Ystad is a "locality", or town, and the seat of Ystad Municipality, Skåne County, Sweden, with 18,350 inhabitants in 2010. Settlement dates back to the 11th century and the town has become a busy ferryport, local administrative centre and tourist attraction. It is associated with the fictional detective Kurt Wallander whose stories, by Henning Mankell, are set in Ystad. In 1285, the town's name was written Ystath.
Its original meaning is not fully understood, but probably the "y" has something to do with an old word for the yew tree, -stad is town, or rather place. In Danish times before 1658 the spelling was Ysted. After Absalon, Bishop of Roskilde and Archbishop of Lund, brought peace to the area in the 11th century, fishing families settled at the mouth of the river Vassa. Herring fishing became the main source of trade. Ystad was not mentioned in documents until 1244, in a record of King Eric's visit to the town with his brother, Abel.
A Franciscan monastery, Gråbrödraklostret, was founded in 1267. Ystad joined the Hanseatic League in the 14th century. The charter of 1599 gave the town the right to export oxen. Ystad, together with all of Scania, was transferred from Denmark to Sweden following the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658. By 1866 Ystad had a railway connection and it was established as a garrison town in the 1890s. After World War II, ferry services to Poland and to the Danish island of Bornholm were opened.