is the second largest Swedish island and the smallest of the traditional provinces of Sweden. Öland has an area of 1,342 km² and is located in Baltic Sea just off the coast of Småland. There are 25,000 inhabitants on the island and it is connected to the mainland across the Kalmar Strait through the Öland bridge, which opened in 1972.
The traditional provinces of Sweden
serve no administrative or political purposes, but are historical and cultural entities. Öland is part of the administrative county Kalmar County
) and is divided in two municipalities
, Borgholm Municipality
and Mörbylånga Municipality
. There was an Öland County
in the short period between 1819 and 1824; otherwise, the island has been part of Kalmar County since 1634.
Öland was granted provincial arms in 1560, but it would not be until the 1940s that the province was assigned its proper ones. The arms granted to Öland
had been mixed up with the arms granted to Åland
and this was not discovered until the 20th century. While Öland changed its, Åland, which was now a Finnish
(autonomous) province, kept its established but originally unintended coat of arms. The deer is meant to symbolise the status of Öland as a royal game park
and the arms are topped by a dukal crown. Blazon: "Azure a Deer Or attired, hoofed and gorged Gules."
Archaeological evidence indicates the island of Öland was settled about 8000 BC, with excavations dating to the Paleolithic era showing the presence of hunter-gatherers. In the early Stone Age settlers from the mainland migrated across the ice bridge that connected the island across the Kalmar Strait.
Evidence of habitation of Öland (known in earlier times as Oelandia) occurs at least as early as 6000 BC, when there were stone age settlements at Alby and other locations on the island. Burial grounds from the Iron Age through the Viking Age are clearly visible at Gettlinge, Hulterstad and other places on the perimeter ridge including stone ships.
There are nineteen Iron Age ringforts identified on the island, only one of which, Eketorp, has been completely excavated, yielding over 24,000 artifacts.
Around 900 AD, Wulfstan of Hedeby called the island "Eowland", the land of the Eowan:
- 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 Weissel-mouth.
However, this is not the first mention of the Eowans. There is an even earlier mention of the tribe in the Anglo-Saxon poem Widsith:
Scholars such as Schütte and Kendrick have pointed out that there was probably an even earlier mention of the people of Öland in 98 AD, by Tacitus, who called them the "Aviones":
- After the Langobardi come the Reudigni, Auiones, Angli, Varni, Eudoses, Suarines and Nuithones all well guarded by rivers and forests. There is nothing remarkable about any of these tribes unless it be the common worship of Nerthus, that is Earth Mother. They believe she is interested in men's affairs and drives among them. On an island in the ocean sea there is a sacred grove wherein waits a holy wagon covered by a drape. (Germania by Tacitus)
In Swedish history, the island long served as a royal game park; particularly Ottenby and Halltorps were selected by the Swedish Crown in the Middle Ages as royal game reseserves.
Öland is the second largest of the islands of Sweden
and was historically divided into one chartered city
and five hundreds
Cities and villages
- Highest mountain: Högsrum 55 meters
- Largest lake: Möckelmossen
- Length: 137 km
- Width (at widest point): 16 km
The dominant environmental feature of the island is the Stora Alvaret
, a limestone pavement
which is the habitat
of numerous rare
and endangered species
. The first known scientific study of the biota
of the Stora Alvaret occurred in the year 1741 with the visit of Linnaeus
The underlying bedrock layer is mainly Cambrian sandstone and alum chert, and Ordovician limestone that dates in the range from circa 540 to 450 million years ago. The Cambrian trilobite Eccaparadoxides oelandicus is named after Öland
Öland is served by a perimeter highway, Route 136.
The Borgholm Castle
was built in 1669–1681 for Queen Hedvig Eleonora
, and designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder
. In its vicinity sits the Solliden Palace
, summer home to the royal family
The limestone pavement habitat of southern Öland, known as Stora Alvaret. has been entered as a site of the UNESCO World Heritage program. Features of this are the many rare species found; prehistory sites such as Gettlinge and Eketorp; numerous old wooden windmills left standing, some of which date to the 17th century; and the special geological alvar landscape.
For a decade, Öland has organized an annual harvest festival, Skördefesten, every October in which the island's farmers gather with farmers from the rest of the country and sell their crops and let those that are interested take part of the everyday life on their farms, among other activities. There are also many art exhibitions for display during Skördefesten especially during the art night Konstnatten.
The romantic poet Erik Johan Stagnelius was born in the Öland parish of Gärdslösa in 1793 and lived there until 16 years of age. He wrote several poems about the island. More modern writers living on or writing about Öland include novelist Margit Friberg (1904-1997), poet Anna Rydstedt (1928-1994), novelist Birgitta Trotzig (1929-), poet Lennart Sjögren (1930-), children novelist Eva Bexell (1945-), poet Tom Hedlund (1945-), novelist Johan Theorin (1963-), poet and novelist Magnus Utvik (1964-) and novelist Per Planhammar (1965-).
Skördefest is an annual harvest festival on Öland, held every September, which attracts thousands of visitors. Pumpkins are placed upon the top of bales of hay, a signal to buyers that fall harvest goods are available for sale at the location. In Borgholm, a pumpaguben (pumpkin man), a large scarecrow like figure, consisting entirely of gourds is erected at town center. It celebrates the bounty of the Fall Harvest.