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Turku is the oldest and fifth largest city in Finland, with a population of 175,354 (as of 2006). Located (60.27° N 22.16° ECoordinates: 60.27° N 22.16° E) at the mouth of the Aura river in the southwest of the country, it is the capital city of both the region of Finland Proper and the province of Western Finland, as well as being the centre of the country's third largest urban area, with around 300,000 inhabitants. Turku has one of the largest Finland-Swedish populations in the country. Due to its location, the Port of Turku is one of the busiest seaports in Finland with around 3.7 million passengers per year.
Turku has a cultural identity as Finland's historical centre, as it was the largest city in the country for a very long time and has served as the second city of Swedish Empire when Finland was under its rule. After being informally the capital of Finland for hundreds of years, Turku was also the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland from 1809 to 1812 after which time Helsinki was made the capital thought being more loyal and closer to Russian Empire than Turku.
Turku also hosted the country's first university, The Royal Academy of Turku until it was transfered to new capital after the Great Fire of Turku, 1827. Its belongings are still in possession of University of Helsinki, excluding the material of its library, that burnt along with the Great Fire.
Turku is one of the leading cities on Finnish Biotechnology and Information and Communications Technology. Majority of Finnish medicine manufacturers and researchers operates in Turku.
Turku has been designated by the European Union to be the European Capital of Culture in the year 2011, together with Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.
Public Transport: Turku Airport is located eight kilometres to the north of the city centre, partly in the neighbouring municipality of Rusko. From there are daily connections to Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Helsinki. Since 2008 also Gdansk and Oulu.
There are also daily ferry services from the Port of Turku to Sweden and Åland, operated by Silja Line, Viking Line and SeaWind Line. These are somewhat of a Finnish cultural tradition (see ruotsinlaiva), and people often travel long distances across Finland to Turku just to take a cruise across the Gulf of Bothnia.
The archipelago sea boat traffic is handled by S/S Ukkopekka. Old steamship cruise Turku-Naantali-Turku.
The first university in Finland, the "The Royal Academy of Turku" (now University of Helsinki), was established in the city in 1640. In 1820, the first school in Finland, conforming to the Bell-Lancaster method, was founded in Turku with the aim of making primary education more inclusive to the lower classes.
Nowadays, the University of Turku is the second largest university in Finland, as measured by student enrolment, and one of the oldest as well, having been founded in 1920. Turku is also home to several other establishments of higher education, namely Åbo Akademi, Finland's only Swedish-language university, Turun kauppakorkeakoulu (Turku School of Economics), and Turun ammattikorkeakoulu (Turku University of Applied Sciences), the largest polytechnic in Finland.
Turku is also the official Christmas city of Finland, and 'Christmas Peace' in Finland is declared on every 24 December at the Cathedral of Turku. The Turku Music Festival and the rock festival Ruisrock (held on the island of Ruissalo) are among the oldest of its kind in Scandinavia. The city also hosts another rock festival, Down by the Laituri, and boasts a vibrant nightlife.
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