Fakta om Åland på engelska

The Åland Islands

The Åland Islands are situated in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland. Åland is an autonomous region in Finland with 28000 inhabitants. Mariehamn is the only town with 11100 inhabitants.

Åland is a Swedish-speaking region with its own flag, own stamps, own licence plates and its own top domain (ax).

The beautiful archipelago has more than 6500 islands and skerries, of which 65 are inhabited. There are 16 municipalities in Åland. The smallest municipality is Sottunga in the archipelago, which has a population of 116 inhabitants. The archipelago ferries are a natural part of the public transport.

Communications

Åland is easy to get to. The many ferries that traffic between Finland and Sweden all call at Åland. If you prefer flying, Air Åland offers quick flights to Åland, both from Helsinki and Stockholm.

Background

In 1917 the Russian Empire started to fall apart. Finland declared itself independent but the Ålanders decided to seek reunification with Sweden. Finland was not prepared to meet these demands and offered a form of internal self-government. In 1921 the League of Nations presented a decision where Finland was granted sovereignty over Åland but had to guarantee to the population their Swedish culture, language, local customs and the system of self-government.

Åland is demilitarised which means that there must not be any military presence here and that the islands must not be fortified.

Right of domicile

Right of domicile is a regional citizenship for Ålanders. It's a status you get at birth or can apply for after being a resident of Åland for at least 5 years. It's a requirement for the right to

  • vote and stand for election in elections to the Parliament
  • own and or be in possession of real property in Åland
  • conduct a business in Åland

Immigrants who have lived in Åland for five years and have an adequate knowledge of Swedish may apply for the status, provided they are Finnish citizens. The Åland Government can grant exemption from the requirement of right of domicile for those wishing to acquire real property or conduct a business in Åland.

The Åland Parliament and the Åland government

In the Self-Government Building you will find the Åland Parliament and the Åland Government.

The Parliament has 30 members who are elected every four years. It has the right to pass laws concerning:

  • education, culture and the preservation of ancient monuments
  • health and medical care, the environment
  • promotion of industry
  • internal transports
  • local government
  • policing
  • postal communications
  • radio and television

The State is the competent authority concerning foreign affairs, most areas of civil and criminal law, the court system, customs and state taxation.

Åland also has a representative in the Finnish Parliament.

The Economy

Åland's economy is dominated by the service sector, particularly the maritime industry, which counts for 40 per cent of the Åland GNP (Gross National Product). Tourism is also a very important sector. Almost 1.5 million people a year come to Åland and some 480,000 stay for a night or longer. Most of them arrive by one of the ferries at the Western Harbour of Mariehamn.

Åland has a large number of businesses and a long entrepreneurial tradition. There are currently about 2,600 businesses. About 20 companies, mainly shipping firms, banks and insurance companies, have more than 50 employees. More than 90 per cent have less than 10 employees, and many are one-man businesses. The unemployment rate is very low.

Education

The language of tuition in all schools is Swedish. There are several schools at upper secondary level to choose from. They provide education in shipping, commerce, tourism, medical care, domestic economy, technology and farming. Most youths who go on to university-level studies leave Åland to attend a university in Sweden or Finland. The Åland Polytechnic offers a wide range of courses leading to vocational degrees.

Maritime Mariehamn

A very important attraction in Mariehamn is Pommern, the world's only four-masted bark in its original condition. Close by you find the Maritime Museum where you can learn more about the world's largest sailing fleet which had Åland as home port. Ship building traditions live on in the Maritime Quarter on the eastern side of town. There you can also find a museum and a handicraft shop.

The library is overlooking the Eastern harbour. The Alandica collection contains just about everything that has been written about Åland. A new congress- and culture building "Alandica Kultur & Kongress" in the centre of Mariehamn was opened in March 2009.

The Åland Museum exhibits the history of Åland from prehistoric times up to the present day and the Åland Art Museum displays pictures by both old and young Åland artists.

The architect Lars Sonck came to Åland in 1878 and has left many traces in Mariehamn. You can for instance take a look at the church, the Maritime College, the Town Hall, the cemetery and its chapel, the Customs warehouse and the Yacht house restaurant in the Western harbour.

Mariebad with an adventure-pool, swimming pool, waterslide and beach has something to offer for all age groups. The building extends out into the water allowing visitors a panoramic view of the Slemmern bay. Mariebad also has a variety of treatment rooms.

Historical tourist attractions

The castle of Kastelholm is mentioned for the first time in 1388. The Swedish King ruled over the castle and at the end of the 14th century the castle became the centre of the self-governed province Åland. The castle had a strategic position in the Baltic Sea and was therefore part of many political conflicts. The king Gustav Vasa showed an interest in Åland and in 1556 he spent some months at the castle.

The Bomarsund fortress was the most magnificent building on Åland. It was built by the Russian armed forces during 1830-1854. The fortress was destroyed in 1854 by the English and French forces during the Crimean War. A visitor's centre at the Bomarsund fortress ruins will be completed in 2010.

Immigration

The Parliament welcomes more immigrants to Åland and the aim is 30,000 inhabitants to maintain the social welfare system. Among the 8305 persons who were born outside Åland there are persons from 78 different countries and immigrants with 48 different languages are represented. There is also an increase in immigrants from non-nordic countries to Åland. In 2006 most of the immigrants came from Latvia, Estonia and Romania.

Find a flat

If you would like to move to Åland there are not enough rented flats but fortunately many flats are being built right now. It´s a good idea to ask your employer to help you and you can also get in contact with the municipality where you are going to live. Mariehamn has the only housing department. You can buy your own flat without having to apply for an exemption. However, if you buy a house, you have to apply for an exemption but usually your application is granted.

Activities for every season:

  • Play seaside golf near the castle of Kastelholm
  • Go on a fishing excursion
  • Go by bicycle along the ancient Mail Route
  • Go by boat and visit one of the 30 guest harbours
  • Go kayaking, it gives you time to think
  • Åland is ideal for hiking
  • Enjoy shipwreck diving with a professional diving company
  • Go long distance skating
  • Go island hopping with the archipelago ferries

Ordlista

acquire

förvärva, skaffa (sig)

adequate

tillräcklig

aim

mål, syfte

armed forces

krigsmakt

autonomous

självstyrd

the Baltic Sea

Östersjön

call at

anlöpa, lägga till

criminal law

straffrätt

destroyed

förstörd, ödelagd, raserad

cemetery

begravningsplats

election

val

exemption

dispens

the 14th century

1300-talet

fortified

befäst

The League of Nations

NF Nationernas Förbund

licence plate

registreringsskylt

magnificent

storslagen, praktfull

maintain

upprätthålla, bibehålla

The Maritime Museum

Sjöfartsmuseet

the Maritime Quarter

Sjöfartskvarteret

medieval

medeltida

offer

erbjuda

promotion

gynnande, befrämjande

real property

fast egendom

reunification

återförening

rule (over)

härska, regera

situated

belägen

skerries

skär

sovereignty

överhöghet, högsta makt

vote

rösta