—  City  —
Oulun kaupunki

Coat of arms

Location of Oulu in Finland
Coordinates: 65°01′N 025°28′E / 65.017°N 25.467°E / 65.017; 25.467Coordinates: 65°01′N 025°28′E / 65.017°N 25.467°E / 65.017; 25.467
Country Finland
Region Northern Ostrobothnia
Sub-region Oulu sub-region
Charter 1605-04-08
 – City manager Matti Pennanen
 – Total 1,513.37 km2 (584.3 sq mi)
 – Land 1,410.17 km2 (544.5 sq mi)
 – Water 103.2 km2 (39.8 sq mi)
Area rank 67th largest in Finland
Population (2011-01-31)[2]
 – Total 141,742
 – Rank 6th largest in Finland
 – Density 100.51/km2 (260.3/sq mi)
Population by native language[3]
 – Finnish 97.3% (official)
 – Swedish 0.2%
 – Others 2.4%
Population by age[4]
 – 0 to 14 17%
 – 15 to 64 70.5%
 – 65 or older 12.5%
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 – Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Municipal tax rate[5] 19%
Website www.ouka.fi

Oulu (pronounced [ˈoulu] ( listen), Swedish: Uleåborg [ˈʉːleɔˌbɔrj]) is a city and municipality of 141,742 inhabitants (31 January 2011)[2] in the region of Northern Ostrobothnia, in Finland. It is the most populous city in Northern Finland and the sixth most populous city in the country. It is one of the northernmost larger cities in the world.



Oulu was founded on April 8, 1605, by King Charles IX of Sweden opposite to the fort built on the island of Linnansaari. This took place after favourable peace settlements with the Russians, 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. One possible source for the name Oulu is a word in the Sami language meaning 'flood water', but there are other suggestions. Oulu was the capital of the Province of Oulu from 1776 to 2009.

Drawing of central Oulu from the 19th Century.

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.

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

The municipality of Ylikiiminki was merged to the city of Oulu on January 1, 2009. The city of Oulu, and the municipalities of Haukipudas, Kiiminki, Oulunsalo and Yli-Ii will be merged together to form a new city of Oulu on January 1, 2013.[6]


There have been a number of theories for the origin of the name Oulu. One theory, and most probable, is that it would be a derivation of a Uralic word meaning "floodwater". This would be a loanword from the Saami language such as Southern Saami åulo, meaning "melted snow" or åulot meaning "thaw". It has also been speculated that the words väylä ("fairway, channel") and uoma ("river channel, bed") and their Northern Savo dialectic word uula is probably a loan from the Saami word oalli and is connected to the name Oulu. Another theory is that the Finnish word for flood, vuo, whose reconstructed form *uva has meant "river bed", is in the name's etymology.[7]



Oulu has a subarctic climate with very cold, long and snowy winters and short, warm summers. Average annual temperature is 2 °C (36 °F). The average annual precipitation is 433 mm (17.05 in) falling on 98 days a year, mostly in summer.

Climate data for Oulu, Finland (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −7.4
Daily mean °C (°F) −11.1
Average low °C (°F) −15.4
Precipitation mm (inches) 26
Avg. precipitation days 8 7 6 6 7 8 9 10 10 9 9 9 98
Sunshine hours 18.6 65.0 127.1 189.0 266.6 288.0 285.2 204.6 126.0 74.4 27.0 6.2 1,677.7
Source: Hong Kong Observatory,[8]


The best known cultural exports of the city of Oulu are Air Guitar World Championships, Mieskuoro Huutajat (also known as Screaming Men), and the now defunct metal band Sentenced.

There are many artists, writers and musicians resident in the city. A variety of concerts, both rock, classical music, and jazz, as well as other cultural events take place each year; for example, Oulu Music Video Festival – the host of the Air Guitar World Championships and Musixine Music Film Competition – in August, annual rock festival Qstock in July, the Oulu Music Festival in winter, the Oulunsalo Music Festival in summer, The Irish Festival of Oulu in October and the International Children's Film Festival in November. Kalmah is a melodic death metal-band from Oulu,Finland that formed in 1998.

Notable people from Oulu


Oulu City Hall.
View over the river Oulu towards Tuira from Hupisaaret park. Water power plant can be seen on the right side. Tuira is one of the largest districts of Oulu with almost 7,000 inhabitants.
  • Tietomaa, a science center with over 150 exhibits
  • Ainola Park, formerly a university botanical garden before the university was moved to Linnanmaa
  • The Rapids Center, the area in the estuary of the Oulu river consisting of small islands connected with bridges, fountains in the middle of the river, and including a housing area of building blocks planned by Alvar Aalto
  • The Rotuaari pedestrian street
  • The Market Square with the City Library, the City Theatre and old salt and tar storehouses
  • Mannerheim Park
  • The Oulu Cathedral
  • Hupisaaret, a large park area located in the estuary of the Oulu river
  • The F. M. Franzen memorial
  • The Northern Ostrobothnia museum
  • The Pateniemi Sawmill Museum
  • The Vehicle Museum
  • The University of Oulu Botanical Gardens (situated in Linnanmaa)
  • The Oulu Art Museum
  • The Arctic Gallery
  • Technopolis, the technology village
  • Turkansaari (historical open-air museum)

Other points of interest

University of Oulu main building
Mannerheim Park is a favourite hangout place for many.


The University of Oulu and Oulu University of Applied Sciences (formerly Oulu Polytechnic) are 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 is served by Oulu Airport, the second biggest airport in Finland by passenger volume. Oulu Airport is located in the neighbouring municipality of Oulunsalo, 15 kilometres (9 mi) from the city centre.

Port of Oulu is one of the busiest harbours within the Bothnian Bay. Port of Oulu includes four separate harbour areas: Vihreäsaari oil and bulk docks, Nuottasaari docks, Oritkari docks and the Toppila docks.

The shortest travel time from Oulu railway station to Helsinki Central railway station is 5 h 44 mins, operated by VR. Other destinations include, for instance, 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.[9]


As of December 31, 2005, the active working population was employed as follows:[10]

Industries Working population
Services 36,616
Industry 11,439
Commerce 9,394
Construction 4,659
Transport 4,469
Farming and forestry 471
Unknown 1,200
Total 68,248

In 2008, the most important employers were:[10]

Stora Enso has an important paper manufacturing plant in Oulu.
Employer No. of employees
City of Oulu 9,760
Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District 5,546
Nokia Group 4,700
University of Oulu 3,050
The Oulu Region Joint Authority for Education 1,651
Stora Enso Group 1,155
Kesko Group 1,054
Itella Corporation 920
Cooperative Arina Group (S Group) 830
Deaconesses' Institution 694


Kärpät wins the Finnish championship in 2005 after beating Jokerit

Ice hockey is the most popular spectator sport in Oulu. The local club Kärpät have won the SM-Liiga championship title five times (1981, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008). They have also been the runner-up in the IIHF European Champions Cup twice, in 2005 and 2006.

In football AC Oulu and OPS are playing in Ykkönen, the second tier of Finnish league system. Up to date only OPS have claimed Finnish football championship by winning Mestaruussarja twice in 1979 and 1980.

Oulu has two well known bandy clubs. OLS which has become Finnish champions 14 times, and OPS with their 7 championships. Currently only OLS is playing in Bandyliiga, the top level in Finnish bandy. In 2001 the city was the main venue for the Bandy World Championships.

Terwa Marathon & Run is an annual event run in late May (since 1989).

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Oulu is twinned with:[11]

Friendship cities

International municipal projects

The educational department takes part in Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 in Finland.

See also

  • Toppila Power Station


  1. ^ "Area by municipality as of 1 January 2011" (in Finnish and Swedish) (PDF). Land Survey of Finland. http://www.maanmittauslaitos.fi/sites/default/files/pinta-alat_2011_kunnannimenmukaan.xls. Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Population by municipality as of 31 January 2011" (in Finnish and Swedish). Population Information System. Population Register Center of Finland. http://vrk.fi/default.aspx?docid=4258&site=3&id=0. Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  3. ^ "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. http://pxweb2.stat.fi/Dialog/varval.asp?ma=060_vaerak_tau_107_fi&ti=V%E4est%F6+kielen+mukaan+sek%E4+ulkomaan+kansalaisten+m%E4%E4r%E4+ja+maa%2Dpinta%2Dala+alueittain++1980+%2D+2008&path=../Database/StatFin/vrm/vaerak/&lang=3&multilang=fi. Retrieved 29 March 2009. 
  4. ^ "Population according to age and gender by area as of 31 December 2008". Statistics Finland's PX-Web databases. Statistics Finland. http://pxweb2.stat.fi/Dialog/varval.asp?ma=050_vaerak_tau_104_fi&ti=V%E4est%F6+i%E4n+%281%2Dv%2E%29+ja+sukupuolen+mukaan+alueittain+1980+%2D+2008&path=../Database/StatFin/vrm/vaerak/&lang=3&multilang=fi. Retrieved 28 April 2009. 
  5. ^ "List of municipal and parish tax rates in 2011". Tax Administration of Finland. 29 November 2010. http://www.vero.fi/nc/doc/download.asp?id=7996;193801. Retrieved 13 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Uusi Oulu [New Oulu]" (in Finnish). Oulu: City of Oulu. 9 September 2011. http://www.ouka.fi/uusioulu/. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "Oulu-nimen etymologia". Scripta.kotus.fi. http://scripta.kotus.fi/www/verkkojulkaisut/julk125/oulunsalo/oulun_etymologia.shtml. Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  8. ^ "Climatological Information for Oulu, Finland". Hong Kong Observatory. http://www.weather.gov.hk/wxinfo/climat/world/eng/europe/n_europe/oulu_e.htm. 
  9. ^ AffectoGenimap Finland Oy (2006). Autoilijan Tiekartta 2007 – Road map (Map). 1:800,000. ISBN 978-951-593-047-7. 
  10. ^ a b "Business and industry". Information about Oulu. Oulu: City of Oulu. 2008-09-15. http://www.ouka.fi/city/english/elinkeinot.asp. Retrieved 5 January 2009. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Twin towns". www.ouka.fi. http://www.ouka.fi/kansainvalisyys/english/ystavyyskaupungit.html. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  12. ^ "Информация о городах-побратимах" (in (Russian)). www.arhcity.ru. 2007-10-26. http://www.arhcity.ru/?page=232/0. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  13. ^ Bursa Metropolitan Municipality Web Site; Sister Cities.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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