The Baltic Sea Region Archipelagos and Islands: Conditions and challenges

Today, the Baltic Sea is an internal sea in the European Union characterized by diverse geographies of its coastal areas, islands, and many archipelagos, located near the Finnish West coast and the Swedish East coast. Historically, the Baltic Sea has played an important role in the development of shipping and trade between East and West, South and North of the region. The islands and archipelagoes of the Baltic Sea region (hereafter called BSR) have at times offered a safe harbor for ships, but also a space whereby people, goods, skills, knowledge, cultures, religions and political interests have met. In addition to maritime transports and trade some of the traditional economic activities in the BSR islands and archipelagos were agriculture and fishing. As the countries and societies around the BSR have been transformed by industrialization and modernization, the foundations for local livelihoods and businesses have changed. During the 20th century, pollution and eutrophication have become major factors changing ecosystems and livelihoods in the region. Today, the number of fishermen and farmers left in the BSR have become decimated and tourism has become one of the key economic activities.

This special issue deals with a number of questions related to the livelihoods of people, economic conditions, challenges and opportunities for SME’s located on the archipelagoes and islands of the BSR. While some local conditions, problems, and challenges are shared by all rural, remote, and peripheral areas, the BRS archipelagos and islands have their own unique characteristics.

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