Gulf of Bothnia
The Gulf of Bothnia is the northernmost arm of the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

. It is situated between Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

's west coast and Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

's east coast. In the south of the gulf lie the Åland Islands, between the Sea of Åland
Sea of Åland
The Sea of Åland is the waters located in the southern Gulf of Bothnia, between the Åland islands and the Swedish mainland. The sea connects Kvarken and the Bothnian Sea with the Baltic Sea proper. The seas are often choppy here. The narrowest part is named Södra Kvarken or South Kvarken....

 and the Archipelago Sea
Archipelago Sea
Archipelago Sea is a part of the Baltic Sea between the Gulf of Bothnia, the Gulf of Finland and the Sea of Åland, within Finnish territorial waters...



Bothnia is a Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

ization. "Botten" in the Swedish name "Bottenviken" originally meant "gulf" or "bay" ; hence "Bottenviken" means "the Gulf-gulf".

The name botn was applied to the Gulf of Bothnia as Helsingjabotn in Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

, after Hälsingland
' is a historical province or landskap in central Sweden. It borders to Gästrikland, Dalarna, Härjedalen, Medelpad and to the Gulf of Bothnia...

, which at the time referred to the coastland west of the gulf. Later, botten was applied to the regions Västerbotten
', English exonym: West Bothnia, is a province or landskap in the north of Sweden. It borders Ångermanland, Lapland, Norrbotten and the Gulf of Bothnia. It is famous for the cheese with the same name as the province.- Administration :...

 on the western side and Österbotten
Ostrobothnia (region)
Ostrobothnia is a region of Finland. It is located in Western Finland. It borders the regions Central Ostrobothnia, Southern Ostrobothnia, and Satakunta and is one of the four regions making up the historical province of Ostrobothnia....

 the eastern side ("East Bottom" and "West Bottom"). The Finnish name of Österbotten, Pohjanmaa, or "Pohja"-land, gives a hint as to the meaning in both languages: pohja means both "bottom" and "north."

Botn/botten is cognate
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. This learned term derives from the Latin cognatus . Cognates within the same language are called doublets. Strictly speaking, loanwords from another language are usually not meant by the term, e.g...

 with the English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 word bottom, and it might be part of a general north European distinction of lowlands, as opposed to highlands, such as the Netherlandic
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 region, Samogitia
Samogitia is one of the five ethnographic regions of Lithuania. It is located in northwestern Lithuania. Its largest city is Šiauliai/Šiaulē. The region has a long and distinct cultural history, reflected in the existence of the Samogitian dialect...

Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

n), and Sambia
Sambia or Samland is a peninsula in the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia, on the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea. The Curonian Lagoon and the Vistula Lagoon demarcate the peninsula. Prior to 1945 it formed an important part of East Prussia.-Names:Sambia is named after the Sambians, an extinct...

Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia situated on the Baltic coast. It has a population of The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since its creation it has been an exclave of the Russian SFSR and then the...


A second possibility is that botten follows an alternative Scandinavian connotation of 'furthermost'. Thus, the Gulf of Bothnia would be the farthest extent of the Ocean.

Julius Pokorny
Julius Pokorny
Julius Pokorny was an Austrian linguist and scholar of the Celtic languages, particularly Irish, and a supporter of Irish nationalism. He held academic posts in Austrian and German universities.-Life:...

 gives the extended Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 root as *bhudh-m(e)n with a *bhudh-no- variant, from which the Latin fundus, as in fundament, is derived. The original meaning of English north, from Indo-European *ner- "under", indicates an original sense of "lowlands" for "bottomlands". On the other hand, by "north" the classical authors usually meant "outermost", as the northern lands were outermost to them.

The origin of the word is indeed very ancient, belonging to a period before the world discoveries by the Portuguese. Until then, North was not seen as the magnetic top of the world, East being the normal orientation of a map
A map is a visual representation of an area—a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions, and themes....


Also, in Saami, the cardinal directions were named according to the different parts of the typical tent used by this nomadic people. The door of the tent was traditionally pointed South, in the most sunny direction, and the bottom of the tent would be aligned with the North. Thus the origin of the word 'Pohja' in its use as "North". Deriving as well from this logic is the affinity in the Finnish language of the words 'eteinen', meaning "hall" and 'Etelä', "South".


The International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
The International Hydrographic Organization is the inter-governmental organisation representing the hydrographic community. It enjoys observer status at the UN and is the recognised competent authority on hydrographic surveying and nautical charting...

 defines the southern limit of the Gulf of Bothnia as follows:

From Simpnäsklubb (59°54'N) in Sweden, to Flötjan, Lagskær, Fæstörne, Kökarsörn, and Vænö-Kalkskær to the SW point of Hangöudde (Hangö Head, 59°49'N) in Finland, thus including the Aland islands
Åland Islands
The Åland Islands form an archipelago in the Baltic Sea. They are situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia and form an autonomous, demilitarised, monolingually Swedish-speaking region of Finland...

 and adjacent shoals and channels in the Gulf of Bothnia.

Geophysical data

The gulf is 725 km (450 mi) long, 80–240 km (50-150 mi) wide and has an average depth of 60 m (200 ft, 33 fathom
A fathom is a unit of length in the imperial and the U.S. customary systems, used especially for measuring the depth of water.There are 2 yards in an imperial or U.S. fathom...

s). The maximum depth is 295 m (965 ft, 161 fathoms). The surface area is 117,000 km² (45,200 sq mi). The northernmost point is situated in Töre
Töre is a locality situated in Kalix Municipality, Norrbotten County, Sweden with 1,146 inhabitants in 2005.Its harbour is the northernmost of the Bothnian Bay that is accessible to commercial vessels. The European route E10 passes through Töre.- References :...

 in the Bothnian Bay
Bothnian Bay
The Bothnian Bay or Bay of Bothnia is the most northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, the northern part of the Baltic Sea. Its northernmost point is situated in Töre...


Into the gulf flow a number of rivers from both sides; consequently, a salinity
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...

 gradient exists from north to south.
In the south the water is the normal brackish water
Brackish water
Brackish water is water that has more salinity than fresh water, but not as much as seawater. It may result from mixing of seawater with fresh water, as in estuaries, or it may occur in brackish fossil aquifers. The word comes from the Middle Dutch root "brak," meaning "salty"...

 of the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, but in the north, in the Bothnian Bay
Bothnian Bay
The Bothnian Bay or Bay of Bothnia is the most northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, the northern part of the Baltic Sea. Its northernmost point is situated in Töre...

, the salinity is so low, from 0.4 % near Kvarken
Kvarken is the narrow region in the Gulf of Bothnia separating the Bothnian Bay from the Bothnian Sea...

 to 0.2 % in the northernmost part, that one can no longer taste the salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

 in the water and many freshwater
Fresh Water
Fresh Water is the debut album by Australian rock and blues singer Alison McCallum, released in 1972. Rare for an Australian artist at the time, it came in a gatefold sleeve...

 fish thrive in it. Being nearly fresh, the gulf is frozen over five months every year. The icing of the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 begins and ends in the Gulf of Bothnia. Traffic restrictions for ice breaker assistance is usually in force even in the beginning of May.


Some historians suggest that the adventurer Ottar was referring to the Gulf of Bothnia when he spoke of the Kven Sea
Kven Sea
Kven Sea is mentioned as the northern border for the ancient Germany in the "The Old English Orosius", the history of the world published in England in 890 CE with a commission from King Alfred the Great himself...

in the 9th century. It is also possible that Claudius Clavus's usage of the term Mare Gotticus in the 15th century refers to the Gulf of Bothnia.


The land surrounding the Gulf of Bothnia is heavily forested. Trees are logged, then transported to the coast for milling.


  • Indalsälven
    Indalsälven is one of Sweden's longest rivers with a total length of 430 kilometers. Among its tributaries are Kallströmmen, Långan, Hårkan and Ammerån. A total of 26 hydropower plants are placed along its course, making it the third most power producing river of Sweden.-References:...

  • Ångermanälven
    Ångerman River
    The Ångerman River is one of Sweden's longest rivers with a total length of 460 kilometers. It also has the largest amount of water running through it....

  • Umeälven
    Ume River
    The Ume River is one of the main rivers in northern Sweden. It is around long, and flows in a south-eastern direction from its source, the lake Överuman by the Norwegian border within the Scandinavian mountain range. For large parts, the European route E12, also known as Blå Vägen , follows its...

  • Skellefteälven
    Skellefte River
    The Skellefte River is a river in northern Sweden; one of the major Norrland rivers..Geographically, it starts in the Norrbotten County, also known as the Swedish Lappland province where it drains the lakes Hornavan, Uddjaur and Storavan near Arjeplog; then goes south-east into Västerbotten...

  • Piteälven
    Pite River
    The Pite River is a river in northern Sweden, flowing through the Norrbotten County. It is one of the four major rivers in Norrland that have been left mostly untouched by water power plants, the river has a single dam at Sikfors approximately 15 km upstream from the sea.It starts in the large...

  • Luleälven
    Lule River
    Lule River is a major river in Sweden, rising in northern Sweden and flowing southeast for before reaching the Gulf of Bothnia at Luleå. It is the second longest river by watershed area or length in Norrbotten County , but is the largest by average discharge.It has a watershed of 25,240.5 km² of...

  • Kalixälven
    Kalix River
    The Kalix River is one of the four major rivers of Norrland, northern Sweden, that are untouched by water power...

  • Torneälven
    Torne River
    The Torne River , is a river in northern Sweden and Finland. Approximately half of the river's length is a part of the border between these two countries. It rises at Lake Torne near the border with Norway and flows generally southeast for a distance of into the Gulf of Bothnia...

  • Kemijoki
    Kemijoki , with its length, is the longest river in Finland. It runs through Kemijärvi and Rovaniemi before reaching the Gulf of Bothnia at Kemi.At Rovaniemi the Ounasjoki river merges with Kemijoki....

  • Oulujoki
    Oulujoki is a river in Oulu province, Finland.Its origin is Oulujärvi and, its watershed area covers a significant part of Kainuu region....

  • Kokemäenjoki
    The Kokemäenjoki is a river and its drainage basin in southwestern Finland.-Geography:The river originates at Lake Liekovesi in the Pirkanmaa region, and flows to the Gulf of Bothnia at Pori in the Satakunta region...


  • Luleå
    - Transportation :Local buses are run by .A passenger train service is available from Luleå Centralstation on Sweden's national SJ railway service northbound to Narvik on the Norwegian coast, or southbound to Stockholm. See Rail transport in Sweden....

  • Umeå
    - Transport :The road infrastructure in Umeå is well-developed, with two European highways passing through the city. About 4 km from the city centre is the Umeå City Airport...

  • Härnösand
    Härnösand is a locality and the seat of Härnösand Municipality in Västernorrland County, Sweden with 18,003 inhabitants in 2005. It is called "the gate to the High Coast" because of the world heritage landscape rises just some miles north of Härnösand...

  • Sundsvall
    -External links:* - Official site from Nordisk Familjebok - Sundsvalls tourist information bureau. - The alternative guide to Sundsvall. - Blog with photos from Sundsvall....

  • Gävle
    Gävle is a city in Sweden, the seat of Gävle Municipality and the capital of Gävleborg County. It had 71,033 inhabitants in 12/31 2010. It is the oldest city in the historical Norrland , having received its charter in 1446 from Christopher of Bavaria.-History:It is believed that the name Gävle...

  • Pori
    Pori is a city and municipality on the west coast of Finland. The city is located some from the Gulf of Bothnia, on the estuary of the Kokemäenjoki river, which is the largest in Finland. Pori is the most important town in the Satakunta region....

  • Vaasa
    Vaasa is a city on the west coast of Finland. It received its charter in 1606, during the reign of Charles IX of Sweden and is named after the Royal House of Vasa...

  • Oulu
    Oulu is a city and municipality of inhabitants in the region of Northern Ostrobothnia, in Finland. It is the most populous city in Northern Finland and the sixth most populous city in the country. It is one of the northernmost larger cities in the world....

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