The fishing villages of Kallankari have a special kind of autonomy

In the Bay of Bothnia, the small islets of Maa- and Ulkokallan form the Kallankari fishing community in the outer Kalajoki archipelago. This is a remote place where life is slow, and the rhythm is determined by the sea.

The islets rose from the sea as a result of land uplift in the 15th century, after which fishermen and seal hunters adopted them as their base. Over the centuries, a dense village settlement formed in the Kallankari area. These fishing villages were one of the most important Baltic herring fishing grounds until the 20th century.

The specialty of the Kallankari fishing villages is their self-government, which was granted to the islands by the King of Sweden in 1771. In practice, this means that the islanders gather each year to decide the affairs of the islands themselves.

Sea charts of the Kallankari islets in the 1790s.

Maakalla is a base for fishermen and summer cottage-owners

Maakalla island is closer to the mainland and has been more densely populated than the island of Ulkokalla. Currently, there are up to 70 fishermen based there. The village grew so large that a small chapel was built there in 1680. The church was rebuilt in 1779. A bell tower and a small rectory building were built next to the church in the 1780s. The church is well-preserved and is still one of the main attractions of the island.

The island still serves as a base for fishermen and summer cottagers, who live respecting the old traditions. Although the vegetation of Maakalla is scarce, many different bird species stop on the island on their migration routes or build their nests in the shelter of the cliffs and rocks. Grey- and ringed seals live in the waters surrounding the island.

The rugged beauty of Ulkokalla is no longer populated with permanent residents

Ulkokalla lies about four kilometres northwest of Maakalla. It is small and rugged, lacking in trees and difficult to access due to underwater rocks and a narrow harbour fairway. During severe weather, the island may have been isolated for up to three months at a time.

Like Maakalla, Ulkokalla has been home to fishing families for centuries. From 1856 onwards, the island inhabitants were granted permission to light signal fires so that fishermen could navigate home safely from the sea. A true lighthouse was built on the island in 1872. At the same time, the dwellings of the lighthouse dwellings were constructed among the grey fishermen’s cottages.

The lighthouse keepers lived on the island until 1974, when the lighthouse became automated. A modern look was brought to the island due to the addition of 20th century features, such as fog sirens, steel masts, and solar panels. Some of the island's buildings have been refurbished for tourist use and only a handful of old fishermen's cottages have been preserved. At present, no-one lives permanently on Ulkokalla island.

How and why is this location protected?

Due to its unique autonomy, long history and well-preserved village communities, the Finnish Heritage Agency has designated the fishing village support base of Kallankari as a nationally constructed cultural environment. In addition, the Ulkokalla lighthouse community is a historic site whose buildings reflects the post- World War II era.

Read more about the protection!

The church building on Maakalla is protected by church laws. The church is a very well-preserved example of 18th century wooden church architecture.

Webpages of the Maakalla church in the Finnish Heritage Agency's register.


The islets of Kallankari are a popular tourist attraction. Weather permitting, they can be reached by boat taxi.

Finnish Heritage Agency's mapservice

Maakalla: N: 7136780, E: 331405 (ETRS-TM35FIN)