Hanko in Finnish, Hangö in Swedish, and Гангут in Russian), is a bilingual port town on the south coast of Finland, 130 km west of Helsinki. Its current population is 9,905 (2004-12-31), with a majority being Finnish speakers and a strong minority being (44.3 %) Swedish speakers.

Hangon kaupunki - Hangö stad
Coat of Arms Location
Founded 1874
Province Southern Finland
Region Uusimaa
Sub-region Ekenäs
- Of which land
- Rank
116.45 km²
114.47 km²
ranked 397th
- Density
- Change
- Rank
9,905 (2004)
86.5 inh./km²
- 0.1%
ranked 103rd
Urbanisation 96.3%
Unemployment 10.5%
Official languages Finnish, Swedish
City Manager Tom Axberg
Home page


The Hanko Peninsula, on which the city is located, is the southernmost tip of continental Finland. The soil is a sandy moraine, and vegetation consists mainly of pine and low shrubs. Hanko is known for its beautiful archipelago.

The city has a coastline of approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles), of which 30 km (19 miles) are sandy beaches. There are also over 90 small islands and islets within the city limits.

The skyline of Hanko is dominated by the church and the water tower. Both of them received their current appearance after World War II, as their predecessors were either damaged or destroyed by the Soviet Army.

Scandlines serve the link between Hanko and Rostock since October 2007 four times a week with two RoRo-vessel in 36 hours.


The Hangon Regatta has been a traditional fixture on the Finnish social scene, and is the major summer event in Hanko. Sailing enthusiasts attend in order to compete, as well as mostly young people who have very little or no interest in sailing, and attend only in order to party and drink. The latter constitute the "Regatta tail", not appreciated by most of the town's residents, and which causes huge expenses for clean-up of the parks and streets.

Other traditional summer activities are the "Tennis Week", the "Sea Horse" riding competitions, and the "Summer Theatre" events.

Several sandy beaches and a multitude of leisure harbors attract tourists during the summer months.


The site was already known by sailors in the 15th century. Petroglyphs from that time are carved into the rock at the "Hauensuoli" (Swedish: "Gäddtarmen", English: "Pike's Gut") island.

Hanko has a long history of wars and battles. The Battle of Gangut between Swedish and Russian navies was fought in 1714 in the archipelago north of the peninsula. The battle was the first-ever victory of the Russian regular fleet.

The fortification works on the Hanko Peninsula had already been started by the end of the 18th century, when the Swedish constructed three separate forts on the outlying islands. The forts were later bombarded by the Royal Navy during the Crimean War and they were eventually blown up during the hostilities by their own defenders.

The city was founded in 1874, soon after the Hanko-Hyvinkää railway was inaugurated in 1872. The Imperial Charter for the city was granted by Tsar Alexander II.

Hanko was the port of choice for emigrants leaving Finland for a new life in North America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A memorial statue, showing birds in flight, commemorates this.

In the late 19th century, while Finland was still a Grand Duchy under Russia, Hanko was a popular spa resort for the Russian nobility. Some of the buildings from that period survive, notably the Hanko Casino (which is not a gambling establishment, but a former banquet hall of the spa). It is nowadays a restaurant.

Field Marshal C. G. Mannerheim owned a café, "Neljän Tuulen Tupa" ("The House of the Four Winds") which still is very popular among tourists and residents alike.

The Bengtskär lighthouse is the highest one (52 m) in the Nordic countries. It is situated 25 km southwest of Hanko. It was built in 1906 and it is the first lighthouse museum in Finland.

Soviet naval base

In the Moscow Peace Treaty that ended the Winter War on March 6, 1940, Hanko was leased to the Soviet Union as a military base for a period of 30 years. During the Continuation War, Soviet troops were forced to evacuate Hanko in early December 1941. The Soviet Union renounced the lease formally in the Paris peace treaty of 1947. As a curiosity, it can be noted that the short Russo-Finnish front across the base of the peninsula on the Finnish side was held in part by volunteer troops from Sweden. A museum has been established at this location, among the trenches and other remnants of the war.

The role of the Hanko naval base was replaced by Porkkala in the armistice between Finland and the Soviet Union of September 19, 1944, released back to Finland in January 1956.

See also

External links

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