A small piece of rock far out in the Sea of Åland

When the Treaty of Fredrikshamn is signed on 17 September 1809, Sweden cedes the whole of Finland and part of Lapland east of the Torneå river to Russia. Also the Åland Islands are from that moment a part of the Russian Empire, having it’s most westerly border running straight across a skerry called Märket. Half of this tiny piece of land (some 350 X 150 meters), in the middle of the Sea of Åland remains Swedish. After the downfall of the Russian Tsar during World War I, a new nation emerged in 1917 – Finland. Today Märket forms the border between Sweden and Finland in the Sea of Åland. Märket is the smallest piece of land divided between two countries at sea.

Märket does today not only mark the border between two nations, the Swedish half is subdivided into two municipalities that lay within the county of Stockholm and the county of Uppsala. This skerry it is also the most westerly part of the Åland Islands and the municipality of Hammarland.

Click on the four thumbnail photos below to enlarge! All my photos are from 30 July 2011.

The lighthouse that stands on Märket was built by the Russians in 1885, and was in fact built on the Swedish half of the skerry! In 1985 Sweden and Finland agreed on a new border, that put the lighthouse on the Finnish side. The new border got the shape of a twisted “S” across Märket, since neither of the two countries wanted to adjust their shorelines and fishing territories. This lighthouse was operated until late 1976, and then left uninhabited until recent years.

The Finnish Lighthouse Society has for the last few years carried out work on the old and weather beaten lighthouse on Märket, having still much work to do before presenting it in it’s former shape. During the summers, tourists can visit Märket and get briefed about the history of the skerry. I myself managed to tag along with the Finnish Lighthouse Society, while they were changing shifts on Märket. The sea was rough that day and no landings were guaranteed, since Märket has no harbor or such. A smaller boat was used to shuttle both food and fresh personnel to Märket from the vessel that took us out there.

The Finnish Lighthouse Society publishes photos and info about Märket each day this summer on their website. As it happens, I’m featuring on their website in two photos from July 30, and also mentioned in the text briefly: http://www.majakkaseura.fi/fin/market/marketin_paivakirja_2011/paivakirja_300711/

A special thanks to Petra who lended me her car that weekend!