Baltic Sea, Sweden
Märket Reef Baltic Sea Reviews
Märket Reef Jun 23, 2015
There are a few islands in the World that are shared between two or more nations, Borneo, Tierra Del Fuego and Hispaniola to name just three. However there is a small skerry, 350 metres long x 150 metres wide, situated in the Baltic Sea, that is shared between Sweden and Finland that aroused my curiosity.
The island is very unusual due to an imaginative border line dividing the island between the two countries. On the island there is a lighthouse, built by the Finns, however they built it on the side of the island closest to Sweden. To compensate for this “land grab” the Swedes have been granted a portion of the other side of the island equivalent to the territory taken up by the Finnish lighthouse. See the map I have attached.
To be more precise the island is shared between Sweden and the autonomous Åland Islands, a Swedish speaking part of Finland. Yes, it’s very confusing and just to add to the confusion the Swedish portion is divided across two counties Stockholm and Uppsala. It was while I was visiting the Åland Islands I thought I would try to see if I could make the trip out to Märket Reef.
The lighthouse is no longer in use and has been falling into disrepair, however a group of lighthouse enthusiasts (yes they do exist) volunteer in the summer months to renovate the lighthouse. I found a website that belonged to the Finnish lighthouse appreciation society http://www.majakkaseura.fi/eng/ that said I may be able to make a visit on a boat with the next set of volunteers and back with the volunteers they were replacing. I contacted them in advance of my trip and was told it would cost me €60 and to be at the door of my hotel at 8.30am. In all honesty I never expected anyone to turn up, but 30 minutes later than scheduled 4 people in a beat up old car arrived and bundled me in the back. We made the short journey from Mariehamn, the capital of the Åland Islands to the boat departure point, via a supermarket, to stock up on provisions for this set of volunteers for their one weeks stay.
The boat ride took about 45 minutes on a fairly small but quick vessel. Once we had moored I got about 2 hours on the island where one of the departing volunteers took me around on a guided tour. The main points of interest being the lighthouse, obviously, where I was able to climb inside the old tower where the light was situated. Another unusual thing here is that Märket has its own stamps and postcards and I was able to send some home and one to a radio ham friend I have. This lighthouse is also a desired location for radio hams who “work” the island on their rigs and get a QSL card? (a whole new language isn’t it). I also got a T-shirt that was being sold with all proceeds going to the renovation project (they did a job on me there as I really didn’t want one).
Inside the lighthouse were the quarters where the volunteers stayed and a variety of rooms on each floor, like a kitchen and bathroom. The renovation is going well.
One other thing that interested me was there were points on the ground where the border line between the two nations was painted and there is even a helicopter landing area of sorts painted on the ground too.
It wasn’t long before it was time to make the journey back and when we arrived one of the volunteers hugged a tree, the island is very desolate and barren. They were pleased to see greenery again.
Each set of volunteers write a daily blog, the day I visited can be found here –
It has been a while since I visited but I always wanted to make a diary entry about this thanks for indulging me.
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