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Oulun kaupunki
(City of Oulu)
City Oulu (1605)
Administrative Province Oulu province
Historical Province Ostrobothnia
Area (2004–01–01)
 – Total (excl. sea areas)
 – Land
 – Inland water
Ranked 244th
384.99 km²
373.10 km²
11.89 km²
 – Total (2004–01–01)
 – Density
Ranked 6th

This article is about the Finnish city; for other uses see Oulu (disambiguation).

Oulu (Uleåborg in Swedish) is a city and municipality of about 125,000 inhabitants in the province of Oulu and the region of Northern Ostrobothnia, in Finland. It is the largest and most important city in Northern Finland and the sixth biggest city in the country. Its population growth rate is almost comparable with that of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

Founded on August 8 1605 by King Karl IX of Sweden opposite the castle built on the island of Linnansaari. This took place after favourable peace settlements with the Russians, which removed the threat of them attacking the region 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 Oulu River, which is an ancient trading site. One source for the name Oulu is a word in the Sami language meaning floodwater, but there are other suggestions. Oulu has been the capital of Oulu province since 1776.

From being a town known for wood tar and salmon, Oulu has evolved into a major centre of competence in the field of high technology, particularly IT and wellness technology. Other prominent industries are wood refining, paper and steel industry. The University of Oulu is located 6 km north of the city center. The Oulu Airport, located in neighbouring municipality of Oulunsalo, is the second busiest in Finland.

The City of Oulu will be celebrating its 400th anniversary in 2005.

Location within Finland

Table of contents


  • Tietomaa
  • Rotuaari pedestrian
  • the salt store houses
  • Hupisaaret
  • the F. M. Franzen memorial
  • the North-Ostrobothnia museum
  • the Pateniemi sawmill museum
  • the car museum
  • the botanical garden of the University
  • the Oulu art museum
  • the Arctic gallery
  • the Technology village
Image of Oulu, March 2004, showing the inlet of Pokkitörmä at the mouth of the Oulu River.

Other points of interest

  • the Oulu City Theatre
  • the Oulu music centre
  • the University of Oulu
  • the spa and Eden hotel
  • the Oulu hall
  • the Nallikari Recreational centre
  • the Terva-skiing event
  • the Oulu Horse Show
  • the American Car Show
Railway station area in Oulu, looking southwest along Hallituskatu.


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