Where Is The Bothnian Sea?

A Swedish village on the Bothnian Sea.

The Bothnian Sea is the southern part of the Gulf of Bothnia and links the Baltic Proper and the Bothnia Bay. The sea is located between Finland and Sweden and has a total surface area of approximately 79,000 square kilometers. The name the Bothnian Sea is a Latin word for a Swedish name “Botten-havet” which originated from an ancient Swedish term “botten” which means “bay” and “hav” for “sea.” The name Bothnian Sea translates to “bay-sea.” In Finnish, the sea is known as “Selkämeri” meaning an open stretch of water.


Geographically, the Sea is considered to be a sub-basin of the Baltic Sea located between Sweden and Finland. The Finnish autonomous region of Aland is located at the southern end of the sea. The surface area of the sea is about 79,000 square kilometers, though other sources insist that the area is 65,000 square kilometers. The Bothnian Sea is slightly smaller than Ireland but bigger than Denmark or the Netherlands.

The major water bodies neighboring the Sea include the Bay of Bothnia to the north, which together with the sea form the larger Gulf of Bothnia. The Bothnian Sea and Bay are divided by the narrow Northern Quark passage. The Baltic Proper borders the sea to the south. The Bothnian Sea is fed by several large rivers including Kokemaenjoki and Angermannalven Rivers in Finland and Sweden respectively. The waters of the Bothnian Sea have low salinity compares to other seas, apart from the rivers that drain into the sea, wind and water current also affect the distribution of salinity. The southern part of the sea is slightly saline compared to other parts. Ice cover is an annual feature of the sea, creating difficulties for shipping and offshore construction.

The People And The Bothnian Sea

The Bothnian Sea has always been an important natural resource for people living and working on its shores. During the last ice age, the entire sea was covered by ice. This glaciation period known as Weichsel lasted about 100,000 years. After the ice sheet melted away around 8000 BC, people began settling on the land around the coast of the sea. The land was particularly suitable for cultivation and pasture. The Sea also served as a transport route for commercial activities for centuries. The Bothnian Sea was also an important area during the major conflicts such as the Crimean War and the Second World War, giving the sea a unique marine archaeological heritage.

Ancient harbors constructions, shipwrecks, and fishing villages can still be found in and around the sea. By the end of 2010, approximately 1.3 million people lived in the cities with coastlines on the Bothnian Sea. Both Sweden and Finland have around 200 settlements along the Bothnian coast. The region amounts to about 15% of Finland’s GDP and 10% of that of Sweden. The important sectors in the region include service, manufacturing, health, and education.


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