Helsinki is the capital of Finland. Helsinki has a total population of 1,232,741 (2004).
About the city:
Helsinki is located in the southern part of Finland on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. The population of the municipality of Helsinki is about 560,000 (2005). The Helsinki urban region contains also the neighbouring municipalities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen, which are together called the Capital Region This area has about 987,000 citizens. The Greater Helsinki area contains many more municipalities and
Founded in 1550 as a rival to the Hanseatic city of Reval by King Gustav I of Sweden, the town of Helsingfors struggled in its infancy. The fledging settlement was plagued by poverty, wars, and diseases. For a long time it remained as a small low-
key coastal town, overshadowed by the more thriving trade centers in the Baltic region.
Construction of the Sveaborg sea fortress helped to improve its status, but it was not until Russia defeated Sweden in the Finnish War and annexed Finland as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland in 1809, that Helsinki began to truly change.
To help reduce the Swedish influence, Tsar Alexander I of Russia had the capital moved from Turku to Helsingfors. The Academy of Abo, the only university in the country, was also relocated to Helsinki in 1827, eventually becoming the University of Helsinki.
This move consolidated the city's new role and the following decades saw unprecedented growth and development for the city, creating the prerequisites for the birth of a modern world class capital in the 20th century. This transformation is highly apparent in the downtown core, which was rebuilt in neoclassical style to resemble St. Petersburg. As elsewhere, technological advancements such as railroads and industrialization were a key factor behind the growth.
In the 1918 Finnish Civil War, most of Helsinki fell to the Red Guards along with rest of southern Finland after brief fighting in January. The Senate was relocated to Vaasa, although some senators and officials remained hiding in the capital. After the tide of war turned against the Red forces, German troops fighting on the same side with the Finnish White Guard recaptured Helsinki in April. Unlike Tampere, Helsinki suffered relatively little damage in the war. After the White victory, several former Red soldiers and collaborators were confined in prison camps across the country. The largest (13,300 prisoners) was in Helsinki. Although the civil war left considerable mark on the society, the standard of living in the country and the city began to improve in the following decade. Renowned architects such as Eliel Saarinen created utopistic plans for Helsinki, but they were never realized in their full extent.
The economy of Helsinki is primarily service-based, having gradually moved away from heavy industry. Most large Finnish companies have their headoffices and other important functions in the Helsinki metropolitan area, primarily due to international connections, logistics network and workforce availability. It is also the often-favoured choice as a location for regional headoffice of international companies operating in the country. Information technology and financing sectors form the backbone of Helsinki's economy.
Helsinki metropolitan area contributes approximately one third of the Finnish gross domestic product. Its GDP per capita is 1.5 times higher than the national average, making Helsinki one of wealthiest capitals in Europe. In 2004, the growth in the region was 3,2%. Growth predictions reflect a positive outlook on the future.
Helsinki is also known for being unique in the way that for a city its size there is no part of the town that could be deemed as "slum", or explicitly inhabited by the poor. However, there is a growing social inequality in the city and experts have recently warned about the dangers of increasing social problems. Successful integration of foreign immigrants into the society, infrastructure development, production of public services and insufficent cooperation between the municipalities of Helsinki conurbation area are seen as major future challenges for the economic development of the region.
Education and Culture:
Helsinki has 190 comprehensive schools, 41 upper secondary schools and 15 vocational institutes. Half of the 41 upper secondary schools are private or state-owned. Higher level education is given in eight universities and four polytechnics.
University of Helsinki
University of Technology (actually located in Espoo)
School of Economics
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration
Academy of Fine Arts
University of Art and Design Helsinki
National Defence College (Finland) (not necessarily considered a university)
Business Polytechnic (Helia)
Helsinki can also be considered Finland's culture-capital.
Biggest historical museum in Helsinki is the National Museum of Finland, which displays a vast historical collection from prehistoric times to the 21th century. The museum building itself, a national romantic style neo-medieval castle, is a tourist attraction. Other major historical museum is the Helsinki City Museum, which introduces visitors to Helsinki's 500 year history. The University of Helsinki also has many significant museums, including the University Museum and the Natural History Museum.
The Finnish National Gallery consists on three museums: Ateneum Art Museum for classical Finnish art, Sinebrychoff Art Museum for classical European art, and Kiasma Art Museum for modern art. The old Ateneum, a neo-renessaince palace from 19th century, is one of the city's major historical buildings, whereas the highly modern Kiasma is propably the most debated building in Helsinki.
Helsinki has three major theatres: The Finnish National Theatre, the Helsinki City Theatre, and the finland-swedish Svenska Teatern. The city's main musical venues are the Finnish National Opera and the Finlandia concert-hall. Bigger concerts and events are usually held at one of the city's two big ice hockey arenas: the Hartwall Areena or the Helsingin ji¤i¤halli. Helsinki has Finland's largest fair centre.
In Helsinki, public transport is mostly managed by Helsinki City Transport. The diverse public transport system consists of trams, VR commuter rail, the Helsinki Metro and bus lines. The Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council manages traffic to the surrounding municipalities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen.
Today, Helsinki is the only city in Finland to have trams or metro trains. There used to be two other cities in Finland with tram traffic: Turku and Viipuri (Vyborg). However, Turku abandoned trams in 1972 and Viipuri (at that time already part of the Soviet Union) abandoned them in 1957.
The metro line, opened in 1982, was the first, and so far the only, metro line in all of Finland. For the first 16 years of its existence, the line was topologically only one straight line, but in 1998 a fork was added at Iti¤keskus metro station, dividing the remainder of the line into two branches with three stations each. The Metro is an especially important method of transportation for commuters in the growing suburbs of Eastern Helsinki, and there are also plans to further expand the system to Espoo, but lack of agreement over financing has caused delays to the project. Some have suggested light-rail as an alternative to the metro. If the plans for automation in the system are approved, the Helsinki Metro will operate without drivers in 2010.
Air traffic is handled from the international Helsinki-Vantaa Airport and Malmi Airport. Ferry connections to Tallinn and Stockholm are serviced by various companies, including Silja Line, Viking Line, SeaWind Line, Linda Line, Nordic Jet Line and Tallink. Finnlines passenger-freight ferries to Travemunde, Germany are also available. Copterline provides fast helicopter flights to Tallinn. This article is licensed under the [GNU Free Documentation License]. It uses material from Wikipedia