Fårö is an island located northeast of Gotland and with its 114 square kilometers, Fårö is Sweden’s eighth largest island.
Fårö’s population of permanent residents amounts to about 500 people, but during the summer the population increases dramatically. The name Fårö, contrary to what you might think, has nothing to do with sheep (Får is the Swedish word for sheep). Sheep are actually not called sheep but lamb in the Gotlandic accent. In the 14th century the island’s name was written as Farøø and in the 15th century Faroyna. The name is formed by parts of the Swedish words for waters (Farvatten) and island (Ö).
There is no town on Fårö but several villages. In Eke there is a grocery store and nearby is Sudersand with many restaurants and a holiday resort.
Until 1998, Fårö was a military protection area and access was prohibited for foreign citizens. Nowadays there is no such ban.
The landscape is extremely special; the whole island is basically a single limestone cliff, with scattered elements of low-growing forest and more or less fertile agricultural land.
Fårö is a flat moraine island with many bogs and swamps. Eastern Fårö consists of sandy soil on which pines grow, while western Fårö has barren rocky terrain and some cultivated areas and shallow lakes. For those who want to swim, Sudersand is recommended, an elongated and shallow bay with a sandy beach. There are several areas with seastacks on Fårö, including Gamla hamn, Digerhuvud and Langhammars. Ullahau is a magnificent sanddune area on Fårö which you can read more about further down on this page.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, lime was extracted and exported from the island. Several more or less well-preserved facilities are located adjacent to the coasts.
In connection with the Second World War, Fårö gained great military importance. Between 1939 and 1998, all foreigners were prohibited from visiting the island. Military facilities and installations were erected in many places on the island, of which traces still remain.
In addition to agriculture, tourism is today the most important industry on Fårö. The island is sparsely populated, where the built-up area covers only just under six percent of the area. The number of summer residents is estimated at 10,000, while the number of full-time residents in 2010 was about 550 people.
Fårö also has unique natural values. A large part of the island’s land is grazed. Here are plots of land with thin layers of soil, bogs, small sparse forest areas and swamps. The flying sand area Ulla Hau on Avanäset should also be mentioned, as well as the rough pines that mainly occur in Västur.
Austur and Västur
The inhabitants of Fårö divide the island into Austur (eastern Fårö) and Västur (western Fårö). The island has previously been divided in two major land areas with a waterway between Aursviken and Alnäsaviken. The land uplift has made these two land areas have become one. What remains of the previous waterway are the three lakes Alnäsaträsk, Norrsund and Bodansträsk.
In the western half, the solitary farms dominate with small arable land and large pastures. Several of the farms also have – or have had – properties on the eastern part of the island.
Austre is characterized by denser buildings and larger cultivation. Here, the neighboring law dominates, several farms that have been built together without having anything in common other than meadow mowing and roofing. In Austur, there are also smaller properties that were added during the 19th century.
The large forested sand area Avanäs also belongs to Austur.