Aland-blog on language policy

Francis M Hult fmhult at
Wed Apr 4 16:46:28 UTC 2007

The right to buy land, vote, etc. on Åland (aka hembygdsrätt) is guaranteed to those 
who in 1952 had been living on the islands for at least 5 years continuously.  The 
right extends to their descendants (as long as at least one parent also has 
'hembygdsrätt' and the residency requirement is satisfied.  If one takes up residence 
off the islands for more than five years, one loses the hembygdsrätt.  One can also 
petition for it.  A Finnish citizen who lives on the islands continuously for at least 
five years, and can demonstrate 'satisfactory' knowledge of Swedish, can request 
hembygdsrätt.  There are some other legal loopholes too, with which I'm not familiar.  
On the application, one needs to submit documentation about one's knowledge of Swedish, 
though the application is not explicit about what counts as such documentation.  I'm 
going to inquire.

For those who read Swedish, information is available here:   


On Wed, Apr 04, 2007 at 09:29:39AM +0100, Anthea Fraser Gupta wrote:
> Do they define 'Swedish speaking' as 'able to speak Swedish' (a language test), or 
>'habitual speaker of Swedish' (in practice an ethnic test)???
> I'm not in favour of the establishment of reservations or ethnically limited zones 
> (my family would never get anywhere to live!).
> Anthea
> *     *     *     *     * 
> Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr) 
> School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT <> 
> NB: Reply to a.f.gupta at 
> *     *     *     *     * 
> ________________________________
> Åland has one of the most interesting pieces of "language policy I 
> know.  You cannot buy land there unless you are Swedish speaking.  I 
> don't know what brilliant politician was responsible for that, but we 
> all know that monolingual Anglophones buying property in the Gaeltaecht 
> (for summer cabins and the like) was in some measure helping the Irish 
> shift to English.  Won't happen on Åland.  Christina

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