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The provinces of Swedenmarker, landskap, are historical, geographical and cultural regions. Sweden has 25 provinces and they have no administrative function, but remain historical legacies and the means of cultural identification.

Several of them were subdivisions of Swedenmarker until 1634, when they were replaced by the counties of Sweden (län). Some were conquered later on from Denmark-Norway. Others like the provinces of Finland were lost. Laplandmarker is the only province acquired through colonization.

In some cases, the administrative counties correspond almost exactly to the provinces, as is Blekingemarker to Blekinge Countymarker and Gotland, which is a provincemarker, countymarker and a municipalitymarker. While not exactly corresponding with the province, Härjedalen Municipalitymarker is beside Gotland the only municipality named after a province. In other cases, they do not, which then enhances the cultural importance of the provinces. In addition, the administrative units are subject to continuous changes – several new counties were for instance created in the 1990s – while the provinces have had their historical borders outlined for centuries.

The provinces of Sweden are still used in colloquial speech and cultural references, The provinces of Sweden can therefore not be regarded as an anachronistic concept. The main exception is Lapland where the population see themselves as a part of Västerbottenmarker or Norrbottenmarker, based on the counties.

Provinces





* Latin forms used occasionally in the English and some other non-Swedish languages, the exeption being Scania which is the "normal" form in English.

History

Sweden's provinces from 1658 to 1809.
The origins of the provincial divisioning lays in the petty kingdoms that were gradually more and more submitted to the rule of the King of Sweden during the consolidation of Sweden. Until the country law of Magnus Ericson in the 1360s, each of these lands still had its own laws with its own assembly (the thing), and in effect governed themselves. The historical provinces were held as duchies, but newly conquered provinces added to the kingdom either received the status of a duchy or a county, depending on its importance.

Of the conquests made after the separation from the Kalmar Union in 1523 only some were incorporated as provinces. The most permanent acquisitions were from the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658, in which the former Danishmarker Scanian lands – the provinces of Skåne, Blekingemarker, Hallandmarker and Gotlandmarker – along with the Norwegian Bohuslänmarker, Jämtlandmarker and Härjedalenmarker, became Swedish and gradually integrated. Other foreign territories were ruled as Swedish Dominions under the Swedish monarch, in some cases lasting for two or three centuries. Norwaymarker was in personal union with Sweden from 1814 to 1905, but never became an integral part of Sweden.

The division of Västerbottenmarker that took place with the cession of Finland caused Norrbottenmarker to emerge as a county, and eventually being recognized as a province in its own right. It was granted a coat of arms as late as in 1995.

Some scholars mean that the province concept was revived in the 19th century.

History provinces according to lands

Sweden was historically divided into the four lands:

Götaland and Svealand consisted before c. 1000 AD of petty kingdoms: The main tribe of Götaland was the Geats; the main tribe of Svealand was the Suiones (or the "historical Swedes"). Norrland was the denomination for all the unexplored northern parts. Österland (the name had early come out of use) in Finland, was an integral part of Sweden, but was in 1809 annexed by Russia as the Grand Duchy of Finland, and since 1917 the independent country Finlandmarker. The borders of these regions have changed several times throughout history and Norrland, Svealand and Götaland are only parts of Sweden, a collective of provinces.

Heraldry

At the funeral of King Gustav Vasa (Gustav I) in 1560 some early versions of coats of arms for 23 of the provinces listed below were displayed together for the first time, most of them having been created for that particular occasion. Erik XIV of Sweden modeled the funeral processions for Gustav Vasa on the continental renaissance funerals of influential German dukes, who in turn may have styled their display of power on Charles V's funeral procession, where flags where used to represent each entry in the long list of titles of the dead. Having only three flags as a representation of the entities Svealand, Götaland and Wends mentioned in Vasa's title, "King of Sweden, the Goths and the Wends", would have been diminutive in comparison with the pompous displays of ducal power on the continent, so flags were promptly created to represent each of the provinces. At the funeral of Charles X Gustav more flags were added to the procession, namely the coat of arms for Estoniamarker, Livonia, Ingria, Narvamarker, Pommerania, Bremenmarker and Verdenmarker, as well as coat of arms for the German cities Klevemarker, Sponheimmarker, Jülichmarker, Ravensburgmarker and Bayernmarker.

Since most of the historical Swedish provinces did not have set coat of arms at the time of Gustav Vasa's death, they were promptly created and granted. However, some of the coat of arms designed for the occasion were short-lived, such as the beaver picked to represent Medelpadmarker, the wolverine in the coat of arms for Värmlandmarker and the rose adorned coat of arms for Smålandmarker. Östergötlandmarker was for the occasion represented by two coats of arms, one with a Västanstång dragon and one with a Östanstång lion. The current coat of arms for Östergötland, listed below, was created in 1884. The savage representing Lappland was not used in Vasa's procession, but was adopted as a coat of arms at the funeral procession of Charles IX in 1612, where the savage was initially black. The current coat of arms for Lappland, with a red, club-carrying man, was created in 1949. The list of coat of arms appearing below is thus different than the funeral procession flags, and consists of more recent inventions, many created during a period of romantic nationalism in the 19th century.

After the separation of Sweden and Finland the traditions for respective provincial arms diverged, most noticeably following an order by the Privy Council on January 18, 1884. This established that that all Swedish provinces carry ducal crowns, while the Finnish provincial arms still distinguished between ducal and county dignity. A complication was that the representation of Finnish ducal and county coronets resemble Swedish coronets of a lower order, namely county and baronial. The division of Lapland necessitated a distinction between the Swedish and the Finnish arms.

For more information, see Lands of Sweden or articles on respective land or province.

Götaland

Götaland consists of ten historical provinces located in the southern part of Sweden. Until 1645 Gotlandmarker and Hallandmarker were parts of Denmark. Furthermore, until 1658 Blekingemarker and Scania were parts of Denmark and Bohuslänmarker part of Norwaymarker.


Bohuslänmarker

Blekingemarker

Dalslandmarker

Gotlandmarker

Hallandmarker

Skåne (Scania)

Smålandmarker

Västergötlandmarker

Ölandmarker

Östergötlandmarker


Svealand

Svealand consists of the following six provinces in middle Sweden.


Dalarnamarker

Närkemarker

Södermanlandmarker

Upplandmarker

Värmlandmarker

Västmanlandmarker


Norrland

Norrland consists today of nine provinces in northern and central Sweden. Until 1645 the provinces of Jämtlandmarker and Härjedalenmarker were parts of Norway. Swedish Laplandmarker was united with Finnish Laplandmarker as Lapland until 1809. Norrbottenmarker was separated from Västerbottenmarker and developed as a province of its own during the 19th century.




Ångermanlandmarker

Gästriklandmarker

Hälsinglandmarker

Härjedalenmarker

Jämtlandmarker

Lapplandmarker

Medelpadmarker

Norrbottenmarker

Västerbottenmarker


See also



References


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