Helsinki, along with the neighboring cities of Vantaa, Espoo, and Kauniainen, constitutes what is known as the capital region of Finland, with over 1,000,000 inhabitants. The Greater Helsinki area (Uusimaa) contains several additional municipalities and has a population of over 1,300,000. The Greater Helsinki region accounts for a quarter of the total population, 29% of all jobs and a third of the GDP for the entire country. Its foreign-born population stands around 10 percent.
The population of the city of Helsinki is 569,892, making it far and away
Finland's most populous municipality. It is also the second most sparsely populated
EU capital after Brussels. Helsinki is Finland 's capital for business, education,
research, culture, and government. The Helsinki metropolitan area has eight
universities, six technology parks and the largest technology campus in the
Nordic countries. It hosts 70% of Finland's foreign companies and 40% its R&D
investments. The migration of rural residents to the capital region has made
it one of the fastest growing urban areas in Europe.
The Finnish name, Helsinki (pronounced with the stress
on the first syllable: ['helsi?ki]), has been dominant in other languages
for decades. The Swedish name Helsingfors
is the original name of the city of Helsinki, and is still the official Swedish
name for the city. Helsingfors was derived from the name of the surrounding
parish, Helsinge (source for Finnish Helsinki)
and the rapids (in Swedish: fors), which
flowed through the original town. It is often thought that the name Helsinge
was given by the Swedish immigrants who came from the Swedish province
of Hälsingland. In Helsinki slang,
the town is also called Stadi (from
the Swedish word stad, meaning city), and Hesa
in colloquial Finnish. Helsset is the North
Sami name of Helsinki. Street signs in Helsinki are in both Finnish (on top)
and Swedish (on the bottom), reflecting the status of both Finnish and Swedish
as official languages in Finland.
In the egalitarian, Lutheran culture of Finland,
both women and men almost equally share all societal roles. Men and women share
responsibility for both the nurturing role of family living, as well as the
business role of work and government. Finns are also very straightforward and
down to earth, which can sometimes be mistaken as bluntness. The Finnish reputation
for honesty is well-earned.
When greeting others socially, kissing is not common, even between individuals
who know each other well. In business, the use of business cards is very common.
It is important to recognize that small talk is not the typical Finnish way,
whether in business, socially or even in the sauna. Also, anything that smacks
of rank, showiness, or status is generally downplayed. Most Finns speak at least
some English, as well as Swedish and sometimes other languages as well.
Being so close to the Arctic Circle, Helsinki is dark and gloomy for much
of the winter. The tradeoff is that during the summer daylight lasts until late
hours – and Helsinki residents take advantage of it with a number of festivals
and celebrations– including the not-to-be-missed annual Helsinki
Much information about the City of Helsinki can be found on its official website
(in English): http://www.hel.fi/wps/portal/Helsinki_en/
More very useful websites:
Helsinki (Helsingfors in Swedish) is the capital of Finland with 555,000
inhabitants in the city itself, and 1.2 million in the metropolitan area (incl.
Espoo and Vantaa). It is located in the southern region of Finland, on the shore
of the Gulf of Finland, by the Baltic Sea. Helsinki
and its suburbs are spread around a number of bays and peninsulas and over several
islands. Jobs are mainly concentrated in the city centre, located on a southern
peninsula, which is rarely referred to by its actual name Vironniemi.
Much of Helsinki outside the inner city area consists of postwar suburbs separated from each other by patches of forests. A narrow, ten kilometer (6.2 mi) long Helsinki Central Park that stretches from the inner city to the northern border of Helsinki is an important recreational area for the residents. Population density in certain parts of Helsinki's inner city area is very high, reaching 16,494 inhabitants per square kilometer (42,719/sq mi) in the district of Kallio, but as a whole Helsinki's population density of 3,050 inhabitants per square kilometer (7,899/sq mi) ranks it as quite sparsely populated in comparison to other European capital cities.
Some notable islands in Helsinki include Seurasaari, Lauttasaari and Korkeasaari – which is also the country's biggest zoo, along with as the fortress island of Suomenlinna (Sveaborg) and the military island of Santahamina. The downtown area of city itself is quite small in area – with nearly everything easily accessible on foot or by a very short tram or bus ride.
Suomenlinna or Viapori (Finnish), or Sveaborg (Swedish), is an inhabited sea fortress built on six islands. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and popular with both tourists and locals, who enjoy it as a picturesque picnic site. Originally named Sveaborg (Fortress of Svea), or Viapori as called by Finns, it was renamed Suomenlinna ( Castle of Finland) in 1918 for patriotic reasons, though it is still also known by its original name. Suomenlinna is served by ferries all year around.
Nowadays there are about 900 permanent inhabitants on the islands, and 350
people work there all year round. There is a minimum-security penal labor colony
in Suomenlinna, whose inmates work on the maintenance and reconstruction of
the fortifications. Suomenlinna has been known as an avant-garde enclave of
culture, the influence of which has affected cultural life throughout Finland.
Many buildings have been converted into artists' studios, which are let by the
administration at reasonable rates, and there is an art school for children.
The performances of the Suomenlinna summer theatre regularly draw full houses.
Finland is a country of lush forests and vast woodlands. Finland 's 800-mile
border with Russia gives it a unique position as a gateway to the east. (Indeed,
the Finnish rail gauge is the same as Russia 's) The country's excellent infrastructure
and transportation system, its geographical location, and its understanding
of how to do business in Russia and the Baltic states mean that many foreign
companies, including those based in the U.S., use Finland as a base for opening
transportation and marketing activities to the former Soviet Union. Finland
is also a country of thousands of lakes and islands; 187,888 lakes (larger than
500 m²) and 179,584 islands to be precise. One of these lakes, Saimaa,
is the fifth largest in Europe.
The Finnish landscape is mostly flat with few hills. Its highest point, the
Halti at 1,324 meters, is found in the extreme north of Lapland at the border
between Finland and Norway . Finland is very green, with approximately seventy-five
percent of its land area covered by coniferous taiga forests, with little arable
land. Moraine or till is the most common type of soil, covered by a thin layer
of humus of biological origin. The most common type of rock is granite, which
is visible everywhere there is no soil cover. Most of Finland's islands
are southwest of the mainland, in the Archipelago Sea,
which includes the autonomous, largely Swedish-speaking Åland
Islands, and along the southern coast in the Gulf of Finland.
Finland is one of the few countries in the world whose surface area is still
growing. Due to the post-glacial rebound which has been taking place since
the last ice age, Finland's surface area increases by approximately 7 square
kilometers (2.7 square miles) each year. The distance from the most Southern
point of Finland - Hanko - to its most northern
point - Nuorgam - is 1,445 kilometers (898 miles)
in driving distance, which would take approximately 18.5 hours to drive.