Joensuu is a city in Finland and the regional center of North Karelia, located on the northern shore of Lake Pyhäselä at the mouth of the Pielisjoki River in North Karelia. Joensuu is the 12th largest city in Finland in terms of population. About 76,000 people live in the Joensuu city area. The neighboring municipalities of Joensuu are Ilomantsi, Kontiolahti, Lieksa, Liperi, Rääkkylä and Tohmajärvi. In addition, Joensuu is bordered on the east by Russia.

Joensuu belongs to the Joensuu region, which currently also includes the municipalities of Ilomantsi, Juua, Kontiolahti, Liperi and Polvijärvi, as well as the city of Outokumpu. Of these, Ilomantsi is not involved in regional cooperation in the Joensuu region. The European Forest Institute is located in the city.

In the autumn of 2008, the city of Joensuu received its own flag, designed by Leea Wasenius. The flag is based on the coat of arms of the city. The city's nominal animal species are the toad (from 2012), the golden cricket, the lake salmon and the squirrel (from 2012). The title plant species are delicacy and root canal.


Geography and cityscape
Joensuu is located on the shores of Pyhäselä, which belongs to the Saimaa lake district, to which the Pielisjoki River, which divides the city into two parts, flows.

The total area of ​​the city in 2004 was 120.3 km², of which 81.9 km² was land. The population density, taking into account land areas, was 643 inhabitants / km² at the beginning of 2004. With the association of municipalities in 2005, the total area of ​​Joensuu became 1,311.94 km², of which 1,171.06 km² is land.

The principles of the cityscape of Joensuu were created in the first town plan drawn up by architect Claës Wilhelm Gyldén in 1848. It shows the division of the city into regular-sized rectangular blocks, which were initially divided into six plots. The Gyldén town plan represents the zoning ideals of the empire, with an emphasis on promoting fire safety by dividing the city through wide park streets that slow the spread of fire. This ideal culminated in the General Urban Building Order (KYRJ) of 1856.

The surviving principles of the Gyldén town plan are:
The alignment of the Pielisjoki shoreline of Rantakatu as closely as possible,
A variable-width park zone between the promenade and the shoreline,
the allocation of two church plots from mounds to both a Lutheran and an Orthodox church,
Kirkkokatu park axis connecting churches
The position of Siltakatu as a transverse park street
market location; originally, two blocks were reserved for the market square

It was necessary to revise the town plan as early as the 1860s. The main reason was that the plots turned out to be too small. The formula drawn up by Ferdinand Öhman in 1867 emphasized the above features. In addition, an axis of parks, squares and public buildings had been created between Siltakatu and Koskikatu, which runs in a parallel direction to the south, and which is still emphasized in the cityscape of Joensuu. From the shore of the Pielisjoki River, on the axis are the town hall, Vapaudenpuisto, Joensuu tori, the Keskusujaja and Keskuspuisto block, which also includes commercial buildings, the former lyceum block (now the Art Museum), the Joensuu lyceum high school, Later, on the extension of the same axis, just outside the old grid pattern area, the main building of the University of Eastern Finland is also located. In the town plan, the plot division of the blocks was changed to 4-division, but this was implemented only in the new undeveloped blocks. The old blocks followed the old block of six plots or a combination of the two. The variability of plot distribution is still typical in the center of Joensuu.

Joensuu was realized as a distinctive wooden city of empire, characterized by low buildings and a wide street space compared to older cities. The first private stone houses appeared in the early 20th century and larger commercial buildings began to be built along Siltakatu in the late 1940s. However, the wooden city look was preserved for a long time in the 1960s. In the 1970s, the old building stock was quickly replaced by lamellar apartment buildings, usually consisting of an above-ground basement and three residential floors, which today form cohesive street spaces along north-south blocks. The block structure was open-ended, so in this respect the urban structure realizes the ideal of functionalism.

At the beginning of the 21st century, large investments have been made in the center of Joensuu that affect the cityscape, including a pedestrian center project. This has been followed by private investors with their new commercial construction projects around the market.

Until 1954, Joensuu was a small agrarian trading town besieged by the municipality of Pielisensuu and competing with it. The city and the surrounding suburbs were marked by many sawmills and were surrounded by factory communities such as Utra, Sirkkala and the Penttilä sawmill. The city had been expanded east of the Pielisjoki River with a town plan for the Niinivaara district prepared by Bertel Jung. After the wars, settlers and frontmen had also been settled in the new districts of Otsola and Kanervala, the construction of which was based on standard houses created by the Finnish Association of Architects' SAFA Standardization Office.

With the help of a larger urban entity formed after the amalgamation of municipalities in early 1955, it was easier to plan for the future of the area. The Joensuu Master Plan (1953) prepared by Otto-Iivari Meurman laid the foundation for future growth by applying the suburban principle to the designation of new construction areas and by renewing the main road, for example, around the ring road around the city center. Since the late 1990s, Joensuu has increased the supply of detached house plots, while the areas of employment and business have expanded with regionalization.


Meurman's master plan also laid the foundation for the urban green area network, the key features of which are the routes following the banks of the Pielisjoki and Pyhäselä and the concentration of leisure services in Mehtimäki and Linnunlahti. Since the 1970s, the university campus of the University of Eastern Finland has been created on the west side of the city center, next to Mehtimäki.

Urban planning has taken into account the continuity of green areas, the so-called green corridors, and good light traffic connections both in the city center and on the outskirts of the city. Joensuu is a city with a clear structure, and it is not very easy to get lost, especially in its central area.

It is considered a mistake to see the cityscape and the architecture of the city that the visual connections to the nearby Pyhäselä are poor in many places. Instead, the Pielisjoki is an integral and visible part of the cityscape. Improving the views of Pyhäselä has been taken into account in the general guidelines for the development of the city.

The most significant of the new areas are the Red Brick-dominated Rantakylä, built in the 1970s, and the pale Noljakka, built in the 1980s and 1990s. Efforts have been made to develop these and Niinivaara into strong regional centers with apartment buildings. In the largest districts, there are separate library, school, health center, pharmacy and postal services and shopping centers as integrated service centers. The majority of the population lives in a fairly limited area in the main districts, and therefore journeys to services are short.

At the top of Niinivaara, which dominates the river views of Joensuu, there is the North Karelia Central Hospital. The Joensuu campus of the University of Eastern Finland and part of Karelia University of Applied Sciences are located right on the edge of the grid area in the city center.