As of 2006, the population was 489,787 in the municipality and 510,491 in the urban area, making it the second largest city in Sweden, after Stockholm and the fifth largest amongst the Nordic countries. The metropolitan area, a statistical area encompassing thirteen municipalities of which one is located in Halland County, has approximately 900,000 inhabitants.
The City of Gothenburg was founded in 1621 by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. It is situated by the sea at the mouth of Göta Älv, the river running through the city, and is the largest sea port of the Nordic countries. Gothenburg is also a significant university city with a large student population of both the University of Gothenburg, which is Scandinavia's largest university, and Chalmers University of Technology.
In Dutch, Scots, German and English — all languages with a long history of being spoken in the trade and maritime-oriented city — the name Gothenburg has traditionally been used for the city. The French form of the city name is Gothembourg. Gottenburg can also be seen in some older English texts. These traditional forms are now sometimes replaced with the use of the Swedish Göteborg, for example by the Göteborg Opera, Göteborg Ballet, Göteborg International Film Festival, and by the city itself (in English, the City of Göteborg). Many British newspapers, and the U.S. Navy, also refer to the city in English as Göteborg. Effective February 1, 2008, however, Göteborgs Universitet, previously named Göteborg University in English, changed to the University of Gothenburg. Other old variations in Swedish are Götheborgh, and the most common, Götheborg.
In the 16th and 17th century, the configuration of Sweden's borders made Gothenburg strategically important as the Swedish gateway to the west, lying on the west coast in the narrow area between the territories of Denmark-Norway. After several failed attempts, Gothenburg was successfully founded in 1621 by King Gustavus Adolphus (Gustaf II Adolf). The city was heavily influenced by the Dutch. Dutch city planners were contracted to build the city as they had the skills needed to build in the marshy areas around the city. The town was planned after Dutch cities to have canals like Amsterdam, and the blueprint for the canals of Gothenburg are actually the same as those used for Jakarta. The Dutchmen initially won political power and it was not until 1652, when the last Dutch politician in the city's council died, that the Swedes acquired political power over Gothenburg. During the Dutch period the town followed Dutch town laws and there were propositions to make Dutch the official language in the town.
Along with the Dutch, the town also was influenced by the Scottish, that came to settle down in Gothenburg. Many became people of high profile and one such person was William Chalmers, who donated his fortunes to create what later became Chalmers University of Technology. The Scottish influence can still be felt in Gothenburg in present day as names like Glenn and Morgan, which in the rest of Sweden usually are rare, are not uncommon in Gothenburg, and the use of a Scottish sounding "r" in the local dialect.
In the Treaty of Roskilde (1658) Denmark-Norway ceded the then Danish province Halland, to the south, and the Norwegian province of Bohus County or Bohuslän to the north, leaving Gothenburg in a less exposed position. Gothenburg was able to grow into an important port and trade centre on the west coast thanks to the fact that it was the only city on the west coast that was granted, together with Marstrand, the rights to trade with merchants from other countries.
In the 18th century, fishing was the most important industry. However, in 1731 the Swedish East India Company was founded, and the city flourished due to its foreign trade with highly profitable commercial expeditions to Asian countries.
The harbour developed into Sweden's main harbour for trade towards the west, and with the Swedish emigration to North America increasing, Gothenburg became Sweden's main point of departure. The impact of Gothenburg as a main port of embarkation for Swedish emigrants is reflected by Gothenburg, Nebraska, a small Swedish settlement in the United States.
With the 19th century, Gothenburg evolved into a modern industrial city that continued on into the 20th century. The population increased tenfold in the century, from 13,000 (1800) to 130,000 (1900). In the 20th century major companies that developed included SKF (est. 1907) and Volvo (est. 1926).
In more recent years however, the industrial section has faced a recession, which has spurred the development of new sectors such as increased merchandising, tourism and cultural and educational institutions.
Gothenburg is located on the west coast, in Southwestern Sweden, approximately half way between the capitals Copenhagen, Denmark, and Oslo, Norway. The location at the mouth of the river Göta älv, which feeds into Kattegatt, an arm of the North Sea, has helped the city grow in significance as a trading city. Due to the Gulf Stream the city has a mild climate and quite a lot of rain.
The Gothenburg Metropolitan Area extends to the municipalities of Ale, Härryda, Kungälv, Lerum, Mölndal, Partille, Stenungsund, Tjörn, Öckerö in Västra Götaland County, and Kungsbacka in Halland County.
Summers are warm and pleasant with average high temperatures of 22°C (72°F) and lows of 13°C (55°F), but temperatures of 25 - 30°C (77 - 86°F) occurs on many days during the summer. Winters are cold and windy with temperatures around the freezing point. Winters are much warmer than other places in same latitude, and are not colder than cities in Canada and northern United States.
Precipitation is regular but generally light throughout the year. Snow mainly occurs from january to March. Snow cover occurs but usually does not remain very long.
Typical temperatures and precipitation for each month:
The sea, trade and industrial history of the city is evident in the cultural life of Gothenburg. The biggest attraction in the city is the amusement park Liseberg (see Sites of interest). Another fact related to the industrial heritage of the city is that many of the cultural institutions, as well as hospitals and the university, were created thanks to donations from rich merchants and industrialists, for example the Röhss Museum.
The 1923 Gothenburg Industrial Exhibition saw the creation of the art museum and a number of other institutions. The event culture of the city was an important factor behind the creation of a number of other sport and cultural institutions.
There are very few houses left from the 17th century when the city was founded, since all but the military and royal houses were built of wood. One example is Skansen Crown.
The first major architecturally interesting period is the 18th century when the East India Company made Gothenburg an important trade city. Imposing stone houses with a Classical look were erected around the canals. One example from this period is the East India House, which today houses Gothenburg’s City Museum. In the 19th century the wealthy bourgeoisie begun to move outside the city walls which had protected the city when the Union of Denmark and Norway was still a threat. The style now was an eclectic, academic, somewhat over decorated style which the middle-class favoured. The working class lived in the overcrowded city district Haga, in wooden houses.
In the 19th century the first important town plan after the founding of city was created, which led to the construction of the main street, Kungsportsavenyn. The perhaps most significant type of houses of the city, Landshövdingehusen, were built in the end of the 19th century; three storey-houses with the first floor in stone and the other two in wood.
A very important period in the architectural history of the city was the early 20th century, when the National Romantic style dominated. Among the many monumental building erected the Masthugget Church can be mentioned.
After this the predominant style in Gothenburg and rest of Sweden was Functionalism which especially dominated the suburbs like Västra Frölunda and Bergsjön. In the 1950s the big stadium Ullevi was erected when Sweden hosted the 1958 World Cup in football.
Gothenburg has a rich music life - the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra is the best known when it comes to classical music. Gothenburg also was the birthplace of the Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg. Bands like The Soundtrack of Our Lives and Ace of Base are well known pop representatives of the city. There is also an active indie scene. For example, the musician Jens Lekman was born in the suburb of Angered and named his 2007 release Night Falls Over Kortedala after another suburb (Kortedala).
The city is also noted for being the centre of the melodic death metal movement (sometimes even called "The Gothenburg sound"). Gothenburg metal is unique and distinct because of its mixture of melody and harmony and sometimes progressive guitar riffs and solos. Often, keyboards and clean singing are incorporated (instead of just using the traditional death growls). Gothenburg's own At the Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity are credited with pioneering this melodic style, although first made by Michael Amott of Arch Enemy, Spiritual Beggars, ex-Carcass and ex-Carnage. Another well known band in the Gothenburg scene is Soilwork, although they reign from Helsingborg. Gothenburg metal has influenced numerous significant death metal and metalcore scenes across Europe and the rest of the world, including Finland, the United States, and Canada.
As in all of Sweden, a variety of sports are followed, including but not limited to ice hockey, football, basketball, and team handball. There is a varied amateur and professional sports clubs scene. Gothenburg is the birthplace of football in Sweden as the first football match in Sweden was played there in 1892. The city's three major clubs, IFK Göteborg, Örgryte IS and GAIS share a total of 34 Swedish Championships between them. IFK has also won the UEFA Cup twice. Other notable clubs include BK Häcken (football), Pixbo Wallenstam IBK (floorball), multiple national team handball champion Redbergslids IK, and three time national ice hockey champion Frölunda HC.
The city's most notable sports venues are Scandinavium (ice hockey), and Ullevi (multisport). A new football stadium is currently under construction, the name of which is yet to be decided (provisional name: Nya Gamla Ullevi).
As Swedens's second largest city after Stockholm, Gothenburg has hosted a number of international sporting events including the 1958 FIFA World Cup, the 1992 European Football Championship, the 1993 and the 2002 World Men's Handball Championship, the 1995 World Championships in Athletics, the 1997 World Championships in Swimming (Short track), the 2002 Ice Hockey World Championships, the 2004 UEFA Cup final, the 2006, the 2006 European Championships in Athletics, and the 2008 World Figure Skating Championships. Annual events held in the city are the Gothia Cup and the Göteborgsvarvet.
Due to the Gothenburg's advantageous location in the centre of Scandinavia, trade and shipping have always played a major role in the city's economic history, and they continue to do so. Gothenburg port has come to be the largest harbour in the whole of Scandinavia.
Apart from trade, the second pillar of Gothenburg has traditionally been manufacturing, and industry which significantly contributes to the city's wealth. Major companies operating plants in the area include SKF, Volvo, and Ericsson. Volvo Cars is the largest employer in Gothenburg, not including jobs in supply companies. The blue collar industries which have dominated the city for long are still important factors in the city's economy, but they are being gradually replaced by high tech industries.
Banking and finance are also important trades as well as the event and tourist industry.
Historically, Gothenburg was home base of the 18th century Swedish East India Company.
Gothenburg has two universities, both of which started off as colleges founded by private donations in the 19th century. The (public) University of Gothenburg has approximately 50,000 students and is the largest university in Scandinavia and one of the most versatile in Sweden. Chalmers University of Technology is a notable private university located in Johanneberg 2 km south of inner city.
There are also four folk high schools (Arbetarrörelsens Folkhögskola i Göteborg, Folkhögskolan i Angered, Göteborgs Folkhögskola, and Kvinnofolkhögskolan).
Gothenburg has some 25-30 high schools. Three of the more notable schools are Hvitfeldtska gymnasiet, Sigrid Rudebecks Gymnasium and Göteborgs Högre Samskola. There is also some high-schools connected to big Swedish companies. One is SKF Technical high-school(belonging to SKF)and Gothenburgs technical high-school(belonging to Volvo).
Gothenburg is a popular destination for tourists on the Swedish west-coast, and offers a number of cultural and architectural highlights.
The main boulevard is called Kungsportsavenyn (commonly known as Avenyn, "The Avenue"). It is about one kilometre long and starts at Götaplatsen — which is the location of the Gothenburg Museum of Art, the city's theatre, and the city library — and stretches out all the way to Kungsportsplatsen in the old city centre of Gothenburg, crossing a canal and a small park. The Avenyn was created in the 1860s and 1870s as a result of an international architecture contest, and is the product of a period of extensive town planning and re-modelling.. Avenyn has Gothenburg's biggest concentration of pubs and clubs.
The Gothenburg Opera house was inaugurated in 1994, and is an architectural landmark situated right next to the Göta älv river. Museums include the Gothenburg Museum of Art, Göteborgs Konsthall, Röhss Museum, and several museums of sea and navigation history, natural history, the sciences, and East India. The Museum of World Culture was inaugurated in 2004.
The Göteborg Botanical Garden is considered to be one of the most important botanical gardens in Europe with three stars in the French Guide Rouge. Next to the botanical garden is Gothenburg's largest park, Slottsskogen, where the Natural History Museum (Naturhistoriska Museet) is located. The park is also home to the city's oldest observatorie.
The amusement park Liseberg is located in the central part of the city. Liseberg is Scandinavia's largest amusement park by number of rides, and the most popular attraction in Sweden by number of visitors per year (>3 millions). Located near Liseberg is a science discovery centre named Universeum.
One of Gothenburg's most popular natural tourist attractions is the Southern Gothenburg Archipelago, which is a set of many picturesque islands that can be reached by ferry boat. Within the archipelago Älvsborg Fortress, Vinga and Styrsö islands are popular places to visit.
Gothenburg's second international airport is Gothenburg City Airport formerly known as Säve Flygplats and Sweden's 7th largest airport. It is located within the borders of Gothenburg Municipality. Prior to the arrival of Ryanair in 2001, the airport had 9000 passengers per year, only business jets etc. In 2007, more than 700,000 flew from City Airport. In addition to commercial airlines, the airport is also operated by a number of rescue services, including the Swedish Coast Guard. Due to its location many business jets prefer flying to City Airport rather than Landvetter. Gothenburg City Airport can handle planes up to the size of a Boeing 757, an Airbus A320 or similar jets. The airport also accommodates General Aviation acitivities, including 2 flying clubs, Aeroklubben i Göteborg, one of Europe's oldest flying clubs , and Chalmers flygklubb.
The "England ferry" (Englandsfärjan) to Newcastle over Kristiansand (run by the Danish company DFDS Seaways) ceased at the end of October 2006, after being a Gothenburg institution since the 19th century. The company cited high fuel prices and new competition from low-cost air services, especially Ryanair, as being the cause. DFDS Seaways' sister company, DFDS Tor Line, will continue to run scheduled freight ships between Gothenburg and several English ports, and these have limited capacity for passengers, but not private vehicles.