- History of the Åland Islands
Orrdalsklint and Långbergen in Saltvik, Åland's highest peaks, started rising from the
Baltic sea(then Yoldia sea) c. 10000 years ago. The oldest archeological finds to denote the presence of humans on the isles represent the Comb Ceramic cultureand date from c. 4000 BC. Around 2500 BC Pitted Ware starts to appear in Åland. From about 1800 BC finds from the Kiukainen culturestart emerging. [" [http://web.archive.org/web/20060211070116/http://www.arkeologi.aland.fi/index.htm Stone Age Åland] " in Swedish. Retrieved 29 August 2006.]
The Åland Islands occupy a position of great strategic importance, commanding as they do both one of the entrances to the port of
Stockholmand the approaches to the Gulf of Bothnia, in addition to being situated proximate to the Gulf of Finland.
During the period 1300 to 1600
Kastelholm Castlewas a focal point for a number of battles and raids.
1714and 1721Åland was attacked and devastated by Peter the Great's forces; most of the population fled at that time to Sweden.
The Åland Islands belonged to the provinces
Swedenceded to Russia, which became the semi-autonomous Grand duchyof Finland. When, by the treaty of Fredrikshamnin September 1809, the islands were ceded to Russia, 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.
Crimean War, an Anglo-French force attacked and destroyed the fortress of Bomarsund in 1854, against the erection of which the British prime minister Palmerston had protested without effect some twenty years previously. By the Åland Convention, concluded between United Kingdom, Franceand Russiaon March 30 1856, 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 6that it had "placed a barrier between Russia and the north of Europe."
Some attention was attracted to this arrangement when in 1906 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. The question of the Åland Islands created some discussion in 1907 and 1908 in connection with the new
North Seaagreements, 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.
The Anglo-French attack on Åland and
Suomenlinnahas been made into a Finnish song called " Oolannin sota".
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