Espoo ( Finnish pronunciation: [ˈespoː] ; Swedish : Esbo , [ˈɛsbo] ) is the second largest city and municipality in Finland . The population of the city of Espoo was 270,416 as of 31 March 2016. [7] It is part of the Finnish Capital Region , and most of its population lives in the inner urban core 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. The city is on the shore of the Gulf of Finland , in the region of Uusimaa .

Other bordering municipalities of Espoo are Nurmijärvi and Vihti in the north, and Kirkkonummi in the west. The national park of Nuuksio is situated in northwestern Espoo.

Espoo encompasses 312 square kilometres (120 sq mi), of which 312 km 2 (120 sq mi) is land. [28]

Espoo doesn't have a traditional city center at all, but it has several local regional centers. Espoo is thus divided into seven major areas ( Finnish : suuralueet , Swedish : storområden ): Vanha-Espoo (with administrative center ), Suur-Espoonlahti , Pohjois-Espoo , Suur-Kauklahti , Suur-Leppävaara , Suur-Matinkylä , and Suur-Tapiola .

Aalto University 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. Several major companies are based in Espoo, including Nokia Networks , KONE , Neste Oil , Fortum , Orion Corporation , and Outokumpu , as well as video game developers Rovio and Remedy Entertainment .

The city of Espoo is officially bilingual . The majority of the population, 83.6%, speaks Finnish as their mother tongue, while a minority of 8.3% speaks Swedish . 8% of Espoo's population has a first language other than Finnish or Swedish.


The name Espoo probably comes from the Swedish name for the River Espoo, Espå (or Espåå ), which in turn comes from the old Swedish word äspe , meaning a border of aspen , and the Swedish word for "river", å , thus "a river bordered by aspen". The name was first mentioned in 1431. The banks of the River Espoo are even today heavily populated with aspen.


The first inhabitants in the area arrived about 9,000 years ago. Physical evidence (pollen grains) indicates agriculture from ca. 1000 AD, but there are no historical records. Up to the 13th century, the area was a borderland between the hunting grounds of Finnish Proper and Tavastian Finns , with a sparse population. Immigrants from Sweden established permanent agricultural settlements to the area from late 13th century onwards after the so called Second Crusade to Finland . Espoo was a subdivision of the Kirkkonummi congregation until 1486-7. The oldest known document referring to Kirkkonummi is from 1330; Espoo as a subchapter has been dated to the 1380s, although the first document directly referring to Espoo is from as late as 1431. The construction of the Espoo Cathedral , the oldest preserved building in Espoo, marks the independence of Espoo. Administratively, Espoo was a part of Uusimaa . When the province was split to Eastern and Western provinces governed from the Porvoo and Raasepori castles , respectively, the eastern border of the Raasepori province was in Espoo. The 13th century road connecting the most important cities in Finland at that time, the King's Road , passes through Espoo on its way from Stockholm via Turku and Porvoo to Viipuri .

In 1557, King Gustaf Wasa decided to stabilize and develop the region by founding a royal mansion in Espoo. The government bought the villages of Espåby and Mankby (Finnish: Mankki ) and transferred the population elsewhere, and built the royal mansion in Espåby. (Mankby was eventually abandoned and was never repopulated.) The royal mansion housed the king's local plenipotentiary ( vogt ), and collected royal tax in kind paid by labor on the mansion's farm. The administrative center Espoon keskus has grown around the church and the Espoo railway station , but the municipality has retained a network-like structure to the modern day.

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 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.


Anti-aircraft searchlight in Haukilahti in 1940


Espoo is located in southern Finland, along the shore of the Gulf of Finland , and in the region of Uusimaa and the Helsinki sub-region . Prior to the abolition of Finnish provinces in 2009, Espoo was a part of the Southern Finland Province .

The city borders Helsinki , the Finnish capital, which is to the east. Other neighbouring municipalities are Vantaa to the east and northeast, Nurmijärvi to the north, Vihti to the northwest, and Kirkkonummi to the west and southwest. Espoo is a part of the Finnish Capital Region, which is the inner core of the Greater Helsinki metropolitan area.


Espoo is divided into seven major areas ( Finnish : suuralueet , Swedish : storområden ): Vanha-Espoo (with administrative center ), Suur-Espoonlahti , Pohjois-Espoo , Suur-Kauklahti , Suur-Leppävaara , Suur-Matinkylä , and Suur-Tapiola . These major areas are then divided into a total of 56 districts .


Although Espoo is relatively highly populated, it has large amounts of natural wilderness, particularly in the city's western and northern portions. The city has a total of 71 lakes, the largest of which are Lake Bodom , Nuuksion Pitkäjärvi, Vanhankylän Pitkäjärvi, Loojärvi, Velskolan Pitkäjärvi, Saarijärvi, Matalajärvi, Siikajärvi, and Lippajärvi. The city has a large coastline on the Gulf of Finland .

Espoo has six Natura 2000 protected areas : Bånberget forests, Espoonlahti–Saunalahti bay area (partially in Kirkkonummi ), Laajalahti bay, Matalajärvi lake, Nuuksio National Park (partially in Kirkkonummi and Vihti ), as well as forests in Vestra (partially in Vantaa ).

The official animal of Espoo is the Siberian flying squirrel , the official bird is the common blackbird , and the official plant is Anemone nemorosa .


Historical population of Espoo [8]
Year Population Year Population
1901 5,888 1985 156,778
1910 7,891 1990 172,629
1920 8,817 1995 191,247
1930 11,370 2000 213,271
1940 13,378 2005 231,704
1950 22,878 2010 247,970
1960 53,042 2013 260,753
1970 92,655 2020 (est.) 281,970
1975 120,632 2030 (est.) 306,965
1980 137,409 2040 (est.) 323,875
Population by grand district (in 2006)
Area Population Area Population
Leppävaara 58,048 Vanha-Espoo 33,613
Espoonlahti 48,649 Pohjois-Espoo 9,754
Tapiola 41,905 Kauklahti 6,191
Matinkylä 33,613

The population by nationality 1 January 2007 was 95.1% Finnish and 4.9% other nationalities. Religious affiliation was 77.4% Lutheran, 1.3% Orthodox, 1.3% other, and 19.9% no religious affiliation.

Espoo contains many high income suburbs, and six out of the ten highest average income postal code areas in Finland are in Espoo.


Espoo hosts a Museum of Modern Art called EMMA (Espoo Museum of Modern Art), built in a renovated old print house, the WeeGee house , named after an old book print company Weilin & Göös. The same building hosts also Finland's only Museum of Horology ( Finnish : Kellomuseo , Swedish : Urmuseum ) and a Toy Museum. Glims Farmstead Museum is also located in the city. The Espoo cultural centre , home of the world-renowned Tapiola Sinfonietta, where numerous concerts and theater performances are held, is located in Tapiola ( Swedish : Hagalund ).

Espoo has several old manors of which two are open to the general public. The most important is Espoon kartano ( Swedish : Esbo gård , Espoo Manor), first mentioned in maps in 1495, and belonging to the noble Ramsay family since 1756. The current main building dates back to 1914, but a mill dates from the 1750s and Finland oldest walved stone bridge from 1777 is on the King's Road ( Finnish : Kuninkaantie , Swedish : Kungsvägen ) which passes by the manor. The main building can be rented for weddings and similar occasions. Guided tours are available on request for groups. The other manor open to public is Pakankylän kartano, located on the northern shore of Lake Bodom . The manor hosts a restaurant and club rooms, partly with original furniture open to the public, but meant originally to Kaisankoti sanatory and old people's home located on ground of the manor.

The Metal band Children of Bodom comes from Espoo, Finland. They are named after the unsolved murder known as the Lake Bodom murders which took place at the shore of Lake Bodom , a lake in northern Espoo, in 1960. The bands Norther and Kiuas also come from Espoo.

The educational department took part in Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 in Finland .


The districts and major areas of Espoo

At the 1952 Summer Olympics , the city's Westend Tennis Hall hosted the fencing events.

Espoo is home to several sports teams. Espoo Blues were an ice hockey team which played at highest level SM-liiga between 1998 and 2016 before the team went bankrupt. Between 1984 and 1998 the team was known as Kiekko-Espoo. A new team called Espoo United was established to replace Espoo Blues and United now play ice hockey at the second highest level Mestis . The Espoo United women's hockey team play at the highest level, women's SM-liiga. Espoo United are also active in basketball and the male basketball team play at the second highest level and the women's basketball team play at the highest level, Naisten korisliiga.

FC Honka (also known as Esport Honka) is a football club that was promoted into the Finnish premier division ( Veikkausliiga ) for the first time in its history at the end of the 2005 season. Honka currently plays at the second highest level Ykkönen . They play their home matches at Tapiolan urheilupuisto . Espoo also has two floorball teams playing at highest level Salibandyliiga . The two teams are Esport Oilers and Westend Indians.

Espoo is the birthplace of 2007 Formula One World Champion Kimi Räikkönen , former Dallas Stars forward Jere Lehtinen (three time NHL Selke Trophy winner), former Formula One driver JJ Lehto , professional downhill mountain biker Matti Lehikoinen , professional ten-pin bowling star Osku Palermaa and 2009 European Figure Skating Champion Laura Lepistö .


Espoo's city council has 75 members. Following the municipal election of 2017 the council seats are allocated in the following way: National Coalition Party 26 seats, Greens 17, Social Democrats 10, True Finns 7, Swedish People's Party 6, Centre Party 3, Left Alliance 3, Christian Democrats 2 and Liberal Party 1. [33]

Support for the center-right National Coalition Party is high in Espoo. Results of the Finnish parliamentary election, 2011 in Espoo:

Espoo is the home for True Finns chairman Timo Soini .

International relations

Twin towns – Sister cities

Espoo is twinned with: [10]

Notable people

See also