During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Åland Islands, under Russian rule, developed their own local identity. Existing within the territory of foreign powers for more than a millennium, the small archipelago fought for its rights to control the islands during the First World War and managed to achieve autonomy for themselves. This thesis examines how the Åland Islands represented an imperial crossroads in the Baltic Sea, which assisted in the construction of the Ålander identity. While many historians have studied the Åland Islands as a model for peace. I highlight the complexity of the conflict, and observe the Åland question from the political angle and the local perception. By using an abundance of primary and secondary sources along with an oral history, I share an intricate story that dives into conflicts of geopolitics and identity. Russian expansion into the Baltic culturally divided Russia from its gained territories. From Russian sovereignty over the Åland Islands, the local population began to build its identity and desire for independence. The Ålanders desires were discussed at the Paris Peace Conference and later in the League of Nations. The complexity of the Åland question challenged international law, and perplexed politicians who sought to find a solution. In addition, the development of the Åland question tested the newly established League of Nations, which created a resolution that was unprecedented for the time period.


Parker, Jeff




Åland, self-determination, Baltic, crossroads

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 Landon L. Moore