High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago, Sweden & Finland

The High Coast in Sweden and the Kvarken Archipelago in Finland were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2000. The High Coast and the 5,600 islands of the archipelago have been shaped by the combined processes of glaciation, glacial retreat, and the emergence of new land from the sea, as the weight of the glacial ice is removed by melting (“isostatic uplift”). The special feature of the site’s marine realm is that it’s the submarine extension of the landscapes undergoing such uplift. Continual elevation of the land results in inlets becoming progressively cut off from the sea, transforming them into estuaries and ultimately lakes. Meanwhile, shorelines are constantly reshaped, new islands are born offshore, and others become peninsulas as they unite with the mainland.

Today, over 40 World Heritage sites are listed for their marine values. Together, they can be considered the “Crown Jewels of our Ocean” and are recognized for their outstanding beauty, exceptional biodiversity, or unique ecological, biological, or geological processes. Learn more about this and other marine World Heritage sites.


Thomas Birkö