Espoo (ˈespoː; Esbo ([ˈɛsbo]) in Swedish) is the second largest city of Finland, with a population of approximately 240,000. It is part of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area along with the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa, and Kauniainen. Espoo shares its eastern border with Helsinki and Vantaa, while enclosing Kauniainen. Other bordering municipalities are Nurmijärvi and Vihti in the north and Kirkkonummi in the west. The national park of Nuuksio is situated in northwest Espoo.
Espoo encompasses 528 km², of which 312 km² are land. The current population is 240,132 (as of 2008-07-31), in Finland second only to that of Helsinki.
Espoo has several local regional centers. Espoo is thus divided into the following major areas: Espoon keskus (also administrative center), Espoonlahti, Kalajärvi, Kauklahti, Leppävaara, Matinkylä-Olari, and Tapiola.
The Helsinki University of Technology is based in Otaniemi, Espoo, along with a thriving science community that includes numerous startups and organizations such as VTT–the Technical Research Center of Finland. Nokia, the telecommunications company, operates from Keilaniemi (and also from Karamalmi), Espoo, along with other high-tech companies such as KONE and Fortum.
The first inhabitants in the area arrived about 9,000 years ago. A permanent settlement was established during the 12th and 13th centuries. The King’s Road that passes through Espoo on its way from Stockholm via Turku to Viipuri dates back to the 13th century. The oldest preserved building in Espoo, the Espoo Cathedral, originates from the 1480s. The administrative center Espoon keskus has grown around the church and the railway station.
In 1920, Espoo was only a rural municipality of about 9,000 inhabitants, of whom 70% were Swedish speaking. Agriculture was the primary source of income, with 75% of the population making their living from farming. Kauniainen (Grankulla in Swedish) was separated from Espoo in 1920, and it gained city rights the same year as Espoo, in 1972.
Espoo started to grow rapidly in the 1940s and '50s. It quickly developed from a rural municipality into a fully-fledged industrial city, gaining city rights in 1972. Due to its proximity to Helsinki, Espoo soon became popular amongst people working in the capital. In the fifty years from 1950 to 2000, the population of Espoo grew from 22,000 to 210,000. Since 1945, the majority of people in Espoo have been Finnish speaking. In 2006, the Swedish speaking inhabitants represented barely 9% of the total population. The population growth is still continuing, but at a slower rate.
|Historical population of Espoo|
|Population by grand district (in 2006)|
Population by nationality on January 1 2007 was 95.1% Finnish nationality, 4.9% other nationalities. Religious affiliation was 77.4% Lutheran, 1.3% Orthodox, 1.3% other, 19.9% no religious affiliation.
Espoo contains many high income suburbs, six out of the ten highest average income zip code areas in Finland are in Espoo.
Another sports club from Espoo, FC Honka, is a football club based in Tapiola in southern Espoo. It was promoted into the Finnish premier division (Veikkausliiga) for the first time in its history at the end of the 2005 season. The manager of the club is Mika Lehkosuo, and it plays its home matches at Tapiolan urheilupuisto. Originally founded in 1953 as "Tapion Honka", it changed its name into FC Honka in 1975. FC Honka is largely known in Finland for its extensive youth scheme with over 1000 young players playing in various age groups.
Club Sport League Stadium Logo