02 February 2021
02 February 2021
Postal operations in Åland dates back to 1638, when the conveyance of mail started during the period of Swedish reign. Originally and for a long time, postal operations were limited to the obligatory conveyance of mail. It was not until 1866 that the post office in Mariehamn was added to the original two post offices in Kastelholm and Eckerö. As part of the Grand Duchy of Finland, postal operations in Åland fell under the Russian Empire as of 1809.
Most of the post offices in Åland were established during the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. The routes of mail conveyance were reorganized in proper postal carrier routes during the 1920s. In 1917, the Republic of Finland assumed responsibility for the postal services. The postal and the telegraph services were joined in 1927.
The Post was originally organized as a governmental department; Finland had inherited the tsarist system. In the 1970s, it was decided that operations were to be conducted according to ‘businesslike principles’. The name of the department was changed to ‘Post och Televerket’ in 1981. In 1990, the form of organization was changed into that of a state-owned public enterprise – ‘Post och Tele’ – no longer dependent on the state budget.
‘Postbanken’ was founded in 1888. As of 1 January 1989, it was converted into a public limited company, which under the name of Leonia Bank Abp supplied banking services as of the spring of 1998. As of 30 September 2002, the Åland Post no longer offers banking services.
The first Åland stamps were issued in 1984. The stamps were issued by the Finnish postal administration, ‘Post och Tele’, in cooperation with the Åland government until 31 December 1992. The network of post offices was re-organized in 1991 when one third of the offices were closed and another third were converted into postal agencies. The remaining offices had bank terminals installed.
By the middle of 1991, postal services in Finland were deregulated. Finland – including Åland – was the first country in the world to allow free competition on the postal market without any protection of the monopoly.
A change in the Åland Autonomy Act allowed the province of Åland to take over all postal responsibilities and, consequently, Åland has had an independent postal administration since 1 January 1993. The postal business activities are laid down in the provincial law about the Åland Post and operated by a public enterprise which is subordinate to the Government of Åland.
In 2002, operations were extended when a new post terminal was built in Sviby, municipality of Jomala, immediately outside Mariehamn. The centralization of the postal activities has had a positive effect on business in general. Since 2006, the post terminal serves as the Post’s headquarters. Over the years, several extensions have been made to the post terminal.
On 1 January 2009, the corporate form of Åland Post was changed into a limited liability company. All shares of the limited company Posten Åland Ab are owned by the Åland government.
Åland Post changed its Swedish name from Posten Åland Ab to Åland Post Ab on 1 March 2016. The business profile was renewed and a new logo introduced reflecting the internationalization of the company.
Webshop: Åland Post
Åland (Swedish: Landskapet Åland; Finnish: Ahvenanmaan maakunta) is an archipelago at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea belonging to Finland. It is an autonomous and demilitarized region of Finland since 1920 by a decision of the League of Nations, and is Finland’s only monolingually Swedish-speaking region. 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 miles) 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 miles) 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 demilitarized, neutral position of Åland dates back to the days of the Paris Peace Treaty after the Åland War in the 1850s.
The autonomous status of the islands was affirmed by a decision made by the League of Nations in 1921 following the Åland Islands dispute. It was reaffirmed within the treaty admitting Finland to the European Union. By law, Åland is politically neutral and entirely demilitarized, and residents are exempt from conscription to the Finnish Defence Forces. The islands were granted extensive autonomy by the Parliament of Finland in the Act on the Autonomy of Åland of 1920, which was later replaced by new legislation by the same name in 1951 and 1991. The constitution of Finland defines a “constitution of Åland” by referring to this act. Åland remains exclusively Swedish-speaking by this act. The people of Åland are also very negative about the use and presence of the Finnish language in Åland to any extent, possibly to emphasize their own Ålandic identity.
Although a referendum to join the European Union had been held in mainland Finland on 16 October 1994, Åland held a separate vote on 20 November as they were a separate customs jurisdiction. EU membership was approved by 73.64% of voters. In connection with Finland’s admission to the European Union, a protocol was signed concerning the Åland Islands that stipulates, among other things, that provisions of the European Community Treaty shall not force a change of the existing restrictions for foreigners (i.e., persons who do not enjoy “home region rights” — hembygdsrätt — in Åland) to acquire and hold real property or to provide certain services.
The flag of Åland (Swedish: Ålands flagga) is a yellow or gold Nordic cross with another red cross inside on a blue background with the vertical bar shifted towards the hoist side. It is intended to resemble the Swedish flag defaced by a red cross symbolizing Finland. The flag was officially adopted as the flag of the Åland Islands in 1954 and first hoisted in Mariehamn on 3 April 1954. Prior to autonomy, an unofficial horizontal bicolor triband of blue-yellow-blue was in use until it was made illegal in 1935.
When Finland obtained independence from Russia in 1917, many Ålanders feared they would lose their Swedish culture and language which led to the native population starting a movement to unite with Sweden. This led to Finland, Sweden, and Russia appealing to the United Nations, who decided in favor of Ålander autonomy. Starting in the early 1920s, Åland unofficially used a blue and yellow tricolor flag until it was banned in 1935 by the Finnish government. In 1952, new laws gave Åland the right to make its own flag and a proposed flag resembling the Swedish flag with a blue cross inside was rejected by the president. The final design ended up being the first proposed model with a red cross inside to represent Finland.
The coat of arms of Åland features a golden red deer on a blue field. This is traditionally surmounted by a comital coronet of the elder Swedish style.
The arms borne today by the Åland islands were originally granted to the similar-sounding island province of Öland in 1560, displaying a golden red deer on a blue field. In 1569, Åland had been given to the Swedish queen dowager Katarina Stenbock as a fief and was awarded a provincial coat of arms displaying two roe deer on a field strewn with nine roses. The arms of these two similar-sounding Swedish provinces became confused early on, and in the 1880s Öland’s arms were recorded as two roe deer with nine roses. Sweden had ceded much of its eastern territory, including the Åland Islands, to Russia in 1809, which became the Grand Duchy of Finland, but the heraldic switch-up was not discovered until the 1940s.
During a heraldic revision in 1944, the Swedish National Heraldry Office (Riksheraldikerämbetet) discovered that a mistake had been committed. Heraldic authorities in Finland were notified of the error but ultimately decided not make any changes and not to adopt the coat of arms originally intended for Åland (with the two roe deer and nine Finnish roses), as they had long since granted Åland the arms which had been usurped from Öland. This decision made it necessary for Swedish heralds to once again alter the coat of arms for Öland, to avoid further confusion. It was then decided in 1944 that the Öland deer should have a red collar and attire to distinguish it from the arms which had been first granted to Öland but now belonged to Åland.