The ÅLAND ISLANDS or ÅLAND (Swedish : _Åland_, IPA: ; Finnish :
_Ahvenanmaa_) is an archipelago at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia
Baltic Sea belonging to
Finland . It is autonomous ,
demilitarised and is the only monolingually Swedish-speaking region in
Finland. It is the smallest region of
Finland , constituting 0.49% of
its land area and 0.50% of its population.
Fasta Åland on which 90% of the population resides
and a further 6,500 skerries and islands to its east.
Fasta Åland is
separated from the coast of
Sweden by 38 kilometres (24 mi) of open
water to the west. In the east, the Åland archipelago is contiguous
with the Finnish
Archipelago Sea . Åland's only land border is
located on the uninhabited skerry of
Märket , which it shares with
Åland's autonomous status means that those provincial powers
normally exercised by representatives of the central Finnish
government are largely exercised by its own government .
* 1 Autonomy
* 2 Etymology
* 3 History
* 4 Politics
* 5 Administration
* 6 Municipalities
* 7 Geography
* 8 Climate
* 9 Economy
* 10 Demographics
* 10.1 Births and deaths
* 10.2 Ethnicity and language
* 10.3 Religion
* 11 Sport
* 12 See also
* 13 References
* 14 External links
Special member state territories and the
The autonomous status of the islands was affirmed by a decision made
League of Nations
League of Nations in 1921 following the
Åland crisis . It was
reaffirmed within the treaty admitting
Finland to the
European Union .
By law, Åland is politically neutral and entirely demilitarised, and
residents are exempt from conscription to the
Finnish Defence Forces .
The islands were granted extensive autonomy by the Parliament of
Finland in the Act on the Autonomy of Åland of 1920, which was later
replaced by new legislation by the same name in 1951 and 1991. Åland
remains exclusively Swedish-speaking by this act.
In connection with Finland's admission to the European Union, a
protocol was signed concerning the
Åland Islands that stipulates,
among other things, that provisions of the European Community Treaty
shall not force a change of the existing restrictions for foreigners
(i.e., persons who do not enjoy "home region rights" _(hembygdsrätt)_
in Åland) to acquire and hold real property or to provide certain
Åland's original name was in the
Proto-Norse language _*Ahvaland_
which means "Land of Water". In Swedish, this first developed into
ÁLAND and eventually into Åland, literally "river land"—even
though rivers are not a prominent feature of Åland's geography. The
Finnish and Estonian names of the island, _Ahvenanmaa_ and _Ahvenamaa_
("perch land"), are seen to preserve another form of the old name.
Another theory suggests that the Finnish _Ahvenanmaa_ would be the
original name of the archipelago, from which the Swedish _Åland_
The official name, _Landskapet Åland_, means "the Region of Åland";
_landskap_ is cognate to English "landscape".
History of the Åland Islands Swedish Map of
Åland from before 1667 with shipping lanes, harbors, churches and
various boundaries marked
Members of the
Comb Ceramic culture started settling the
islands some 7000 years ago, after the islands had begun to re-emerge
from the sea after being pushed down by the weight of the continental
ice of the latest ice age . Two neolithic cultures met on Åland: Comb
Ceramic culture and later Pit-Comb Ware culture which spread from the
Stone Age and
Bronze Age people found food by hunting seals and
birds, fishing, and gathering plants. They also started early
agriculture. In the
Iron Age contacts to Scandinavia were increasing.
From the Viking age there are over 380 documented burial sites and six
In the 1200s,
Finland became part of Sweden. The Åland Islands
formed part of the territory ceded to
Sweden under the
Treaty of Fredrikshamn in September 1809. As a result, they became
part of the semi-autonomous Grand Duchy of
During this process,
Sweden failed to secure a provision that the
islands not be fortified. The issue was important not only for Sweden
but also for the United Kingdom, which was concerned that a military
presence on the islands could threaten Britain's military and
Russia started to fortify the islands with the great
fortress of Bomarsund . A combined British and French force of
warships and marines captured and destroyed the fortress in 1854 as
part of the campaign in the Baltic during the
Crimean War . The 1856
Treaty of Paris demilitarised the entire Åland archipelago.
Finnish Civil War
Finnish Civil War , in 1918, Swedish troops intervened as
a peacekeeping force between the Russian troops stationed on the
islands and "White" and "Red" Finnish troops who came from Finland
over the frozen sea. (Historians point out that
Sweden may have in
reality planned to occupy the islands.) Within weeks, the Swedish
troops gave way to German troops who occupied Åland by request of the
"White" (conservative) Senate of
Finland . Åland (blue) with
historical and modern provinces of
Finland (yellow) juxtaposed.
After 1917 the residents of the islands worked towards having them
ceded to Sweden. In 1919 a petition for secession from
Sweden was signed by 96.4% of the voters on the
islands, with over 95% in favour. Swedish nationalist sentiments had
grown strong particularly as a result of the anti-Swedish tendencies
Finland and Finnish nationalism fueled by Finland's struggle to
retain its autonomy and resistance against Russification . The
conflict between the Swedish-speaking minority and the
Finnish-speaking majority on the mainland, prominent in Finnish
politics since the 1840s, contributed to the apprehension of the
Åland population about its future in Finland.
Finland, however, declined to cede the islands and instead offered
them an autonomous status. Nevertheless, the residents did not approve
the offer, and the dispute over the islands was submitted to the
League of Nations
League of Nations . The latter decided that
Finland should retain
sovereignty over the province but that the
Åland Islands should be
made an autonomous territory. Thus
Finland was obliged to ensure the
residents of the
Åland Islands the right to maintain the Swedish
language, as well as their own culture and local traditions. At the
same time, an international treaty established the neutral status of
Åland, prohibiting the placing of military installations or forces on
The combination of disappointment about insufficient support from
Sweden in the League of Nations, Swedish disrespect for Åland's
demilitarised status in the 1930s, and some feelings of a shared
Finland during and after
World War II
World War II has changed the
islanders' perception of Åland's relation to
Finland from "a Swedish
province in Finnish possession" to "an autonomous part of Finland".
The islanders enjoyed safety at sea during World War II, as their
merchant fleet sailed for both the Allied countries and Germany.
Consequently, Åland shipping was not generally attacked as each side
rarely knew which cargo was being carried to whom.
Finland marked the 150th anniversary of demilitarisation of the
Åland Islands by issuing a high-value commemorative coin, the €5
150th Anniversary of Demilitarisation of
Åland Islands commemorative
coin , minted in 2006. The obverse depicts a pine tree, very typical
in the Åland Islands. The reverse design features a boat's stern and
rudder, with a dove perched on the tiller, a symbol of 150 years of
Politics of Åland The
Parliament of Åland .
Åland Islands during the
Crimean War . It was here that the
Battle of Bomarsund was fought.
Åland Islands are governed according to the Act on the Autonomy
of Åland and international treaties. These laws guarantee the
islands' autonomy from Finland, which has ultimate sovereignty over
them, as well as a demilitarised status. The
Government of Åland , or
_Landskapsregering_, answers to the
Parliament of Åland , or
_Lagting_, in accordance with the principles of parliamentarism .
Åland has its own flag, has issued its own postage stamps since
1984, runs its own police force, and is an associate member of the
Nordic Council . Since 2005 the
Åland Islands also have had their
Air Åland . The islands are demilitarised, and the
population is exempt from conscription . Although Åland's autonomy
preceded the creation of the regions of
Finland , the autonomous
government of Åland also has responsibility for the functions
undertaken by Finland's regional councils. Åland is a member of the
Small European Postal Administration Cooperation . The islands are
considered a separate "nation" for amateur radio purposes and have
their own callsign prefix granted by Finland, OH0 OF0 and OG0 (last
character is zero).
Åland Islands are guaranteed representation in the Finnish
parliament , to which they elect one representative. Åland also has a
different system of political parties from the mainland (see List of
political parties in
Homeschooling , which was effectively banned in
Sweden in 2011, is
allowed by the Finnish government. Due to the islands' proximity to
Sweden and because the islands are Swedish speaking, a number of
Swedish homeschooling families have moved from the Swedish mainland to
Åland, including Jonas Himmelstrand, the chairman of the Swedish
association for homeschooling.
An Åland license plate.
The State Department of Åland represents the Finnish central
government and performs many administrative duties. It has a somewhat
different function from the other Regional Administrative Agencies,
owing to its autonomy. Prior to 2010, the state administration was
handled by the
Åland State Provincial Office .
Åland has its own postal administration but still uses the Finnish
five-digit postal code system, using the number range 22000-22999,
with the prefix AX. The lowest numbered postal code is for the capital
Mariehamn, AX 22100, and the highest AX 22950 for Jurmo.
Municipalities of Åland
* Geta (493)
* Sund (1,037)
Geography of Åland Geographical features and
municipalities of the Åland Islands. Sheep grazing on a small
Åland Islands occupy a position of strategic importance, as they
command one of the entrances to the port of
Stockholm , as well as the
approaches to the
Gulf of Bothnia , in addition to being situated near
the Gulf of
The Åland archipelago includes nearly three hundred habitable
islands, of which about eighty are inhabited; the remainder are merely
some 6,200 skerries and desolate rocks. The archipelago is connected
Åboland archipelago in the east (Finnish : _Turunmaan saaristo_,
Swedish : _Åbolands skärgård_)—the archipelago adjacent to the
southwest coast of Finland. Together they form the
Archipelago Sea .
To West from Åland is
Sea of Åland and to North the
Bothnian Sea .
The surface of the islands is generally rocky and the soil thin due
to glacial stripping at the end of the most recent ice age. There are
The islands' landmass occupies a total area of 1,527 square
kilometres (590 sq mi). Ninety percent of the population live on
Fasta Åland , which is also the site of the capital town of Mariehamn
Fasta Åland is the largest island in the archipelago. Its area is
difficult to estimate due to its irregular shape and coastline, but
estimates range from 740 square kilometres to 879 square kilometres
to over 1,010 square kilometres, depending on what is included or
Åland crisis , the parties sought support from different
maps of the islands. On the Swedish map, the most densely populated
main island dominated, and many skerries were left out. On the Finnish
map, many smaller islands or skerries were, for technical reasons,
given a slightly exaggerated size. The Swedish map made the islands
appear to be closer to the mainland of
Sweden than to Finland; the
Finnish map stressed the continuity of the archipelago between the
main island and mainland
Finland , while a greater gap appeared
between the islands and the archipelago on the Swedish side. One
consequence is the often repeated number of "over 6,000" skerries that
was given authority by the outcome of the arbitration.
Åland has a humid continental climate that is influenced by its
maritime position, especially in summer. While summers are cooler than
on both the Swedish and Finnish mainland, winters see little
difference to the adjacent parts of
Sweden and are only narrowly
milder than in mainland Finland.
CLIMATE DATA FOR MARIEHAMN NORMALS 1981–2010
RECORD HIGH °C (°F)
AVERAGE HIGH °C (°F)
DAILY MEAN °C (°F)
AVERAGE LOW °C (°F)
RECORD LOW °C (°F)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION MM (INCHES)
Source #1: Météo Climat
Source #2: Météo Climat
Ferry port in Överö ,
Åland's economy is heavily dominated by shipping, trade and tourism
. Shipping represents about 40% of the economy, with several
international carriers owned and operated off Åland. Most companies
aside from shipping are small, with fewer than ten employees. Farming
and fishing are important in combination with the food industry. A few
high-profile technology companies contribute to a prosperous economy.
Wind power is rapidly developing, aiming at reversing the direction in
the cables to the mainland in coming years. In December 2011 wind
power accounted for 31.48% of Åland's total electricity usage.
The main ports are
Mariehamn (south), Berghamn (west) and Långnäs
on the eastern shore of the Main Island.
Mariehamn was the base for the last large oceanic commercial sailing
ships in the world. Their final tasks were bringing Australian wheat
to Great Britain, on which Åland shipowner
Gustaf Erikson kept going
until after WW2, 1947 being his last year. The ships latterly made
only one round-trip from South Australia to Britain per year, (the
grain race ), after each marathon voyage going back to
lay up for a few months. The ship _Pommern _, now a museum in
Mariehamn, was one of these last vessels.
The abolition of tax-free sales on ferry boats travelling between
destinations within the
European Union made
Finland demand an
exception for the
Åland Islands on the
European Union value added tax
rules . The exception allows for maintained tax-free sales on the
Finland (provided they stop at
Långnäs) and at the airport , but has also made Åland a different
tax-zone, meaning that tariffs must be levied on goods brought to the
Unemployment was 3.9% in January 2014
The Finnish State collects taxes, duties and fees also in Åland. In
return, the Finnish Government places a sum of money at the disposal
of the Åland Parliament. The sum is 0.45% of total Government income,
excluding Government loans. If the sum paid to the Finnish state
exceedes 0.5%, then any amount above that will go back to the
Parliament of Åland as "diligence money". In 2010, the amount of
taxes paid by Åland Islanders was 0.65% of the total taxes paid in
Eurostat , in 2006 Åland was the 20th wealthiest of the
EU's 268 regions, and the wealthiest in Finland, with a GDP per
inhabitant 47% above the EU mean.
While the official currency is the
Euro , the
Swedish krona is
unofficially accepted by most businesses in Åland.
BIRTHS AND DEATHS
Births and deaths:
CRUDE BIRTH RATE (PER 1000)
CRUDE DEATH RATE (PER 1000)
NATURAL CHANGE (PER 1000)
_ A mock wedding in
Jomala . This event, a reenactment of an
1800s farmer's wedding (bondbröllop_) is held annually, mostly as a
ETHNICITY AND LANGUAGE
Languages of Åland
Most inhabitants speak Swedish (the sole official language ) as their
first language : 90.2% in 2009, while 5.0% spoke Finnish . The
language of instruction in publicly financed schools is Swedish (In
the rest of Finland, bilingual municipalities provide schooling both
in Finnish and in Swedish). (See
Åland Swedish for information about
The issue of the ethnicity of the Ålanders, and the correct
linguistic classification of their language, remains somewhat
sensitive and controversial. They may be considered either ethnic
Swedes or Swedish-speaking Finns , but their language is closer to the
Uppländska dialect of
Sweden than to
Finland Swedish . See Languages
Regional citizenship or the right of domicile (_hembygdsrätt_) is a
prerequisite for voting, standing as a candidate for the Legislative
Assembly, or owning and holding real estate situated in unplanned
areas of Åland.
The St. Olaf\'s Church,
Jomala , is the oldest in Finland.
The majority of the population, 75.9%, belongs to the Evangelical
Lutheran Church of
Finland . The Åland islands contain Finland's
oldest Christian churches, including St. Olaf\'s Church,
which dating from the late 13th century is likely to be the oldest in
Finland. The Åland Islands' largest church is the Church of St.
George in Sund , dating from shortly after.
_ The sailing ship Linden_ (center) in Östra Hamnen, Mariehamn's
* Åland competes in the biennial Island Games , which it hosted in
1991 and 2009.
Åland United and IFK
Mariehamn are the islands' leading football
Åland Stags are the islands' only Rugby Union club.
* Geography portal
Outline of the Åland Islands
Index of Åland Islands-related articles
Bibliography of the Åland Islands
Åland Islands national football team
Åland Swedish ·
Languages of Åland
Flag of Åland
Government of Åland
Heraldry of Åland
* Provincial Governors of
Public holidays in Åland
Transport on the Åland Islands
* ^ Tim Vickery, Associated Press (18 July 2004) _Deseret News_.
* ^ Hurst Hannum (1993). "Agreement between
Sweden and Finland
Relating to Guarantees in the Law of 7 May 1920 on the Autonomy of the
Aaland Islands". _Basic Documents on Autonomy and Minority Rights_.
Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 141. ISBN 0-7923-1977-X .
* ^ "Ennakkoväkiluku sukupuolen mukaan alueittain, helmikuu.2016".
Retrieved 31 March 2016.
* ^ "ÅSUB – Ålands statistik och utredningsbyrå". _asub.ax_.
* ^ "Human Development Report 2007". 2007.
* ^ "The Aland Islands". _osterholm.info_.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Scheffel, Richard L.; Wernet, Susan J., eds.
(1980). _Natural Wonders of the World_. United States of America:
Reader's Digest Association, Inc. p. 3. ISBN 0-89577-087-3 .
* ^ An account of the border on
Märket and how it was redrawn in
1985 appears in Hidden
Europe Magazine, 11 (November 2006) pp.
26–29, ISSN 1860-6318 .
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "Act on the Autonomy of Åland" (PDF). _Finlex_.
1991. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
* ^ "Åland in the
European Union p.7". _
Ministry for Foreign A airs of Finland. 2013. Retrieved 25 January
* ^ Virrankoski, Pentti (2001). _Suomen historia. Ensimmäinen
osa._ SKS. ISBN 951-746-321-9 . p. 59.
* ^ Lars Hulden (2001) _Finlandssvenska bebyggelsenamn_; Svenska
litteratursällskapet i Finland. ISBN 951-583-071-0 .
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "åland, the history". Aland Museum. Retrieved
* ^ "Uneasy
Sweden and the Menace of Prussianism; An Analysis of
the Scandinavian Situation in View of Kaiser\'s Reported Ambition to
Make the Baltic a German Lake NY Times
* ^ Åland-Inseln (Finnland), ??. Juni 1919 : Anschluss an Schweden
* ^ Elgán, Elisabeth (2015). _Historical Dictionary of Sweden_.
Rowman & Littlefield. p. 26. ISBN 9781442250710 .
* ^ The recognition of states: law and practice in debate and
evolution, Thomas D. Grant, illustrated, Greenwood Publishing Group,
1999, ISBN 0-275-96350-0 , ISBN 978-0-275-96350-7 , pg. 129–130
* ^ "Product catalogue". _Aland Stamps_. Retrieved 10 February
* ^ "The 2007 Session of the Nordic Council". _European Tribune_.
2007. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
* ^ http://www.airaland.com/text2frame.con?iPage=55&iLan=3
* ^ "International Prefixes". _Radio Society of Great Britain_.
Retrieved 10 February 2017.
* ^ "Allt fler hemundervisare flyttar till Åland".
_Ålandstidningen_. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
* ^ Statistical Yearbook of
Finland 2016, p.505. Accessed
* ^ Europe, Council of (2012-01-01). _Biodiversity and Climate
Change: Reports and Guidance Developed Under the Bern Convention_.
Council of Europe. p. 251. ISBN 9789287170590 .
* ^ "
Finland climate averages 1981–2010". Météo Climat.
* ^ "Extreme values for
Jomala Maarianahaminan Lentoansema".
Météo Climat. March 19, 2017.
* ^ Ålands statistik och utredningsbyrå, rapport om
arbetlöshetssituationen Januari 2014. asub.ax
* ^ "Ålands lagting". _lagtinget.ax_.
* ^ Ålandsdelegationens beslut 20.12.2011. ambetsverket.ax. p. 3
* ^ Europe\'s Regions. _
Eurostat yearbook 2008_
* ^ "Ahvenanmaa on EU:n 20. vaurain alue". _
Helsingin Sanomat _. 19
February 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
* ^ Symington, Andy; Bain, Carolyn; Bonetto, Cristian; Ham, Anthony
& Kaminski, Anna (2013), _Scandinavia_,
* ^ "ÅSUB – Ålands statistik och utredningsbyrå" (_asub.ax_).
* ^ Key figures on population by region in 1990 to 2016 Statistics
* ^ "Churches in Åland". _muuka.com_.