Location of Oulu in Finland
|• City manager||Päivi Laajala|
|• City||3,817.52 km2 (1,473.95 sq mi)|
|• Land||1,410.17 km2 (544.47 sq mi)|
|• Water||103.2 km2 (39.8 sq mi)|
|• Urban||187.1 km2 (72.2 sq mi)|
|Area rank||17th largest in Finland|
|• Rank||5th largest in Finland|
|• Density||143.78/km2 (372.4/sq mi)|
|• Urban density||915.8/km2 (2,372/sq mi)|
|Population by native language|
|• Finnish||97.3% (official)|
|Population by age|
|• 0 to 14||17%|
|• 15 to 64||70.5%|
|• 65 or older||12.5%|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
|Municipal tax rate||19%|
Oulu (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈowlu] (listen); Swedish: Uleåborg [ʉːle.ɔˈbɔrj]) is a city and municipality of 202,753 inhabitants (31 August 2018) in the region of North Ostrobothnia, Finland. It is the most populous city in Northern Finland and the fifth most populous city in the country. There are no larger cities in the world, apart from Murmansk Russia, that are more northerly than Oulu. It is also considered one of Europe's "living labs", where residents experiment with new technology (such as NFC tags and ubi-screens) at a community-wide scale.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Culture
- 6 Sights
- 7 Education
- 8 Transport
- 9 Employment
- 10 Sports
- 11 Notable people from Oulu
- 12 International relations
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
The city is named after the river Oulujoki, which originates in the lake Oulujärvi. There have been a number of other theories for the origin of the name Oulu. One possible source for the name Oulu is a word in the Sami language meaning 'flood water', but there are other suggestions. At minimum, the structure of the word requires that, if originally given by speakers of a Uralic language, the name must be a derivative. In all likelihood, it also predates Finnish settlement and is thus a loanword from one of the now-extinct Saami languages once spoken in the area.
The most probable theory is that the name derives from the Finnish dialectal word oulu, meaning "floodwater", which is related to e.g. Southern Sami åulo, meaning "melted snow", åulot meaning "thaw" (of unknown ultimate origin). Two other word families have also been speculated to be related. The first is seen in the Northern Savo dialectal word uula and its Sami counterpart oalli, both meaning "river channel". The second is the Uralic root reconstructed as *uwa, meaning "river bed" (reflected as vuo in modern Finnish, also in derivatives such as vuolas "heavy-flowing"). To either of these roots, some Sami variety would have to be assumed having added further derivational suffixes.
Oulu was founded on 8 April 1605 by King Charles IX of Sweden, opposite the fort built on the island of Linnansaari. This took place after favourable peace settlements with Russia, which removed the threat of attack via the main east-west waterway, the river Oulu. The surrounding areas were populated much earlier. Oulu is situated by the Gulf of Bothnia, at the mouth of river Oulujoki, which is an ancient trading site. Oulu was the capital of the Province of Oulu from 1776 to 2009.
In 1822, a major fire destroyed much of the city. The architect Carl Ludvig Engel, chiefly known for the neoclassical (empire style) buildings around Helsinki Senate Square, was enlisted to provide the plan for the rebuilding of the city. With minor changes, this plan remains the basis for the layout of Oulu's town center. The Oulu Cathedral was built in 1832 to his designs, with the spire being finished in 1844. During the Crimean War, Oulu's harbour was raided by the British fleet, destroying ships and burning tar houses, leading to international criticism.
Once known for wood tar and salmon, Oulu has evolved into a major high-tech centre, particularly in IT and wellness technology. Other prominent industries include wood refining, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paper, and steel.
Oulu is located in northern Finland, a considerable distance from the other cities in the country. Mainland Finland's northernmost and southernmost points are roughly equidistant from Oulu. Oulu's coast sits at the Bothnian Bay (Perämeri in Finnish) and the Swedish mainland is about 180 km directly west across the Bothnian Bay. The nearby island Hailuoto is just off the coast.
Oulu has a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc) with cold, snowy winters and short, warm summers. Average annual temperature is 2.7 °C (36.9 °F). The average annual precipitation is 477 mm (18.78 in) falling 105 days per year, mostly in late summer and fall.
|Climate data for Oulu, Finland normals 1981-2010|
|Record high °C (°F)||9.3
|Average high °C (°F)||−6
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−9.6
|Average low °C (°F)||−13.6
|Record low °C (°F)||−37.5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||31
|Average precipitation days||10||8||8||6||7||7||9||10||9||10||11||10||105|
|Average relative humidity (%) (daily average)||87||86||82||73||67||66||71||76||82||86||90||89||80|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||24||69||137||208||273||296||283||212||133||69||28||8||1,740|
|Source #1: FMI climatological normals for Finland 1981-2010|
|Source #2: record highs and lows|
In 2008, there were 316 Swedish speaking inhabitants, which was 0.2% of the total population, making the city unilingual. In 2007, there were 2,417 foreign citizens living in the city, of whom 618 were from elsewhere in the EU. 51.1% of the population is female.
Many artists, writers, and musicians live in the city. A variety of concerts — rock, classical, and jazz — as well as other cultural events take place each year. Examples include the Oulu Music Video Festival, the Air Guitar World Championships, and the Musixine Music Film Competition, all in August. In July, the annual rock festival Qstock takes place. The Oulu Music Festival is held in winter and the Oulunsalo Music Festival in summer. The Irish Festival of Oulu takes place each October and the International Children's Film Festival each November.
Kalmah is a melodic death metal-band from Oulu that formed in 1998.
- Tietomaa, a science center with over 150 exhibits
- The Rapids Center, the area in the estuary of the Oulu river consisting of small islands connected with bridges and fountains in the middle of the river, and including a housing area of building blocks planned by Alvar Aalto
- The Market Square with the City Library, the City Theatre and old salt and tar storehouses
- Hupisaaret Islands, a large park area located in the estuary of the Oulu river
- The F. M. Franzen memorial
- The Koitelinkoski rapids
- The Northern Ostrobothnia museum
- The Pateniemi Sawmill Museum
- The Vehicle Museum
- The University of Oulu Botanical Gardens (situated in Linnanmaa)
- The Arctic Gallery
- Technopolis, the technology village
- Turkansaari (historical open-air museum)
- Haukipudas Church
- Holy Family of Nazareth Church
- Holy Trinity Cathedral of Oulu
- Kiiminki Church
- Oulujoki Church
- Oulunsalo Church
- St. Luke's Chapel
- Tuira Church
- Ylikiiminki Church
Other points of interest
- Oulu Music Video Festival
- Air Guitar World Championships
- Jalometalli Metal Music Festival
- The Irish Festival of Oulu
- Laitakari beacon tower
- Madetoja Hall, housing the Oulu Music Centre (website) the residence of the Oulu Symphony Orchestra
- Oulu Hall (a large indoor sports facility consisting of a low dome, which looks somewhat like a landed flying saucer)
- Terwa Marathon & Run event in late May (since 1989)
- The Terva-skiing event in early March (since 1889)
- The Winter Swimming World Championship
- The famous Dutch restaurant Lekker 61
Oulu is home to the most northerly architecture school in the world. The school is best known for its strong regionalistic ideas for developing architecture. This movement is named "the Oulu school" ("Oulun koulu") of architecture.
Oulu Vocational College has over 13 000 students. It houses several different study subjects in different units which are spread over Oulu and neighbouring municipalities. Oulu Vocational College School of Business Studies is one of the few vocational schools which has game programming in its curriculum.
Oulu International School is one of nine schools in Finland offering basic education in English.
Oulu is served by Oulu Airport, the second largest airport in Finland by passenger volume. It is located 15 kilometres (9 mi) south-west of the city centre.
The most important road in Oulu is Highway 4 (E8/E75) that runs from Helsinki to Utsjoki via Lahti, Jyväskylä, Oulu, Kemi and Rovaniemi. Other highways running to and from Oulu are Highway 20 to Kuusamo and Highway 22 to Kajaani.
Oulu is notable for its transportation network dedicated to non-vehicular traffic including pedestrians and bicycles (termed "light" traffic in Finland). In 2010, the city contained more than 600 kilometres (370 mi) of pathways and more than 100 underpasses and bridges devoted exclusively to light traffic. The network is used year-round. The ratio of light traffic pathways to residents is the highest in Finland and the cycling mode share is 20 percent. Oulu is often touted as an excellent city for bicycling.
In 2015, a large underground parking facility Kivisydän (Heart of Stone) opened in the city center directly beneath main shopping streets. The network of parallel roads for cars and pedestrians was drilled in the rock at the depth of 30 meters. The parking facility includes two ramps, 900 visitor parking lots (expandable to 1500), six access points to the ground served by 19 elevators (expandable to nine and 25), a service facility for commercial delivery vehicles, and ubi-screens which guide the driver to the selected ground access point and help locate the parked car by its license number. 
As of 31 December 2008, the active working population was employed as follows:
|Farming, forestry and mining||582|
|Unemployment rate||16.3% (2016)|
In 2011, the most important employers were:
|Employer||No. of employees|
|City of Oulu||9,709|
|Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District||6,144|
|University of Oulu||3,045|
|The Oulu Region Joint Authority for Vocational Training||1,955|
|Cooperative Arina Group (S Group)||1,107|
|Stora Enso Group||1,155|
|ISS Palvelut Oy||730|
Ice hockey is the most popular spectator sport in Oulu. The local club Kärpät has won the SM-liiga championship title eight times (1981, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2018). It has also twice been the runner-up in the IIHF European Champions Cup, in 2005 and in 2006.
In football AC Oulu plays in Ykkönen, the second tier of the Finnish league system. So far OPS has claimed the Finnish football championship only twice by winning Mestaruussarja in 1979 and in 1980. Other notable football clubs include OLS, OTP and JS Hercules.
Oulu has one well-known bandy club, OLS, which plays in Bandyliiga and has become Finnish champions 14 times, most recently in 2014. The other bandy club, OPS, with its 7 championships and a bronze medal as late as in 2009, announced it would be closing down after the 2009-10 season. In 2001 the city was the main venue for the Bandy World Championship.
Oulu is also home to several other sports clubs such as Oulu Northern Lights (American football), Oulun NMKY (Basketball), Oulun Lippo (Pesäpallo), Oulun Pyrintö (Track and field), OYUS (Rugby union), Oulu Irish Elks (Gaelic football) and ETTA (Volleyball).
Oulun Tervahiihto is an annual ski marathon event held since 1889.
Terwa Run & Marathon is an annual running event held since 1989 in late May.
Notable people from Oulu
- Saara Aalto, singer, X Factor UK finalist
- Peter von Bagh, film historian and director
- Vladislav Delay, electronic musician
- Lars Gallenius, 17th century painter
- Matti Hautamäki, ski jumper
- Aaro Hellaakoski, poet
- V.A. Koskenniemi, poet
- Leevi Madetoja, composer
- Frans Michael Franzén, poet
- Impaled Nazarene, nuclear metal band
- Iivo Niskanen, Olympic champion cross-country skier
- Kerttu Niskanen, cross-country skier
- Leena Peltonen-Palotie, geneticist
- Susanna Pöykiö, figure skater
- Mika Ronkainen, filmmaker
- Keke Rosberg, 1982 Formula One world champion
- Kauko Röyhkä, author and rock musician
- Sara Wacklin, teacher and writer
- Mikael Toppelius, church painter
- Three former Presidents of the country, Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg, Kyösti Kallio and Martti Ahtisaari, also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate
- Ice Hockey players, Kari Jalonen, Mikael Granlund, Markus Granlund, Joni Pitkänen, Reijo Ruotsalainen, Mika Pyörälä, Lasse Kukkonen
- Football players, Aki Lahtinen, Seppo Pyykkö, Antti Niemi and Mika Nurmela
Twin towns and sister cities
Partnership and twinning cities
In addition Oulu has eight 'Partnership & Twinning cities':
International municipal projects
The educational department takes part in Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 in Finland.
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- "Population according to language and the number of foreigners and land area km2 by area as of 31 December 2008". Statistics Finland's PX-Web databases. Statistics Finland. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
- "Population according to age and gender by area as of 31 December 2008". Statistics Finland's PX-Web databases. Statistics Finland. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
- "List of municipal and parish tax rates in 2011". Tax Administration of Finland. 29 November 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
- Saylor, Michael (2012). The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything. Perseus Books/Vanguard Press. p. 63.
- "Oulu-nimen etymologia". Scripta.kotus.fi. Retrieved 2011-09-16.
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- "FMI normals 1981-2010" (PDF). Fmi.fi. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
- "FMI open data". FMI. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
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- Autoilijan Tiekartta 2007 – Road map (Map). 1:800,000. AffectoGenimap Finland Oy. 2006. ISBN 978-951-593-047-7.
- Jeffrey Pratte, "Mainstreaming Bicycling in Winter Cities: The case of Oulu, Finland", Masters thesis, University of Manitoba (Canada), 2011. P. 99-100
- Anders Swanson, "Winter Cycling for Everyone", (Video, 21:30 min.), Vimeo, 2013
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
- "Kivisydän parking facility in Oulu". Oulunliikekeskus.fi. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
- "Business and industry" (PDF). Information about Oulu. Oulu: City of Oulu. 2012-01-01. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
- "Ystävyyskaupungit (Twin Cities)". Oulun kaupunki (City of Oulu) (in Finnish). Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- "Vennskapsbyer" (in Norwegian). Alta kommune.
- Информация о городах-побратимах. Arhcity.ru (in Russian). October 26, 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- "Kardeş Şehirler". Bursa Büyükşehir Belediyesi Basın Koordinasyon Merkez. Tüm Hakları Saklıdır. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- "Astana and Finnish Oulu become twin-cities". Tengrinews.kz. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
- "Partneri- ja kummikaupungit (Partnership and twinning cities)". Oulun kaupunki (City of Oulu) (in Finnish). Retrieved 2013-07-27.
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