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Aaland Islands - Fact Sheet

Åland Islands

Last modified: 2012-03-17 by zoltán horváth
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autonomous area of Finland
Swedish Name: Åland
Finnish Name: Ahvenanmaa

flag of the Åland Islands
[Flag of Åland Islands]

Åland Islands yachting ensign
(yacht club badge location indicated by oval)
[Yachting ensign of Åland Islands] by Željko Heimer

See also:


Provincial Flag

The flag of the Åland Islands is blue with a red Scandinavian cross fimbriated yellow.1 The dimensions of the flag of the Åland Islands are 16:3:4:3:26 horizontally and 12:3:4:3:12 vertically.2

According to Province Regulations No. 15, 2004, issued in Mariehamn on 8 April 2004, the flag's colours are specified in three different systems:

  1. Natural Colour System
    Medium blue = 3065-R90B
    Yellow = 0580-Y10R
    Red = 1085-Y90R
  2. Pantone Matching System
    Medium blue = 2945C and 300U
    Yellow = 116C and 109U
    Red = 186C and 185U
  3. CMYK
    Medium blue = C100-M54-Y2-K0
    Yellow = C0-M16-Y100-K0
    Red = C6-M100-Y100-K0   3

Yacht Ensign

The special ensign is based on the Åland flag, but is somewhat longer (ratio 17:31), due to the fact the ensign is swallow-tailed. The badge of the vessel's yacht club is to be placed in the upper hoist blue field of the ensign.4

Adoption Date and related information

Provincial flag

When Finland declared independence from Russia in 1917, the Åland islanders feared for their Swedish language and culture and mobilized for a reunion with Sweden. In the Middle Ages the Åland archipelago was a province of Sweden. Ecclesiastically the islands belonged to the diocese of Abo (Turku) in Finland, and so the province was lost to Russia in 1809. The issue was finally settled by the League of Nations in 1921. The islands were to be a part of Finland, but they were to enjoy autonomy.

However, a flag was not granted until 1954. Unofficially a blue-yellow-blue triband had been in use from 1922. Several versions existed, the dominating one had equal horizontal bands. Another version had a narrower band of yellow - as when the vertical yellow stripe in the cross on the Swedish flag is taken away.

Blue and yellow were naturally the favourite colours, being both the colours of Sweden and the colours of the provincial coat of arms (a golden deer on blue), Therefore, when preparing a design for adoption in the early 1950s, the favoured design was a Scandinavian cross design of a blue field and a yellow and blue cross - that is, the flag of Sweden with an extra blue cross in the middle. This proposal was rejected by the president of Finland as too similar to the Swedish flag. Alternative designs were the old blue-yellow-blue triband, the flag of Finland with an extra yellow cross in the middle, and a design were a red cross was added to the Swedish pattern.

The outcome of the process was the adoption of the blue-yellow- red Scandinavian cross design. This flag was first hoisted on the town hall in the provincial capital Mariehamn on 3 April 1954. The red colour was controversial at first, because people felt it lacked a local tradition. However, the colours can be said to come from the provincial coat of arms (blue and yellow - also Sweden's colours) and the colours of the coat of arms of Finland (red and yellow). Also, experts in heraldry have found out that at one point a Swedish king hoisted a flag of exactly the same design.5

The revised autonomy act (1991) for the Åland Islands gave the autonomy authorities increased powers to pass legislation concerning the use of the Åland flag, especially as concerns its use at sea. Making use of these powers, the legislative assembly of Aland passed a flag law, approved by the president of Finland on 3. August 1992 and published in Mariehamn, 13. August 1992, that made the Aland flag into a civil ensign. The flag act took effect on 1 January 1993. The use of the Åland civil ensign is optional, and thus only an alternative to the Finnish civil ensign for vessels belonging in the islands.6

Yacht Ensign

The 1992 flag law gave the Åland government the power to introduce a special ensign for leisure vessels. This was done on 17. September 1998.7


1 Mark Sensen, E-mail dated 27 November 1995
2 Mark Sensen, E-mail dated 25 September 1995 and James Dignan, E-mail dated 26 September 1995
3 Jan Oskar Engene, E-mail dated 19 May 2004
4 Jan Oskar Engene, E-mail dated 24 May 1999
5 Jan Oskar Engene, E-mail dated 22 October 1995
6 Jan Oskar Engene, E-mail dated 24 May 1999
7 Ibid.

Artistic credits:

flag of Åland Islands by Željko Heimer

Flags of the World
September, 2005