No wind serves him who addresses his voyage to no certain port.
— Michel de Montaigne, 1533 - 1592
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Åland Islands

Background

Åland Islands

Finland was a province and then a grand duchy under Sweden from the 12th to the 19th centuries, and an autonomous grand duchy of Russia after 1809. It won its complete independence in 1917. During World War II, it was able to successfully defend its freedom and resist invasions by the Soviet Union - albeit with some loss of territory. In the subsequent half century, the Finns made a remarkable transformation from a farm/forest economy to a diversified modern industrial economy; per capita income is now among the highest in Western Europe. A member of the European Union since 1995, Finland was the only Nordic state to join the euro system at its initiation in January 1999. In the 21st century, the key features of Finland's modern welfare state are a high standard of education, equality promotion, and national social security system; currently challenged by an aging population and the fluctuations of an export-driven economy.

About

Åland (Finnish: Ahvenanmaa) is an autonomous area in the Baltic Sea, consisting of one main island and a surrounding archipelago. While legally a part of Finland, in practice the islands run their own affairs and are rather different from the mainland.

Read more about Åland Islands in our Åland Islands travel guide »

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Åland Islands

Capital
Mariehamn
Location

Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Sweden and Russia

Geographic coordinates

64 00 N, 26 00 E

Area comparative

slightly smaller than Montana

Border countries

Norway 727 km, Sweden 614 km, Russia 1,313 km

Coastline

1,250 km

Climate

cold temperate; potentially subarctic but comparatively mild because of moderating influence of the North Atlantic Current, Baltic Sea, and more than 60,000 lakes

Terrain

mostly low, flat to rolling plains interspersed with lakes and low hills

Lowest point

Baltic Sea 0 m

Highest point

Haltiatunturi 1,328 m

Natural resources

timber, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromite, nickel, gold, silver, limestone

Population

5,255,068 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

Finn 93.4%, Swede 5.6%, Russian 0.5%, Estonian 0.3%, Roma (Gypsy) 0.1%, Sami 0.1% (2006)

Religions

Lutheran Church of Finland 82.5%, Orthodox Church 1.1%, other Christian 1.1%, other 0.1%, none 15.1% (2006)

Languages

Finnish 91.2% (official), Swedish 5.5% (official), other 3.3% (small Sami- and Russian-speaking minorities) (2007)

Government type

republic

Independence

6 December 1917 (from Russia)

National holiday

Independence Day, 6 December (1917)

Chief of state

President Tarja HALONEN (since 1 March 2000)

Head of government

Prime Minister Mari KIVINIEMI (since 22 June 2010); Deputy Prime Minister Jyrki KATAINEN (since 19 April 2007)

Internet country code

.fi; note - Aland Islands assigned .ax

Internet users

4.393 million (2009)

Airports

148 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Helsinki, Kotka, Naantali, Porvoo, Raahe, Rauma

Other countries in the region