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Around 3 000 islands, islets, and skerries dot the Småland coastal waters. Of these, only about ninety are inhabited or have had year-round residents during the past century. Put simply, this is one of the least exploited coastal and island areas in Swedish waters. In some places, it is possible to travel considerable distances along the coast and never meet a fellow wanderer or see a house. But the coast and its waters are home to a dynamic culture, though there are fewer residents than in former days. Official statistics show about 250 year-round residents without bridge connections to the mainland, and most of them live on the Tjust islands. The population statistics swell when year-round residents with bridge connections are included. The average age is relatively high. Many residents are between fifty and seventy years of age. Few are aged twenty to twenty-nine. But there are many children and adults over thirty.

Around 30 % of the gainfully employed derive their income from an area-dependent industry such as fishing, farming or forestry. Transportation and building are key industries. Tourism is on the rise. The islanders are traditionally jacks-of-all-trades who find it natural to take on a variety of job opportunities. Many modern residents combine farming or fishing with work in the tourism or service industries. Others become entrepreneurs or commute to a mainland job.

 © Åsa Nilsson