Helsinki is located on the Gulf of Finland in the southern region of Finland. It is the capital of Finland and covers an area of two hundred and seventy-six square miles and has a population of over five hundred and eighty thousand people. Ten percent of the total population is not native to the city and has been born in other regions of the world. This city is also the educational capital of Finland with six technology parks and eight universities being located in the city. It is also the financial capital of Finland and contains over seventy percent of the foreign based companies operating in the country. Over the recent years, Helsinki has experienced a surge in population as residents of rural Finland have relocated to the city.
The original name of Helsinki is Helsingfors and is a name that is still frequently used by Scandinavian speaking people. This name originated from the name of the adjacent parish in the area. Natives of Helsinki call the city by the colloquialism “Stadi”, a word that means ‘city’ in Swedish. The city of Helsinki was established in 1550 by the Swedish King Gustav I as the city of Helsingfors. There is very little information on life in the city, but it is known that is was constantly under siege by cruel poverty, war and multiple plagues. One particularly nasty plague struck the city in 1710 and killed two thirds of the residents. This town would remain a town of little fame until Russia annexed it after they defeated Sweden in the Finnish War.
During the nineteenth century several changes were made that helped Helsinki develop into a major city. One of these was the relocation of the Russian Tsar Alexander I of Russia from the capital of Turku to the city. Another important development was the relocation of The Royal Academy of Turku to Helsinki in 1827. The Royal Academy of Turku would eventually evolve into the University of Helsinki. These two events helped to solidify Helsinki’s role and also set it on a path of nonstop growth. It also imparted a Russian influence on the city which can be seen prominently in the downtown area. Helsinki would continue to develop economically during the twentieth century and went through a period of urbanization that made it one of the fastest growing cities in Europe during the last decade of the century. Today, Helsinki generates around a third of Finland’s total Gross Domestic Product. Per capita, the Gross Domestic Product of the city is approximately one and a half times Finland’s national average. This makes Helsinki one of the wealthiest cities in Europe.
The educational needs of Helsinki are serviced by about two hundred comprehensive schools, forty secondary schools, fifteen vocational schools,eight universities and four polytechnics. The universities in the city are the University of Helsinki, Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics, Hanken School of Economics, Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy, Theatre Academy and University of Art and Design. The four polytechnics in the city include the Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and Helsinki Polytechnic Arcada.
Helsinki is a culturally diverse city that has many attractions available to visitors. It is brimming with restaurants, museums, hotels and other attractions. One of the most prominent attractions in the city is Helsinki’s Suomenlinna Fortress. Suomenlinna Fortress was built by Swedish Royalty in 1748 as a means to curb Russian hostility and expansion. In 1973, the fortress was turned over to civil authorities and today its been listed as a World Heritage Site. Located on the island is several art studios and museums, one of which is the Finnish submarine Vesikko. The Vesikko is a submarine that was built in 1933 and used during World War II. The submarine was decommissioned after the war and serves now as a part of the Military Museum of Finland. The Military Museum of Finland was constructed in 1929 and contains over two hundred thousand military artifacts. Some of the artifacts located here include machine guns, artillery, cannons and even a tank. Helsinki is also home to the National Museum of Finland. This museum was constructed in 1910 and is divided into six sections. The museum contains an extensive collection of coins, medals, silver, weapons and jewelry.
A popular attraction in Helsinki is the Linnanmaki Amusement Park. This amusement park was constructed in 1950 by several Finnish child welfare organizations. Over a million people visit here every year and its full of many restaurants, shops, cafes and rides. Some of the features of this park include trains, water rides, bumper cars, coasters, Ferris wheels and carousels. There is also a children’s museum, fun house, hall of mirrors, a viking boat ride and a pirate ship ride.
Another prominent attraction in the city is Hietaniemi beach. Hietaniemi beach was originally used as sand storage during the early parts of the twentieth century but the sand was never used. So, the locals adopted the area as a beach. Its close proximity to the city has made it a popular attraction for tourist and residents alike, especially during the summer months. Another beach in the area can be found at Pihlajasaari Island. This island has camping grounds, a nude beach and even a restaurant.
The Finnish National Theatre was established in 1872 and is located to the north of Helsinki Central Railway Station Square. It is the oldest theater in the world thats still in operation and performances are given here in Finnish. In front of the museum is the statue of Finnish writer Aleksis Kivi. The city also has two other theaters, the Helsinki City Theatre and the Svenska Teatern (also known as the Swedish Theater). Lovers of the musical arts can also pay a visit to the Finnish National Opera. This opera house is located on Toolonlahti Bay and was established in 1993. It has two auditoriums, the main auditorium and a smaller one. The main one can seat over thirteen hundred patrons and the smaller one can seat five hundred people.