Houtskär has a total area of 697 km2 and consists of approximately 700 islands and islets bigger than 1 hectare (of which 20 are inhabited). Houtskär is situated in the archipelago of Åboland, close to the Åland Islands. Since 1.1.2009 Houtskär is part of the archipelago town of Pargas. There are around 500 persons registered in Houtskär, but there is also a rather large amount of part time and holiday residents. 83% of the population is Swedish-speaking, 15% is Finnish-speaking and 2% speaks other languages. Houtskär is a combination of forested islands and barren outer skerries. There is a vast variety of vegetation and flora. Houtskär is part of the Archipelago Sea Biosphere Reserve and a smaller area is also part of the Archipelago National Park.
Houtskär provides good basic services through municipal and private actors. People are also actively engaged in different associations. There are several vigorous villages in Houtskär. Especially Hyppeis and Björkö are known for their beautiful boathouses.
The names of the villages are: Näsby (which is the central village), Storpensar, Saverkeit, Kittuis, Medelby, Hönsnäs, Berghamn, Träsk, Jervis, Hyppeis, Roslax, Kivimo, Björkö, Mossala, Äpplö and Nåtö.
The demand for large, effective units nowadays is challenging for the farmers in the archipelago. One way of managing the situation is to specialize in cultivating certain products. Houtskär is known for its early and tasty new potatoes. Tomatoes are another big “export product” and are cultivated all the year round. Apples are also being cultivated. Houtskär has been inhabited for a long time. The oldest known traces of humans probably date back to the Bronze Age.
Due to the land uplift, which is around 50 cm per century in this area, the islands have changed both in size and number. Today there are approximately 1 600 islands and islets. It is assumed that Houtskär has had a Swedish settlement since the 13th century.
The parish of Houtskär is mentioned in 1554, but until 1867 Houtskär was a part of the parish of Korpo. The present red wooden church, Saint Mary’s church, located in Näsby, was built in 1703. The traditional livelihood for the inhabitants of Houtskär has been fishing and shipping. At the end of the 19th century the population was around 2000 people. Thanks to the fishing, the people in the archipelago survived the difficult famine of 1867-68 better than the people on the mainland, who suffered largely because of the poor harvests.