ID:18883 Section: Place

Updated:Monday 13th October 2014

Helsinki Definition

(Wikipedia) - Helsinki "Helsingfors" redirects here. For the village in Västerbotten County, Sweden, see Hälsingfors. For the 2009 Finnish film, see Hellsinki. Helsinki Helsinki – Helsingfors Helsingin kaupunki Helsingfors stad Country Region Sub-region Charter Capital city Government  • Mayor Area (2011-01-01)  • City  • Land  • Water  • Urban  • Metro Area rank Population (2014-01-31)  • City  • Rank  • Density  • Urban  • Urban density  • Metro  • Metro density Demonym Population by native language  • Finnish  • Swedish  • Others Population by age  • 0 to 14  • 15 to 64  • 65 or older Time zone  • Summer (DST) Municipal tax rate Website
From top-left: Helsinki Cathedral, Suomenlinna, Senate Square, Aurinkolahti beach, City Hall
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Stadi, Hesa
HelsinkiLocation of Helsinki in Finland
Coordinates: 60°10′15″N 024°56′15″E / 60.17083°N 24.93750°E / 60.17083; 24.93750Coordinates: 60°10′15″N 024°56′15″E / 60.17083°N 24.93750°E / 60.17083; 24.93750
Jussi Pajunen
715.49 km2 (276.25 sq mi)
213.75 km2 (82.53 sq mi)
501.74 km2 (193.72 sq mi)
770.26 km2 (297.40 sq mi)
3,697.52 km2 (1,427.62 sq mi)
170th largest in Finland
Largest in Finland
2,872.86/km2 (7,440.7/sq mi)
1,418.2/km2 (3,673/sq mi)
379.3/km2 (982/sq mi)
helsinkiläinen (Finnish) helsingforsare (Swedish)
7,001,843,000,000,000,00084.3% (official)
7,000,610,000,000,000,0006.1% (official)

Helsinki (/ˈhɛlsɪŋkɪ/; Finnish pronunciation:  ( listen); Swedish: Helsingfors, pronounced  ( listen)) is the capital and largest city of Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. Helsinki has a population of 616,042 an urban population of 1,176,976 (31 December 2012) and a metropolitan population of 1,4 million, making it the most populous municipality and urban area in Finland. Helsinki is located some 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Tallinn, Estonia, 400 kilometres (250 mi) east north east of Stockholm, Sweden, and 300 kilometres (190 mi) west of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Helsinki has close historical connections with these three cities.

The Helsinki metropolitan area includes urban core of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen and surrounding commuter towns. It is the world''s northernmost metro area of over one million people, and the city is the northernmost capital of an EU member state. It is the fourth largest Nordic city after Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo.

Helsinki is Finland''s major political, educational, financial, cultural and research centre as well as one of northern Europe''s major cities. Approximately 70% of foreign companies operating in Finland have settled in the Helsinki region. The nearby municipality of Vantaa is the location of Helsinki Airport, with frequent service to various destinations in Europe and Asia.

In 2009, Helsinki was chosen to be the World Design Capital for 2012 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, narrowly beating Eindhoven for the title.

In the Economist Intelligence Unit''s August 2012 Liveability survey, assessing the best and worst cities to live in, Helsinki placed eighth best overall. In 2011, the Monocle Magazine in turn ranked Helsinki the most liveable city in the world in its Liveable Cities Index 2011.

  • 1 Etymology of the name Helsinki
  • 2 History
    • 2.1 Early history
    • 2.2 Twentieth century
  • 3 Name
  • 4 Geography
    • 4.1 Metropolitian area
    • 4.2 Climate
  • 5 Cityscape
  • 6 Government
  • 7 Demographics
    • 7.1 Language
    • 7.2 Immigration
  • 8 Economy
  • 9 Education
    • 9.1 Universities
    • 9.2 University of Applied Sciences
  • 10 Culture
    • 10.1 Museums
    • 10.2 Theatres
    • 10.3 Music
    • 10.4 Art
    • 10.5 Media
    • 10.6 Sports
  • 11 Transport
    • 11.1 Roads
    • 11.2 Rail transport and buses
    • 11.3 Aviation
    • 11.4 Sea transport
  • 12 International relations
    • 12.1 Special partnership cities
  • 13 Gallery
  • 14 References
  • 15 External links

Etymology of the name Helsinki

According to oral tradition recorded in the 17th century, the early settlers in the modern Helsinki area came in the middle of the 13th century from the province of Hälsingland in central Sweden. The Vantaa River was accordingly known locally as Helsingå (‘Helsinge River’), and the parish founded in the 14th century was called the Helsinge Parish.

When the plans to found a town in the vicinity of the modern district of Koskela or Forsby ("village of the rapids") started to materialise in 1548, the new town-to-be began to be called Helsinge fors, ‘the Helsinge rapids’. This name then evolved into Helsingfors, which is today the name of the city in Swedish. The common people called the place Helsinge or Helsing, which evolved into the current Finnish name Helsinki.

The name Helsinki has been used in Finnish official documents and in Finnish language newspapers since 1819, when the Senate of Finland moved to the town and the decrees issued there were dated with Helsinki as the place of issue. This is how the form Helsinki came to be used in the Finnish literary language.

History Main article: History of Helsinki See also: Timeline of Helsinki Early historyCentral Helsinki in 1820 before rebuilding. Drawing by Carl Ludvig Engel.Construction of Suomenlinna began in the 18th century.Erottaja Rescue Station

Helsinki was established as a trading town by King Gustav I of Sweden in 1550 as the town of Helsingfors, which he intended to be a rival to the Hanseatic city of Reval (today known as Tallinn). Little came of the plans as Helsinki remained a tiny town plagued by poverty, wars, and diseases. The plague of 1710 killed the greater part of the inhabitants of Helsinki. The construction of the naval fortress Sveaborg (In Finnish Viapori, today also Suomenlinna) in the 18th century helped improve Helsinki''s 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 the town began to develop into a substantial city. During the war, Russians besieged the Sveaborg fortress and about one quarter of the town was destroyed in an 1808 fire.

Czar Alexander I of Russia moved the Finnish capital from Turku to Helsinki in 1812 to reduce Swedish influence in Finland and bring the capital closer to St. Petersburg. Following the Great Fire of Turku in 1827, The Royal Academy of Turku, at the time the country''s only university, was also relocated to Helsinki, and eventually became the modern University of Helsinki. The move consolidated the city''s new role and helped set it on the path of continuous growth. This transformation is highly apparent in the downtown core, which was rebuilt in neoclassical style to resemble St. Petersburg, mostly to a plan by the German-born architect C. L. Engel. As elsewhere, technological advancements such as railroads and industrialization were key factors behind the city''s growth.

Twentieth century

Despite the tumultuousness of Finnish history during the first half of the 20th century, Helsinki continued its steady development. A landmark event was the XV Olympic games (1952 Olympic Games) held in Helsinki. Finland''s rapid urbanization in the 1970s, occurring late relative to the rest of Europe, tripled the population in the metropolitan area, and the Helsinki Metro subway system was built. The relatively sparse population density of Helsinki and its peculiar structure have often been attributed to the lateness of its growth.


Helsinki (Finnish pronunciation places stress on the first syllable: Finnish pronunciation: ), is used to refer to the city in most languages, but not in Swedish.

The Swedish name Helsingfors ( or ) is the original official name of the city of Helsinki (in the very beginning, spelled Hellssingeforss). The Finnish language form of the name probably originates from Helsinga and similar names used for the river that is currently known as the Vantaa River as documented already in the 14th century. Helsingfors comes from the name of the surrounding parish, Helsinge (source for Finnish Helsinki) and the rapids (Swedish: fors), which flowed through the original village.

Another suggestion is that the name Helsinge may have originated with medieval Swedish settlers who came from Hälsingland in Sweden. Others have proposed that the name derives from the Swedish word helsing, a former version of the word hals (neck), referring to the narrowest part of the river, i.e. the rapids. Other Scandinavian cities located at this kind of geographical locations were given similar names at the time, such as Helsingør and Helsingborg.

In Helsinki slang the city is nicknamed as either Stadi (from the Swedish word stad, meaning "city") or Hesa (short of Helsinki), with Stadi being used to assert that the speaker is native to the city. Helsset is the Northern Saami name of Helsinki.

GeographyParts of Helsinki and Espoo seen from SPOTMain article: Geography of HelsinkiLuotsikatu in Katajanokka

Being called the "Daughter of the Baltic", Helsinki is located on the tip of a peninsula and 315 islands. The inner city area occupies a southern peninsula, which is rarely referred to by its actual name Vironniemi. Population density in certain parts of Helsinki''s inner city area is very high, reaching 16,494 inhabitants per square kilometre (42,720 /sq mi) in the district of Kallio, but as a whole Helsinki''s population density of 3,050 per square kilometre (7,900 /sq mi) ranks it as quite sparsely populated in comparison to other European capital cities. Much of Helsinki outside the inner city area consists of postwar suburbs separated from each other by patches of forest. A narrow, ten-kilometre-long (6 mi) Helsinki Central Park that stretches from the inner city to the northern border of Helsinki is an important recreational area for residents. The City of Helsinki has about 11,000 boat berths and possesses over 14 000 hectares of marine fishing waters adjacent to the Metropolitan area. Some 60 fish species are found in this area. Recreational fishing is a popular hobby among kids and adults alike.

Major islands in Helsinki include Seurasaari, Vallisaari, Lauttasaari and Korkeasaari – the lattermost being the site of the country''s biggest zoo. Other significant islands are the fortress island of Suomenlinna (Sveaborg), the military island of Santahamina and Isosaari. Pihlajasaari island is a favourite summer spot for gay men and naturists, very much comparable to Fire Island off New York City.

Metropolitian areaThe Greater Helsinki urban area.Mäkelänkatu

Helsinki capital region consists of the four municipalities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen and is considered to be the only metropolis in Finland. It has a population of 1,09 million, by far the biggest and most densely populated area of Finland, over four times bigger than Tampere. The capital region spreads over a land area of 770 km² and has a population density of 1,418 per square kilometre. With over 20 per cent of the country''s population in just 0.2 per cent of its surface area, the housing density of the area is high by Finnish standards.

The Helsinki Metropolitan Area consists of the cities of Helsinki capital region and ten surrounding municipalities. The Metropolitan Area covers 3,697 square kilometres (1,427 sq mi) and contains a total population of approximately 1.4 million, or about a fourth of the total population of Finland. The Metropolitan Area has a high concentration of employment: approximately 750,000 jobs. Despite the intensity of land use, the region also has large recreational areas and green spaces. The Helsinki metropolitan area is the world''s northernmost urban area among those with a population of over one million people, and the city is the northernmost capital of an EU member state.

ClimateHelsinki in summer

Helsinki has a humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfb), less than 2°C above the threshold for subarctic classification. Owing to the mitigating influence of the Baltic Sea and Gulf Stream, temperatures in winter are higher than the northern location might suggest, with the average in January and February around −5 °C (23 °F). Temperatures below −20 °C (−4 °F) occur normally a week or two in a year. However, because of the latitude, days last 5 hours and 48 minutes around the winter solstice with very low Sun rays, and the cloudy weather at this time of year accentuates the darkness. Conversely, Helsinki enjoys long days in summer, during the summer solstice days last 18 hours and 57 minutes . The average maximum temperature from June to August is around 19 to 22 °C (66 to 72 °F). Due to the marine effect, especially in summer daily temperatures are cooler and night temperatures are higher than further away in the mainland. The highest temperature ever recorded in the city centre was 33.1 °C (91.6 °F) on 18 July 1945 and the lowest was −34.3 °C (−30 °F) on 10 January 1987. Helsinki Airport recorded a temperature of 34.0 °C (93.2 °F) on 29 July 2010 and a low of −35.9 °C (−33 °F) on 9 January 1987.

Climate data for Helsinki (Kaisaniemi) Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year Record high °C (°F) Average high °C (°F) Daily mean °C (°F) Average low °C (°F) Record low °C (°F) Precipitation mm (inches) Snowfall cm (inches) Mean monthly sunshine hours
8.5 (47.3) 11.8 (53.2) 17.1 (62.8) 21.9 (71.4) 29.6 (85.3) 32.0 (89.6) 33.1 (91.6) 31.2 (88.2) 26.2 (79.2) 19.4 (66.9) 11.6 (52.9) 10.0 (50) 33.1 (91.6)
−1.3 (29.7) −1.9 (28.6) 1.6 (34.9) 7.6 (45.7) 14.4 (57.9) 18.5 (65.3) 21.5 (70.7) 19.8 (67.6) 14.6 (58.3) 9.0 (48.2) 3.7 (38.7) 0.5 (32.9) 9.0 (48.2)
−3.9 (25) −4.7 (23.5) −1.3 (29.7) 3.9 (39) 10.2 (50.4) 14.6 (58.3) 17.8 (64) 16.3 (61.3) 11.5 (52.7) 6.6 (43.9) 1.6 (34.9) −2.0 (28.4) 5.9 (42.6)
−6.5 (20.3) −7.4 (18.7) −4.1 (24.6) 0.8 (33.4) 6.3 (43.3) 10.9 (51.6) 14.2 (57.6) 13.1 (55.6) 8.7 (47.7) 4.3 (39.7) −0.6 (30.9) −4.5 (23.9) 2.9 (37.2)
−34.3 (−29.7) −31.5 (−24.7) −24.5 (−12.1) −16.3 (2.7) −4.8 (23.4) 0.7 (33.3) 5.4 (41.7) 2.8 (37) −4.5 (23.9) −11.6 (11.1) −18.6 (−1.5) −29.5 (−21.1) −34.3 (−29.7)
52 (2.05) 36 (1.42) 38 (1.5) 32 (1.26) 37 (1.46) 57 (2.24) 63 (2.48) 80 (3.15) 56 (2.2) 76 (2.99) 70 (2.76) 58 (2.28) 655 (25.79)
20 (7.9) 24 (9.4) 15 (5.9) 0.4 (0.16) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 3 (1.2) 10 (3.9) 72 (28.3)
38 70 138 194 284 297 291 238 150 93 36 29 1,858
Source: Climatological statistics for the normal period 1981–2010
Climate data for Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (Helsinki Airport) Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year Record high °C (°F) Average high °C (°F) Daily mean °C (°F) Average low °C (°F) Record low °C (°F) Precipitation mm (inches) Mean monthly sunshine hours
8.2 (46.8) 10.0 (50) 17.5 (63.5) 24.0 (75.2) 29.0 (84.2) 31.4 (88.5) 34.0 (93.2) 31.5 (88.7) 25.3 (77.5) 18.2 (64.8) 11.3 (52.3) 9.6 (49.3) 34.0 (93.2)
−2.4 (27.7) −2.7 (27.1) 1.5 (34.7) 8.7 (47.7) 15.8 (60.4) 19.6 (67.3) 22.5 (72.5) 20.5 (68.9) 14.8 (58.6) 8.6 (47.5) 2.6 (36.7) −0.7 (30.7) 9.1 (48.4)
−5.0 (23) −5.7 (21.7) −1.9 (28.6) 4.1 (39.4) 10.4 (50.7) 14.6 (58.3) 17.7 (63.9) 15.8 (60.4) 10.7 (51.3) 5.6 (42.1) 0.4 (32.7) −3.2 (26.2) 5.3 (41.5)
−8.1 (17.4) −8.9 (16) −5.4 (22.3) −0.2 (31.6) 4.8 (40.6) 9.5 (49.1) 12.6 (54.7) 11.3 (52.3) 6.9 (44.4) 2.7 (36.9) −2.1 (28.2) −6.0 (21.2) 1.4 (34.5)
−35.9 (−32.6) −30.2 (−22.4) −27.2 (−17) −12.1 (10.2) −5.4 (22.3) −0.5 (31.1) 4.0 (39.2) 2.0 (35.6) −7.3 (18.9) −14.5 (5.9) −19.9 (−3.8) −29.5 (−21.1) −35.9 (−32.6)
54 (2.13) 37 (1.46) 37 (1.46) 32 (1.26) 39 (1.54) 61 (2.4) 66 (2.6) 79 (3.11) 64 (2.52) 82 (3.23) 73 (2.87) 58 (2.28) 682 (26.86)
38 74 131 196 275 266 291 219 143 84 37 26 1,780
Source: Climatological statistics for the normal period 1981–2010 Sun and record temperatures 1981-2011 only
CityscapeWooden VallilaAleksanterinkatu in Central HelsinkiAleksi in Central HelsinkiThe view across summertime EläintarhanlahtiThe Helsinki Cathedral is probably the most prominent building and symbol of the city.Parliament of Finland on the right, and new supplemental offices on the left

Carl Ludvig Engel (1778–1840) was appointed to design a new city centre all on his own. He designed several neoclassical buildings in Helsinki. The focal point of Engel''s city plan is the Senate Square. It is surrounded by the Government Palace (to the east), the main building of Helsinki University (to the west), and (to the north) the enormous Cathedral, which was finished in 1852, twelve years after C. L. Engel''s death. Subsequently, Engel''s neoclassical plan stimulated the epithet, The White City Of The North. Helsinki is, however, perhaps even more famous for its numerous Art Nouveau (Jugend in Finnish) influenced buildings of the romantic nationalism, designed in the early 1900s and strongly influenced by the Kalevala, which is a very popular theme in the national romantic art of that era. Helsinki''s Art Nouveau style is also featured in large residential areas such as Katajanokka and Ullanlinna. The master of the Finnish Art Nouveau was Eliel Saarinen (1873–1950), whose architectural masterpiece was the Helsinki central railway station.

Helsinki also features several buildings by the world-renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1898–1976), recognized as one of the pioneers of architectural functionalism. However, some of his works, such as the headquarters of the paper company Stora Enso and the concert venue, Finlandia Hall, have been subject to divided opinions from the citizens.

Renowned functionalist buildings in Helsinki by other architects include the Olympic Stadium, the Tennis Palace, the Rowing Stadium, the Swimming Stadium, the Velodrome, the Glass Palace, the Exhibition Hall (now Töölö Sports Hall) and Helsinki-Malmi Airport. The sports venues were built to serve the 1940 Helsinki Olympic Games; the games were initially cancelled due to the Second World War, but the venues eventually got to fulfill their purpose in the 1952 Olympic Games. Many of them are listed by DoCoMoMo as significant examples of modern architecture. The Olympic Stadium and Helsinki-Malmi Airport are in addition catalogued by the National Board of Antiquities as cultural-historical environments of national significance.

As a historical footnote, Helsinki''s neoclassical buildings were often used as a backdrop for scenes set to take place in the Soviet Union in many Cold War era Hollywood movies, when filming in the USSR was not possible. Some of the more notable ones are The Kremlin Letter (1970), Reds (1981) and Gorky Park (1983). Because some streetscapes were reminiscent of Leningrad''s and Moscow''s old buildings, they too were used in movie productions—much to some residents'' dismay. At the same time the government secretly instructed Finnish officials not to extend assistance to such film projects.

In the 21st century Helsinki has decided to allow the construction of skyscrapers. Several projects are already in progress, mainly in Pasila and Kalasatama. The tallest with 40 floors will rise at least 150 meters (500 feet). In Pasila, twenty new high rises will be erected within 10 years. In Kalasataman Keskus REDI, the first 35-story (130 meters) and 32-story (122 meters) residential towers are already under construction. Later they will be joined by a 37-story (140 meters), two 32-story (122 meters, 400 feet), 31-story (120 meters) and 27-story (100 meters) residential buildings. In Kalasatama area, there will be 30 high-rises within 10 years.

A panoramic view over the southernmost districts of Helsinki from Hotel Torni. The Helsinki Old Church and its surrounding park are seen in the foreground, while the towers of St. John''s Church (near center) and Mikael Agricola Church (right) can be seen in the middle distance, backdropped by the Gulf of Finland.A panoramic view of Helsinki Central Railway Station and its surroundingsA panoramic view of Kamppi Central and its surroundingsSuomenlinna at afternoon in winterGovernment Main article: Politics of Helsinki

The city council of Helsinki consists of eighty-five members. Following the most recent municipal election in 2012, the three largest parties are National Coalition (23), Greens (19), and Social Democrats (15). The mayor, Jussi Pajunen, is a member of the National Coalition Party.

Like in all Finnish municipalities, the City Council of Helsinki is the main decision-making organ in local politics, dealing with issues such as city planning, schools, health care, and public transport. The 85-member council is elected every fourth year by municipal elections.

Traditionally, the conservative National Coalition Party (kokoomus) has been the biggest party in Helsinki''s local politics, with the Social Democrats being the second biggest. In the 2000 election the Green League, for which Helsinki is the strongest area of support nationally, gained the position of the second most popular party. In 2004 however, the Social Democrats regained that position. In 2008 election, the Green League again became the second biggest party, and they remained so in the 2012 election.

The Left Alliance is the fourth largest party, while the True Finns have increased their support steadily to become the fifth largest party. The Swedish People''s Party''s support has been steadily declining over the years, most likely because of the diminishing proportion of Swedish speakers in Helsinki. The Centre Party of Finland, despite being one of the major parties in nationwide politics, only has little support in Helsinki like it does in most other big cities.

DemographicsChildren jumping into the sea in Lauttasaari

Helsinki has a higher proportion of women (53.4%) than elsewhere in Finland (51.1%). Helsinki''s current population density of 2,739.36 people per square kilometer is by far the highest in Finland. Life expectancy for both genders is slightly below the national averages: 75.1 years for men as compared to 75.7 years, 81.7 years for women as compared to 82.5 years.

Helsinki has experienced strong growth since the 1810s, when it replaced Turku as the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland, which later became the sovereign Republic of Finland. The city continued to show strong growth from that time onwards, with the exception during the Finnish Civil War period. From the end of World War II up until the 1970s there was a massive exodus of people from the countryside to the cities of Finland, in particular Helsinki. Between 1944 and 1969 the population of the city nearly doubled from 275,000 to 525,600.

In the 1960s, the population growth of Helsinki proper began to ebb mainly due to lack of housing. Many residents began to move to neighbouring Espoo and Vantaa, where population growth has since soared. Espoo''s population increased ninefold in sixty years, from 22,874 people in 1950 to 244,353 in 2009. Neighboring Vantaa has seen even more dramatic change in the same time span: from 14,976 in 1950 to 197,663 in 2009, a thirteenfold increase. These dramatic increases pushed the municipalities of greater Helsinki into more intense cooperation in such areas as public transportation and waste management. The increasing scarcity of housing and the higher costs of living in the Helsinki metropolitan area have pushed many daily commuters to find housing in formerly very rural areas, and even further, to such cities as Lohja (50 km (31 mi) northwest from the city centre), Hämeenlinna and Lahti (both 100 km (62 mi) from Helsinki), and Porvoo (50 km (31 mi) to the east).


Finnish and Swedish are the official languages of the municipality of Helsinki. The majority, or 81.9% of the population, speak Finnish as their native language. A minority, at 5.9%, speak Swedish. Around 12.2% of the population speak a native language other than Finnish or Swedish. Helsinki slang today combines influences mainly from Finnish and English, but has traditionally had strong Russian and Swedish influences. Finnish today is the common language of communication between Finnish speakers, Swedish speakers and speakers of other languages (New Finns) in day-to-day affairs in the public sphere between unknown persons. In case a speaker''s knowledge of Finnish is not known, English is usually spoken. Swedish is commonly spoken in city or national agencies specifically aimed at Finland-Swedish speakers, such as the Social Services Department on Hämeentie or the Luckan Cultural centre in Kamppi. Knowledge of Finnish is also essential in business and is usually a basic requirement in the employment market.

Finnish speakers surpassed Swedish speakers in 1890 to become the majority of the city''s population. At the time, Helsinki''s population was 61,530.


Helsinki is the global gateway of Finland. The city has Finland''s largest immigrant population in both absolute and relative terms. There are over 140 nationalities represented in Helsinki. The largest groups are from Russia, Estonia, Sweden, Somalia, China, Iraq, Thailand, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Germany and Turkey. Helsinki was already an international city in the late 19th century with distinctive Russian, Swedish and German minorities.

Foreign citizens make up 8.0% of the population, while foreign born make up 11.1%.% In 2012, 68,375 residents spoke a native language other than Finnish, Swedish or one of the three Sami languages spoken in Finland. The largest groups of residents with a non-Finnish background come from Russia (14,532), Estonia (9,065) and Somalia (6,845). Half of the immigrant population in Finland lives in greater Helsinki, and one third in the city of Helsinki.

Country of origin Population (2011)
Largest groups of foreign residents
 Russia 13,684
 Estonia 7,940
 Somalia 6,513
EconomyKamppi Center, a shopping and transportation complex in the Kamppi district in the centre of Helsinki

The Helsinki metropolitan area generates approximately one third of Finland''s GDP. GDP per capita is roughly 1.3 times the national average.

The metropolitan area''s gross value added per capita is 200% of the mean of 27 European metropolitan areas, equalling those of Stockholm or Paris. The gross value added annual growth has been around 4%.

83 of the 100 largest Finnish companies are headquartered in Greater Helsinki. Two-thirds of the 200 highest-paid Finnish executives live in Greater Helsinki and 42% in Helsinki. The average income of the top 50 earners was 1.65 million euro.

The tap water is of excellent quality and it is supplied by 120 km (75 mi) long Päijänne Water Tunnel, one of the world''s longest continuous rock tunnels. Bottled Helsinki tap water is even sold to countries such as Saudi Arabia.

EducationUniversity of Helsinki''s Main Library: KaisataloMain building of the University of HelsinkiHaaga-Helia University Of Applied Sciences is the largest business polytechnic in Finland.

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, the other half municipal. Higher level education is given in eight universities (see the section "Universities" below) and four polytechnics.

Universities Main article: List of universities in Finland
  • University of Helsinki
  • Aalto University
  • Hanken School of Economics
  • University of the Arts Helsinki
  • National Defence University
University of Applied Sciences
  • Haaga-Helia University Of Applied Sciences
  • Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
  • Arcada University of Applied Sciences

Helsinki is one of the co-location centres of the Knowledge and Innovation Community (Future information and communication society) of The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

The educational department takes part in Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 in Finland.

CultureKiasma museum of contemporary art (1998) designed by American architect Steven Holl.Museums

The biggest historical museum in Helsinki is the National Museum of Finland, which displays a vast historical collection from prehistoric times to the 21st century. The museum building itself, a national romantic style neomedieval 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 of 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-Renaissance palace from 19th century, is one of the city''s major historical buildings. All three museum buildings are state-owned through Senate Properties.

The Design Museum is devoted to the exhibition of both Finnish and foreign design, including industrial design, fashion, and graphic design.


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, the Finlandia concert hall and the Helsinki Music Centre. The Music Centre also houses a part of the Sibelius Academy. Bigger concerts and events are usually held at one of the city''s two big ice hockey arenas: the Hartwall Areena or the Helsinki Ice Hall. Helsinki has Finland''s largest fairgrounds.


Helsinki is home to two full-size symphony orchestras, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, both of which perform at the Helsinki Music Centre concert hall. Acclaimed contemporary composers Kaija Saariaho, Magnus Lindberg, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Einojuhani Rautavaara, among others, were born and raised in Helsinki, and studied at the Sibelius Academy. The Finnish National Opera, the only full-time, professional opera company in Finland, is located in Helsinki. The opera singer Martti Wallén, one of the company''s long-time soloists, was born and raised in Helsinki, as was mezzo-soprano Monica Groop.

Many widely renowned and acclaimed bands have originated in Helsinki, including Hanoi Rocks, HIM, Stratovarius, The 69 Eyes, Finntroll, Ensiferum, Wintersun, The Rasmus and Apocalyptica.

ArtFinnish National Theatre (1902), Helsinki, designed by architect Onni Tarjanne

The Helsinki Festival is an annual arts and culture festival, which takes place every August (including the Night of the Arts).

Vappu is an annual carnival for students and workers.

Helsinki Arena hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2007, the first Eurovision Song Contest arranged in Finland, following Lordi''s win in 2006.

At the Senate Square in September / October 2010, the largest open-air art exhibition ever in Finland took place: About 1.4 million people saw the international exhibition of United Buddy Bears.

Helsinki is the 2012 World Design Capital, in recognition of the use of design as an effective tool for social, cultural and economic development in the city. In choosing Helsinki, the World Design Capital selection jury highlighted Helsinki''s use of ''Embedded Design'', which has tied design in the city to innovation, "creating global brands, such as Nokia, Kone and Marimekko, popular events, like the annual Helsinki Design Week, outstanding education and research institutions, such as the University of Art and Design Helsinki, and exemplary architects and designers such as Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto".

MediaLinus Torvalds, the Finnish software engineer best known for creating the popular open-source kernel Linux.

Today, there are around 200 newspapers, 320 popular magazines, 2,100 professional magazines, 67 commercial radio stations, three digital radio channels and one nationwide and five national public service radio channels.

Each year, around 12,000 book titles are published and 12 million records are sold.

Sanoma publishes the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (its circulation of 412,000 making it the largest), the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, the commerce-oriented Taloussanomat and the television channel Nelonen. The other major publisher Alma Media publishes over thirty magazines, including the newspaper Aamulehti, tabloid Iltalehti and commerce-oriented Kauppalehti. Worldwide, Finns, along with other Nordic peoples and the Japanese, spend the most time reading newspapers.

YLE, Finland''s public broadcasting station, operates five television channels and thirteen radio channels in both national languages. YLE is funded through a mandatory television license and fees for private broadcasters. All TV channels are broadcast digitally, both terrestrially and on cable. The commercial television channel MTV3 and commercial radio channel Radio Nova are owned by Nordic Broadcasting (Bonnier and Proventus Industrier).

Around 79% of the population uses the Internet. Finland had around 1.52 million broadband Internet connections by the end of June 2007 or around 287 per 1,000 inhabitants. All Finnish schools and public libraries have Internet connections and computers and most residents have a mobile phone. Value-added services are rare. In October 2009, Finland''s Ministry of Transport and Communications committed to ensuring that every person in Finland would be able to access the Internet at a minimum speed of one megabit-per-second beginning July 2010.

Sports Main article: Sport in HelsinkiThe Helsinki Olympic Stadium was the centre of activities during the 1952 Summer Olympics.

Helsinki has a long tradition of sports: the city gained much of its initial international recognition during the 1952 Summer Olympics, and the city has arranged sporting events such as the first World Championships in Athletics 1983 and 2005, and the European Championships in Athletics 1971, 1994 and 2012. Helsinki hosts successful local teams in both of the most popular team sports in Finland, football and ice hockey. Helsinki houses Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi (HJK), Finland''s largest and most successful football club. Helsinki''s track and field club Helsingin Kisa-Veikot is also dominant within Finland. Ice hockey is popular among many Helsinki residents, who usually support either of the local clubs IFK Helsingfors (HIFK) or Jokerit. HIFK, with 14 Finnish championships titles, also plays in the highest bandy division, along with Botnia−69. The Olympic stadium hosted the first ever Bandy World Championship in 1957.

Helsinki was elected host-city of the 1940 Summer Olympics, but due to World War II they were canceled. Instead Helsinki was the host of the 1952 Summer Olympics. The Olympics were a landmark event symbolically and economically for Helsinki and Finland as a whole that was recovering from the winter war and the continuation war fought with the Soviet Union. Helsinki was also in 1983 the first ever city to host the World Championships in Athletics. Helsinki also hosted the event in 2005, thus also becoming the first city to ever host the Championships for a second time. The Helsinki City Marathon has been held in the city every year since 1980, usually in August. A Formula 3000 race through the city streets was held on 25 May 1997. In 2009 Helsinki was host of European Figure Skating Championships.

TransportTrams in HelsinkiThe Helsinki Metro with its characteristic bright orange trains is the world''s northernmost subwayMalmi airport, one of the oldest in the world and Finland''s main general aviation airportRoadsPostage stamp, 1979Helsinki region roads

The backbone of Helsinki''s motorway network consists of three semicircular ring roads, Ring I, Ring II, and Ring III, which connect expressways heading to other parts of Finland, and the western and eastern arteries of Länsiväylä and Itäväylä respectively. While variants of a Keskustatunneli tunnel under the city centre have been repeatedly proposed, as of 2011 the plan remains on the drawing board.

Helsinki has some 390 cars per 1000 inhabitants. This is less than in cities of similar density, such as Brussels'' 483 per 1000, Stockholm''s 401, and Oslo''s 413.

Rail transport and buses Main article: Public transport in Helsinki

Public transport is generally a hotly debated subject in the local politics of Helsinki. In Helsinki metropolitan area, public transportation is managed under Helsinki Region Transport, the metropolitan area transportation authority. The diverse public transport system consists of trams, commuter rail, the subway, bus lines, two ferry lines and on-demand minibuses.

Today, Helsinki is the only city in Finland to have trams and metro trains. There used to be two other cities in Finland with trams: Turku and Viipuri (Vyborg, now in Russia), but both have since abandoned trams. The Helsinki Metro, opened in 1982, is the only rapid transit system in Finland. In 2006, the construction of the long debated extension of the system west into Espoo was approved, and serious debate about an eastern extension into Sipoo has taken place.

The possibility of a Helsinki to Tallinn Tunnel is currently being researched. The rail tunnel would connect Helsinki to the Estonian capital Tallinn, further linking Helsinki to the rest of continental Europe by Rail Baltica.


Air traffic is handled primarily from the international Helsinki Airport, located approximately 19 kilometres (12 mi) north of Helsinki''s downtown area, in the neighbouring city of Vantaa. Helsinki''s second airport, Malmi Airport, is mainly used for general and private aviation. Helicopter flights to Tallinn are available from Hernesaari Heliport.

Sea transport

Like many other cities of the world, Helsinki had been deliberately founded next to the sea. The city therefore was able to benefit from good sea transportation links right from the start. The freezing of the sea imposed limitations on sea traffic up to the end of the 19th century. But for the last hundred years, the routes leading to Helsinki have been kept open even in winter with the aid of ice-breakers, many of them built in Helsinki Hietalahti shipyard. The arrival and departure of ships has also been a part of everyday life in Helsinki. Regular route traffic from Helsinki to Stockholm, Tallinn and St. Petersburg began as far back as 1837. 300 cruise ships and 360,000 cruise passengers visit Helsinki yearly, adding life and colour to the city life. There are international cruise ships dock in South Harbour, Katajanokka, West Harbour and Hernesaari. Helsinki is the second busiest passenger port in Europe with circa 11 million passengers in 2013. Ferry connections to Tallinn, Mariehamn and Stockholm are serviced by various companies. Finnlines passenger-freight ferries to Gdynia, Poland, Travemünde, Germany and Rostock, Germany are also available. St Peter Line offers passenger ferry service to Saint Petersburg several times a week.

International relations

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