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Gävle ['jɛ:vlə] is a city, the seat of Gävle Municipalitymarker and the capital of Gävleborg Countymarker in Swedenmarker. It has 68,700 inhabitants in 2005. It is the oldest city in the historical Norrland (Sweden's Northern lands), as it received its charter in 1446 by Christopher of Bavaria.


It is believed that the name Gävle stems from the word gavel, meaning river banks in old Swedish, by the river Gavleån. The oldest settlement was called Gavle-ägarna in Swedish, which means Gavel-owners. This name was eventually shortened to Gavle, then Gefle, and finally Gävle.

For a long time Gävle consisted solely of small, low, turf or shingle roofed, wooden buildings. Boat-houses lined the banks of Gavleån, Lillån, and Islandsån. Until the 1700s the town was built, as was the practice then, around the three most important buildings; the church, the regional palace, and the town hall.

Over the last 300 years Gävle has been ablaze on three different occasions. After the fire of 1776 the town was transformed to straight streets and rectangular city blocks. The number of stone and brick houses also started to increase.The biggest town fire occurred 1869 when out of a population of around 10,000 approximately 8,000 inhabitants lost their homes, and about 350 farms were destroyed. Almost the whole town north of Gavleån was burnt down. All the buildings south of Gavleån were saved. An area of the old town between the museum and the library has been preserved to this day as a reserve - Gamla Gefle.

After the catastrophe of the fire Gävle developed its characteristic grid plan with large esplanades and green areas. It is now a green town with wide avenues. Stopping the spread of future town fires was the main idea behind this development.

An extensive redevelopment of the central town area was started during the 1950s. Around 1970 Gävle became a large urban district when it was united with the nearby municipalities of Valbomarker, Hamrånge, Hedesundamarker, and Hille. New suburbs like Stigslund, Sätramarker, Andersberg, and Bomhus have grown up around the central town.

Gävle goat

The Gävle Goat.
The history of the Gävle goatmarker began in 1966. Stig Gavlén came up with the idea of making a giant version of the traditional Swedish Christmas goat of straw and placing it on Slottstorget Square in central Gävle. On 1 December the 13-metre tall, 7-metre long, 3 tonne goat was erected on the square. At midnight on New Year's Eve, the goat went up in flames. The goat has since had a history of being burnt almost every year, 2005 being the 22nd time. it was burnt. Burning the goat is an illegal act and not welcomed by most citizens of Gävle, but undoubtedly this is what has made the goat famous. In 2006 the goat was covered in a flame resistant coating to prevent arson, enabling the goat to remain standing throughout that winter.


Gävle is situated by the Baltic Seamarker near the mouth of the river Dalälvenmarker. At 60 degrees north and 17 degrees east, Gävle has the same latitude as Helsinkimarker and the same longitude as Viennamarker and Cape Townmarker.

Gävle has a similar climate to the rest of central Swedenmarker with an average temperature of −5 °C (21 °F) in January and +17 °C (63 °F) in July.Yearly rainfall is around 600 mm (24 in).


Gävle Industry

Trade from the port of Gävle increased markedly during the 1400s when copper and iron began to be exported from the port. In order to ensure that all trade was via Stockholmmarker, sailing to foreign ports from Gävle and a few other ports was forbidden.

During the 1500s, Gävle was one of the most important port and merchant towns with many shipping companies and shipyards.

In 1787 Gävle was awarded "free and unrestricted sailing rights" to and from foreign ports. This led to an increase in trade, which in turn lead to an increase in buildings, industrial developments, trade and shipping.

Today there are few shipping companies or shipyards left, but an important port remains. It has over 1000 ships calling per annum and is among the top ten common ports in Sweden.

Major companies


The University College of Gävle currently enrolls 12,500 students. It offers courses of study at six departments: Business Administration, Education and Psychology, Caring Sciences and Sociology, Humanities and Social Sciences, Mathematics, Natural and Computer Sciences and Technology, and Built Environment.

Some courses are given in English taught both to visiting students from foreign partner institutions and to Swedish students.

Miscellaneous topics

Gävle is mostly known for the coffee called Gevalia, exported under the brand-name Maxwell House, produced by Kraft General Foods Scandinavia (Gevalia is the Latin name for Gävle), its Gävle goatmarker, the Läkerol throat lozenges and car-shaped sweets Ahlgrens Bilar, its ice hockey team Brynäs IF.Due to large forest and pulp industries, many people perceive Gävle to often smell bad.

Notable residents


Gävle has teams competing in the highest national league in both football (Gefle IF) and ice hockey (Brynäs IF). The town is also home to a wrestling team called BK Loke.


Gävle is a hometown of young progressive rock band Beardfish that released 5 albums and signed to German label InsideOut Records.

Town twinning

Gävle's town twins are:


Mackmyra, a suburb of Gävle, is home to Mackmyra Whisky, the only whisky distillery in Swedenmarker. Malt whisky has been produced there since 1999.

See also


External links

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