Market - Geography and History

Geography and History

The 6 nautical miles (11 km; 6.9 mi) wide Understen–Märket Passage links the Bothnian Sea to the Baltic proper. The skerry is roughly 350 metres (1,150 ft) long by 150 metres (490 ft) wide, and its area is about 3.3 hectares (8.2 acres). It is argued to be one of the smallest sea islands shared by two countries.

The name Märket ('the Mark') probably comes from its usefulness as a navigation mark before there were lighthouses. The route between Sweden and Åland has a passage of about 27 kilometres (15 NM) (17 mi) length over open sea, and the island may have been used as a way point.

There is a lighthouse on the Finnish side of the current border, which has been unmanned and automated since 1979. When it was built by the Russians and Finns in 1885 there were no clear maps of the island. After the completion of the lighthouse, it was discovered that it had been built on the Swedish part of the island.

As a result, the border was adjusted in 1985 so that the lighthouse is now located on Finnish territory. The adjustment was carried out such that no net transfer of territory occurred, and the ownership of the coastline was unchanged so as not to interfere with each country's fishing rights.

This resulted in an unusual shape for the international border which satisfied both Finnish and Swedish interests. The adjusted border takes the form of an inverted 'S', and the lighthouse is connected to the rest of Finland only by a short stretch of land. The border is regularly resurveyed every 25 years by officials representing both countries. The last such joint inspection took place in August 2006.

The lighthouse is in urgent need of maintenance, and a Finnish interest group is trying to raise funds for its preservation. The lighthouse has been automatic since 1979 and the surrounding buildings are no longer used. The increasing general availability of GPS has made its primary function redundant.

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