Today the population is about 57 300 persons, 43% of them live on the countryside. Visby is the capital of Gotland with 22 000 inhabitants of which 2 000 are living inside the medieval City Wall. Other larger villages are Slite, Hemse, Klintehamn, Lärbro, Burgsvik and Fårösund. Gotland is divided in 92 parishes, everyone with its own medieval church.
Until 1952 each parish was its own municipality, however after this year they were divided into 13 units. Since 1971 the whole island is one municipality, one county, one military command and one Episcopal see.
Since 1996 the Municipality of Gotland is taking part of a Governmental project of local self government, and responsibility of regional development. The official representative for the Government is the County Governor. The chairman of the municipal administration is politically elected and has a role as representative Mayor, the chairman of the municipal and county council is the politically elected regional representative. The Municipality of Gotland is also responsible for social/health care and public schools. Almost 7 000 persons work within the administration of the municipality which is the largest employer in Gotland.
On Gotland you will find preparatory, primary and high schools both private and public. University and college. One of Sweden´s most modern hospital, SJUKHUS or LASARETT, is located in Gotland, connected to 23 smaller units, VÅRDCENTRAL, geographically spread on the island.The public service is a considerable expense for the municipality because of the small population, however it gives a good service to both inhabitants and visitors.
During the 19th century the German influences from the hanseatic days returned in a new way: business men worked in the off shore commercial sector with raw material and shipping from Gotland.
The request of refined limestone declined but instead a need of limestone pebbles and cement increased.Tar and corn were other exported products. The agriculture was developed and the importance of Visby as a city diminished mostly because a strong decentralization of the economy.
The local commerce became more important and new villages were created like Fårösund, Slite, Klintehamn and Ljugarn. The economic life was developed with breweries, dairies, distilleries and a totally new industry - tourism.
Agriculture & Forest
Gotland' s cultivated areas cover 27% and the forested approximately 40 % of the total land area.
The trees on Gotland grows slowly which give the timber more durable qualities. It is called Gotland Heartwood and is exported both to the mainland and to other countries in Europe.
Even though agriculture is diminishing in Sweden it is still an important part of trade and industry in Gotland.
Crops cultivated here are grain, potatoes, beets, rapes and hay. One of the more unusual is mustard seeds, Gotland is unique for its cultivation of mustard seeds and is the only region in Europe. Scientists from The Swedish University of Agriculture are using Gotland to try developing different crops of natural seeds - often primary versions that risk being globally exterminated caused by manipulative techniques. Very nutritious, pure and original kinds of wheat and oats are being test grown in Gotland.
Trade and industry and the public administration of Gotland have many international contacts. The municipality of Gotland is member of several European organizations like CPMR, Island´s Commission and the Regional Committee. Gotland also take part in developing and marketing activitieson the mainland of Sweden and in other European countries.
Gotland is Sweden's largest producer of ecologically cultivated carrots. Cucumber, tomatoes, and parsnips are other growth that are of importance for Gotlands export.
A new step within agriculture is wine production, which is under development. The lime soil together with the mild climate creates good conditions.
The animal production is dominated by pork, beef, sheep and chicken. Gotland is also producing enough diary products to be self-supporting. Being an island, Gotlandic farmers have very good control of the quality of their stocks.
Ostrich production is coming up with big sales successes.