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Oulun kaupunki
Uleåborgs stad
City of Oulu
Top: Rantakatu in downtown Oulu, Oulu City Hall Middle: Lyseo Upper Secondary School and the Oulu Cathedral Bottom: Shops along Kirkkokatu, Radisson Blu Hotel along Ojakatu
Top: Rantakatu in downtown Oulu, Oulu City Hall
Middle: Lyseo Upper Secondary School and the Oulu Cathedral
Bottom: Shops along Kirkkokatu, Radisson Blu Hotel along Ojakatu
Coat of arms of Oulu
Capital of Northern Finland;[1] Capital of Northern Scandinavia;[2] Capital of Western Siberia[3]
Location of Oulu in Finland
Location of Oulu in Finland
Coordinates: 65°00′51″N 25°28′19″E / 65.01417°N 25.47194°E / 65.01417; 25.47194Coordinates: 65°00′51″N 25°28′19″E / 65.01417°N 25.47194°E / 65.01417; 25.47194
Country Finland
RegionPohjois-Pohjanmaan vaakuna.svg North Ostrobothnia
Sub-regionOulu sub-region
 • City managerPäivi Laajala
 • City3,817.52 km2 (1,473.95 sq mi)
 • Land1,410.17 km2 (544.47 sq mi)
 • Water103.2 km2 (39.8 sq mi)
 • Urban
187.1 km2 (72.2 sq mi)
Area rank17th largest in Finland
 • City207,717
 • Rank5th largest in Finland
 • Density147.3/km2 (382/sq mi)
 • Urban
208 939[5]
 • Urban density915.8/km2 (2,372/sq mi)
Population by native language
 • Finnish97.3% (official)
 • Swedish0.2%
 • Others2.4%
Population by age
 • 0 to 1417.4%
 • 15 to 6466%
 • 65 or older16.6%
Time zoneUTC+02:00 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+03:00 (EEST)
Municipal tax rate[9]20.5%
Websitewww.ouka.fi/oulu/english/ www.visitoulu.fi/en/

Oulu (/ˈl/ OH-loo,[10][11] Finnish: [ˈou̯lu] (About this soundlisten); Swedish: Uleåborg [ʉːlɛɔˈbɔrj] (About this soundlisten); Latin: Uloa) is a city, municipality and a seaside resort of 208,939 inhabitants (31 March 2021)[6] in the region of North Ostrobothnia, Finland. It is the most populous city in Northern Finland and the fifth most populous in the country after: Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere and Vantaa, and the fourth largest urban area in the country after Helsinki, Tampere and Turku. Oulu's neighbouring municipalities are: Hailuoto, Ii, Kempele, Liminka, Lumijoki, Muhos, Pudasjärvi, Tyrnävä and Utajärvi.

Due to its large population and geopolitically economic and cultural-historical location, Oulu has been called the "capital of Northern Finland".[1] Oulu is also considered one of Europe's "living labs", where residents experiment with new technology (such as NFC tags and ubi-screens) on a community-wide scale;[12] especially the University of Oulu is internationally well known in the field of information technology.[13][14][15] Oulu has also been very successful in recent urban image surveys; in a study published by the Finnish Economic Survey in 2008, it received the best ranking of large cities in image ratings across the country, including ratings from respondents in all provinces.[16]

Oulu is chosen as the European Capital of Culture in 2026.[17][18]


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 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.[19]


Drawing of central Oulu from the 19th Century

Oulu is situated by the Gulf of Bothnia, at the mouth of river Oulujoki, which is an ancient trading site. The city proper 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.[citation needed] The surrounding areas were populated much earlier. Oulu was the capital of the Province of Oulu from 1776 to 2009.

In 1822, a major fire destroyed much of the city.[citation needed] The architect Carl Ludvig Engel, chiefly known for the neoclassical (empire style) buildings around Helsinki Senate Square, was enlisted to provide the plan for its rebuilding. 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 Åland War, part of the Crimean War, Oulu's harbour was raided by the British fleet, who destroyed ships and burned tar houses, leading to international criticism.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

The municipality of Ylikiiminki was merged with the city of Oulu on 1 January 2009. Oulu and the municipalities of Haukipudas, Kiiminki, Oulunsalo, and Yli-Ii were merged on 1 January 2013.[20]

Oulu was the site of the 2018 Oulu child sexual exploitation scandal. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä declared that “Sex crimes against children are inhumane acts of incomprehensible evil.”[21]

On June 21, 2021, the Ahti thunderstorm arrived in Oulu, causing flooding and fall of trees with the wind blowing at more than 30 meters per second.[22] The storm is known to have killed one person and injured two people.[23][24]


Satellite image of the Oulu region.

Oulu is located in northern Finland, a considerable distance from the other cities in the country. It is located 607 kilometres (377 mi) north of the capital city Helsinki. 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. From the center of Oulu in the direction of Oulunsalo, there is Kempeleenlahti [fi], a smaller but wide, meadow-belted bay,[25] and part of it has been listed as a nature conservation area.[26] The nearby island Hailuoto is just off the coast, 53 kilometres (33 mi) away in the Bothnian Bay.


The map of Oulu from 1886.

Oulu is divided into 106 city districts. The largest of these are Haukipudas, Oulunsalo, Kaakkuri, Ritaharju, Tuira, and Kello.


Oulu has a subarctic continental climate (Köppen Dfc). It is the largest Finnish city entirely in this climatic zone as well as one of the largest such in the world. The typical features are cold and snowy winters with short and warm summers.[27][28] 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.[citation needed] The warmest temperature ever recorded in Oulu was 33.3 °C (91.9 °F) in July 1957,[29] while the coldest temperature on record was −41.5 °C (−42.7 °F) in February 1966.[30]

Climate data for Oulu, 1991-2020 normals, records 1921 - present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 9.3
Average high °C (°F) −4.8
Daily mean °C (°F) −8.2
Average low °C (°F) −11.9
Record low °C (°F) −37.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 32
Average precipitation days 9 8 7 6 8 8 10 10 8 10 10 10 104
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[31]
Source 2: FMI (record highs and lows 1961–present)[32]

FMI(record highs and lows 1921–1961)[33]


Significant foreign resident groups[34]
Nationality Population (2018)
 Sweden 1,827
 Russia 1,341
 Iraq 1,281
 Latvia 686
 Syria 575
 Poland 479
 Vietnam 440
 Thailand 338
 Turkey 295
 Ukraine 261

In 2008, there were 316 Swedish-speaking inhabitants as mother tongue, which was 0.2% of the total population, making the city unilingually Finnish-speaking similar to other areas in Northern Finland. With English and Swedish being compulsory school subjects, functional bi- or trilingualism acquired through language studies is not uncommon. In 2007, there were 2,417 foreign citizens living in the city,[contradictory] of whom 618 were from elsewhere in the EU. 51.1% of the population is female.

In 2017, the population grew to over 200,000 inhabitants, making Oulu the fourth Finnish locality with at least 200,000 inhabitants after Helsinki, Tampere and Turku.


The population growth of Oulu (and merged municipalities) 1980–2015
Year Population
121 809
128 869
136 029
146 395
160 851
173 436
185 419
196 956
200 400
Source: Tilastokeskus[35]


Air Guitar World Championships 2012, an annual event held in Oulu since 1996

The best known cultural exports of the city of Oulu are the Air Guitar World Championships held annually in August, Mieskuoro Huutajat (also known as Screaming Men), the now defunct metal band Sentenced, and one of the best ice hockey teams in Europe, Oulun Kärpät.

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.

Museums in Oulu include the Northern Ostrobothnia museum, the Oulu Museum of Art (OMA), the Tietomaa science center, and the Turkansaari open-air museum.

Notable statues and sculptures in Oulu include a sculpture of Frans Michael Franzén and The Bobby at the Market Place statue.

Finlands' Eurovision representatives 2021 rock band Blind Channel are from Oulu. They placed 6th in the competition.

Kalmah is a melodic death metal-band from Oulu that formed in 1998.


In the 1980s, rössypottu, salmon soup and sweet cheese (juhannusjuusto) were named Oulu's traditional parish dishes.[36]



Other points of interest[edit]


The University of Oulu and Oulu University of Applied Sciences have their main campuses located in Oulu.

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.[citation needed]

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. There's also a Swedish-speaking private school (Swedish Svenska Privatskolan i Uleåborg) for students up until high school. The school is the northernmost Swedish-speaking school in Finland.[37]

University of Oulu main building.


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 Port of Oulu is one of the busiest harbours on the Bothnian Bay. It includes four separate harbour areas: Vihreäsaari oil and bulk docks, Nuottasaari docks and Oritkari docks. There is also a ferry service in Oulu, which is mostly used between Oulunsalo and the Hailuoto Island.[38]

The shortest travel time from Oulu railway station to Helsinki Central railway station is 5 h 34 min, operated by VR. Other destinations include Kolari, Rovaniemi, Seinäjoki and Tampere.

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.[39]

Oulu is notable for its transportation network dedicated to non-motor 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.[40][41] Oulu is often touted as an excellent city for bicycling.

In 2015, a large underground parking facility, Kivisydän (Stone Heart), 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 (98 ft). 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 that guide the driver to the selected ground access point and help locate the parked car by its license number.[42][43]

Solar power[edit]

In 2015, the Kaleva Media printing plant in Oulu became the most powerful photovoltaic solar plant in Finland, with 1,604 solar photovoltaic (PV) units on its roof. Although the city of Oulu, located near the Arctic Circle, has only two hours of weak sunlight in December, the photovoltaic cells work almost around the clock in the summer. The cold climate means the PV panels can get up to a 25% boost per hour, as they don't overheat.[44]

Because the sun is quite low in the sky at this latitude, vertical PV installations are popular on the sides of buildings. These solar walls also capture light reflected from snow.[44]

Snow is not necessarily cleared from rooftop solar installations.[44]

The local utility, Oulun Energia, is owned by the city of Oulu. The energy mix it receives from the Nordic-wide grid includes wood pellets, waste incineration, bioenergy, hydro-electric, geothermal, wind, nuclear, peat, natural gas and coal.[44]


Stora Enso has an important paper manufacturing plant in Oulu.
Nokia premises in Peltola.
Technopolis Linnanmaa is home to nearly 200 corporations.

As of 31 December 2008, the active working population was employed as follows:[45]

Industries Working population
Services 43,049
Industry 11,111
Commerce 10,848
Construction 5,449
Transport 3,698
Farming, forestry and mining 582
Unknown 431
Unemployment rate 16.3% (2016)
Total 75,158

In 2011, the most important employers were:[45]

Employer No. of employees
City of Oulu 9,709
Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District 6,144
University of Oulu 3,045
Nokia Networks 2,100
Nokia Group 2,000
The Oulu Region Joint Authority for Vocational Training 1,955
Kesko Group 1,426
Cooperative Arina Group (S Group) 1,107
Stora Enso Group 1,155
Itella Corporation 780
ISS Palvelut Oy 730
ODL Group 653


Kärpät wins the Finnish championship in 2005 after beating Jokerit.
Oulun Luistinseura beat Jyväskylän Seudun Palloseura in the 2014 Finland men's national bandy championship final.

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), SK Pohjantähti (Orienteering)), 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[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

Oulu is twinned with:[46]

Partnership and twinning cities[edit]

In addition Oulu has eight 'Partnership & Twinning cities':[51]

International municipal projects[edit]

The educational department was a part of the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 in Finland.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Oulu Information – City of Oulu
  2. ^ Oulu – Capital of Northern Scandinavia
  3. ^ Unique Oulu – Oulu2026
  4. ^ "Area of Finnish Municipalities 1.1.2018" (PDF). National Land Survey of Finland. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  5. ^ Tarkoma, Jari (2008-01-15). "Taajamissa asuu 84 prosenttia väestöstä". Tiedote (in Finnish). Statistics Finland (Tilastokeskus). Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Preliminary population structure by area, 2021M01*-2021M03*". StatFin (in Finnish). Statistics Finland. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ "Population according to age (1-year) and sex by area and the regional division of each statistical reference year, 2003-2020". StatFin. Statistics Finland. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  9. ^ "List of municipal and parish tax rates in 2021" (PDF). Tax Administration of Finland. 1 December 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  10. ^ "Oulu". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  11. ^ "Oulu". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  12. ^ Saylor, Michael (2012). The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything. Perseus Books/Vanguard Press. p. 63. ISBN 9781593157203.
  13. ^ Bachelor of Engineering, Information Technology – OAMK
  14. ^ Oulu Innovation Alliance
  15. ^ Tietotekniikka, Tietotekniikan tutkinto-ohjelma, tekniikan kandidaatti ja diplomi-insinööri (3v + 2v) – Opintopolku (in Finnish)
  16. ^ "Kuntien imagotutkimus 2007" (in Finnish). July 11, 2008. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  17. ^ YLE: Oulu on Euroopan kulttuuripääkaupunki 2026 (in Finnish)
  18. ^ Oulu in Northern Finland selected as European Capital of Culture for 2026 - High North News
  19. ^ "Oulu-nimen etymologia". Scripta.kotus.fi. Retrieved 2011-09-16.
  20. ^ "Uusi Oulu" [New Oulu] (in Finnish). Oulu: City of Oulu. 9 September 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
  21. ^ Aleksi Teivainen (6 December 2018). "Police: 10 people suspected of sex crimes against minors in Oulu". Helsinki Times. Retrieved 31 January 2019. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) on Wednesday issued an official statement on the much-discussed case, saying the events have shocked many, for a good reason. “Sex crimes against children are inhumane acts of incomprehensible evil,” he stated
  22. ^ "Watch: Thunderstorm slams Oulu on Monday". YLE. 2021-06-21. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  23. ^ "One killed in Oulu as meteorologists warn of more thunderstorms to come". Helsinki Times. 2021-06-22. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  24. ^ "Weather: "It was shocking" – The Ahti storm that hit Oulu on Monday left extensive devastation, more thunderstorms expected on Tuesday". Pledge Times. Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  25. ^ Kempeleenlahti Bay, Oulu, Finland
  26. ^ Kempeleenlahden suojelualue (in Finnish)
  27. ^ "Oulu, Finland Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  28. ^ Learning, Innovative Language; FinnishPod101.com. Learn Finnish - Level 5: Advanced: Volume 1: Lessons 1-25 (in Finnish). Innovative Language Learning.
  29. ^ Ilmatieteellinen Keskuslaitos: Suomen meteorologinen vuosikirja, osa 1a 1957.
  30. ^ Ilmatieteellinen Keskuslaitos:Suomen meteorologinen vuosikirja, osa 1a 1966.
  31. ^ "FMI normals 1991-2020". FMI. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  32. ^ "FMI open data". FMI. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  33. ^ [1]
  34. ^ http://pxnet2.stat.fi/PXWeb/pxweb/fi/StatFin/StatFin__vrm__vaerak/statfin_vaerak_pxt_032.px/table/tableViewLayout2/?rxid=726cd24d-d0f1-416a-8eec-7ce9b82fd5a4[permanent dead link]
  35. ^ "Väestö kielen mukaan sekä ulkomaan kansalaisten määrä ja maa-pinta-ala alueittain 1980–2012" (in Finnish). Tilastokeskus. 22 April 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2013.[permanent dead link]
  36. ^ Jaakko Kolmonen (1988). Kotomaamme ruoka-aitta: Suomen, Karjalan ja Petsamon pitäjäruoat (in Finnish). Helsinki: Patakolmonen. p. 171. ISBN 951-96047-3-1.
  37. ^ "Språkstrategi – Svenska Privatskolan i Uleåborg" (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-08-22.
  38. ^ IS: Vieraille lauttamatka on osa Hailuodon idylliä (in Finnish)
  39. ^ Autoilijan Tiekartta 2007 – Road map (Map). 1:800,000. AffectoGenimap Finland Oy. 2006. ISBN 978-951-593-047-7.
  40. ^ Jeffrey Pratte, "Mainstreaming Bicycling in Winter Cities: The case of Oulu, Finland", Masters thesis, University of Manitoba (Canada), 2011. P. 99-100
  41. ^ Anders Swanson, "Winter Cycling for Everyone", (Video, 21:30 min.), Vimeo, 2013
  42. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved 2016-03-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  43. ^ "Kivisydän parking facility in Oulu". Oulunliikekeskus.fi. Archived from the original on 2016-03-10. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  44. ^ a b c d Hockenos, Paul (2020-02-24). "Solar Power Just Miles from the Arctic Circle? In Icy Nordic Climes, It's Become the Norm". InsideClimate News. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  45. ^ a b "Business and industry" (PDF). Information about Oulu. Oulu: City of Oulu. 2012-01-01. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  46. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Ystävyyskaupungit (Twin Cities)". Oulun kaupunki (City of Oulu) (in Finnish). Retrieved 2013-07-27.
  47. ^ "Vennskapsbyer" (in Norwegian). Alta kommune.
  48. ^ Информация о городах-побратимах. Arhcity.ru (in Russian). October 26, 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  49. ^ "Kardeş Şehirler". Bursa Büyükşehir Belediyesi Basın Koordinasyon Merkez. Tüm Hakları Saklıdır. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
  50. ^ "Astana and Finnish Oulu become twin-cities". Tengrinews.kz. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  51. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Partneri- ja kummikaupungit (Partnership and twinning cities)". Oulun kaupunki (City of Oulu) (in Finnish). Retrieved 2013-07-27.

External links[edit]