Harstena is an island on Sweden’s Baltic coast. With an area of 1,5 km2 and only 6 families living all year around on the island, it is a very small island.
It is one of the area’s 33 inhabited islands with totally 250 all year residents. For 20 families, fishing is important source of income. Eel is the most important catch. Clams are cultivated to keep water clear (1 clam filters 3,5 liters an hour), you can see the difference upstream and downstream a clam culture.
People on Harstena used to hunt for seal. In 1641, there were two families on the island, in 1734 ten families, in 1828 eight families, but many were swept away by cholera in 1866. In 1951, there were still 50 inhabitants, today there are ten.
Harstena had its first telephone installed in 1930 and was electrified in 1945. There are 7 wells on the island but 5 have intrusion by salt sea water and there are now two private desalination plants here to match the needs of the 40-45,000 tourists who invade the island in summertime. The number of tourists per resident population is 4,000 and the human footprint of the visitors correspond to 110 residents. One family runs the grocery shop open only in summertime), a popular restaurant, some cottages and an all new bakery to serve the tourists. One firm is broking shipyard facilities all over the world, from here. Two men drive taxi boats.
In the ESPON EUROISLANDS Study 2013/2/2, Scientific Report, a typology of islands was proposed with the following categories: Very big islands having more than 50,000 inhabitants (Sicilia, Sardegna, Mallorca, Cyprus, Kriti, Malta, Corse, isle of Wight, Lesvos, Kerkyra, Gotland, Eivissa i Formentera, Menorca, Dodecanisos and Rodos), Big islands with between 5,000 and 50,000 inhabitants (Chios, Samos, Bornholm, Zakynthos, Western Isles, Orkney, Kefalonia, Shetland, Gozo, Åland and the Kyklades) and Small islands with less than 5,000 inhabitants (Kökar, Lipsi, Lipari and Samso).
In ESIN, we symphatize with this typology but would like to add very small islands with less than 50 inhabitants. In Sweden, Finland, Åland and Croatia they run into hundreds. Tourism on such very small islands is a delicate act balancing the experience of the guests, the livelihood of today’s islanders and the concern for tomorrow: the future of the island, the future of the islanders.
Lasse Åman is a legendary taxi boat driverThe lighthouse on nearby Häradsskär