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Helsinki Travel Guide, Finland

Helsinki, also known as Helsingfors, is Finland's capital and biggest city.  It is located in the southern part of the country, on the Gulf of Finland's shore, and by the Baltic Sea.  Helsinki's population was 569,892 on March 31st of 2008, which made it the most populated municipality in the country by a broad margin.  The city's foreign-born population is about 10%.

Along with its neighboring cities of Kauniainen, Espoo, and Vantaa, Helsinki is composed of the capital region, having more than 1,000,000 inhabitants.  There are 12 municipalities in the Greater Helsinki area, and it has a population of more than 1,300,000.  Greater Helsinki also accounts for 25% of the population in the country, 29% of the jobs, and one third of the GDP.

This is the country's capital for government, business, culture, education, and research.  The Greater Helsinki area has 6 technology parks and 8 universities.  About 70% of all the foreign companies that operate in Finland settle in the region of Helsinki.  The rural immigration has made the city one of the quickest growing metropolitan areas across Europe.

The main international airline hub in Finland is Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, which is about 40 minutes away from the center of the city, having direct flights across the globe.  The Helsinki and Tallinn route takes up an hour and a half by sea and only 18 minutes in a helicopter.  Turku and Tampere, two of Finland's other big cities, can be reached by train in as much as two hours and by car in a long as two and a half hours.


The metropolitan area of Helsinki generates about one third of the GDP in the country.  The GDP for every capita is about 1.5 times the average of the nation, which make this city one of the wealthiest European capitals.  The local economy grew about 3.2% in 2004.  The economy has become more service-based, even though industries, like shipbuilding, continue employing a significant amount of people.  Major service-based employers include the information technology and public sectors.

Helsinki's metropolitan area is where the headquarters are for big Finnish companies, as well as international companies.  It also has the best highly skilled employee availability in the country and a good support system for businesses and infrastructures.  Since June of 2007, Helsinki's center has hosted the European Chemicals Agency, which is the leader of reallocating several hundreds of global experts, including their families, to the city.

The city has rich and poor neighborhoods all over, where the poor neighborhoods are famous for crime.  Some people have preferred Espoo over Helsinki, which is considered to be managed better, and the city has lost companies to Espoo as well.  There are major future challenges in the region's economic development, particularly with improving the city's economy and the cooperation between the municipalities of the area.
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  • andra88Kahvila Suomi
    travel tip by andra88 posted more then 30 days ago
    Helsinki is not a cheap city when it comes to food, so if you are on a budget, your choices are mostly limited to fast food chains. However, there is the occasional Finnish eatery that serves decent food at decent prices, where you can...
  • lizzy_aMuseum of Cultures
    travel tip by lizzy_a posted more then 30 days ago
    Normally when you visit a country, you want to go to museums that will help you learn more about that country, but obviously there are exceptions to this rule. One such example is the Museum of Cultures in Helsinki, where you can...
  • kachou_nHeureka Science Centre
    travel tip by kachou_n posted more then 30 days ago
    If you have kids who are interested in science, or if you are a science geek yourself, you will definitely love the Heureka Science Museum. Unlike many regular science museum, this one has not only displays and explanations about various...
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