Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Turku (Swedish: Åbo , Latin: Aboa) is a city in Finland, founded in the 13th century. Turku is the fifth largest city in Finland, with a population of about 175 000, and is located in the south-west of the country at the mouth of the Aura river. Due to its history and location, over 5% of its inhabitants are Swedish speakers. It belongs to the historical province of Finland Proper and is the capital of the administrative province of Western Finland.
The total area of the city is 306 square kilometres, of which 63 km² is water. There are 719 inhabitants per one km² of land. The city is divided into two parts by the river Aura, referred popularly to täl pual jokke ('this side of the river', referring to the eastern side where the Cathedral of Turku is located) and tois pual jokke ('the other side of the river', ie the western side). The city centre is rather equally spread on both sides of the river.
As many small neighbouring municipalities that were in financial problems were annexed to the city during the latter half of the 20th century, the city's shape is now reminescent of an elongated pear. The city centre and most of the suburban areas lie in the middle, separated from the less densely populated rural areas to the north by the Turku bypass, part of European route E18. Islands, such as Ruissalo , Hirvensalo and Kakskerta , form the southern part of the city. These are also sparsely populated and mostly contain summer residences, with the exception of the Moikoinen district in Hirvensalo, which is currently growing as an upper-middle-class suburb.
The Turku region, with a population of 290 000, is the third largest urban region in Finland, after Greater Helsinki and the area around Tampere. The Turku region is usually considered to include, in addition to the city itself, at least the neighbouring cities of Naantali, Raisio and Kaarina and the town of Lieto. Often also municipalities such as Pargas, Piikkiö, Paimio, Aura, Vahto, Rusko and Masku are included in this definition, as they are certainly inside the city's sphere of influence.
Access and public transport
There are several daily rail services from Turku to Helsinki and towards Tampere (and further to the direction of Joensuu) operated by the Finnish national carrier VR. All passenger services depart from, or stop at, Turku Central Railway Station (some depart from the Port of Turku), and those going to Helsinki make another stop at Kupittaa Railway Station. The other railway stations in the city are only used by goods traffic. Travelling by rail is usually the cheapest and fastest way to get into Turku, but due to the lack of connections towards the north it is not always an option.
Turku is the terminal point of several important Finnish highways:
- Highway 1 to Helsinki, which forms part of the European route E18;
- Highway 8 to Oulu (via Rauma), which forms part of the European route E8;
- Highway 9 to Kuopio (via Tampere), which forms part of the European route E63;
- and Highway 10 to Hämeenlinna.
Privately-operated bus companies have services from Turku along all the major roads to nearly every direction. However, they are usually more expensive and take longer than rail transport.
Turku Airport is located eight kilometres to the north of the city centre, partly in the neighbouring municipality of Rusko, and has frequent connections to Helsinki (Vantaa), Stockholm (Arlanda) and Copenhagen (Kastrup) airports. The flights are operated mainly by Finnair and SAS, and their subsidiaries.
The Port of Turku has daily ferry services to Sweden and Åland, operated by Silja Line, Viking Line and SeaWind Line . These are somewhat of a Finnish cultural tradition (see ruotsinlaiva ), and people often travel long distances across Finland to Turku just to be able to take a cruise across the Gulf of Bothnia.
Internal and regional public transport
Turku has, for a city of its size, very good public transport connections. The city transport currently consists of buses only. It is managed and supervised by the City of Turku Public Transport Office, and operated mainly by private companies. All of the major districts are served by buses every ten or fifteen minutes (some even more often) in the daytime.
Regional buses are operated by private companies, most importantly TLO with very frequent services especially to the neighbouring cities of Naantali, Raisio and Kaarina. TLO has been accused, however, of abusing its near-monopoly position and setting prices excessively high.
There are plans for a light railway line in the Turku region in the near future. This system would serve the major suburbs of the city (namely Varissuo and Runosmäki) as well as the neighbouring cities.
There are three universities in Turku:
However, the education system of Finland gives polytechnics the same status as universities, and Turku Polytechnic is the largest polytechnic in Finland measured by the total number of students. Other polytechnics in the city include:
- Sydväst Polytechnic
- Humanities Polytechnic
In addition, there are 39 primary schools (ala-aste), 14 secondary schools (yläaste), 13 upper secondary schools (lukio), 7 different special needs schools, 7 vocational schools, several open colleges, and Turku International School .
- The Aboa Vetus museum, built over the site of archaeological excavations of 14th century remains
- Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art
- Sibelius museum
- Moomin World in nearby Naantali
- Ruisrock – annual rock festival held on the island of Ruissalo
There have been findings dating back to the Stone Age in the area of the modern city of Turku, but it did not become an important city until the late 13th century, thus being the oldest city in Finland. The origins of the city's name are in the Old Russian word tǔrgǔ, meaning 'market place'. The Cathedral of Turku was dedicated in 1300, and together with the Turku Castle and the Dominican monastery founded in 1229, it made Turku the most important centre of mediaeval Finland.
During the Middle Ages, Turku was the only city in Finland to take part in trade with the Hanseatic League, as well as being the seat of the Bishop of Turku (later Archbishop of Turku). The population of the city was around two thousand, and in the 1620s it became the residence of the Governor-General of Finland, thus affirming its status as the capital of Finland. In 1640, the first university in Finland, the Academy of Åbo, was founded in Turku.
After Sweden ceded Finland to Imperial Russia in the Treaty of Hamina in 1809, thus ending the Finnish War, the functions of capital started to be moved away from Turku and into Helsinki, as Emperor Alexander I felt that Turku was too far away from Russia to efficiently serve as capital of the Grand Duchy. The move took place officially in 1812. The government offices that remained in Turku were finally moved to the new capital after the Great Fire of Turku in 1827, which almost completely destroyed the city.
After the fire, a new, safer city plan was drawn up by German architect Carl Engel, who had also designed the new capital, Helsinki. Turku was still to remain the largest city in Finland for another twenty years.
In 1918, a new university, the Åbo Akademi - the only Swedish-language university in Finland - was founded in Turku. Two years later the Finnish-language University of Turku was founded on its side. In the late 20th century, Turku displayed unprecedented rates of growth, resulting in the construction of many new densely inhabited suburbs such as Varissuo and Runosmäki, and many neighbouring municipalities (eg Maaria and Paattinen ) were annexed into the city.
- Turku - Official site
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