FinlAnd's southernMost toWn, hAnko, is situAted on A peninsulA thAt stretches out into the BAltic seA. its locAtion hAs set the stAGe For A drAMAtic history. todAy it deliGhts visitors With Fine dininG, ornAte Wooden villAs And suMMer events. winding road leads down the hanko peninsula to the southern tip of mainland Finland. here it rolls into the idyllic town of the same name, surrounded on three sides by the baltic sea and a myriad of rocky, pine-covered islands. This strategic location has assured the port town a colourful past. swedish rulers built a fortress here as early as the 1600s, and the area has been a site for many battles since the 1800s; some shipwrecks hiding beneath the surrounding waters are remnants of these clashes. after the Wina ter War of 193940, hanko was ceded to the soviet Union, who used it as a naval base. In december 1941 it was returned to Finnish control, and evacuated residents returned to rebuild their shattered town. These days it's easy to see why hanko enjoys a status as a summer getaway; its nature is marked by granite cliffs, sandy beaches, sheltered coves and lush meadows. The flora includes species brought in by winds and the thousands of ships that have docked here over the centuries; roughly 50 plant species in the hanko area are classified as endangered. Many rare birds such as the collared flycatcher and the great skua have also been spotted
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