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World Heritage Site

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High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago

High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago

The High Coast and the Kvarken Archipelago are outstanding examples of glaciation processes.

Both sites, on either side of the Gulf of Bothnia, hold numerous islands and islets. The High Coast is important for research on isostacy, in which the land rises as the weight of the glaciers melts off of it. This phenomenon was first recognised and studied here.

Kvarken features unusual ridged washboard moraines, "De Greer moraines", formed by the melting of the continental ice sheet, 10,000 to 24,000 years ago.

Map of High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago


  • Natural

Visit July 2013

The Kvarken Archipelago is easily accessed nowadays because of the over 1 km long Replot bridge that was built in 1997. It connects the islands of Replot and Björkö with the Finnish West Coast, near the city of Vaasa. Replot and Björkö are two of the largest islands in the archipelago, large enough to hold a couple of villages and summer houses. I stayed overnight in Vaasa and visited the Terranova ecomuseum there for an introduction to the story of this area. It’s only a small exhibition, but provides good insight in what it is all about (such as explaining the isostatic rebound).

The next morning I drove to Svedjehamn on the island of Björkö. This is about as far as you can go into the core zone with a car. Svedjehamm is a small fishing town, and has some tourist facilities. I had choosen it for its hiking trails. At 8.45 my car was the first at the car park, and I set off for the “Bodvattnet Runt” combined with a detour to “Langgrundet”. All routes are clearly marked, and it isn’t easy to loose your way anyway as there are few turns.

July 2013

One of the highlights of this walk is right at the beginning, only 800m from the car park. Climbing the Saltkaret Observation Tower rewards one with excellent views of the many long reefs and small islands that have developed just off the coastline. You need to be at some height to be able to see this clearly – it is much less spectacular seen from ground level.

I walked on happily, the sun was out already and I still had not seen any other human beings. The only noise came from the plentiful birds, mostly the screaming of seagulls of course, a sound so well known in Holland too. The extension to “Langgrundet” took me through a “forest” of young trees, where the ground was covered with peat and lots of awkward stones. It ended at a picknick spot where you can walk up to the shore. From here I saw how shallow the water really is.

July 2013

The final half of the “Bodvattnet Runt” walk is another highlight, as it runs along a pretty bay where many birds have settled. I saw a couple of swans with two young ones floating around. At the end there are also some old wooden sheds that were used by local fishermen.

July 2013

Although this hike was only about 8km long, it took me 3 hours to complete due to the sometimes difficult, rocky terrain and the many distractions and photo opportunities along the way. In all, a well recommended hike in a pretty natural setting.

Community Reviews

John booth New Zealand 03-May-10

High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago by John Booth

I travelled down the High Coast of Sweden using the services of the #100 bus, from Ornskoldsvik, past Skuleberget, Docksta and Ullanger to Harnosand. But the highlight was going from Ornskoldsvik to Kopmanholmen by bus (#421), then cruising on the MF Ulvon to Trysunda, and to Fjaren and Ulvohamn on North Ulvon Island. The effect of the raising of the land is quite pronounced around the waterfronts of these small ports.

I cruised the Kvarken Archipelago aboard the mv Tirra and went ashore for lunch on Kuusisaari Island. This was a day long cruise from Vaasa's inner harbour costing 11 euros.

Fanch, sweden


A very nice place. Don't miss the smal fishing village, the mannamine museum and the Krevassen!

I changed the adress of the page : More pictures of Sweden

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Community Rating

Community Rating 2.89. Based on 9 votes.

Site Info

Full name: High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago

Unesco ID: 898

Inscribed: 2000

Type: Natural

Criteria: 8  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2008 - Name change From "Kvarken Archipelago / High Coast" to "High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago"
  • 2006 - Name change From "High Coast" to "Kvarken Archipelago / High Coast, Finland and Sweden"
  • 2006 - Extended To include the Kvarken Archipelago, Finland
  • 2000 - Inscribed 
  • 1999 - Deferred High Coast: Bureau - better doc of marine aspects. Also consideration of a "Cultural Landscape".


The site has 3 locations.

  • High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago: High Coast Sweden
  • High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago: The Kvarken Archipelago - Zone A Finland
  • High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago: The Kvarken Archipelago - Zone B Finland


The site has 24 connections.


  • Notable Bridges: High Coast Bridge, a suspension bridge (1997). At a length of 1,867 meters, it the eleventh longest of the world Link



  • Baltic Sea
  • Isostatic Rebound: Kvarken: raised shore lines and new islands showing an uplift over the last 9600years in the order of 285-294m which is the highest evident ?rebound? known
  • Archipelagos: (Land Elevation) "consists of 7000 skerries and islets. The land rises by 8-8,5 mm annually and creates about 1 km2 new land every year. With this rate the land uplift will create a permanent gateway over the Kvarken in about 2500 years."
  • Fjords: Several
  • Straits: Kvarken Link
  • Marine sites: "Note that about 71% of the property is sea" - Retrospective Statement of OUV
  • Gulf of Bothnia: Both sites are on either side of the Gulf of Bothnia


Human Activity

  • Seal Hunting: Kvarken Archipelago: seals were hunted in the past by locals, there's a display on it in the TerraNova museum in Vaasa


  • Holocene: 9,600 years ago the landscape has risen close to 500 m The highest parts break the surface of the water Link


WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process