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Turku ( ; ) is a city situated on the southwest coast of Finlandmarker at the mouth of Aura Rivermarker. It is located in the region of Finland Propermarker in the Province of Western Finlandmarker. It is believed that Turku came into existence during the end of 13th century which makes it the oldest city in Finland. Turku was for a long time the most important population center in Finland: it was the first capital city of Finland from 1809 to 1812 and continued to be the largest city by population in Finland until the end of the 1840s. Nowadays its significance nationwide is not the same as it used to be, but Turku is still a regional capital and important location for business and culture.

Because of its long history it has been the site of many important historical events and has extensively influenced Finnish history. During the year 2011 Turku has been designated to be the European Capital of Culture together with Tallinnmarker, the capital city of Estoniamarker. In 1996 it was declared the official Christmas City of Finland.

Due to its location, Turku is a notable commercial and passenger seaport city with over three million passengers travelling through Port of Turkumarker each year to Stockholmmarker and Mariehamnmarker.

As of Turku’s population was , which makes it the fifth largest city in Finland by population. As of 31 August 2008 there were 303,492 inhabitants living in the Turku sub-region, which makes it the third largest urban area in Finland after the Greater Helsinki area and Tamperemarker sub-region. The city is officially bilingual as percent of its population identify as speaking Swedish as a mother-tongue.


Turku has a long history as Finland's largest city and occasionally as the administrative center of the country, but has, over the last two centuries, lost both titles to Helsinkimarker. To this day, the city's identity stems from its status as the oldest city in Finland and the country's first capital. Originally, the word "Finland" referred only to the area around Turku (hence the title, "Finland Propermarker" for the region).
Cathedral of Turku, 1814.
Although archaeological findings in the area date back to the Stone Age, the town of Turku was founded in late 13th century. Its name originated from an Old East Slavic word, tǔrgǔ, meaning "market place". The Cathedral of Turkumarker was consecrated in 1300, and together with Turku Castlemarker and the Dominican monastery (founded in 1249), established the city as the most important location in medieval Finland.

During the Middle Ages, Turku was the seat of the Bishop of Turku (a title later upgraded to Archbishop of Turku), covering the then eastern half of Kingdom of Sweden (most of the present-day Finland) until the 17th century. Even if Turku had no official capital status, both the short-lived institutions of Dukes and Governors-General of Finland usually had their Finnish residences there. In 1640, the first university in Finland, The Royal Academy of Turku, was founded in Turku. Turku was also the meeting place for the States of Finland in 1676.

After the Finnish War, which ended when Swedenmarker ceded Finland to Imperial Russiamarker at the Treaty of Fredrikshamn in 1809, Turku became briefly the official capital, but soon lost the status to Helsinki, as Emperor Alexander I felt that Turku was too far from Russia and too aligned with Sweden to serve as the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland. The change officially took place in 1812. The government offices that remained in Turku were finally moved to the new capital after the Great Fire of Turku, which almost completely destroyed the city in 1827. After the fire, a new and safer city plan was drawn up by Germanmarker architect Carl Ludvig Engel, who had also designed the new capital, Helsinki. Turku remained the largest city in Finland for another twenty years.

In 1918, a new university, the Åbo Akademimarker – the only Swedish language university in Finland – was founded in Turku. Two years later, the Finnish language University of Turkumarker was founded alongside it. These two universities are the second and third to be founded in Finland, both by private donations.

In the 20th century Turku was called "Finland's gateway to the West" by historians such as Jarmo Virmavirta. The city enjoyed good connections with other Western European countries and cities, especially since the 1940s with Stockholmmarker across the Gulf of Bothniamarker. In the 1960s, Turku became the first Western city to sign a twinning agreement with Leningradmarker in the Soviet Unionmarker, leading to greater inter-cultural exchange and providing a new meaning to the city's 'gateway' function. After the fall of Communism in Russiamarker, many prominent Soviets came to Turku to study Western business practices , among them Vladimir Putin, then Leningrad's deputy mayor .

In the 1960s and 1970s, Turku displayed unprecedented rates of growth , resulting in the construction of many new densely-inhabited suburbs such as Varissuomarker and Runosmäkimarker, and the annexation of many neighbouring municipalities (e.g., Maariamarker and Paattinenmarker). Many old quarters were completely destroyed in the process, replacing them with more efficient and faster-built concrete buildings. The city's growth has led to problems with unemployment in the new populous suburbs on the one hand, and with the provision of public services (such as education) in more remote parts on the other.


Located at the mouth of the Aura rivermarker in the southwestern corner of Finland, Turku covers an area of 245 km² (94 sq mi) of land, spread over both banks of the river. The eastern side, where the Cathedral of Turku is located, is popularly referred to as täl pual jokke ("this side of the river"), while the western side is referred to as tois pual jokke ("the other side of the river"). The city centre is located close to the river mouth, on both sides of the river, though development has recently been expanding westward.

There are nine bridges over the Aura river in Turku. The first bridge in the city area, nowadays known as Pennisilta, was built in 1414, and has since been demolished. The oldest of the current bridges is Auransilta, which was constructed in 1904. The newest bridge is Teatterisilta ('theatre bridge'), a pedestrian-only bridge built in 1997. One of the best-known landmarks of Turku is the Föri, a small ferry that transports pedestrians and bicycles across the river without payment.

With a population of approximately 300,000 , the Turku Region (LAU 1) is the third largest urban region in Finland, after Greater Helsinki and the area around Tamperemarker. The region includes, in addition to the city itself the following municipalities: Askainenmarker, Kaarinamarker, Lemumarker, Lietomarker, Maskumarker, Merimaskumarker, Mynämäkimarker, Naantalimarker, Nousiainenmarker, Paimiomarker, Piikkiömarker, Raisiomarker, Ruskomarker, Rymättylämarker, Sauvomarker, Vahtomarker, and Velkuamarker.

A more exclusive definition for the urban area is the city region of Turku with a population around 235,000 consisting of four major municipalities Kaarina, Raisio, Naantali and Turku.


The city is divided into 78 districts and nine wards that do not function as local government units. There are, however, some projects that are based on the district divisions, particularly in the eastern part of the city, where unemployment is rife in certain areas. The largest populated districts are Varissuo and Runosmäki. By area, however, Kakskertamarker and Paattinenmarker, formed from former municipalities that were annexed to the city proper in the mid-20th century, constitute the largest districts.

As many of the small neighbouring municipalities from the north and south of the city were annexed during the mid-20th century, Turku is today shaped like an elongated pear. The city centre and most of the suburban areas lie in the middle, separated from the less densely populated northern rural areas by the Turku bypass, that forms part of European route E18. Islands such as Ruissalomarker, Hirvensalomarker and Kakskertamarker, forming the southern part of the city, are also sparsely populated and mostly contain summer residences, with the exception of some districts in Hirvensalo which are currently growing into upper-middle-class suburbs.


Situated by the Baltic Seamarker and sheltered by the islands of the Archipelago Seamarker, Turku has a hemiboreal climate. Like much of southern Finland, the city experiences warm summers, with temperatures ranging up to 30 °C (86 °F), and relatively cold winters with frequent snowfall. The warmest month of the year is July, with an average temperature of 17 °C (62 °F), whereas the coldest month is February. The average year-round temperature is 5 °C (41 °F). Winter usually starts in early December, and spring in late March.

Precipitation in Turku averages 698 mm (27 inches) a year. The rainiest month of the year is August, when the city receives on average 79 mm (3.1 inches) of rainfall. In May, the driest month of the year, the figure is only 35 mm (1.4 inches). The average air pressure at sea level is 1012 millibars, with little variance throughout the year.

Operational since 1955, the city's weather station is located at an altitude of 47 metres (154 feet) at Turku Airportmarker.

Climate averages in Turku:

Government and politics

The Court of Appeal and Academy House of Turku.
Being both a regional and provincial capital, Turku is an important administrative centre, hosting the seat of the Archbishop of Finland and a Court of Appeal. Mikko Pukkinen, the former city manager of Seinäjokimarker, has been the city manager of Turku since 2006.

The city council and city board have long been dominated by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus), with approximately equal representation. Currently, the council has 67 members, with 20 from Kokoomus and 15 from SDP. The other major parties in the council are the Green League (11 seats), the Left Alliance (10 seats) and the Swedish People's Party (4 seats). The current chair of the city board is Aleksi Randell from Kokoomus.


For a city of its size, Turku has a moderate public transportation network of bus routes, which is comparable to bus network of similar-sized Tamperemarker. The bus network is managed and supervised by the City of Turku Public Transport Office, and is operated mainly by private companies. Regional buses are operated by private companies, most importantly TLO, with very frequent services especially to the neighbouring cities of Naantali, Raisio, and Kaarina.

Rail traffic to and from Turku is handled by the Finnish national carrier, VR. As with most other Finnish cities, railways were an important method of transportation in the first half of the 20th century, but have since seen a sharp fall in popularity. As a result, the number of services has fallen and only the railways towards Tampere and Helsinki are now in use. The railway stations currently used for passenger traffic are the Turku Central railway stationmarker in Pohjolamarker, and two smaller stations in Kupittaa and the Port of Turkumarker.

There is no local rail traffic at the moment, as the city's popular tram services were discontinued in 1972, and the various local railway lines to neighbouring towns and municipalities were all abolished during the late 20th century. However, there are plans for a light rail system in the Turku region in the near future. This system would more ably serve major suburbs of the city such as Varissuo and Runosmäki, as well as the neighbouring cities.

Bus network use today has become highly uneconomical and the ticket prices have been raised repeatedly. Growing expenses and worsening traffic problems are main issues that have put trams back under consideration as well as bus lanes. The State of Finland has announced plans to support Espoomarker with 30 % of full expenses on a new metro rail, the Regional Council of Southwest Finland is going to use this as a test case for a new light rail network in Turku.:

The Turku Bus Station and the Turku Central Railway Stationmarker are currently located in different places. The City of Turku is planning to combine these two in a new greater station complex in the near future. This new travel center will consist of a hotel and several shopping estates. This center will connect all public transportation from commuter trains to long distance buses.

Turku Airportmarker is located eight kilometres to the north of the city centre, partly in the neighbouring municipality of Ruskomarker.

There are also daily ferry services from the Port of Turkumarker to Sweden and Ålandmarker, operated by Silja Line, Viking Line and SeaWind Line. These are something of a Finnish cultural tradition (see ruotsinlaiva), and people often travel long distances across Finland to Turku just to take a cruise across the Gulf of Bothnia.

The archipelago seamarker boat traffic is handled by, among others, S/S Ukkopekka. Old steamship cruise Turku-Naantalimarker-Turku.

Turku is the only city in Finland to have three long-distance railway stations: Turku Centralmarker, Port of Turkumarker, and Kupittaamarker. Even Helsinki has only two: Helsinki Centralmarker and Pasilamarker.


At the end of 2004 the Turku region (including the economic districts of Turku and Åboland) had a population of 319,632, out of which 174,824 people lived in the city of Turku. The city's population density is 718 inhabitants per square kilometre.

89.4 % of Turku's population speak Finnish as their native language, while 5.2 % speak Swedish. The next most widely spoken languages are Russian (1.3 %), Arabic (0.6 %), Albanian (0.5 %), and Kurdish (0.4 %). 95.8 % of the population are Finnish citizens, and the most sizeable minorities are from Russiamarker, Estoniamarker, Iraqmarker, and Iranmarker. Like all other Finnish cities, Turku does not collect information about the ethnic and religious makeup of its population.

Famous people from the city of Turku include Paavo Nurmi, Mauno Koivisto, Herman Spöring, Miikka Kiprusoff and brothers, Saku and Mikko Koivu. On October 30, 2008, the Koivu brothers became the first NHL brothers to face other as captains. The Turku region has also brought forth many prominent personalities, including the marshal, Carl Gustaf Mannerheim.


Business district in The city's economy is centred around the Port of Turku and other service-oriented industries. The city is also a renowned high-tech centre – the Turku Science Park area in Kupittaa hosts over 300 companies from the fields of biotechnology and information technology, as well as several institutions of higher learning that work in closely with the business sector. This cooperative element is seen as a particularly important factor with regards to the city's expected future economic development, as outlined in the Turku Strategy that is published annually by the city council. Turku, with its good transportation network and close proximity to the Archipelago Seamarker, is also an important centre for tourism, frequently hosting various conventions and exhibitions.

As of 2007, the city's unemployment rate is 9.4 %. The problem of unemployment is however troublesome in the districts of Pansiomarker, Laustemarker, and Varissuo, where it hovers at around 16 %.

The city collects an 18 per cent income tax (council tax) from its inhabitants, in addition to the progressively graduated taxation practised by the Finnish state. The total amount received through council tax in 2004 was projected at €400 million, a reduction of 1.0 per cent from the previous year. Taxes collected from corporations amounted to €39 million in 2004.


Turku has a longer educational history than any other Finnish city – the first school in the city, the Cathedral School, was founded along with the Cathedral of Turku in the late 13th century. The first university in Finland, the "The Royal Academy of Turku" (now University of Helsinkimarker), was established in the city in 1640. In 1820, the first school in Finland conforming to the Bell-Lancaster method was founded in Turku with the aim of making primary education more inclusive to the lower classes.

Turku is home to about 35,000 higher education students. The University of Turkumarker is the second largest university in Finland (18,000 students), as measured by student enrollment, and one of the oldest as well, having been founded in 1920. Turku is also home to several other establishments of higher education, namely Åbo Akademimarker founded 1918, Finland's only Swedish-language university, Turun kauppakorkeakoulu (Turku School of Economicsmarker), and Turun ammattikorkeakoulu (Turku University of Applied Sciencesmarker) which is second largest polytechnic in Finland after Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.

The central hospital of Turku, Turku University Hospitalmarker, is affiliated with the University and it is used as a teaching hospital.

Turku is one of only two cities in Finland to have an established international school (the other city being Helsinki). Turku International School, located in the eastern district of Varissuomarker, has been operating since 2003. By an agreement signed between the city of Turku and the University of Turkumarker, Turun normaalikoulumarker takes care of the teaching in the international school.


Main library of Turku
The most widely read newspaper of Turku, and the area around it, is the daily regional morning newspaper Turun Sanomat, with a readership of over 70 % of the population every day. Åbo Underrättelser, a Swedish language newspaper published in Turku, is the oldest newspaper in Finland, having been published since 1824. The free-of-charge Turkulainen newspaper is also among the most popular newspapers, together with the local edition of Metro International and the national evening tabloid Ilta-Sanomat. There are also a number of local newspapers such as Kulmakunta (for the eastern suburbs of Turku, including Varissuo and Lauste), and Rannikkoseutu (for the area around the neighbouring cities of Raisio and Naantali).

The newspaper, Turun Sanomat, also operates a regional television station, called Turku TV. The Finnish national broadcaster, Yleisradio, screens local news, daily from Monday to Friday, for the Southwest Finland (including the regions of Finland Propermarker and Satakuntamarker) residents. All Finnish national TV channels are viewable and national radio channels audible in the Turku area. In addition, a number of local radio stations, eg Auran Aallot and Radio Sata are operational.


Cultural venues in Turku include several theatres, cinemas, and art galleries, and a city philharmonic orchestra. The city's cultural centre organises a number of regular events, most notably the Medieval Market in July each year. Turku is also the official Christmas city of Finland, and 'Christmas Peace' in Finland is declared on every 24 December from the Brinkkala Hall balcony. The Turku Music Festival and the rock festival Ruisrock (held on the island of Ruissalomarker) are among the oldest of its kind in Scandinavia. The city also hosts another rock festival, Down by the Laituri, and one of the largest electronic music festivals in Northern Europe, UMF (Uuden Musiikin Festivaali, "New Music Festival"), in addition to a vibrant nightlife, centred around the Market Square.

There are also numerous museums, such as the Turku Art Museum and the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Artmarker. The Åbo Akademi University maintains the Sibelius museum, which is the only museum in Finland specialising in the field of music. Apart from these, there are also several historical museums that display the city's medieval period, such as the Turku Castlemarker, which has been a functional historical museum since 1881, and the Aboa Vetusmarker museum, built in the late 1990s over the 14th century archaeological site. The Luostarinmäkimarker handicrafts museum, converted from residential buildings that survived the Great Fire of Turku in 1827, was the first Scandinavian venue to receive the "Golden Apple" tourism award.

Turku is going to be European Capital of Culture in 2011, and the city council has approved numerous projects to boost the city's image in preparation for that status.

The Declaration of Christmas Peace has been a tradition in Finland from the Middle Ages every year, except in 1939 due to the Winter War. The declaration takes place on the Old Great Square of Turku, Finland's official 'Christmas City', at noon on Christmas Eve. The declaration ceremony begins with the hymn Jumala ompi linnamme (Martin Luther's Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott) and continues with the Declaration of Christmas Peace read from a parchment roll in Finnish and Swedish.


Football is the most popular sport in Turku. The city has two teams in the Veikkausliiga: FC Inter and TPS. Both teams play their home matches at the modern Veritas Stadionmarker in the district of Kupittaa.

Ice hockey is very popular sport in Turku. The local club TPS (which is part of the same organisation as the football team) plays in the sport's top level in Finland, the SM-liiga. It is based at Turkuhallimarker to the southwest of the city centre. TPS has won the Finnish ice hockey championship ten times. The city's other major ice hockey team is TuTo, which play at the country's second level. A new ice hockey arena was constructed for Tuto in the Kupittaa park in 2006.

The Paavo Nurmi Marathon is an annual sporting event in Turku, named after the world-famous runner Paavo Nurmi who was born and raised in the city.

Turku has also been the site of sporting history, as on June 21, 1954 it was in Turku where the Australian John Landy became the second person to run the mile under four minutes.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Turku is twinned with:

Turku has co-operation agreements with the following cities:


File:Turku Castle.jpg|The medieval keep of Turku Castle as seen from the harbour side.File:Turku Museum of Art.jpg|Turku Museum of Art is a classical example of Romantic nationalism in architecture.File:Turun apteekkimuseo.jpg|Pharmacy museum.File:Turun hovioikeus.jpg|The Court of Appeal.File:Turun käsityöläismuseo.jpg|Luostarinmäki handicraft museum.File:St Michael's Church, Turku.jpg|Michael's ChurchmarkerFile:Martin kirkko, seen from north.jpg|Martin's ChurchmarkerFile:Länsiranta, ilta.jpg|Western side of Aura river in central Turku.File:Turku orthodox church.jpg|Turku orthodox church stands next to the main Market Square.File:Brinkhallin kartano.jpg|Brinkhall Manor in Kakskertamarker island.File:Kakskerran kirkko.jpg|Church of Kakskerta.File:Turku Samppalinna.jpg|Old Mill in Samppalinna.

See also


  • The city's official website at
  • The website of the tourist organisation Turku TouRing at
  • Turku from the Finnish-language Wikipedia. Retrieved 11 August 2005.
  • Kuntaliitto (2005). Aluetietopankki. Retrieved 13 January 2006.
  • Turun kaupungin viestintäkeskus (2005). Kunnalliskertomus 2004. Retrieved 11 August 2005.
  • Turun kaupunki (2005). Turun kaupungin tilastollinen vuosikirja. Retrieved 11 August 2005.
  • Turun kaupunginvaltuusto (2004). Talousarvio 2005. Retrieved 21 August 2005.
  • Turun Sanomat (2004). Tutkimus: lehtien lukijapeitot. Retrieved 21 August 2005.
  • Anttonen, Martti (ed) (1992). Täällä Suomen synnyinmuistot. Jyväskylä: Varsinais-Suomen maakuntaliitto.
  • Knuuti, Heikki et al. (1986). Kotikaupunkini Suomen Turku. Keuruu: Otava Publishing.
  • Virmavirta, Jarmo (2004). Finland's City of Turku. Keuruu: Otava Publishing.
  • Turku at EuroWeather.
  • Turun kaupunki (2007). Muutoksen suunnat 3/2007. Retrieved 27 September 2007.


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