Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The word literally means fief. The usual English language terms used are separate for the two countries, where Sweden has chosen to translate the term to "county" while Finland has chosen "province". With a shared administrative tradition spanning centuries, ending only in 1809, this a separation by convention, rather than by distinction.
In both countries a län/lääni is considered an arm of the executive power of the national government, and has no autonomy nor legistlative power. Likewise, the lääni where one lives in has little importance in one's identity in Finland; instead, the nationality and the dialect is important. This was reinforced in 1997 when the national government combined smaller läänis to "greater läänis", so that a single lääni may contain several unrelated dialects and subnational cultures. For example, "Western Finland" has speakers of the Turku and Rauma, Satakunta, Pohjanmaa, and (in Ähtäri) Savo Finnish dialects and the Swedish language.
The governor has the title landshövding (Swedish), maaherra (Finnish) and he or she is the head of a länsstyrelse (Swedish), lääninhallitus (Finnish), which translates into either a County Administrative Board or a State Provincial Office depending on the country. The governor is an administrative position, and it's a common post for politicians to "retire" into from national politics.
See also: Letter Ä
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