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The Åland Islands (pronounced "Oh-lahnd") are a group of small islands officially belonging to Finland but awarded a wide degree of autonomy by a League of Nations decision in 1921 that settled a long-running dispute between Sweden and Finland. Among other things, Ålanders have their own parliament, publish their own stamps, are exempt from military service and maintain a special tax status in the European Union.
The archipelago consists of around 80 inhabited islands plus around 6000 uninhabited islands, islets and rocks. The total population is only 26,257 (2002), 90% of which lives on the main island Åland (also known as Fasta (Mainland) Åland), which includes the capital Mariehamn.
The islands are monolingually Swedish, a point of some contention in otherwise bilingual (or, in practice, frequently Finnish monolingual) Finland. English is widely spoken and generally spoken better than Finnish.
There are plenty of ferry connections between Åland and mainland Sweden and Finland. Primarily for tax reasons, ferries plying between Helsinki and Stockholm all stop off at Mariehamn or the nearby (15km east, approximately) jetty of Långnas, making this the easiest and cheapest way to get in (although docking happens at inconvenient times in the middle of the night - the Långnas stops). Mariehamn also has a small airport that serves flights to mainland Finland and Sweden.
A combination of ferry between the islands and a bicycle on the islands themselves is the most popular option.
Kastelholm. A castle located in the northern part is worth paying a visit. Mostly a ruin today, it was home to many Swedish kings who reigned the combined kingdom of Sweden and Finland from this place. There are guided tours, also in English.