Useful notices and links on the 12th European Congress of Obesity.
Helsinki May 29th to June 1st, 2003...
Written by Armando Tagliati
A brief history of Helsinki
The town of Helsinki was founded in 1550 by King Gustavus Vasa of Sweden (which
Finland belonged for many centuries) as a new trading post in southern Finland
and a competitor to Tallinn in Estonia, the Hanseatic city on the opposite shore
of the Gulf of Finland.
Growth was slow, for despite the King’s order, the medieval traditions
were slow to change. Due to wars in Russia, the Baltic countries and Germany,
Helsinki was nevertheless a strategic military centre.
Russia’s growing power and the founding of its new capital St. Petersburg
in 1703 were to have a decisive influence on the growth and future of the Finnish
capital. The century was, however, one of great hardship as russians occupied
Helsinki in 1713-21 and again in 1742 when Sweden lost its status as a superpower.
The war having been lost, it became vital for Sweden to fortify Helsinki and
in 1748 the magnificent fortress of Suomenlinna was realized.
In 1808 Sweden was forced to declare war to Russia as a result of the power
politics of Napoleon and tsar Alexander I. Helsinki was occupied in the early
days of the war and the Suomenlinna fortress surrended. Finland was annexed
to Russia as an Autonomous Grand Duchy in 1809.
Helsinki becomes the Capital of Finland
For the town founded by Gustavus Vasa, the war was a major turning point and
Helsinki was proclaimed the Finnish capital in 1812. Devastated by fire, the
town was completely rebuilt in a style worthy of a capital by architects Johan
Albrecht Eherenstrom and Carl Ludwig Engel. The most conspicuous building of
this period is the Catedral, completed in 1852.
Helsinki became soon an administrative and university town and the biggest industrial
city in the land. By the beginning of the 20th century it had a population of
The independent republic
Finland declared its independence in 1917 and developed briskly during the 1920s;
the Soviet Union attacked Finland on November 30, 1939. Unlike all other states
on the European continent that were involved in the Second World War, Finland
was never occupied by foreign forces. In the post-war years agrarien Finland
was rapidly transformed in only a few decades into a modern industrial land.
Finland became a member of the European Union in 1995.
City of Helsinki
Founded in 1550
Capital of Finland 1812
Total area 686 sq.km (sea 500 sq.km, land 186 sq.km)
Warmest month July, av. temperature 20,2°C
Coldest month February, av. temperature –6,8°C
Total population 2001/2002: 560.000 (men 46,5%, women 53,5%)
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