Author Topic: The Åland Islands  (Read 2796 times)

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The Åland Islands
« on: April 22, 2021, 08:55:58 PM »

The Åland Islands, or simply Åland (/ˈɔːlənd, ˈɑːlənd/, also US: /ˈoʊlənd, ˈoʊlɑːn(d), ˈɑːlɑːnd/, Swedish: [ˈǒːland] (About this soundlisten), Finland Swedish: [ˈoːlɑnd]; Finnish: Ahvenanmaa [ˈɑhʋenɑnˌmɑː]) is an archipelago at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea belonging to Finland. It is an autonomous and demilitarised region of Finland since 1920 by a decision of the League of Nations, and its only official language is Swedish. It is the smallest region of Finland, constituting 0.51% of its land area and 0.54% of its population. Mariehamn is the capital city of Åland.

Åland comprises Fasta Åland on which 90% of the population resides and a further 6,500 skerries and islands to its east. Of Åland's thousands of islands, 60 are inhabited. Fasta Åland is separated from the coast of Roslagen in Sweden by 38 kilometres (24 mi) of open water to the west. In the east, the Åland archipelago is contiguous with the Finnish Archipelago Sea. Åland's only land border is located on the uninhabited skerry of Märket, which it shares with Sweden. From Mariehamn, there is a ferry distance of about 160 kilometres (99 mi) to Turku, a coastal city of mainland Finland, and also to Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.

Åland's autonomous status means that those provincial powers normally exercised by representatives of the central Finnish government are largely exercised by its own government. The current demilitarised, neutral position of Åland dates back to the days of the Paris Peace Treaty after the Åland War in the 1850s.

The Island Games (currently known as the NatWest International Island Games for sponsorship reasons) are biannual international multi-sports events organised by the International Island Games Association (IIGA). Competitor teams each represent different island communities (with one team from the peninsula of Gibraltar) which are IIGA members. Currently all competitor teams represent non-sovereign territories of European nations - some within European waters and some further overseas.

The most recent edition was 2019 which took place in Gibraltar, with around 2,000 competitors from 22 competing islands or island groups competing in 14 sports. The next games will be hosted by Guernsey in 2023, postponed from 2021.

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