Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

La autonomomía en Finlandia: La autonomia territorial de las Islas Åland y la autonomia cultural del pueblo indígena Saami

Lauri Hannikainen


Finland offers two interesting cases of special autonomy, territorial and cultural, regarding Åland Islands and the indigenous Saami people. Åland is located in the Baltic Sea, between Finland and Sweden. Circa 94% of its population are Swedish speaking. This article examines its autonomy system, that is about 90 years old and is functioning quite well. Main reasons of the apparent success of the autonomy system are its well protected status in the constitutional system of Finland and its fairly clear scope. Autonomy disputes between Åland and the State are solved according to legal criteria. The State has had a bona fide attitude at the Åland autonomy; even the Autonomy Act provides that the language of communication between the authorities of the State and Åland is Swedish, and not the leading national language, Finnish. The vast Saami Home Territory forms the northernmost part of Finland (Lapland), but only about a third of its population are Saami. Altogether the Saami make circa 8,500, but only about a half of them live in the Territory. The scope of its cultural autonomy is quite limited. The system provides the existence of a democratic Saami Parliament as the representative of the entire Saami people and its powers with regard to the Saami language. However, the indigenous Saami have virtually no special rights with regard to their traditional lands and waters and their natural resources.

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