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Unofficial Nordic cross flag of western Götaland.
Gothia, Sweden, in 1635 (yellow outline), bordering Danish Scanian lands to the south and southwest (red outline), and Norway to the west (green outline).
Map of Sweden's three historical lands, the former Swedish province Österland in Finland, and the former historical land of Denmark (Skåneland) in southern Sweden.
Götaland with the Swedish acquisitions of 1645 and 1658 in darker green: Gotland, Blekinge, Halland, and Skåne from Denmark, and Bohuslän from Norway (then under Danish rule).

Götaland (About this sound listen ), Gothia, Gothland[1][2], Gothenland, Gautland, Geatland is one of three lands of Sweden consisting of ten provinces. Geographically it is located in the south of Sweden, bounded to the north by Svealand, with the deep woods of Tiveden, Tylöskog and Kolmården marking the border.

Götaland once consisted of petty kingdoms, which its inhabitants called Gautar in Old Norse. It is generally agreed that these were the same as the Geatas, the people of the hero Beowulf in England's national epic by the same name. The region is also the traditional origin of the Goths.



The original central settlement was Västergötland and it is Västergötland that appears in medieval Icelandic and Norwegian sources as Gautland (Götland), a form which is not etymologically identical to Götaland.[3] Ptolemaios (2nd century AD) mentions these people as goutai and Beowulf (8th-11th century) mentions them as Géatas.[3] Norwegian and Icelandic sources sometimes use Gautar only for the people of Västergötland, but sometimes as a common ethnic term for both the people of Västergötland and those of Östergötland.[3]

The name Götaland replaced the old Götland in the 15th century, and it was probably to distinguish the wider region it denoted from the traditional heartland in Västergötland.[4] The name Götaland probably originally referred only to Västergötland and Östergötland, but was later extended to adjoining districts.[3] The name Götaland is probably a plural construction and means the "lands of the Geats", where Göta- is the genitive plural of the ethnonym Göt (Geat).[3] The interpretation that the neuter noun -land is a plural and not a singular noun is indicated by Bo Jonsson Grip's will in 1384, where he stated that he donated property in Swerige (Sweden, i.e. Svealand), Österlandom (Finland) and in Göthalandom to monasteries.[3] Here Götaland appears in the plural form of the dative case.[3]

For the etymology of the element Geat/Gaut/Göt and Goth, see Geat.


Västergötland and Östergötland, once rival kingdoms themselves, constitute Götaland proper. The Geatish kings, however, belong to the domain of Norse mythology.

Geatland is the land in which the medieval hero of the poem, Beowulf, is said to have lived.

It was only late in the Middle Ages that Götaland began to be perceived as a part of Sweden. In Old Norse and in Old English sources, Gautland/Geatland is still treated as a separate country from Sweden. In Sögubrot af Nokkrum for instance, Kolmården between Svealand and Östergötland is described as the border between Sweden and Ostrogothia (...Kolmerkr, er skilr Svíþjóð ok Eystra-Gautland...), and in Hervarar saga, King Ingold I rides to Sweden through Östergötland: Ingi konungr fór með hirð sína ok sveit nokkura ok hafði lítinn her. Hann reið austr um Smáland ok í eystra Gautland ok svá í Svíþjóð. The lord, Bo Jonsson Grip, was probably the one who was best acquainted with the geography of the Swedish kingdom since he owned more than half of it. In 1384, he stated in his will that the kingdom consisted of Swerige (Sweden, i.e. Svealand), Österland (i.e. Finland) and Göthaland (i.e. Götaland).

The small countries to the south of Finnveden, Kind, Möre, Njudung, Tjust, Tveta, Värend, Ydre were merged into the province of Småland (literally: [the] "small countries"). Off the coast of Småland was the island of Öland, which became a separate province.

Dal to the north west became the province of Dalsland.

Småland, Öland and Dalsland were already seen as lands belonging to Götaland in (Scandinavian) medieval times (12th–15th century).

In the Treaty of Roskilde (1658), the Danish kingdom ceded Blekinge, Halland, Skåne, and Bohuslän to Sweden. These provinces are since then counted as parts of Götaland.

The island of Gotland shifted allegiance between the Swedes and the Danes several times. Although the island may be perceived to have closer links to Svealand or to Denmark, it is counted as part of Götaland.

Värmland originally belonged to the Göta Court of Appeal, but the province changed to become part of the Court of Appeal for Svealand for a period of time in the early 19th century. Even though Värmland historically was a part of Götaland, it has since that time generally been counted as part of Svealand, although it is now part of the Court of Appeal for Western Sweden.

Official status

Today, Götaland has no administrative function and is thus an unofficial entity, but it is generally considered to be one of three Swedish lands or parts. It is made up of ten provinces, based loosely on the area originally under the jurisdiction of the Göta Court of Appeals (established in 1634), to which the Scanian lands, Gotland and Bohuslän were added in 1658-1679:

Blekinge Bohuslän Dalsland Gotland Halland
Skåne Småland Västergötland Öland Östergötland

Skåne, Blekinge and Halland were a Danish land known as the Scanian lands or the Eastern Province until 1658 when the Treaty of Roskilde ceded the region to Sweden. Furthermore, Bohuslän belonged to Norway until 1658, and Gotland belonged to Denmark 1361-1645 and 1676-1679. Since 1820, Scania and Blekinge form a separate court of appeal district under the Scania and Blekinge Court of Appeal in Malmö.[5]

Värmland was originally included in the Göta Courts of Appeal area of jurisdiction, but since 1948, Värmland, Halland, Bohuslän and parts of Västergötland form a separate court district under the Court of Appeal for Western Sweden in Goteborg. In 1992, Örebro county was added to the Göta Courts of Appeal.[6]


Deep forests are found in the Småland province, there is plenty of farmland in Skåne, and a little bit of both in Västergötland and Östergötland. Coasts are usually relatively flat and consist of archipelagoes as well as sandy beaches.


  1. ^ Nuttall Encyclopædia of General Knowledge (1907)
  2. ^ A translation of the Völsunga saga
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Stål, Harry. (1976). Ortnamn och ortnamnsforskning. Almquist & Wiksell, Uppsala. p.130.
  4. ^ The article Götaland in Nordisk familjebok (1909).
  5. ^ The National Courts Administration. Courts of Appeal. The Swedish Courts. Retrieved 1 Jan. 2007.
  6. ^ Göta hovrätt.Historik. Göta Courts of Appeal. (In Swedish). Retrieved 1 Jan. 2007.

See also

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Scandinavia : Sweden : Götaland

Götaland is a region of Sweden encompassing the ten southernmost provinces, between Kattegatt in the west and the Baltic Sea in the east.

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