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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Vanern Lake


The Hönsäter mansion provides a stately presence near the spectacular Vänern lake

Situated in southwestern SWEDEN among thousands of smaller lakes, Vänern is the largest lake in Sweden with a surface area of 5,650 square kilometers and 2,181 square miles and maximum depth of almost 107 meters (350 feet). It is also the third-largest lake in all of Europe, behind Ladoga and Onega lakes in Russia. Located in southern Värmlands län (county) and northern Västra Götalands län, Vänern is about three times larger than Sweden's second-largest lake: Vättern (1,912 sq. km, 738 sq. mi). Proving Vänern to be a useful mode of transportation, the Göta Kanal (canal) connects the lake's eastern shoreline to communities and fellow lakes to the east. Åmal, Hällekis, Karlstad, Kristinehamn, Lidköping, Mariestad, Mellerud, Säffle, Sjötorp, Stigsberget, and Vänersborg are some small and large communities where residents can live, work, and play right by Vänern. Rivers and streams connected to Vänern include Dalbergsån, Friaån, Gullspångsälven, Holmsån, Klarälven, Lidan, and Sjöråsån. The lake holds hundreds of tiny offshore islands, and Torsö (nicknamed Thor's Island) is by far the largest with an area of about 62 sq. kilometers and 24 sq. miles. Other islands include Åsundaön, Brommö, Djurö, Kållandsö, Kalvön, Lurö Skärgård islands, Nötön, Rammholmen islands, Spåron, and Vålön.

Hönsäter House illustration — © European Commission / ec.europa.eu/environment

Kinnekulle — Bunch of Stones and Biodiversity

Map of Kinnekulle plateau and nature reserve — © Rand McNally Kinnekulle is a major limestone plateau straddling the shoreline, in between the communities of Götene and Lidköping. Quarry leftovers recall a time when Kinnekulle supported a thriving mining industry decades ago. Manor houses (like Hönsäter in the photo and illustration above), cottages, villages, and centuries-old churches still exist in the area. Various nature reserves are scattered across Kinnekulle, the largest of which is Österplana Hed och Vall (Heath and Pasture) nature reserve. Västerplana Storäng is a large meadow adjacent to the lake. Bestorp, Blomberg, Gamleriket, Råbäcks Sjöskog (lake woodland), Såten and other nature reserves boast healthy deciduous and coniferous forests. Various rare and endangered fungi, flowers, insects, and animals thrive in the Kinnekulle area. The Rand McNally map to the top-left shows the boundaries of Kinnekulle. To enlarge this map to its original size, you can right-click and select Open link in new tab (Internet Explorer), or click on the image and then right-click to select Open image in new tab (Google Chrome).

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