Hälsingland (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈhɛlːsɪŋland] (listen)), sometimes referred to as Helsingia in English, is a historical province or landskap in central Sweden. It borders Gästrikland, Dalarna, Härjedalen, Medelpad and the Gulf of Bothnia. It is part of the land of Norrland.
|• Total||14,264 km2 (5,507 sq mi)|
|• Density||9.2/km2 (24/sq mi)|
|• Bird||Ural owl|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
The traditional provinces of Sweden serve no administrative or political purpose, but are historical and cultural entities. In the case of Hälsingland the province constitutes the northern part of the län ('administrative county') Gävleborg County. Minor parts of the province are in Jämtland County and in Västernorrland County.
The coat of arms were granted in 1560 in the era of King Gustav Vasa. At that time, Hälsingland was known for its large scale goat breeding, and the arms depicted a standing goat facing heraldic right (blazon: Sable, a Goat rampant Or attired and hoofed Gules). This, combined with the arms of Gästrikland, forms the coat of arms for Gävleborg County.
The terrain is mostly mountainous and rocky, sloping down towards the coast. The highest elevation in the northern part is 530 meters, and 600 meters in the western part. Circa 85% of the land area is covered with forest, and the timber industry has historically been the main source of income. Apart from some areas around the river systems, notably around the River Ljusnan, the soil is barren. Large areas consist of rocks and bogs and are unsuitable for agriculture.
Part of the coastline on the Gulf of Bothnia, called "High Coast", has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as an example and area for the study of isostasy, or post-glacial rebound. The land still rises close to 1 cm annually.
Another notable geological features is the Dellen lake system, created from flooded meteoric impact craters. It is the only occurrence in Sweden of the volcanic Andesite rock, to which it has given the name dellenite.
The earliest mention of the people of Hälsingland may be in the Old English poem Widsith, from the 9th or 10th century, where a people called the Hælsings are referred to. The first definite mention of the people is made by Adam of Bremen around 1070, in reference to the leidang shipping fleet.
In the medieval age, the "Helsings" were the Swedish speaking inhabitants of the entire coastal region north of Uppland, a rather imprecise denomination. In the early provincial law of Uppland, the border between northern Uppland and Hälsingland was the Ödmården forest.
In the 13th century a large number of people emigrated from Hälsingland to the southern coasts of Finland, then called Österland. They named places after Hälsingland, most notably the river Helsingeå and its first rapids Helsingfors. In 1550 the latter gave name to a new town founded next to it by king Gustav Vasa. In 1812 the city of Helsinki became capital of Finland.
The oldest city in Hälsingland is Hudiksvall, chartered in 1582. After that, Söderhamn was chartered in 1620. Not until 1942 was Hälsingland granted its third city, Bollnäs, which was to become the last city (in Hälsingland) as City status in Sweden was abolished in 1971.
Dukes of HälsinglandEdit
Since 1772, Swedish Princes and Princesses have been created Dukes and Duchesses of various Swedish provinces, but this is solely a nominal title. The current holder is Princess Madeleine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland (born 1982)
The magnificent Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland—"Hälsingegårdar"—are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Two or even three storeys high, the farmhouses are built to show wealth and independence, and much inventiveness has gone into decorating their interiors, which combine aristocratic fashions with traditional materials and techniques.
Football in the province is administered by Hälsinglands Fotbollförbund.
- Actress Noomi Rapace, famous through the adaptions of the Millennium series, was born in Norrbo, Hudiksvall.
- Archbishop Nathan Söderblom, Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1930, was born in Trönö, Hälsingland in 1866.
- Hans Johansson, former bandy player, several times Swedish and world champion, is originally from Edsbyn.
- Tomas Brolin former football player, who played in the World Cup All Star Team 1994, was born in Finflo outside the town of Hudiksvall.
- Marie Richardson, an actress appearing in over a hundred productions on the stage, television and film, was born in the town of Ljusdal.
Hälsingland was historically divided into districts: