Ahvenanmaa - But Please Call it Åland - Page 2
To drill home the point that the official language on Ahvenanmaa is Swedish, the poor Finnish government has to translate all documents it sends there into Swedish if they want the local parliament to read it.
As a final slap on the Finnish face, this province has its own flag.
It’s amazing they don’t use the Swedish currency and carry Swedish passports!This is wacky! How did the Ahvenanmaa natives get away with all this? To find the answer you have to turn back the clock 200 years.The reason they’re part of Finland and not Sweden is that Russia kicked Sweden’s ass in the war of 1808-09. To end the war, the Swedes agreed to hand Finland over to Russia. Russia said that wasn’t enough, so Sweden tossed them a bone, or, in this case, an archipelago—Ahvenanmaa.
Russia called all their newly acquired territory (including Ahvenanmaa) the Grand Duchy of Finland. Therefore, when Finland declared its independence from Russia in 1919, the Finns thought it was only fair to keep Ahvenanmaa. After all, for the last 110 years it was all part of the same Duchy and Sweden lost that territory fair and square. However, the Ahvenanmaa populace preferred rejoining their Swedish motherland. The Finns, tired of fighting, agreed to a compromise that gave them all the autonomy that they enjoy today.
Many impartial observers believe Ahvenanmaa is an exemplary solution to a minority conflict. Ahvenanmaa is special not just because nobody died fighting for its autonomy, but also because it’s been demilitarized for many years.
Ahvenanmaa’s relationship with the Finnish government is truly fascinating. But what’s even more fascinating is that there is relatively little animosity between the Finns and Swedes.
Ahvenanmaa is great to visit during the long summer days. However, you don't need to go there to appreciate its deeper lesson: Finns teach the world how to solve minority conflicts. We ought to learn from them.