Kuopio was founded in 1653 by Governor Peter Brahe, but the official date is recognized as November 17, 1775, when King Gustav III of Sweden ordered the establishment of the city of Kuopio. The municipality of Vehmersalmi joined the city of Kuopio on January 1, 2005 like the municipality of Kuopion maalaiskunta in 1969 and the municipality of Riistavesi in 1973.
The city is surrounded by lake Kallavesi, and several parts of it are built on islands. Kuopio is known for its association with a national delicacy, Finnish fish pastry (Kalakukko), and the dialect of Savo, as well as the hill of Puijo and the Puijo tower. Besides being a very popular outdoor recreation area, Puijo serves also as a stage for a yearly World Cup ski jumping competition.
Kuopio has always been a school town. Some of the first schools offering education in Finnish (such as the School for the Blind in 1871, and the Trade School in 1887) were established in Kuopio. Currently the most important institutions are the University of Kuopio, the Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Vocational College of Northern Savonia and the Kuopio department of the Sibelius Academy.
Kuopio is known as a strong center of health (it has the biggest yearly enrollment rate of medical students in Finland), pharmacy, environment, food & nutrition (all legalized Clinical and Public Health Nutritionists in Finland graduate from the University of Kuopio), safety (education in Emergency Services is centered in Kuopio ) and welfare professions, as the major organisations University of Kuopio, Savonia University of Applied Sciences and Technology Centre Teknia are particularly oriented to those areas.
Kuopio is known as the cultural center of Eastern Finland. A wide range of musical (from kindergarten to doctorate-level studies) and dance education is available and the cultural life is active. Notable events include ANTI - Contemporary Art Festival, Kuopio Dance Festival, Kuopio Rockcock, Kuopio Wine Festival and Finland Ice Marathon In Finland the inhabitants of Kuopio have a special reputation: they are known as jovial, verbally joking and lacking self-irony. People of Kuopio region and Eastern Finland have always had many health problems and the mortality has been higher than on an average in Finland. Because of this, Eastern Finland has been a sweetspot for Public Health studies. The North Karelia Project by the University of Kuopio in the 1970s was one of its first steps towards world class research.
Kuopio is the seat of the Finnish Orthodox Church. This is an autonomous cell within the autocephalous jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It is the only mainstream Orthodox faction to celebrate Easter on the Latin date. The late Archbishop Paul had been successful in producing literature of popular theology.