Swedish villages in Estonia

Google Maps is one of my favorite tools that I use when surfing in the Internet.

Today I zoomed to islands outside the Estonian coast, and guess what? I found an island with the following names of villages: Borrby, Rälby, Diby, Norrby, Söderby, Hosby, Sviby, Bussby, Förby, and Saxby. All these names are typical Swedish names.

Vormsi, Estonia's fourth largest island (Swedish: Ormsö)
Vormsi, Estonia's fourth largest island (Swedish: Ormsö)

Looking back in the history, there’s a good reason for the Swedish place names; during most of its history, the island has been inhabited by Estonian Swedes (“rannarootslased” in Estonian or “coastal Swedes” in English), whose population reached 3,000 before World War II. During the war, nearly all of Vormsi’s population, along with other Swedes living in Estonia, were evacuated, or fled, to Sweden. The island’s current population is approximately 240 inhabitants.



2 thoughts on “Swedish villages in Estonia”

  1. pri·mor·di·aladj.1. Being or happening first in sequence of time; primary; original.2. population is declared to have consisted of Finns–more specifically of Hame-Finns. The paper declares that “there are so many loan words [—] referring to the Finnish interior, that the large number of the names as such is evidence of the settlement history” (Pitkanen 2001 : 58). On the other hand, an attempt has been made to find connections with Estonian settlers. It is maintained (erroneously) that the idea of such connections would be based on names resembling each other in Estonia and Uusimaa, such as Karis in Uusimaa and Karja in Saaremaa, Porkala in Kirkkonummi and Purku in Rapla. It is followed by a reservation admitting that this type of evidence is uncertain and fragmentary frag·men·tar·y adj.Consisting of small, disconnected parts: a picture that emerges from fragmentary information.

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