Capital of Finland, Helsinki is a small modern metropolis. Its population consists of 550,000 inhabitants, reaching just a little more than a million persons, if the conurbation is included, too.
In 2000 Helsinki celebrated its 450th anniversary and for this very reason can be considered one of the “youngest” European capitals.
Overlooking the Gulf of Finland, Helsinki has a very particular conformation characterized by bays, inlets and small islands, some of which are connected to the mainland through docks.
It is a city of Northern Europe, strategically located between East and West. For this very reason, during the Cold War, many important summits and international meetings were organized in Helsinki. It is also the first industrial and economic centre of the country with important shipbuilding, electrical and chemical industries.
The nerve centre of the activities revolves around its port, one of the most important European ports, as far as concerns both passengers and goods movements.
Helsinki strikes the visitor since it is a human scale city, where everything is conceived in terms of environmental respect and quality of life. It is a modern city, but not devoid of history, though
it was "only" founded in 1550.
This is demonstrated by its Art Nouveau buildings and its vaguely Petersburg atmosphere. From this viewpoint, Helsinki offers a harmonious succession of styles (Scandinavian, German and Russian style). Certainly, in the last century, the city has taken a typically Finnish identity, thanks to the work of designers and architects such as Saarinen and Aalto.
Among the world’s most safe capitals, Helsinki primarily has an indoor life from October to April due to the harsh winter and to the few hours of sunlight. Then, it literally comes back to life during the summer, including walks in its beautiful parks and long chats in its open-air cafés. In this regard, here is a curiosity: the Finns are some of the biggest coffee drinkers in the world with an annual average of almost 10 kilos per person (that is to say four or five cups a day per person!).
Official website: www.helsinki.fi