Oulu (Swedish: Uleåborg) is a city in Finland and the provincial
center of Northern Ostrobothnia, located at the mouth of the Oulu
River on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia in the province of
Northern Ostrobothnia. Founded in 1605, Oulu is the oldest city in
Northern Finland and the fifth most populous city in Finland and the
fourth largest urban area. Oulu had a population of 205,750
inhabitants on 30 June 2020 and an area (1 January 2020) of 3,817.54
square kilometers, of which 2,971.96 are land, 80.08 inland waters
and the remaining 765.50 square kilometers are sea. Oulu is the
largest coastal community in Finland.
Oulu is the administrative and commercial center of its region. Oulu's neighboring municipalities are Hailuoto, Ii, Kempele, Liminka, Lumijoki, Muhos, Pudasjärvi, Tyrnävä and Utajärvi.
The current city of Oulu was founded on 1 January 2013, when the former city of Oulu and the municipalities of Haukipudas, Kiimingi, Oulunsalo and Yli-Ii merged.
Oulu, founded by King Charles IX of Sweden on April 8,
1605, is the oldest city in Northern Finland. Oulu's heyday began in
1765, when the city gained the rights of a tapestry city to enable
foreign trade. In 1822, a fire destroyed the entire city center, and
architect Carl Ludvig Engel drew up a new grid pattern for the city.
Oulu has burned ten times in its history.
Today, Oulu is known especially as a technology city and the economic locomotive of Northern Finland. Founded in 1982, Oulu Technopolis was the first technology village in the Nordic countries. Previously, Oulu was known as a tar city: Oulu's main export product in the 19th century was tar, and it was also the largest tar exporter in Finland throughout the century. The peasants of Kainuu delivered tar along the Oulujoki River to Tervahovi in the Toppila district, on the northern shore of the Toppilansalmi. The tar bourgeoisie were the leading merchant families in the city of Oulu who traded in foreign tar. In addition to export and import trade, tar couriers were engaged in ship equipment and sawmill operations.