Ruhnu, also known as Runö in Swedish, is a charming Estonian island located in the Gulf of Riga within the Baltic Sea. Covering an area of 11.9 square kilometers, it is currently home to a mere 60 permanent inhabitants. This idyllic island has a unique historical background.
For centuries, Ruhnu was home to a vibrant community of ethnic Swedes who cherished their distinctive traditions and celebrated exceptional fiddle players. However, in August 1944, a significant turning point occurred when most of the island's population, with the exception of two families, fled to Sweden. This mass exodus marked the end of the island's rich traditions and culture.Subsequently, Ruhnu was repopulated by Estonian civilians. With Estonia's regaining of independence in 1991, the properties, lands, and other assets on Ruhnu Island were rightfully restored to those with historical ownership claims that predated the Soviet occupation of Estonia, or to their descendants, many of whom resided in Sweden. While a significant amount of these property owners did not restore permanent residency on Ruhnu, they continue to periodically return to the island, thereby maintaining a profound connection to their ancestral lands and preserving the island's unique history.