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At the conference...

where is it?

Welcome to the quiet and lovely Åland islands
Where's that? At the South-Western tip of Finland in the Baltic Sea. The nearest big city is Stockholm, Sweden which is a nice boat ride or 30 minute plane ride away. The meeting is at Mariehamn (MAHR-ee-uh-Hahm) on the biggest and Western most of the thousands of the Åland (OH-lahnd) Islands.

There are many Ferries from Sweden and Finland to Mariehamn. (see How to get there) They take 4-6 hours from Sweden and cost about 12 Euros.

More about Åland
Åland is a Swedish-speaking semi-independent part of Finland with its own flag, its own postage stamps, licence plates and its own top domain name (.ax). About 26,700 people live in the Åland islands with about 10,800 in Mariehamn, the biggest town by far. Like Finland, and unlike Sweden, Åland uses the Euro €. Åland is on Finnish time (like Eastern Europe), when its noon in Sweden its 1 PM in Åland. When its noon in New York its 19:00 (7 PM) in Åland.

Economic life
The most important industries in Åland are shipping, banking, farming, food packaging and tourism. Visit the Maritime Museum and the Museum Ship Pommern in Mariehamn's West Harbor (just North of the Ferry arrival) or the wooden-boat Maritime Quarter in the East Harbor (a bit North of the Parliament building).

Geography and appearance
The general appearance is like coastal Brittish Columbia, coastal Washington State, or a more-flat coast of Maine or Nova Scotia. The lattitude is 60 degrees, the same as Helsinki, Stockholm, St. Petersberg and Anchorage. At this time of the year, basically at the summer solstace, the sun is visible about 17 hours and there is twighlight all night. The weather is variable, it could be clear bright blue sky for the whole meeting and it could be grey and raining for the whole meeting.

Åland consists of over 6,000 rock islands, 65 with people on them, that are rising out of the Baltic sea at a rate of half a meter per century, rebounding from glacial compression. Distinctive on Åand are the midsummer poles and the old-fashioned windmills.

...for more information visit the official tourist organization: visitaland.com

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