History of the Åland Islands

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The Åland Islands occupy a position of great strategic importance, commanding as they do both one of the entrances to the port of Stockholm and the approaches to the Gulf of Bothnia, in addition to being situated proximate to the Gulf of Finland.


Ritual, stone age, clay, bear paws from the Åland islands.

Due to forebulge effect after the Ice Age icecaps melted, the area round Åland is rising at several millimeters per year.[2]

Chronology until 1809[edit]

  • 12th century: Åland Islands occupied by Eric the Saint.
  • 1284: Finland (including the islands) constituted a duchy.
  • 1300–1600: Kastelholm Castle was a focal point for a number of battles and raids.
  • 1323: Peace of Nöteborg. Finland and the islands incorporated in Sweden.
  • 1397–1523: Union of Kalmar: Danish ascendency.
  • 1581: Finland a Grand Duchy.
  • 1634: Swedish Constitution. The islands formed part of the Government of Åbo (Finland)
  • 1714: The Islands conquered by Peter the Great.
  • 1714–1721: Åland was attacked and devastated by Peter the Great's forces; most of the population fled at that time to Sweden.
  • 1721: Peace of Nystad. Finland (excepting Vyborg) restored to Sweden.
  • 1743: Peace of Åbo: part of Finland ceded to Russia.
  • 1808: War between Sweden and Russia.
  • 1809 September – Treaty of Fredrikshamn: Finland and the islands ceded to Russia.[3] The Swedes were unable to secure a provision that the islands should not be fortified. The question was, however, a vital one not only for Sweden but for Britain, whose trade in the Baltic was threatened.

Continuing malaria outbreaks[edit]

As the result of abundant Anopheles claviger mosquitoes, malaria was endemic in Åland for at least 150 years, with severe malaria outbreaks being recorded in the 17th century, and in 1853 and 1862.[4]

Chronology up to 1919[edit]

  • c. 1835: Fortress of Bomarsund begun.
  • 1853: Severe malaria outbreak.[4]
  • 1854 – Battle of Bomarsund: during the Crimean War, an Anglo-French force attacked and destroyed the fortress of Bomarsund. The British prime minister Palmerston had protested against this fortification without effect some twenty years earlier.
  • 1856 – Treaty of Paris: Convention forbidding the fortification of the Islands.[5]
  • March 1856: By the Åland Convention, concluded between United Kingdom, France and Russia, it was stipulated that "the Åland Islands shall not be fortified, and that no military or naval establishments shall be maintained or created on them." By the 33rd article of the Treaty of Paris 1856 this convention, annexed to the final act, was given "the same force and validity as if it formed part thereof", Palmerston declaring in the House of Commons on May 6 that it had "placed a barrier between Russia and the north of Europe."
  • 1862: Another severe malaria outbreak.[4]
  • 1877: A telegraph cable is in use from Mariehamn to Nystad.
  • 1892: The first telephone is installed in Mariehamn.[6]
  • 1906: Russian garrison established in the Islands. Some attention was attracted to the Treaty of Paris arrangement when it was asserted that Russia, under pretext of stopping the smuggling of arms into Finland, was massing considerable naval and military forces at the islands.
  • 1907: France and Great Britain requested by Russia to cancel Convention of 1856.
  • 1907: Secret Treaty of Björkö (Russia and Germany) giving Russia a free hand as to the Islands.
  • 1908: Baltic Treaty. Declaration of Sir Edward Grey about fortification.
  • 1907–1908: The question of the Åland Islands created some discussion in connection with the new North Sea agreements, and undoubtedly Russia considered the convention of 1856 as rather humiliating. But it was plainly shown by other powers that they did not propose to regard it as modified or open to question, and the point was not definitely and officially raised.
  • 1914: Outbreak of World War I: Russia fortifies the Islands.
  • 1916: The islands were remilitarised by Russia and used, among others, as a submarine base during World War I.
  • 1917 – Russian Revolution: Finland declared independent. The Islanders by plebiscite (25–29 December) demand reunion with Sweden.
  • 1918: Independence of Finland recognized by Soviet Government, Sweden, and Germany. Bolshevik force landed in the Islands. Swedish military expedition (February). Germany occupies the Islands (march-October).
  • 1918: Appeals of islanders for reunion with Sweden – to Finland, Germany, and Sweden (March); to United States, France, and Great Britain (November 9); to Finland (November 18).
  • March 1918: Occupation by Germany.
  • 1919: Swedish Government brings the question before the Paris Peace Conference (March 18).[5]
  • 1921: The Åland Convention re-established the demilitarised status of the islands.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stone Age Åland. Retrieved 29 August 2006. (in Swedish)
  2. ^ December 2006, Anne-Maj Lahdenperä Pöyry Environment Oy, Working Report 2006-111, Literature Review on Future Development of the Baltic Sea and Recommendations for Safety Modelling
  3. ^ Prothero, G.W. (1920). The Åland Islands. Great Britain. Foreign Office. Historical Section. p. 9.
  4. ^ a b c Prothero, G.W. (1920). The Åland Islands. Great Britain. Foreign Office. Historical Section. p. 3.
  5. ^ a b Prothero, G.W. (1920). The Åland Islands. Great Britain. Foreign Office. Historical Section. pp. 9–10.
  6. ^ Prothero, G.W. (1920). The Åland Islands. Great Britain. Foreign Office. Historical Section. p. 6.

External links[edit]