Gotland (; , older spellings include Gottland or Gothland), Gutland in the local language Gutnish, is a province, county, municipality, and diocese of Sweden. It is Sweden's largest island. The island of Gotland and the other areas of the province of Gotland make up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area. The province includes the small islands of Fårö and Gotska Sandön to the north, as well as the even smaller Karlsö Islands (Lilla and Stora) to the west. The population is 57,221, of which about 23,600 live in Visby, the main town.
A DNA study conducted on the 5000 year old skeletal remains of three Middle Neolithic seal hunters from Gotland showed that they were related to modern-day Finns, while a farmer from Gökhem parish in Västergötland on the mainland was found to be more closely related to modern-day Mediterraneans. This is consistent with the spread of agricultural peoples from the Middle East at about that time.
Orkneyinga saga was written around 1200 CE by an unknown Icelandic author. The Hversu account is only known to have survived in one single copy in Icelandic Flateyjarbók from 1387 CE, but may have been written earlier. According to Orkneyinga saga, Norwegian rulers were descendants of king Fornjót who "reigned over Gotland, which we now know as Finland and Kvenland". The Hversu account states that a descendant of Fornjót "ruled over Gothland, Kvenland (Kænlandi), and Finland".
Gutasaga contains legends of how the island was settled by Þieluar and populated by his descendants. It also tells that a third of the population had to emigrate and settle in southern Europe, a tradition associated with the migration of the Goths, whose name has the same origin as Gutes, the native name of the people of the island. It later tells that the Gutes voluntarily submitted to the king of Sweden and asserts that the submission was based on mutual agreement, and notes the duties and obligations of the Swedish King and Bishop in relationship to Gotland. According to some historians it is therefore not only an effort to write down the history of Gotland, but also an effort to assert Gotland's independence from Sweden.
It gives Awair Strabain as the name of the man who arranged the mutually beneficial agreement with the king of Sweden; the event would have taken place before the end of the 9th century, when Wulfstan of Hedeby reported that the island was subject to the Swedes:
The region is considered by some historians to be the original homeland of the Goths.
The number of Arab dirhams discovered on the island of Gotland alone is astoundingly high. In the various hoards located around the island, there are more of these silver coins than at any other site in Western Eurasia. The total sum is almost as great as the number that has been unearthed in the entire Muslim world. These coins moved north through trade between Rus merchants and the Abbasid Caliphate, along the Silver-Fur Road, and the money made by Scandinavian merchants would help northern Europe, especially Viking Scandinavia and the Carolingian Empire, as major commercial centers for the next several centuries.
The authority of the landsting was successively eroded after the island was occupied by the Teutonic Order, then sold to Eric of Pomerania and after 1449 ruled by Danish governors. In late medieval times, the ting consisted of twelve representatives for the farmers, free-holders or tenants. Since the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645, the island has remained under Swedish rule.
On 16 July 1999, the world's largest Viking silver treasure, the Spillings treasure, was found in a field at Spillings northwest of Slite. The silver treasure was divided into two parts weighing a total of 67 kg (27 and 40 kg) and consisted mostly of coins, about 14,000, from foreign countries, mostly Islamic. It also contained about 20 kg of bronze objects along with numerous everyday objects such as nails, glass beads, parts of tools, pottery, iron bands and clasps. The treasure was found by using a metal detector, and the finders fee, given to the farmer who owned the land, was over 2 million crowns (about US$308,000). The treasure was found almost by accident while filming a news report for TV4 (Sweden) about illegal treasure hunting on Gotland.