Helsingin kaupunki
Helsingfors stad
Coat of Arms
CityHelsinki (1550)
Administrative ProvinceSouthern Finland
Historical ProvinceUusimaa
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water
Ranked 349th
686 km²
186 km²
500 km²
 - Total (2003-12-31)
 - Density
Ranked 1st
2,923/km² (1st)
Time zoneHelsinki, Riga, Tallinn: UTC+2
Satellite view of the city (,24.938622&spn=0.163422,0.223160&t=k&hl=en)

Helsinki (pronounced with the stress on the first syllable in Finnish: ), or Helsingfors in Swedish Template:Audio, is the capital of Finland. It is located in the southern part of Finland on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, at Template:Coor dm. Helsinki forms a conurbation with three other cities, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen, which are together called the capital area. The Greater Helsinki region has a total population of 1.2 million.




Main article: History of Helsinki

King Gustav I of Sweden had a great interest to build up at the rapids of the river Vantaa a community that would transfer all trade, both export and import, to one place in Finland. In 1550 he ordained that a new town, Helsingfors, should be founded. At that time, however, Helsinki was little more than a place for the King and his retinue to stay while they were away from the capital Turku on hunting trips. It was thanks to the paternal solicitude for his people that the city was founded. Gustav believed that a town standing directly opposite Tallinn, which was a remarkable Hanseatic centre, was needed to attract to it the trade hitherto the monopoly of foreigners, mostly Germans, Russians and Dutchmen.

Finland was in those days the eastern province of the Swedish state. After northern Estonia, including Tallinn, became a part of Sweden in 1561, the rivalry between Tallinn and Helsinki ceased to matter in Gustav Vasa's economic plans. When the city later was moved to the southernmost peninsula of the neighbouring area, it was only because there were more favourable conditions for a harbour. The original foundation was at the mouth of the Vantaa river, but the population eventually migrated somewhat to the west in order to take advantage of better sea-anchorage. Helsinki only became the capital of Finland in 1812 after Finland had been captured from Sweden by Russia.



In Helsinki there are eight universities (see the section "Universities" below) and some polytechnics.



In Helsinki, public transport is handled by HKL, the Helsinki City Transport. The public transport system consists of buses (slang: "ds"), trams (slang: "spra/spora"), Helsinki Metro and the commuter trains of VR. Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council handles the traffic to 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 part of the Soviet Union instead of Finland) abandoned it in 1957.

The metro line, opened in 1982, was the first, and so far the only, metro line in the entire 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 Itkeskus station, dividing the remainder of the line into two sub-lines with three stations each. There are also plans to further expand the system to Espoo.

Air traffic is handled from 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 (see Ruotsinlaiva). In summer, passenger ferries to Travemnde, Germany are also available. Copterline provides fast helicopter flights to Tallinn.

Other services

The largest hospitals of Finland are located in Helsinki, for example HYKS and many private hospitals. Also police and fire departments serve citizens.


Main article: Politics of Helsinki

The demographics of Helsinki is divided between 53.5 percent females and 46.5 percent males. Out of the total population there are 6.4 percent Swedish-speaking and 6.0 percent foreigners.


Main article: Geography of Helsinki

Helsinki spreads around a number of bays and peninsulas and over a number of islands. Some of the most important islands include Seurasaari, Lauttasaari and Korkeasaari – which is also the country's biggest (and the world's northernmost) zoo – as well as the fortress island of Suomenlinna (Sveaborg) and the military island of Santahamina.


Main article: Economy of Helsinki


Main article: Universities in Finland


Missing image

Main article: Culture of Helsinki

Carl Ludvig Engel (1778-1840) designed several neo-classical buildings in Helsinki. He was kept in Helsinki by a unique assignment, as he was elected to plan a new centrum all on his own, which later on was also referred to as The White City Of The North. The city became shallow and wide at the time when most buildings had only two or three floors. In the middle of the city, on the northern side of the Senate Square, he planned an enormous Cathedral, which was finished in 1852, twelve years after C. L. Engel's death.

Helsinki is, however, perhaps even more famous for its numerous Art Nouveau buildings, designed in the early 1900s and strongly influenced by Kalevala, which is a very popular theme in the national romantic art of that era.

The Kiasma, opened in 1998, is the city's contemporary art museum. There is an active ICT and digital cultures scene in Greater Helsinki.

[Valon Voimat (|)] "Forces of Light" is an annual winter arts festival .

Sites of interest

See also: Tourism in Finland

The city is small and intimate; lively but not bustling. Its size makes it easy to walk around and cafs, markets, and the nearby islands are its summer delights.

Suomenlinna is a large fortress built on one small group of these islands in the mid-eighteenth century. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular tourist attraction.

Another popular sight is the Helsinki zoo located on an island named Korkeasaari.

Seurasaari is an outdoor museum area. It contains log houses and items collected from various parts of Finland.

Missing image
Tl district, situated close to the city center, hosts many of Helsinki's tourist attractions.

The new opera house of the Finnish National Opera, which opened in 1993, is close to the city center in Tl.

Kaivopuisto is the most popular park in Helsinki.

Linnanmki is Helsinki's fun fair.

If you are into architecture, Temppeliaukion kirkko is worth seeing. Built inside of stone, this unconventional church is regularly visited by tourists.

Sibelius-monumentti (The Sibelius-monument), a modernist work by sculptor Eila Hiltunen, is a popular tourist attraction.

Kiasma is the museum of contemporary art, designed by Steven Holl. The museum hosts a number of exhibitions.

The Uspenski Cathedral is the main Orthodox church in Finland.

Hietaniemi is a popular beach within a walking distance from the downtown.

Kauppatori (The Market Square) is situated in the heart of Helsinki and in the summertime the numerous stands sell all kinds of Finnish crafts and foods. The traditional herring market in October is a particularly popular event, as the fishers from the archipelago sail into the harbour and sell their products, traditional foods and crafts of the Finnish coast.

Nuuksio is the piece of wilderness closest to Helsinki. This area is suitable for day trip hiking. There are lots of tiny lakes, rock, swamp and pine forest.

Heureka (actually located in Vantaa) is a science center featuring exhibitions and an IMAX theater.

The botanical gardens are worth seeing as well.

Tarvasp, the home and atelier of the renowned Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela, lies further away from the centre, but is certainly worth a visit. The museum has many paintings by one of the central artists of Finland's "Golden era" and a nice cafe.

Air travel to Helsinki is via the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Helsinki also has popular ferry links with Stockholm, Sweden and Tallinn, Estonia. Silja, Viking and Tallink are the biggest ferry operators.

Notable natives


Helsinki was the host of the 1952 Summer Olympics.

See also

External links

ar:هلسنكي bg:Хелзинки ca:Hlsinki cs:Helsinky da:Helsinki de:Helsinki et:Helsingi es:Helsinki eo:Helsinko fr:Helsinki ga:Heilsinc gd:Helsinki io:Helsinki id:Helsinki it:Helsinki he:הלסינקי la:Helsingia (Finnia) lt:Helsinkis nl:Helsinki ja:ヘルシンキ no:Helsingfors pl:Helsinki pt:Helsnquia ro:Helsinki ru:Хельсинки se:Helsset simple:Helsinki sk:Helsinki sr:Хелсинки fi:Helsinki sv:Helsingfors zh:赫尔辛基


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