Ostrobothnia (Swedish: Österbotten, Finnish: Pohjanmaa) is a stretch of coastal Western Finland. The historic province of the same name has been split in parts; this is the one where Swedish-speakers are found.
The Swedish name is given first, then the Finnish, also the latter in bold when Finnish is the majority langauge.
- 1 Vasa / Vaasa — the regional capital
- 2 Jakobstad / Pietarsaari, a nice small port town
- 3 Kaskö / Kaskinen — Finland's smallest town since its chartering in 1785
- 4 Kristinestad / Kristiinankaupunki, with a lovely wooden old town
- 5 Nykarleby / Uusikaarlepyy
- 6 Närpes / Närpiö, known for tomatoes and an archaic dialect
Ostrobothnia is a region centred around Vaasa on the west coast of Finland, consisting of 17 municipalities. It borders with the regions Central Ostrobothnia, Southern Ostrobothnia and Satakunta. Ostrobothnia is the only region in Finland (except Åland) that has a majority of Swedish-speakers (about 52%).
The linguistic gap towards the Finnish, the cultural one to Swedish-speaking in the southern cities, the availability of Swedish radio and television and the proximity to Sweden have given the locals a regional identity separate from that of the southerners, only to a degree diluted with greater modern mobility.
The area is dominated by agrarian culture in contrast to the forestry dominated inland. Historically Ostrobothnia was hit hard by bad economic conditions and famine during the 19th century and thousands of people left to emigrate to America. Generally, though, this region is and has been quite wealthy, with self-confident independent farmers.
The bigger towns have have got significant Finnish-speaking population by the industrialisation, as workers have moved here from the Finnish-speaking inland, while those with old local roots generally are Swedish-speaking.
The bigger towns, such as Vaasa and Jakobstad, are bilingual and you will get along on Swedish or Finnish with most of the population (and at least in shops, etc.). Generally only either language is spoken in rural communities: Finnish in Laihia, Isokyrö and Vähäkyrö, Swedish in the rest. In fact, the mother tongue of most rural people in the area is some Swedish dialect, often incomprehensible to many Swedish speaking from the south, but people will change to the Swedish learnt at school (and heard from Swedish and Finnish television) when meeting them.
English is known as in other parts of the country. No problem.
- By air from Helsinki and Stockholm to Vaasa airport. There is also an airport in Kronoby (Kruunupyy), which functions as the airport for the cities of Kokkola and Jakobstad.
- There are train connections to Vaasa and Bennäs/Pännäinen (the railway station of Jakobstad and Pedersöre, bus connection to central Jakobstad). Coming from Helsinki some trains are direct but some need transfer in Seinäjoki to get to Vaasa.
- Buses frequently traffic main road 8 along the west coast.
- By car along main road 8 which goes along the west coast and main road 3 that leads to Tampere.
- Ferry to Vaasa from Umeå
There is a dense coach network covering most of the region. See Matkahuolto. Long-distance trains are useful for travel between some towns, but often involve a transfer outside the region. A car (or bike) is useful for reaching countryside off the main roads.
Google Maps includes timetables of trains, long distance buses and local transport of many cities and towns. Other useful route planners are Matka.fi for trains and local buses and Matkahuolto Reittiopas for regional buses.
- Kvarken Archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The ship Jacobstads Wapen in Jakobstad, built using 18th century blueprints by famous naval architect af Chapman
- Finland's statue of freedom in Vaasa, where the "white" government resided during the civil war. The civil war is still a touchy issue, with "whites" usually seeing it as part of Finland's struggle for independence.
- Kuddnäs, the birthplace of the author Zacharias Topelius in Nykarleby. The Swedish speaking Topelius was important in creating the Finnish identity in the 19th century.
- Replot bridge, the longest in Finland, outside Vaasa
- Drive along the road of seven bridges from Jakobstad via Larsmo to Kokkola
- Have fun at Tropiclandia water park in Vaasa
- Paddle a kayak around the Kvarken heritage.