Joint border survey between Finland and Sweden in progress
The boundary between Finland and Sweden is surveyed and changed if necessary every 25 years. Currently, an official inspection is in progress in Lapland, while last week, Finland's western was corrected to be more accurate on the island of Märket in the Baltic Sea between the Åland Islands and Sweden.
The governmental committees of both Finland and Sweden started a joint three-day survey of the border area in Kilpisjärvi in the Tornio River valley on Monday.
"The principle is that the national frontiers are defined by the deepest part of the river, and because of the meandering nature of the river, there is an agreement that the border is checked every 25 years", says Pekka Tätilä of the National Land Survey of Finland.
The committees follow the border along the rivers from Kilpisjärvi to the Tornio and Haparanda achipelagos.
While the deep-water channel changes over the years and decades, the national frontier is always defined by the deepest part of the river. Hence, a border that involves a river is never actually transferred.
The border between Finland and Sweden stretches from Lapland across the sea to the Åland Islands and it crosses the island of Märket, and hence the border has to be inspected there as well.
Last week, Finland's western border was surveyed on the small island of Märket. There is an unmanned lighthouse on the Finnish side of the island.
There are no frontier fences or structures on the Märket border, only a number of marks drilled into the rock - one at each point where the boundary makes a curve. These ten marks were now checked and corrected to indicate the twisting border. Märket, really little more than a skerry or islet, is arguably the world's smallest island belonging to two countries.
In practice, it is not possible to mark the border in any more visible way, as ice, wind and waves would wipe all marks off the rocks. Actually, the only way to follow the border is to use a map.
The final committee reports and maps will be submitted to the governments of both countries. While approving the reports, they simultaneously decide where the border between Finland and Sweden will be situated for the next 25 years. It is highly unlikely that any diplomatic incidents will emerge over the changes, if any occur.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Miniscule changes in Finnish-Norwegian border result from 25-year inspection (14.1.2002)
National Land Survey of Finland