| In 2010, Åland was given the right to constantly have
its own flag hoisted together with the flags of Finland and
the EU at Finland's EU representation in Brussels.
gives Åland the right to stand outside agreements between
Finland and foreign nations. A separate referendum was
therefore held in 1994 to decide whether Aland would join
the EU together with Finland. A majority was for an
accession, but during the membership negotiations, Finland,
at the request of the Åland Islands, enforced that, like the
Canary Islands, Åland would be a separate tax area within
the EU. Åland was also allowed to retain the so-called
home-town right, which means that only people living in
Åland can own land and real estate or run businesses there.
Åland has had its own representative in the Nordic
Council since 1970.
Traditionally, the Ålanders depended on a combination of
arable farming, livestock management and fishing. Nowadays,
the islands' economy is dominated by shipping, trade and
tourism. Baltic fisheries still have some significance, as
do fish farms.
tourists visit the Åland archipelago with their beautiful
bays, islands and views with open sea. Visitors can rent
bicycles, canoes, kayaks or hike around the islands. Most
tourists come from Sweden and the Finnish mainland.
Ferry traffic to the ports of Åland increased
significantly when the EU in 1999 abolished tax-free sales
on board ships between EU countries. As Åland is outside the
EU's tax area, tax-free sales could continue on vessels
going to the Åland port. A setback came in 2008 when the EU
banned snuff sales on Åland ferries outside Åland.
Gross domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant is higher in
Åland than in other Finnish landscapes, and unemployment is
relatively low. Since 2002, the euro is the only legal
currency in the islands.
Ferry services link Åland with Sweden, Estonia and the
Finnish mainland. There is an airport in Mariehamn. Air
traffic, which goes to Sweden and Finland, is managed by
Finnair and AirÅland. Åland lacks rail. Local traffic is
handled by buses and by boats that travel between the Åland