Aland Islands home for many Baltic guest workers

  • 2012-05-24

RIGA - The Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat has written an article on the influx in the number of guest workers from Eastern Europe and Asia that reside on Finland’s Aland Islands.

The newspaper points out that foreign workers coming from the Baltic States, elsewhere in Eastern Europe, and Asia account for half of the Aland Islands’ population growth, writes LETA.

''It might come as a surprise, but Foglo and the Aland capital Mariehamn are the most cosmopolitan municipalities in Finland, after Helsinki. In Foglo, there are nearly 60 people who speak a foreign language as their mother-tongue, in other words one in ten of the community’s 580 inhabitants,'' the article points out.

As local Latvian guest worker Kristine Riekstina told the newspaper, she arrived at the islands ten years ago and feels just like at home.

''Oh, yes! I feel so at home here! This is like a small kettle,'' she told Helsingin Sanomat.

Riekstina works in a local shop, her mother is employed by the local old-age home, and even her ex-husband has a job in a fish factory on the same island.

''The wages were good and I thought that this would be a good environment for my daughter to grow up in. But I did not in all honesty believe I would stay,'' Riekstina added.

However, the article does point out that not everything is a bed of roses on the island. It is easy to pick up basic employment, but for those with higher degrees, finding suitable work is more difficult.

The article also points out that in the Aland Islands there is nearly full employment. The unemployment rate is only 2.7 percent, and way lower than the national average in Finland.