Archipelago National Park
The labyrinthine Archipelago Sea, off Southwestern Finland, has more islands than any other archipelago in the world. It has also been described as the world's most beautiful archipelago. The archipelago scene varies from larger islands dotted with rustic pastures and vibrant villages, to wild and windswept rocky islets. Scheduled ferry services take locals and trippers to the main islands all year round. The archipelago in the Baltic Sea between Åland and mainland Finland is one of the largest archipelagos in the world. The National Park includes more than 2,000 islands and rocky islets shaped by waves and the ice sheet during the Ice Age. Inside the co-operation area of the park, there are about 8400 islands and islets altogether. A special feature of the National Park are traditional agricultural landscapes, such as leaf fodder meadows, wooded pastures, dry meadows, coastal meadows and heaths, where the cattle of the inhabitants of the archipelago grazes. There are about 3 sq.km. of traditional agricultural landscapes in the National Park.
Trade, handcraft and navigation were practiced already in the early times in addition to the basic sources of livelihood. Sailing began in the whole of the Baltic Sea region latest in the Bronze Age. The sea connected people. The southwestern archipelago became a part of the northern Baltic Sea region cultures, which had common means of livelihood, use of metals, and burial customs. The present National Park area became inhabited in the Iron Age (500-1150 BC). Many ancient remains of the Iron Age settlements have been found in the National Parks co-operation area. Pollen analysis has shown that the agriculture in the coast has been continuous since the Iron Age until these days.
Most part of the declining population of the Baltic Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida botnica) in the archipelago lives inside the National Park. The Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus ) is becoming more common, and it may turn up to watch boaters almost anywhere in the National Park. 132 bird species nest in the national park. There are ferry services to Archipelago National Park from Pärnäinen, Turku or Kasnäs eg. to the islands of Berghamn, Jurmo, Utö, Örö, Högsåra and Holma. For tourists moving around with a boat or a kayak, the park provides guest harbours.