Kvarken (alt. Quarken, swe. Kvarken, fin. Merenkurkku) is the narrow region in the Gulf of Bothnia seperating the Bothnian Bay from the Bothnian Sea. The distance from Swedish mainland to Finnish mainland is around 80 km while the distance between the outmost islands is only 25 km. The water depth in the Kvarken region is only around 25 meters. The region also has an exceptional rate of land rising at about 1 cm a year.
On the Finnish side of Kvarken, there is a large archipelago with most of the small islands inhabited. The archipelago is smaller on the Swedish side of the region with much steeper shores. The Kvarken region was historically also important for the delivery of postal mail as the sea was completely frozen from the Swedish to the Finnish coast. This route was then used very frequently under the Swedish rule for delivery of postal mail. The region, with it's close proximity to Sweden, played an important role in the Finnish wars against the Soviet Union (Russia).
In the group of islands in the "middle" of the Kvarken region, called sve. ValsŲrarna -- fin. Valassaareet, is a 36 meter high lighthouse drawn by Gustave Eiffel. The lighthouse is now automated as most lighthouses are in Finland.
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