Helsinki is Finland's largest and capital city. It is located in the Uusimaa region, which is in the south of the country. With a population of 629,512 in 2017, an urban population of 1,231,595, and a metropolitan population of above 1.4 million, the city is the most populous municipality in Finland.
City Size and Population Density
This gorgeous city covers an impressive total surface area of 715.48 square kilometers (276.25 square miles.) This area, combined with the total estimated population brings Helsinki to a population density of 3,034.62 individuals living per square kilometer (7,859.6 per square mile) – by far the highest nationally.
Demographically speaking, Helsinki has a higher proportion of females (53.4%) than anywhere else in the country. Life expectancy for both men and women is below the national average, although only slightly. On average, men live 75.1 years (compared to 75.7 years) and women to 81.7 years (compared to 82.5 years).
The official languages of Helsinki are Finnish and Swedish, with the majority of the population (81.9%) speaking Finnish as their mother tongue. 5.9% of those living in the city speak Swedish, and 12.2% speak a native language that's neither Finnish or Swedish. Today, Helsinki slang mainly combines influences from Finnish and English, but it traditionally had strong Russian and Swedish influences. It wasn't until 1890 that Finnish speakers overtook Swedish speakers as the majority of the city's population.
Helsinki has the highest number of immigrants in Finland, with as many as 140 nationalities represented in the city. The largest group (as of 2013) is from Sweden, followed by Russia, Estonia, China, Somalia, Kurdistan, Germany, Spain, Vietnam, France, and Turkey. Helsinki was already home to many different nationalities as far back as the 19th century, with many people from Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Germany. Today, foreign citizens account for 8% of the population.
Helsinki has proliferated since the 1810s, which was when it replaced Turku as the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland. This later became the sovereign Republic of Finland. Growth continued throughout the years, slowing only during the period of the Finnish Civil War. After World War II, people began to leave the countryside and flock to Finland's cities, including Helsinki. The city's population jumped from 275,000 to 525,600 between 1944 and 1969. A resultant lack of housing meant that people began to leave the city in the 1960s, moving to nearby Espoo and Vantaa, where population growth has since rocketed. The increasing lack of housing together with high living costs in the Helsinki Capital Region means that many daily commuters have been forced to find lodging in once very rural areas, and even further afield to cities such as Lohja, Hämeenlinna, and Lahti.