Photo by Julius Jansson on Unsplash

Cultural heritage

Vision 2030

Marine cultural heritage is fostered, and there is now more information on marine cultural heritage. Cultural heritage promotes the conservation and development of biodiversity and the vitality of coastal regions.

The graph illustrates the main operations of the sector in the different zones of the marine area today and in 2030

Before After


The Baltic Sea has a long cultural history. There was shipping in the Baltic Sea as early as the Stone Age, and trading began in the eighth and ninth centuries, also involving the necessary trading routes and commercial ports. Maritime cultural heritage is closely intertwined with maritime industries. Maritime cultural heritage includes both intangible and physical heritage.

Intangible cultural heritage refers to practices, knowledge and skills recognised by communities as part of their cultural heritage. (B34) The intangible cultural heritage of Finnish marine areas is related to livelihoods in the archipelago and coastal regions, for example. Intangible maritime cultural heritage also involves oral tradition about fishing grounds and old fishing methods, for example. The vitality of coastal regions and traditional livelihoods ensures that cultural heritage is preserved and developed.

Physical cultural heritage includes various structures, buildings, shipwrecks, places, areas and routes, for example. With land uplift, maritime cultural heritage is also discovered inland. Culturally and historically valuable areas that include marine cultural environments are presented below.

A vibrant coastal culture is closely linked to the marine environment as a livelihood and transport route. The vitality of coastal regions also ensures the preservation of cultural heritage. On the other hand, the good status of the marine environment supports the vitality of the coastal culture. Fostering cultural heritage requires a sufficient protection network, resources for maintenance, information related to protection and the inclusion of local operators in the planning process, for example, as well as ensuring the sustainable use of valuable areas and sites. Cultural heritage attracts interest as a tourist destination, for example, and sustainable tourism can support the preservation of cultural heritage. In order to safeguard cultural heritage, it is necessary to have a holistic view of landscape areas containing cultural, environmental and nature values.

National landscapes

Finland’s national landscapes (27) highlight the country’s most representative natural and cultural characteristics. Maritime national landscapes include Maritime Helsinki, the Archipelago Sea, the Kvarken Archipelago and Hailuoto.

UNESCO World Heritage sites

World Heritage sites represent cultural or natural heritage of special international significance. Of the seven World Heritage sites in Finland, the following are located in marine environments or their areas of influence: Suomenlinna, Old Rauma, the Struve Geodetic Arc and the Kvarken Archipelago. (B25) In addition, even though Sammallahdenmäki in Rauma is now located inland, it was built on the shore in the Bronze Age and therefore also represents maritime cultural heritage.

Nationally and regionally valuable landscape areas

The nationally valuable landscape areas, which are based on a Government Resolution issued in 1995, are among the most representative cultural landscapes in Finland.  (B25)

An updated inventory of nationally valuable landscape areas has been prepared, but its results have not yet entered into force. The inventory takes into account landscapes related to archipelago livelihoods, fishing and shipping lanes, for example, more extensively than before. (B41)

Regionally valuable landscape areas are sites that have been inventoried at the regional level. In the updated national inventory, sites that were previously classified as nationally significant have now been proposed to be deemed as regionally valuable sites.

Built cultural environments of national significance

The around 1,200 nationally significant built cultural environments in Finland include 71 maritime sites. These sites represent Finland’s maritime livelihoods and activities, as well as the related built cultural environments. They include coastal and archipelago sites in particular: waterways, historic castles and fortresses, church environments, industrial areas and shipyards, as well as archipelago and summer residential areas. (B25)

In addition to nationally significant sites, there are regionally and locally valuable cultural environments. (B25)

National Urban Parks

The purpose of the National Urban Parks in Finland, established in accordance with the Land Use and Building Act, is to preserve urban natural and cultural environments as an extensive whole that is intact. Finland has five maritime Urban National Parks (in Pori, Turku, Hanko, Porvoo and Kotka).

Archaeological cultural heritage

Archaeological cultural heritage includes remains, structures, deposits and discoveries resulting from human activity during the prehistoric or historic era. Solid archaeological remains are protected under the Antiquities Act. These include, for example, shipwrecks dating back more than 100 years. In addition, archaeological cultural heritage includes more recent structures not covered by the Antiquities Act (e.g. shipwrecks dating back fewer than 100 years). The Antiquities Act is not in force in the Exclusive Economic Zone. (B25)

The conditions in the Baltic Sea are ideal for the preservation of shipwrecks, which is a rare specific characteristic, even globally. The Antiquities Record includes information about more than 2,000 underwater discoveries in Finland. In addition to the shipwrecks protected under the Antiquities Act, protection areas have been determined for five significant protected shipwrecks in accordance with the Antiquities Act. (B26)

Nationally significant archaeological sites and areas will be determined in a project of the National Board of Antiquities during 2021.

Building heritage

Pilot and lighthouse communities and buildings, as well as archipelago villages, are examples of protected culturally and historically valuable buildings and structures located in marine areas. (B25).


Well-preserved cultural heritage is part of regional vitality

– Special characteristics of various areas will be identified, and the areas will be profiled accordingly (incl. underwater and intangible cultural heritage)

– The most important sites will be identified and prioritised in terms of cultural heritage

– Infrastructure will be maintained and developed to support the preservation of cultural heritage, even in sparsely populated areas

– Year-round living in the archipelago and remote areas will be made more economically viable (amendment to property tax)

– Local operators are encouraged to take responsibility for preserving cultural heritage (e.g. by delegating responsibility to local museums)

– Archipelago industries will be further developed:

– More extensive provision of experience services in the archipelago

– Development of local food operations

– The openness of cultural heritage areas will be ensured, and their purpose of use will be negotiated in connection with privatisation

The good status of the marine environment supports the preservation of cultural heritage

– The combined impact of land use and the use of marine areas will be examined in terms of cultural heritage

– Local and broader values will be taken into account as knowledge increases (co-occurrence of values, e.g. landscape and archaeology)

Dialogue and a common will between various sectors have been established, and cultural heritage is examined from a holistic perspective

– Awareness of the specific characteristics of Finnish cultural heritage is increased in various sectors of government (incl. well-preserved underwater cultural heritage)

– Opportunities to create synergies between valuable areas and other sectors will be explored (e.g. a museum and a fish descaling plant in the continuum of history)

– Experts in cultural heritage will be involved in operations (e.g. renovation of building heritage, development of tourism)

– Dialogue will be developed in cooperation with local communities, and residents will be involved in the planning process

– Cooperation between sectors will be increased by examining community, social significance and local economic significance

Ensuring resources to foster cultural heritage

– Efforts will be made to ensure sufficient resources for highlighting cultural heritage, fostering cultural values and increasing knowledge

– The adequacy of subsidies from the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment will be ensured with regard to environmental management in the archipelago

Awareness of the topic has improved

– Sufficient knowledge will be ensured for planning with regard to maritime cultural heritage (improved archaeological knowledge of underwater environments and the archipelago)

– The flow and accessibility of information will be promoted, and increased knowledge will be distributed across sectors

– Technological development and the increase in the amount of data will be exploited, and the locations of antiquities will be determined, as well as the measures necessary for their preservation.

Background information

Synergies and conflicts

View the Synergies and conflicts table for all industries.

Ecosystem services

The cultural heritage sector makes use of at least the following ecosystem services provided by the marine ecosystem:

– Cultural services: experiences, inspiration, the maritime landscape

– Production services: local food, local energy, fish stocks

– Maintenance and regulation services: all processes that maintain marine environments

– The most important factor affecting the availability of exploited ecosystem services is the good status of the marine environment, especially the conditions it creates for the production of maintenance and regulation services.