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Market Reef - A Deliberate Mistake -

Merket Island

Swedish-Finnish island

There are several islands in the world that are owned by two states at the same time. Some of them are clearly separated by borders, and some (such as the Svalbard archipelago) have a special status and are, so to speak, shared by neighboring countries. One such island is Merket.

It is located in the Baltic Sea, in the Sedra-Kvarken Strait. Merket is quite small: its total area is only three hectares, but, nevertheless, it is divided by the very real state border between two neighboring Scandinavian countries: Sweden and Finland. Today, Merket is the world's smallest island divided between two countries.

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Some interesting information from the history of the island of Merket

This island is uninhabited and, according to historians, no one has ever lived on it permanently. Geographically, it is part of the Åland Islands, which according to the results of the Russo-Swedish War of 1808-1809 should have gone to Russia, but for some reasons that are still not quite clear, it was decided to divide Merket. After Finland gained independence, the Åland Islands became autonomous, but Merket remained divided.

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An island with variable boundaries

It is interesting that, according to the international agreement, the border that is drawn on the territory of this island is not permanent and has to be demarcated every 25 years. The reason is that the territory of the island under the influence of natural factors (tides, wind erosion) during this time has time to change significantly, and therefore the border has to be adjusted.

It has a rather bizarre shape, and the reason for this is the lighthouse, which is the only architectural attraction of Merket. The thing is that it was built by Finns at the end of the last century and played (and still plays) an important role in ensuring safe navigation in this area of the Baltic Sea. When the time came to divide the island between Sweden and Finland, it was decided to leave it on the Finnish side, although it is located closer to the western coast of Merket, facing Sweden. This is why the "ledge" of the border was formed, on top of which the lighthouse is located.

It should also be noted that border demarcation is not only a matter between Sweden and Finland. According to some international treaties, representatives of such states as Great Britain, Denmark, Germany, Poland, France and even Italy must also take part in this procedure. In addition, demarcation must also be agreed with the authorities of the Åland Islands.

Tourism in Merket

"Ordinary" tourists are not on Merket, because it is not suitable for vacation, and there are no attractions (except for the lighthouse) on it at all. However, visitors do visit it, and almost all of them are radio amateurs. Among these fanatically enthusiastic people, this island, despite its official territorial and political status, is considered a completely separate territory from both Finland and Sweden.

Expeditions of radio amateurs are organized on Merket, who have the opportunity to go on the air from this island and establish many contacts with their colleagues in the hobby from different countries of the world. It is interesting that these tourists most often get to the island not by sea vessels, but by helicopters, and to visit Merket is not a cheap pleasure. It should also be noted that the weather on this island is very changeable, and good communication is not guaranteed at all.

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