The Åland Islands lie between Finland and Sweden, forming an archipelago of 6,500 small islands or 'skerries', of which only 60 are inhabited.


Mariehamn is the capital of the archipelago and was founded in 1860 under the rule of Tsar Alexander II of Sweden. Originally the islands belonged to the Swedish Empire but in 1809 they were handed to the Russian Empire, later becoming part of the Grand Duchy of Finland. Today, the islands remain part of Finland, but have been declared an autonomous and demilitarised zone, they constitute the smallest region in Finland, however Swedish is the language spoken throughout the islands. The most populated island is Fasta Åland on which 90% of the population resides, even though there are a further 6,500 islands and 'skerries' to the east.

Places to visit 

Mariehamn is the capital and is known as the city of a thousand limes because its landscape is characterised by hundreds of lime trees, along with many beeches and birches.  Aland's strategic position also made it an important location on the East-West naval route which passed through the archipelago. At the maritime museum, you can visit The Pommern, an original wooden merchant ship built in the early twentieth century. The Pommern had many voyages between England and Australia. There is also Bomarsund, the remains of an ancient fortress, built in granite and half-destroyed by English and French bombing. It's also worth seeing the Kastelholm Castle, which is a Swedish-built medieval castle dating back to 1388 and was home to many Swedish kings. 

Local Food 

Many local dishes are based on products grown and processed in the islands, but a traditional breakfast includes tomatoes, bread and butter, cheese, jams and lettuce. Lunch and dinner include fish dishes, and tasty soups served with the typical Hemvete bread and delicious and meat stews.

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