Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights

Living Edition
| Editors: Kevin W. Gray

Aaland Islands Case

Living reference work entry


The Åland islands (Swedish: Åland, Finnish: Ahvenanmaa) are a group of more than 6700 islands in the Baltic Sea, of which 99% are uninhabited. They are home to a Swedish-speaking population but part of the territory of Finland. Finland had been part of Sweden until the early nineteenth century, after which it was a quasi-autonomous part of the Russian empire for more than a century. After World War I and Finland’s independence in 1917, the question whether the island should be part of Sweden or part of Finland arose again, leading to the Aaland Islands Case, an international legal case concerning the Åland islands which was decided by the Council of the League of Nations in 1921.

In this entry, it will be shown that the legacy of this case remains relevant for today’s public international law, in particular concerning the questions of the exercise of self-determination within the legal framework of a nation state and the limits to unilateral claims to independence.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arctic CentreUniversity of LaplandRovaniemiFinland

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kevin W. Gray
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada