Åland is an autonomous island province. Åland has its own parliament with legislative rights, and its own government.
Åland is the oldest autonomous region in Europe as well as the smallest. Åland was granted autonomous status in 1921 on the basis of a decision made by the League of Nations in Geneva. A strong movement in Åland had pushed for reunion with Sweden, but Finland did not want to let the island realm go. The decision made in Geneva was a compromise.
Ålands first 30-member parliament (today known as the Parliament of Åland) convened for the first time on 9 June 1922, which is celebrated as Åland’s Autonomy Day.
The Parliament of Åland passes its own legislation within a number of different areas, including the economy, education, transportation and health care. The Government of Åland, its regional administration offices and the Parliament of Åland are housed in the Åland Government Building, which is located adjacent to the Mariehamn town square.
The idea of “willfulness” has been the lodestar for Ålanders throughout the entire existence of their autonomy, and will continue to be for at least the next 100 years.
Unique to Åland
Since 1954, Åland has had its own flag, which is a red and yellow cross on a field of blue. Åland’s flag day is celebrated on the last Sunday in April.
Åland has its own postal service, Åland Post, which also issues its own stamps. The first stamps were issued on 1 March 1984, and each year approximately 16 new stamp designs are issued.
Ålanders seen driving out in the world are easy to spot, as Åland issues its own vehicle licence plates. Keep an eye out for ÅL.
Åland has no military and no active military bases. Ålanders are exempt from military conscription in the Finnish Defence Forces.
Time and currency
Åland’s currency is the euro and both Åland and Finland are in the Eastern European time zone. When it is 12 noon in Sweden, it is 1:00pm in Åland.
What a delightful development – more and more people want to live in Åland! Over the past few years, Åland’s population has increased by 200-300 people, and we have also passed the 30,000 mark!
Nearly 12,000 people live in Mariehamn, Åland’s largest city.
The official language in Åland is Swedish. In addition to the 26,000 Ålanders who have Swedish as their native language, there are 68 different languages spoken in Åland.