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Espoo (//, Finnish: [ˈespoː]; Swedish: Esbo;[b] Latin: Espo) is a city and municipality in the region of Uusimaa in the Republic of Finland. It is located on the northern shore of the Gulf of Finland, bordering the cities of Helsinki and Vantaa, while surrounding the enclaved town of Kauniainen. The city covers 528.03 square kilometres (203.9 sq mi) with a population of 292,913 residents in December 2020, making it the 2nd-most populous city in Finland. Espoo forms a major part of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Helsinki, home to over 1.5 million people in 2020.
|City of Espoo|
Interactive map outlining Espoo
|Incorporated (city)||1 January 1972|
|• City manager||Jukka Mäkelä|
|• Total||528.03 km2 (203.87 sq mi)|
|• Land||312.26 km2 (120.56 sq mi)|
|• Water||215.88 km2 (83.35 sq mi)|
|Area rank||230th largest in Finland|
|• Rank||2nd largest in Finland|
|• Density||938.04/km2 (2,429.5/sq mi)|
|Population by native language|
|• Finnish||83.6% (official)|
|Population by age|
|• 0 to 14||19.7%|
|• 15 to 64||69.8%|
|• 65 or older||10.5%|
|Time zone||UTC+02:00 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+03:00 (EEST)|
|Municipal tax rate||18%|
Espoo was first settled in the Prehistoric Era, with the first signs of human settlements going back as far as 8,000 years, but the population effectively disappeared in the early stages of the Iron Age. In the Early Middle Ages, the area was resettled by Tavastians and Southwestern Finns. After the Northern Crusades, Swedish-speaking peasants started migrating en masse to the coastal areas of present-day Finland, and Espoo was established as a self-governing Catholic parish in the 15th century. In the aftermath of the Finnish War, the establishment of Helsinki as the new capital of the Russian-controlled Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812 greatly benefited the development of the municipality. However, the area remained largely agrarian, until the 20th century. Espoo experienced rapid urbanization and major demographic changes in the decades following World War II, with Finnish superseding Swedish as the language of the majority around 1950. The municipality became a market town in 1963 and gained city status in 1972.
The cityscape is dominated by detached housing and suburban environment, and the city itself is know for its large natural areas, including its long shoreline—58 kilometres in total—and archipelago, forests, lakes and a national park. Administratively, the city is divided into seven major districts, and each major district is further divided into smaller districts and neighbourhoods. Espoo doesn’t have a traditional city centre, and instead, it has five distinct city centres—Leppävaara, Tapiola, Matinkylä, Espoon keskus and Espoonlahti—and numerous local centres, many of which are formed around historical manors.
Aalto University is based in Otaniemi, Espoo, along with a thriving science community that includes numerous startups and organizations such as VTT – the Technical Research Center of Finland. Several major companies are based in Espoo, including Nokia, HMD Global, Tieto, KONE, Neste, Fortum, Orion Corporation, Outokumpu, and Foreca, as well as video game developers Rovio and Remedy Entertainment.
Before the time of the Swedish colonization, Espoo was inhabited by Tavastians, a Finnish tribe, but the city's name comes from the colonizers rather than the native inhabitants. The name of Espoo is thought to have derived from the Medieval Swedish village of Espaby or Espoby that was located in the western part of the present-day city. The name of the village has North Germanic roots. It may refer to aspens that grew on a nearby riverbank, as the archaic Swedish word for the tree is ‘äspe’, and the word for a river is ‘å’, with the suffix ‘-by’ meaning village.
Present-day Espoo was first settled by hunter-gatherers around 8,000 years ago, a few thousand years after the end of the Last Glacial Period. The first settlers lived in the northern parts of the current city, around the lakes Pitkäjärvi, Bodomjärvi, and Loojärvi, as the southern parts were still largely covered by the sea. In the Stone Age, people in Espoo lived on south-facing shores and slopes, as they provided shelter from cold continental winds. Living close to water bodies also made hunting and fishing easier. The way of life was dictated by seasonal changes, and people rarely stayed in one place throughout the year.
During the Bronze Age (c. 1500–500 BCE), human settlement shifted southward. Known settlements from the era are few, but more than 70 cairn-like burial sites from the period have been discovered, mostly from southern Espoo, which formed an archipelago at the time. When ironwork was introduced to Finland around 500 BCE, it gave people access to materials that were far more versatile than materials used before. However, the climate grew colder at the beginning of the Iron Age, and it seems that human settlement in Espoo disappeared during the era. Only two discoveries from the time have been made in Espoo.
Palynological analyses indicate that agriculture was already practised in Espoo around the 11th century, but no historical records from the era survive. Until the late 13th century, Espoo was part of a borderland region between the Southwestern Finns and Tavastian Finns. Some artefacts found in Espoo have also been traced to ancient Savono-Karelian costumes, and the Late Iron Age and Early Medieval women in the area have had similar jewellery as in the region around present-day Mikkeli. Traces of early settlement in the area have remained in the place names, and most of the original villages in Espoo have been founded by Tavastians. By the 12th century at the latest, they inhabited the shores of Lake Pitkäjärvi and the areas of Kauklahti, Karvasmäki, Bemböle, Haapalahti and Finnevik.
After the Second Crusade to Finland colonists from Sweden established permanent agricultural settlements to Uusimaa. Espoo was a subdivision of the Kirkkonummi congregation until 1486–1487. The oldest known document referring to Kirkkonummi is from 1330; Espoo as a subchapter has been dated to the 1380s, although the first document directly referring to Espoo is from as late as 1431. The construction of the Espoo Cathedral, the oldest preserved building in Espoo, marks the independence of Espoo. Administratively, Espoo was a part of Uusimaa. When the province was split to Eastern and Western provinces governed from the Porvoo and Raasepori castles, respectively, the eastern border of the Raasepori province was in Espoo. The 13th-century road connecting the most important cities in Finland at that time, the King's Road, passes through Espoo on its way from Stockholm via Turku and Porvoo to Viipuri.
Early modern periodEdit
In 1556, King Gustav Vasa decided to stabilize and develop the region by founding a royal mansion in Espoo. The government bought the villages of Espåby and Mankby (Finnish: Mankki) and transferred the population elsewhere, and built the royal mansion in Espåby. (Mankby was eventually abandoned and was never repopulated.) The royal mansion housed the king's local plenipotentiary (vogt), and collected royal tax in kind paid by labour on the mansion's farm. The administrative centre Espoon keskus has grown around the church and the Espoo railway station, but the municipality has retained a network-like structure to the modern day.
Russian rule and early industrializationEdit
The Swedish rule in Finland came to an end in 1809, when the Kingdom of Sweden ceded all of its remaining territory in Finland to the Russian Empire after the Finnish War. When the city of Helsinki became the capital of the newly-established Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812, it brought novel developments to the neighbouring parish of Espoo. Many government officials as well as members of the growing merchant class bought summer houses from Espoo.
Throughout the 19th century, most of Espoo's inhabitants worked in agriculture. The population was around 4,000, while most of the people lived in over 60 small villages. Halfway through the century, almost 90% of the population spoke Swedish as their first language. The wealthy estates and mansions of the parish required maids, farmhands and tenant farmers as their workforce to raise cattle, farm crops and raise vegetables in the kitchen gardens. Fishing was also common in the coastal areas. The Glims farmstead in Karvasmäki has been preserved as a museum to present rural life in Espoo during this period when industrial development was still minute in Finland.
The rural community in Espoo began to change in the latter half of the 19th century. Some brickyards had already been built in the 18th century on the grounds of Espoonkartano manor, located in the western part of the present-day city, but it was not until the economic reforms of Emperor Alexander II that the Industrial Revolution started to gain momentum in Finland. As the Russo-Finnish trade legislation liberalized, new brickyards were established in Espoonlahti and Kauklahti, as the shores of Espoo Bay provided high-quality clay for their use. The bricks were mostly carried with steamboats to the neighbouring Helsinki, the growing capital city of the grand duchy.
The most prominent industrial facility in 19th century Espoo was the steam-powered Bastvik Sawmill, founded in 1876. In addition to the growing lumber and brick industries, a joiners' workshop was established on the island of Staffan in 1886. Staffan Island became a home for a highly skilled and renowned community of joiners, colloquially known as the "University of Espoo" or the "University of Soukka".
In 1920, Espoo was only a rural municipality of about 9,000 inhabitants, of whom 70% were Swedish speaking. Agriculture was the primary source of income, with 75% of the population making their living from farming. Kauniainen was separated from Espoo in 1920, and it gained city rights the same year as Espoo, in 1972.
Espoo started to grow rapidly in the 1940s and '50s. It quickly developed from a rural municipality into a fully-fledged industrial city, gaining city rights in 1972. Due to its proximity to Helsinki, Espoo soon became popular amongst people working in the capital. In the fifty years from 1950 to 2000, the population of Espoo grew from 22,000 to 210,000. Since 1945, the majority of people in Espoo have been Finnish-speaking. In 2006, the Swedish-speaking inhabitants represented barely 9% of the total population. The population growth is still continuing, but at a slower rate.
Espoo has an area of 528 square kilometres (203.9 sq mi)—312 square kilometres (120.5 sq mi) (59%) of land and 216 square kilometres (83.4 sq mi) (41%) of water. The highest point in Espoo is Velskola at 114.2 m
For a city of its size, Espoo is home to exceptionally large natural areas. The southern part of the city is characterized by maritime environment, including a varied coastline and an archipelago consisting of 165 islands.
Espoo is located in southern Finland, along the shore of the Gulf of Finland, and in the region of Uusimaa and the Helsinki sub-region. Prior to the abolition of Finnish provinces in 2009, Espoo was a part of the Southern Finland Province.
The city borders Helsinki, the Finnish capital, which is to the east. Other neighbouring municipalities are Vantaa to the east and northeast, Nurmijärvi to the north, Vihti to the northwest, and Kirkkonummi to the west and southwest. Espoo is a part of the Finnish Capital Region, which is the inner core of the Greater Helsinki metropolitan area.
Espoo is divided into seven major areas (Finnish: suuralueet, Swedish: storområden): Vanha-Espoo (with administrative center), Suur-Espoonlahti, Pohjois-Espoo, Suur-Kauklahti, Suur-Leppävaara, Suur-Matinkylä, and Suur-Tapiola. These major areas are then divided into a total of 56 districts.
Although Espoo is relatively highly populated, it has large amounts of the countryside and natural wilderness, particularly in the city's western and northern portions. The city has a total of 71 lakes, the largest of which are Lake Bodom, Nuuksion Pitkäjärvi, Vanhankylän Pitkäjärvi, Loojärvi, Velskolan Pitkäjärvi, Saarijärvi, Matalajärvi, Siikajärvi, and Lippajärvi. The city has a large coastline on the Gulf of Finland.
Espoo has six Natura 2000 protected areas: Bånberget forests, Espoonlahti–Saunalahti bay area (partially in Kirkkonummi), Laajalahti bay, Matalajärvi lake, Nuuksio National Park (partially in Kirkkonummi and Vihti), as well as forests in Vestra (partially in Vantaa).
Flora and faunaEdit
The city's Central Park's fauna represents a typical range of Finnish forest species. The most common flora in the Central Park includes Equisetum, ferns, Anemone, Lythrum and Orchidaceae. Common mammal species present in Espoo include the European hare and the mountain hare, the raccoon dog, the red squirrel, the elk, the red fox, bats, the European badger, as well as the roe deer and the white-tailed deer, which was introduced to Finland in the 1930s as a gift from Finnish American migrants.
The Suomenoja Bird Reserve in Finnoo, southern Espoo, is considered to be nationally significant for its bird diversity. Among others, there are endangered moorhens, as well as horned grebes and gadwalls. The most common and audible maritime bird species is the black-headed gull, but the whooper swan is also a common sight in the city's archipelago, where white-tailed eagles can be found as well.
The city is home to 73 vulnerable or endangered species, including the Siberian flying squirrel, whose Finnish populations have experienced a steep decline for many decades due to logging. The flying squirrel is considered to be the official animal of Espoo, and the squirrel populations are especially plentiful in the northernmost parts of the city. However, the flying squirrel is also present in some southern areas, including the Central Park, Soukka, Espoon keskus, Tapiola, Laajalahti, Hannusmetsä and Matinkylä.
|* = population prediction|
Source: Statistics Finland.
The population by citizenship in 2018 was 89.1% Finnish and 10.9% other nationalities. Religious affiliation was 53.6% Lutheran, 4.3% other, and 42.1% no religious affiliation.
Immigrants and languageEdit
The City of Espoo is officially bilingual. In 2020, the majority of the population, 75.1%, spoke Finnish as their first language, and 6.9% spoke Swedish. 18.0% of Espoo's population has a first language other than Finnish or Swedish.
|Population by mother tongue|
|Largest groups of foreign residents|
Espoo hosts a Museum of Modern Art called EMMA (Espoo Museum of Modern Art), built in a renovated old print house, the WeeGee house, named after an old book print company Weilin & Göös. The same building hosts also Finland's only Museum of Horology (Finnish: Kellomuseo, Swedish: Urmuseum) and a Toy Museum. Glims Farmstead Museum is also located in the city. The Espoo cultural centre, home of the world-renowned Tapiola Sinfonietta, where numerous concerts and theater performances are held, is located in Tapiola (Swedish: Hagalund).
Espoo has several old manors of which two are open to the general public. The most important is Espoon kartano (Swedish: Esbo gård, Espoo Manor), first mentioned in maps in 1495, and belonging to the noble Ramsay family since 1756. The current main building dates back to 1914, but a mill dates from the 1750s and Finland oldest walled stone bridge from 1777 is on the King's Road (Finnish: Kuninkaantie, Swedish: Kungsvägen) which passes by the manor. The main building can be rented for weddings and similar occasions. Guided tours are available on request for groups. The other manor open to public is Pakankylän kartano, located on the northern shore of Lake Bodom. The manor hosts a restaurant and club rooms, partly with original furniture open to the public, but meant originally to Kaisankoti sanatory and old people's home located on ground of the manor.
The Metal band Children of Bodom comes from Espoo, Finland. They are named after the unsolved murder known as the Lake Bodom murders which took place at the shore of Lake Bodom, a lake in northern Espoo, in 1960. The bands Norther and Kiuas also come from Espoo.
The educational department took part in Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 in Finland.
Espoo Blues was a successful hockey club; between 1998 and 2016 it iced a men's hockey team which played at the men's premier SM-liiga and a women's hockey team which played at the women's premier Naisten SM-sarja. The women's team, Espoo Blues Naiset, won 13 Finnish women's championships in the 18-year span (1998-2016), seven of them won consecutively. The men's and women's ice hockey teams were known as Kiekko-Espoo from 1984 to 1998 and 1990 to 1998 respectively.
In Spring 2016 Jääkiekko Espoo Oy, the organization which owned the clubs, declared bankruptcy. A new club called Espoo United was established to replace Espoo Blues. Espoo United's men's ice hockey team played at the second highest level Mestis. The Espoo United women's hockey team played at the highest level, Naisten Liiga, and won silver in the 2017 league championships. Espoo United was also active in basketball and the men's basketball team played at the second highest level; the women's basketball team played at the highest level, Naisten Korisliiga.
In August 2017, in what was described as an effort to stabilize the club's tenuous financial situation, Espoo United abandoned its women's teams in both ice hockey and basketball. Espoo United's former women's basketball team quickly acquired transfer to Tapiolan Honka but the women's ice hockey team was left in an unsustainable situation.
The Finnish Ice Hockey Association chose to intervene in September 2017 and created an organization that would allow the team to play under the name Espoo Blues until a better structure could be identified. In April 2018, despite the dumping of its women's teams, Espoo United declared bankruptcy and its men's teams folded.
In April 2019, the women's ice hockey team Espoo Blues merged with Kiekko Espoo Oy, a significant junior hockey club with the largest girls hockey program in the country, to become Kiekko-Espoo. At the time of the merger, the team was the winningest team in Naisten Liiga history with 14 Naisten Liiga championships and a combined 24 Naisten Liiga championship medals over 29 seasons.
FC Honka is the local professional football club. The men's team was promoted into the Finnish premier division (Veikkausliiga) for the first time in its history at the end of the 2005 season. They play their home matches at Tapiolan urheilupuisto.
Espoo also has two floorball teams playing at highest level Salibandyliiga. The two teams are Esport Oilers and Westend Indians.
Athletes from EspooEdit
Espoo is the birthplace of 2007 Formula One World Champion Kimi Räikkönen, former Dallas Stars forward Jere Lehtinen (three time NHL Selke Trophy winner), former Formula One driver JJ Lehto, professional downhill mountain biker Matti Lehikoinen, professional ten-pin bowling star Osku Palermaa and 2009 European Figure Skating Champion Laura Lepistö.
Parks and recreationEdit
The city's 880-hectare (2,200-acre) Central Park is located directly in the middle of the city, and it consists of natural forests, meadows, cliffs, wetlands as well as recreational routes. Central Park is the second-largest natural area in Espoo, after Nuuksio National Park, located in the northern part of the city. The park consists of two separate areas, Central Park I and II, approved by the City Council in 1996 and 2004, respectively.
Government and politicsEdit
Espoo's city council has 75 members. Following the municipal election of 2017 the council seats are allocated in the following way: National Coalition Party 26 seats, Greens 17, Social Democrats 10, True Finns 7, Swedish People's Party 6, Centre Party 3, Left Alliance 3, Christian Democrats 2 and Liberal Party 1.
Nationally, Espoo is a part of the constituency of Uusimaa. Support for the centre-right politics, especially the National Coalition Party, is traditionally high in Espoo. Results of the 2019 Finnish parliamentary election in Espoo:
- National Coalition Party 31.0%
- Green League 18.0%
- Social Democratic Party 13.0%
- Finns Party 11.5%
- Swedish People's Party 7.7%
- Movement Now 4.1%
- Centre Party 4.0%
- Left Alliance 3.5%
- Christian Democrats 2.7%
- Blue Reform 1.7%
Espoo is the home for the former Finns Party chairman Timo Soini.
Espoo is well-served by public transport, through the Helsinki commuter rail network, the Helsinki Metro's Länsimetro extension opened in November 2017, and buses provided by Helsingin seudun liikenne. In 2024 the orbital Jokeri light rail line will connect Espoo to eastern Helsinki.
- Susan Aho (born 1974), singer and member of the band Värttinä
- Peter Ahola (born 1968), former NHL player for the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, and others
- Eero Ettala (born 1984), snowboarder
- Kirsi Heikkinen (born 1978), football referee
- Krista Kosonen (born 1983), actress
- Alexi Laiho (1979–2020), guitarist and vocalist, co-founder of the metal band Children of Bodom
- Jere Lehtinen (born 1973), ice hockey player
- JJ Lehto (born 1966), racing driver
- Laura Lepistö (born 1988), figure skater
- Kimi Räikkönen (born 1979), racing driver and Formula One World Champion
- Joonas Suotamo (born 1986), actor in the Star Wars series and a former professional basketball player
- Gösta Sundqvist (1957–2003), bandleader of Leevi and the Leavings
- Osku Palermaa, (born 1983), ten-pin bowler
- Mirel Wagner, (born 1987), singer
- Miro Heiskanen (born 1999), ice hockey player
- The UN's Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, signed in Espoo 1991 (text of Convention)
- Districts of Espoo
- Espoo Metro Areena
- Iso Omena
- Lake Bodom
- Postipuu School
- Ring II
- Sello mall shooting
- Westend, Espoo
- List of European regions by GDP
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- "Central Park – green urban oasis". City of Espoo. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
- Mansikka, Heli. "Suomi sai Amerikan lahjaksi 7 valkohäntäpeuraa, ne vapautettiin luontoon ja nyt niitä on 100 000 – laukonpeurojen historia on kiehtova tarina isänmaanrakkaudesta". Yle (in Finnish). Retrieved 3 April 2021.
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- Lempinen, Marko (28 April 2016). "Nyt se on varmaa: Jussi Salonoja perusti uuden seuran – "Lähetän hakupaperit tänään"" [Now it is certain: Jussi Salonoja founded a new club - "I'm submitting league admittance papers today"]. Ilta-Sanomat (in Finnish). Retrieved 15 July 2019.
- Oivio, Janne; Lempinen, Marko (15 August 2017). "Jussi Salonojalta raju ratkaisu: Espoo United hylkää naisjoukkueet" [Jussi Salonoja's drastic solution: Espoo United to abandon women's teams]. Ilta-Sanomat (in Finnish). Retrieved 15 July 2019.
- Foster, Meredith (17 August 2017). "Espoo United women's team folds one month before puck drop". The Ice Garden. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
- Foster, Meredith (4 September 2017). "Blue Monday: Blues Espoo join Naisten Liiga". The Ice Garden. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
- "Espoo Unitedin konkurssista tuli virallista" [Espoo United's bankruptcy becomes official]. Ilta-Sanomat (in Finnish). 4 May 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
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- Espoon kaupungin taskutilasto 2007, issued by the City of Espoo, 2007
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Espoo.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Espoo.|
- 1952 Summer Olympics official report. p. 50.
- City of Espoo – Official website (in Finnish)
- City of Espoo (Esbo) – Official website (in Swedish)
- City of Espoo – Official website (in English)
- Visit Espoo Espoo for travellers (in Finnish, Swedish, and English)
- Aalto University – Official website (in Finnish, Swedish, and English)
- Helsinki.fi – Helsinki region in a nutshell (in Finnish, Swedish, and English)