ÅLAND

A paradise consisting of 6.500 islands and skeeries

wellComing, Kastelholm castle

wellComing, Kastelholm castle

Åland is an autonomous, demilitarised, Swedish-speaking region of Finland. Åland consists of more than 6,700 islands and skerries, of which 6,400 are larger than 3,000 m². The longest distance from north to south is 50 km and from east to west 45 km. Åland is divided into 16 municipalities. Åland’s largest municipality is its only town, Mariehamn, which is home to over 40 per cent of the Islands’ population. Mariehamn was founded in 1861 and is the centre of political and economic activity in Åland. Out of the other municipalities on the main island, Jomala, Mariehamn’s neighbour, is the largest, with about 4.000 inhabitants. The smallest municipality in Åland, and all of Finland, is Sottunga in the archipelago, which has a population of 120.

Facts about Åland

  • Currency: Euro €
  • Total area: 13,517 km² of which 1,527 km² is land
  • Highest point: Orrdalsklint 129 m
  • Population: 31.12.2010: 28.007 persons

Demilitarisation

wellComing, Åland flag

wellComing, Åland flag

Åland is demilitarised. This means that there may be no military presence here and that the Islands may not be fortified. Åland is also neutralised, and must therefore be kept outside the theatre of war in case of conflict. When Åland was incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1809 the Islands’ new rulers initiated the construction of a large fortress at Bomarsund on the eastern side of the main island. During the Crimean War French and British troops attacked and seized the fortress, and at the ensuing peace negotiations held in Paris in 1856 Åland was demilitarised through a one-sided commitment from Russia. When the League of Nations resolved the issue of Åland’s constitutional affiliation in 1921, a decision was also taken to draw up an international convention. The convention, which confirmed the demilitarisation of 1856 and also neutralised Åland, was signed by ten states. Russia is not a party to the 1921 convention, but the 1940 Moscow Treaty on the Åland Islands and the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty contain provisions on the demilitarisation of Åland. Neutralisation is not mentioned, however. Those who have right of domicile and moved to Åland before the age12 are exempt from military service.

Mariehamn – the capital of the Åland islands

wellComing, Mariehamn

wellComing, Mariehamn

You will find almost everything within a short distance. During the white anemone period in May, we can recommend a walk in Tullarns Äng and the nearby Lilla Holmen with small animals and a birdhouse. Along the picturesque street Södragatan, you can enjoy the charming architecture of wooden houses from the turn of the century when Hilda Hongell, the first female building constructor in the western world, planned many beautiful villas with gingerbread work in Swiss style. The museum ship Pommern in the West Harbour, the symbol of Mariehamn, is well worth visiting. Pommern is the last four-mastered cargo vessel of its kind still in original condition. Maritime Walk. Print your own guide (pdf, 5 pages) for a citywalk in the maritime town Mariehamn. Facts from year 2000, please be aware that minor deviations may occur.