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The Län is the jurisdictional name given to a geographical area that has been used in Sweden, Finland, and Estonia. From the beginning the term was referring to an area that was “förlänat “ to a member of nobility as reward for his services to the King or Kingdom. The word has carried forward in time but evolved to a different meaning.
A Storlän is often used to describe a larger Län that was created by combining multiple smaller Län into one.
The Swedish Län
The Län in Sweden dates back to medieval times. Birger Jarl and King Magnus Ladulås (who reigned from 1275 to 1290) established the Slottslän at a time when the Ledungen tax (a tax to provide for the military) was revised into a fixed tax. There were also Underhållslän created to financially support members of the Swedish Royal Family, Pantlän that were areas loaned from private owners to the Crown, and Tjänstelän that were exchanged for military service. In compliance with the Constitution in 1634, the kingdom was organized into counties. At this time each province (Landskap) turned over its civil authority to the county (Län) administration. The administrative activities in the counties have basically been in force since 1810. See History of Swedish Counties for further reading.
- The word Län is translated into English to be County.
- Always include the name of the Län when citing the location of an event.
- Be sure to distinguish between Län and a Swedish landskap (usually called province in English).
Sveriges Släktforskarförbund Wiki Community., "Pastorat". Wiki-Rötter, January 2011. http://www.genealogi.se/wiki/index.php/L%C3%A4n