Sweden's largest island
The municipality of Gotlands Kommun, officially called Region Gotland, is the only municipality on Gotland, the largest island in Sweden. It is also the only municipality in the province of Gotlands Län and also covers the entire Baltic Sea island of Gotland, including the neighbouring smaller islands.
Destinations & attractions in Gotlands Kommun
Unlike the rest of Sweden, the subsoil of the island of Gotland is limestone, because over 400 million years ago the island was a coral reef in a tropical sea near the equator, before tectonic plate shifts pushed it to its present location.
The landscape of Gotland
The landscape in the interior of Gotland is predominantly flat and consists of an alternation of sparse deciduous and coniferous forests, fields, pastures, moors and alvars – steppe-like areas that only occur on limestone-rich ground. In addition, there are about 70, mostly smaller lakes, of which only four have an area of more than one square kilometre. The fields are mainly cultivated with wheat and sugar beet, and several pastures are used for sheep farming, which has a centuries-old tradition on Gotland – and of course has left clear traces in the Gotlandic cuisine.
Some 150 nature reserves represent Gotland's natural features, which include a special flora with numerous wild orchids and an extremely diverse bird population, as well as geological peculiarities. This refers to Gotland's typical Raukar, the metre-high limestone columns bizarrely formed by erosion, which can be found in numerous places along the coast, the largest and best-known examples of which can be seen in the nature reserve Langhammar.
Once you have left the ferry in the harbour of the island's capital Visby, you are greeted by the medieval flair of the island. The island metropolis with its medieval city walls, centuries-old buildings, church ruins and cobblestone streets is one of the best-preserved old Hanseatic cities in Northern Europe. So it is hardly surprising that Visby is the focus of the annual Medieval Week in August, which attracts around 40,000 visitors.
To dive deeper into the exciting history of the city and the entire island, a visit to the Gotland Museum is a good idea, which shows exhibits from all historical periods of the island back to the Stone Age. A large collection of historical buildings from the small fishing and farming villages is on display at the Bungemuseet, one of Sweden's largest open-air museums in the north of the island.
The largest neighbouring islands include the sand island Gotska Sandön, which lies about 40 kilometres north of Gotland and was declared a national park in 1909, as well as the island Fårö, which is only separated from the northern tip of Gotland by a narrow sound.
Fårö has numerous Raukar formations and a number of long beaches, including Sudersand, one of the longest and most beautiful sandy beaches on the island municipality. The island's recent history is also closely linked to the director Ingmar Bergman, who lived on Fårö for many years and shot several of his films on the island. The memory of his life's work is kept alive on Fårö by the visitor centre Bergmancenter, which also organises an annual festival, the so-called Bergman Week.
Gotlands Kommun in figures
Gotlands Kommun has an area of around 3,135 square kilometres and a population of just over 60,000. The resulting population density of around 19 inhabitants per square kilometre is thus slightly below the average for Sweden. With around 23,500, almost half of the island's inhabitants live in the capital Visby, which is not only the island's only city, but also by far the largest locality of the island municipality's total of 18 towns. Vibble, the next largest town in the municipality, has a population of only about 1,700.