county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden and the
largest island in the Baltic Sea.
At 3,140 square kilometers in area, it
makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area.
also includes the small islands of Fårö and Gotska
Sandön to the north, and the tiny Karlsö Islands to the west.
inhabitants number is 57,317 (2006 SCB figure), with about 22,600
living in the primary city Visby.
main sources of income to the island are tourism
production from locally mined
The traditional provinces of
serve no administrative or political purposes, 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,
Municipality both cover the same territory as the
Furthermore, the Diocese of Visby
is also congruent with the
was granted its arms in about 1560, even though the island was at
the time occupied by Danish
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 Gotlandic Republic with the proud ram. It reads: "Gutenses
signo xpistus signatur in agno". This can be translated as follows:
"I (the ram) am the sign of the Gotlanders, but with the lamb
Visby, with about
two fifths of the island's population (approximately 22,600), is
the seat of the municipality as well as the capital of the
located about 90 km east of the Swedish mainland and about 130 km
from the Baltic States, Latvia, being the
Map of Gotland
The island Gotland is obviously just one island,
but the historical province of Gotland also includes adjacent
islands, which are often considered part of the Gotlandic
There are several shallow lakes located near shores of the island.
biggest is Lake Bästeträsk, located near Fleringe in
the northern part of Gotland.
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
comprises thirteen units spanning
200-500 m of stratigraphic thickness, being thickest in the
south, and overlies a 75-125 m 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 175–200 m, and shallowed over
time as bioherm
detritus, and terrestrial
sediments, filled the basin. Reef growth started in the Llandovery, when the sea was 50–100 m deep, and reefs
continued to dominate the sedimentary record.
sandstones are present in the youngest rocks towards the south of
the island, which represent sand bars deposited very close to the
The lime rocks have been weathered into characteristic karstic rock formations
known as rauks
. Fossils, mainly of rugose corals
, are abundant throughout the island;
are preserved in
The island is the home of the Gutar
) and sites such as Ajvide
show that it has been occupied since prehistory
. Early on Gotland became a commercial center
and the town of Visby was the most
important Hanseatic city in the
In late medieval time, the island had twenty
district courts (ting
represented at the island-ting, called landsting
, by its
elected judge. New laws were decided at the landsting, which also
took other decisions regarding the island as a whole.
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 Gutar
, the native name
of the people of the island. It later tells that the Gotlanders
voluntarily submitted to the king of Sweden and asserts that it is
based on mutual agreements, and notes the duties and obligations of
the Swedish King and Bishop in relationship to Gotland. It is
therefore not only an effort to write down the history of Gotland,
but also an effort to assert Gotland's independence from
It gives Awair Strabain
as the man
who arranged the mutually beneficial agreement with the king of
Sweden, and the event would have taken place before the end of the
9th century, when Wulfstan of
reported that the island was subject to the
Then, after the land of the Burgundians, we had on our left the lands that have been called
from the earliest times Blekingey, and Meore, and Eowland, and Gotland, all which territory is subject to the
Sweons; and Weonodland was all the way on our right, as far as
The region is considered by some historians to be the original
homeland of the Goths
The Visby city wall, near the North
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 trading peasants on the countryside had to be put
down by King Magnus III of
in 1288. In 1361, Valdemar Atterdag of Denmark
invaded the island. The Victual
occupied the island in 1394 to set up a stronghold
headquarters on their own in Visby. At last Gotland came as a
of the Teutonic Knights
, awarded to them on the
condition that they expel the piratical Victual Brothers from their
fortified sanctuary. An invasion army of Teutonic Knights
conquered the island in
1398, destroying Visby and driving the Victual Brothers from
Gotland. In 1409 guaranteed Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen
of the Teutonic
Knights peace with the Kalmar Union
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
located around the island, there are
more of these silver coins than 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
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 Berezan' Runestone
discovered in 1905 in Ukraine, was made by a Varangian
named Grani in memory of his business
Karl. It is assumed that they were from Gotland.
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
In late medieval times, the ting consisted of
twelve representatives for the farmers, free-holders or tenants.
Since the Treaty of
in 1645, the island has remained under Swedish
medieval town of Visby has been
entered as a site of the UNESCO World heritage program.
Iron age axe from Gotland.
feature of Visby is the fortress wall that surrounds the old city,
dating from the time of the Hanseatic League.
The inhabitants of Gotland traditionally spoke their own language,
known as Gutnish
. Today however, they have
adapted a dialect of Swedish that is known as "Gotländska".In the
13th century, a work containing the laws of the island, called "The
Gotlandic law" (Gutalagen), was published in the ancient Gutnish
Gotland is famous for its 94 medieval churches, most of which are
restored and in active use. These churches exhibit two major styles
of architecture: Romanesque
. The older churches
were constructed in the Romanesque style from 1150–1250 A.D. The
newer churches were constructed in the Gothic architectural style
that prevailed from about 1250 to 1400 A.D. 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
, 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.
knotwork design subsequently named the "Valknut" has the most attested historic instances on
picture stones in Gotland, which
include being on both the Stora
Hammar stone and the Tängelgårda stone.
There are also thousands of mysterious
on the island that are
suspected of having been used for archaeoastronomy
Gotland also has a rich heritage of folklore, including myths about
sma undar jordi
, Hoburgsgubben and the Martebo lights
Gotland competes in the bi-annual Island Games
it hosted in 1999.
- Christopher Polhem
(1661–1751), the father of Swedish mechanical physics was born in
Visby. He was also called the "Archimedes
of the North".
- Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman lived on Fårö, the small island directly north of Gotland
- Former ice hockey player in the NHL Håkan Loob.
- Lennart Eriksson,
also known as Fjodor, the old punk star
from Ebba Grön moved to
Gotland soon after he left the band in 1982.
- Singer Susanne Alfvengren,
famous in Sweden during the 1980s.
- Death metal band Grave hails from
- Cyclist Thomas Lövkvist is
from Visby. He is occasionally referred to by his nickname
- Singer/composer/musician Theresa
Andersson, currently living/working in the U.S.
References in popular culture
The Long Ships
, or Red
(original title: Röde Orm
), a best-selling
novel written by Frans Gunnar Bengtsson
, contains a
vivid description of Gotland in the Viking period. 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.
The crime novels
of Mari Jungstedt
, featuring Detective
Superintendent Anders Knutas, are set on Gotland.
In the Battlefield Vietnam
modification Invasion Gotland
invades Gotland in
- Gotland Grand National (GGN) is and annual enduro race on
Gotland. GGN is a part of the swedish enduroklassikern(enduro
classics,Ränneslättsloppet,Stångebroslaget and Gotland Grand
- Clara Nevéus, Bror jacques de Wærn: Ny svensk
- Creer 1973
- Gray, Laufield & Boucot, 1974
- See Goths and
Scandza for more
information on this matter.
- Gotland is famous for its 94 medieval