance personnel assigned to them.
The Tofta firing range itself (also known as the Tofta Tank firing range), is a military training ground which is located 8 km (5.0 mi) south of Visby. Another less common name for the range is the Toftasjön firing range. Tracing its origins back to 1898, as of 2008 the range extended over 2,700 acres (11 km2). It was a major training and storage facility for the Gotland garrison during its existence, and was still occasionally used for training by various elements of the Armed Forces since the garrison was shut down in 2005. However, from the second half of 2014 onwards, there has been a marked increase in the use of the range, especially by armored units (mostly company sized), as tensions in Northeastern Europe have escalated. At least one of the buildings on the range, the former tank repair shop, is currently owned by a private company (Peab), with the military renting back the top floor for its own use.
The first modern day tourists came to Gotland during the 19th century and were known as "bathers". Gotland became very popular with socialites at the time through Princess Eugenie who lived in Västerhejde, in the west part of the island from the 1860s.
When a new law ensuring two weeks vacation for all employees in Sweden was passed in 1938, camping became a popular pastime among the Swedes, and in 1955, Gotland was visited by 80,000 people. In the 1970s mostly young people were attracted to Gotland. Since 2010 the island has become a more versatile vacation spot visited by people from all over the world, in all manner of ways.
Gotland is one of Sweden's most noted tourist destinations. In 2001 it was the fifth largest tourist destination in Sweden based on the total number of guest nights. Gotland is usually the part of Sweden which receives the most hours of sunlight during a year with Visby statistically the location with the most sunshine in Sweden. In 2007 approximately 750,000 people visited Gotland.
In 1996, for the first time, ferries between Gotland and mainland Sweden carried more than 1 million passengers in a year. In 2007, the number of passengers exceeded 1.5 million. In 2012, the ferries had 1,590,271 passengers and the airlines 327,255 passengers.
|Number of tourists from top five countries in 2012|
|Based on the number of commercial guest nights at hotels, cabins, hostels, camping and private lodgings.|
The main port of call on Gotland is Visby. The city is visited by a number of cruise ships every year. About 40 cruise lines frequent the Baltic sea with Visby as one of their destinations. In 2005, 147 ships docked at Visby, in 2010 the number was 69. In 2014, 62 ships are scheduled to visit Visby. The decrease in visiting ships is due to the fact that the modern cruise ships are too large to enter Visby harbor. Ships must anchor a fair distance from shore whereupon passengers are shuttled to shore in small boats, which is not possible during bad weather. In 2007, the first proposition for building a new pier at Visby harbor, large enough to serve the modern cruise ships, was made. In 2011, the matter of the new pier was discussed in the Riksdag and in 2012 research and planning for the pier began. In January 2014 a letter of intent for building a new cruise pier in Visby harbor was signed by Region Gotland and Copenhagen Malmö Port (CMP). The pier is scheduled to be finished in 2018. The estimated cost is 250 million crowns (about US$38.52 million).
A number of stones with grooves exist on Gotland. Archaeologists interpret these grooves as traces of an unknown industrial process in the High Middle Ages. There are approximately 3,700 grinding grooves, of which about 750 occur in the solid limestone outcrop and the rest in other rock formations. The latter often consist of hard rocks such as granite or gneiss, but also soft rocks such as sandstone occur. Grinding grooves are also found in Skåne, in southern Sweden and in Finland. Astronomer Göran Henriksson dates a number of these grinding grooves to the Stone Age, from c. 3300 BCE to c. 2000 BCE, based on astronomical alignments, although his methodology has been heavily criticized.
The Medieval town of Visby has been entered as a site of the UNESCO World heritage programme. An impressive feature of Visby is the fortress wall that surrounds the old city, dating from the 13th century.
In the 13th century, a work containing the laws of the island, called "the Gotlandic law" (Gutalagen), was published in the ancient Gutnish language.
Gotland is famous for its 94 medieval churches (see Churches on Gotland), most of which are restored and in active use. These churches exhibit two major styles of architecture: Romanesque and Gothic. The older churches were constructed in the Romanesque style from 1150–1250. The newer churches were constructed in the Gothic architectural style that prevailed from about 1250–1400. The oldest painting inside one of the churches on Gotland stretches as far back in time as the 12th century.
Traditional games of skill like Kubb, Pärk, and Varpa are played on Gotland. They are part of what has become called "Gutniska Lekar", and are performed preferably on the Midsummer's Eve celebration on the island, but also throughout the summer months. The games have widespread renown; some of them are played by people as far away as in the United States.
The knotwork design subsequently named the "Valknut" has the most attested historic instances on picture stones in Gotland, which include being on both the Stora Hammars I and the Tängelgårda stones. Gotland also has a rich heritage of folklore, including myths about the bysen, Di sma undar jordi, Hoburgsgubben and the Martebo lights.
In 2012, there were 171 registered sports organizations on Gotland.
Gotland has two senior women's sport teams playing in the first tiers: basketball team Visby Ladies Basket Club (in Basketligan dam) and floorball team Endre IF (in the Swedish Super League). Visby Ladies won the Swedish Championship in 2005.
The Long Ships, or Red Orm (original title: Röde Orm), a best-selling Swedish novel written by Frans G. Bengtsson, contains a vivid description of Gotland in the Viking Age. A section of the book is devoted to a Viking ship setting out to Russia, stopping on its way at Gotland and engaging a pilot from the island who plays an important part in their voyage. Gotlanders of the Viking era are depicted as city people, more sophisticated and cosmopolitan than other Scandinavians of their time, and proud of their knowledge and skills.
Naomi Mitchison, in her autobiographic book "You may well ask", relates an experience during a walking tour in Sweden: "Over in Gotland I walked again, further than I would have if I had realized that the milestones were in old Swedish miles, so that my disappointing three-mile walk along the cold sea edge under the strange ancient fortifications was really fifteen English miles".
The crime novels of Mari Jungstedt, featuring Detective Superintendent Anders Knutas, are set on Gotland.
In the Battlefield Vietnam video game modification Invasion Gotland, the Soviet army invades Gotland in 1977.
For the 1989 Studio Ghibli film, Kiki's Delivery Service, by Hayao Miyazaki, he and other illustrators spent time in Gotland in preparation for animation.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gotland.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Gotland.|
|Look up gotland in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Gotland.|