The Island of Gotland

    The short story about Gotland:  
    Gotland is an island off the East coast of Sweden out in the Baltic Sea.  It is about 100 miles south of Stockholm and about 50 miles East of the mainland of Sweden.  The island is approximately 75 miles long and 25 miles wide.  The principle city is Visby which was founded in 897 and since 1645, the island has been a part of Sweden.  The Russians tried to invade the island in 1808, but only managed to hold their positions for three weeks.  Between 900 and 1200 the people of Gotland "Gutarna" dominated the Baltic Sea and helped Birger Jarl ( King of Svea rike) to build Stockholm.  Later in the years 1300 - 1500, Gotland's strategic position in the Baltic Sea made it a powerful center for merchandising and an interesting target to conquer.  Germans, Danishs and Swedes fought over Gotland in this period and a lot of lives were lost. Gotland was owned by Germany for shorter periodes and the Danish for several years during that period.  Not until some hundred years after Sweden was united by Gustav Vasa in 1521 the island permanently became a part of Sweden.
   This account of Gotland was submitted by Anna-Karin Westmark of Stockholm, Sweden.   She also relayed the following paragraph.

    When I was young my parents rented a house on Gotland by the sea and we had a nice summer there.  At the age of 15 I went around the island by bike.  It's a beautiful place with flowers you can't find anywhere else.  People speak a dialect that is closer to the Swedish that the Vikings once spoke.  In the summer the youth of Stockholm go to Visby.  That is also the place to be if you are interested in history since there are lots of well preserved buildings, like the wall around Visby, dated from 1200.  A Swedish author named Astrid Lindgren, who died recently, wrote some popular children's books about a character named "Pippi Longstocking."  A lot of movies were made about Pippi in the 1970's all registered in the region south of Visby.

Website for Gotland

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