Vaasa (Swedish: Vasa) is a city on the west coast of Finland. It received its charter in 1606, during the reign of Charles IX of Sweden and is named after the Royal House of Vasa. Today, Vaasa has a population of 60,996 (31 December 2012)  (approximately 90,000 in the Vaasa sub-region), and is the regional capital of Ostrobothnia (Swedish: Österbotten, Finnish: Pohjanmaa).
The city is bilingual with 69.8% of the population speaking Finnish as their first language and 24.8% speaking Swedish, but the surrounding municipalities have much higher rates of Swedish-speakers than that. These circumstances make the region as well as the city an important centre for Finland-Swedish culture.
Over the years, Vaasa has changed its name several times, due to alternative spellings, political decisions and language condition changes. At first it was called Mustasaari or Mussor after the village where it was founded in 1606, but just a few years later the name was changed to Wasa to honor the royal Swedish lineage. Mustasaari (Finnish) or Korsholm (Swedish) remains as the name of the surrounding mostly rural municipality, which since 1973 surrounds the city. The city was known as Wasa between 1606 and 1855, Nikolaistad (Swedish) and Nikolainkaupunki (Finnish) between 1855 and 1917, Vasa (Swedish) and Vaasa (Finnish) beginning from 1917, with the Finnish spelling of the name being the primary one from ca 1930 when Finnish speakers became the majority in the city.
Old Vaasa in the 1840s by Johan Knutsson
The history of Korsholm (Finnish: Mustasaari) and also of Vaasa begins in the 14th century, when seafarers from the coastal region in central Sweden disembarked at the present Old Vaasa, and the wasteland owners from Finland Proper came to guard their land.
In the middle of the century, Saint Mary's Church was built, and in the 1370s the building of the fortress at Korsholm, Crysseborgh, was undertaken, and served as an administrative centre of the Vasa County. King Charles IX of Sweden founded the town of Mustasaari/Mussor on October 2, 1606, around the oldest harbour and trade point around the Korsholm church approximately seven kilometres to the southwest from the present city. In 1611, the town was chartered and renamed after the Royal House of Vasa.
Thanks to the sea connections, ship building and trade, especially tar trade, Vaasa flourished in the 17th century and most of the inhabitants earned their living from it.
In 1683, the three-subject or 'trivial' school moved from Nykarleby (Finnish: Uusikaarlepyy) to Vaasa, and four years later a new schoolhouse was built in Vaasa. The first library in Finland was founded in Vaasa in 1794. In 1793, Vaasa had 2,178 inhabitants, and in the year of the catastrophic town fire of 1852 the number had risen to 3,200.
Vaasa in the Finnish War
During the Finnish War, fought between Sweden and Russia in 1808–1809, Vaasa suffered more than any other city. In June 1808, Vaasa was occupied by the Russian forces, and some of the local officials pledged allegiance to the occupying force.
On June 25, 1808, the Swedish colonel Johan Bergenstråhle was sent with 1,500 troops and four cannons to free Vaasa from the 1,700 Russian troops who were led by generalmajor Nikolay Demidov. The Battle of Vaasa started with the Swedish force disembarking north of Vaasa in Österhankmo and advancing all the way to the city where they attacked with 1,100 troops, as some had to be left behind to secure the flank. There was heavy fighting in the streets and in the end the Swedish forces were repelled and forced to retreat back the way they came.
Generalmajor Demidov suspected that the inhabitants of Vaasa had taken to arms and helped the Swedish forces, even though the provincial governor had confiscated all weapons that spring, and he took revenge by letting his men plunder the city for several days. During those days 17 civilians were killed, property was looted and destroyed, many were assaulted and several people were taken to the village of Salmi in Kuortane where they had to endure the physical punishment called running the gauntlet. The massacre in Vaasa was exceptional during the Finnish war as the Russian forces had avoided that kind of cruelty that far. It was probably a result of the frustration the Russians felt because of intensive guerilla activity against them in the region.
On June 30, the Russian forces withdrew from Vaasa, and all officials that had pledged allegiance to Russia were discharged, and some were assaulted by locals. On September 13, the Russian forces returned and on the next day the decisive Battle of Oravais, which was won by Russia, was fought some 50 kilometres (30 mi) further north. By winter 1808, the Russian forces had overrun all of Finland, and in the Treaty of Fredrikshamn (September 17, 1809) Sweden lost the whole eastern part of its realm. Vaasa would now become a part of the newly formed Grand Duchy of Finland within the Russian Empire.
The Court of Appeal, nowadays the Church of Korsholm, survived the fire of 1852
The mainly wooden and densely built town was almost utterly destroyed in 1852. A fire started in a barn belonging to district court judge J.F. Aurén on the morning of August 3. At noon the whole town was ablaze and the fire lasted for many hours. By evening, most of the town had burned to the ground. Out of 379 buildings only 24 privately owned buildings had survived, among them the Falander–Wasastjerna patrician house (built in 1780–1781) which now houses the Old Vaasa Museum.
The Court of Appeal (built in 1775, nowadays the Church of Korsholm), some Russian guard-houses along with a gunpowder storage and the buildings of the Vaasa provincial hospital (nowadays a psychiatric hospital) also survived the blaze. The ruins of the greystone church, the belfry, the town hall and the trivial school can still be found in their original places. Much of the archived material concerning Vaasa and its inhabitants was destroyed in the fire. According to popular belief, the fire got started when a careless visitor fell asleep in Aurén's barn and dropped his pipe in the dry hay.
The new town of Nikolaistad (Finnish: Nikolainkaupunki), named after the late Tsar Nicholas I, rose in 1862 about seven kilometres to the northwest from the old town. The town's coastal location offered good conditions for seafaring. The town plan was planned by Carl Axel Setterberg in the Empire style. In the master plan the disastrous consequences of the fire were considered. Main streets in the new town were five broad avenues which divided the town into sections. Each block was divided by alleys.
The town was promptly renamed Vasa (Vaasa) after the Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown in 1917.
Site of Government
During the Finnish Civil War, Vaasa was the capital of Finland from January 29 to May 3, 1918. As a consequence of the occupation of central places and arresting of politicians in Helsinki the Senate decided to move the senators to Vaasa, where the White Guards that supported the Senate had a strong position and the contacts to the west were good.
The Senate of Finland began its work in Vaasa on February 1, 1918, and it had four members. The Senate held its sessions in the Town Hall. To express its gratitude to the town the senate gave Vaasa the right to add the cross of freedom, independent Finland's oldest mark of honour designed by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, to its coat of arms. The coat of arms is unusual not only in this respect, but also because of its non-standard shape and that decorations and a crown are included. Because of its role in the civil war, Vaasa became known as "The White City". A Statue of Freedom, depicting a victorious White soldier, was erected in the town square.
The language conditions in the city shifted in the 1930s, and the majority became Finnish-speaking. Therefore the primary name also changed from "Vasa" to "Vaasa", according to Finnish spelling.
Vaasa has three universities. The largest one is the University of Vaasa, which is located in the neighbourhood of Palosaari. Palosaari is a peninsula near the center of Vaasa, connected to it by bridges. The other two universities are Åbo Akademi, headquartered in Turku, and the Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, or Hanken, headquartered in Helsinki. Unique to Vaasa is the Finland-Swedish teachers training school, part of Åbo Akademi. The University of Helsinki also has a small unit, specialized in law studies, in the same premises as the University of Vaasa.
The city has two universities of applied sciences: Vaasa University of Applied Sciences (former Vaasa Polytechnic), located right next to the University of Vaasa, and Novia University of Applied Sciences (former Swedish University of Applied Sciences).
Vaasa is generally speaking an industrial town, with several industrial parks. Industry comprises one-fourth of jobs. There is a university (University of Vaasa), faculties of Åbo Akademi and Hanken, and two universities of applied sciences in the town. Many workers commute from Korsholm (Mustasaari), Laihia, and other municipalities nearby.
Major employers, in order:
City of Vaasa
ABB Strömberg – industrial and power electronics and automation equipment
Vaasa Central Hospital
Wärtsilä – diesel engines
Vacon – frequency converters
KWH Group – plastics, abrasives and logistics services
TeliaSonera – telephony
Posti – mail
Anvia (old Vaasa Area Telephone)
Kemira Chemicals
The film production company Future Film has its head office in Vaasa. Kotipizza has its head office in the Vaskiluodon Satamaterminaali.
Notable people from Vaasa
Olli Ahvenniemi – Basketball player
Fanny Churberg (1845–1892) – Painter
Annika Eklund – Singer
Seppo Evwaraye – Professional American football player
Marika Fingerroos (born 1979) – Yellow press favourite
Rabbe Grönblom – Businessman
Kai Hahto - Metal Drummer/drum teacher
Kenneth Haglund (*?) – author of computer programme YAWC
Jarl Hemmer – Author
Edvin Hevonkoski – Sculptor
Mikaela Ingberg – Javelin thrower
Fritz Jakobsson – Painter
Vesa 'Vesku' Jokinen – Musician
Mikael Jungner – MD of Yleisradio
Heli Koivula-Kruger – Athlete
Susanna 'Suski' Korvala – Singer
Björn Kurtén – Paleontologist, author
Joachim Kurtén – Businessman, politician
Toivo Kuula – Composer
Artturi Leinonen – Newspaperman, politician, author
August Alexander Levón – Industrialist, businessman
Nandor Mikola – Painter
Jorma Ojaharju – Author
Oskar Osala – ice hockey player
Sari Krooks – ice hockey player
Pekka Puska – Doctor, expert on public health
Viljo Revell – Architect, works included Toronto City Hall in Canada.
Seppo Sanaksenaho - Mayor of Vaasa 1997-2001, Deputy Mayor from 1979-1996
Carl Axel Setterberg – Architect, creator of the new Vaasa
Pekka Strang – Actor
Jacob Tegengren – Poet
Frithjof Tikanoja – Businessman
Jani Toivola – Actor, television host (Finnish Idols 2007, The Voice TV)
Allu Tuppurainen – Actor, creator of Rölli
Jenny Wilhelms – Musician
Carl Gustaf Wolff – Businessman
Mathilda Wrede – "Friend of the inmates"
Yrjö Sakari Yrjö-Koskinen (Georg Zacharias Forsman) – Politician, professor, fennoman
Sari Haapaniemi – Painter
Juha Tammenpää - Artist
Jani Liimatainen - Guitar player
Daco Junior – Musician
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Finland
Twin towns — Sister cities
As of 2006[update], Vaasa has town twinning treaties or treaties of cooperation signed with the following ten cities:
City State Country Year
Malmö Scania Sweden 19401
Umeå Västerbotten Sweden 19402
Harstad Troms Norway 19492
Helsingør Capital Region of Denmark Denmark 19492
Pärnu Pärnu County Estonia 19562
Schwerin Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany 19652
Kiel Schleswig-Holstein Germany 19672
Šumperk Olomouc Region Czech Republic 19842
Morogoro Morogoro Region Tanzania 19883
Bellingham Washington United States 20094
^1 Godfather Town
^2 Twin Town
^3 Cooperation Treaty
^4 Sister City
Korsholm castle as a detail on a map made after 1752. The picture might depict a drawing from the 17th century, but is unreliable as a source. The detailed portal might have some equivalence with reality.
Trinity Church (Protestant)
Town Square at Winter (night)
Panorama of the Town Square at night
Tritonia, the scientific library
University of Vaasa
Barracks from the Russian age
Court of Appeal, Finland's oldest
The Market Hall by night
Watertower located in the centre a block from the Town Square
St. Nicholas Church (Eastern Orthodox)
The ruins of the old St. Maria Church, which burned to the ground in 1852
The Church of Mustasaari (Protestant), in Vanha Vaasa
Wasa, British Columbia (named after Vasa)
Julkunen, Mikko: Vaasa - Vasa. Vaasa: Vaasa, 1982. ISBN 951-660-076-X (Photo book with English text.)
^ "Area by municipality as of 1 January 2011" (in Finnish and Swedish) (PDF). Land Survey of Finland. http://www.maanmittauslaitos.fi/sites/default/files/pinta-alat_2011_kunnannimenmukaan.xls. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
^ a b "VÄESTÖTIETOJÄRJESTELMÄ REKISTERITILANNE 30.12.2012" (in Finnish and Swedish). Population Register Center of Finland. http://vrk.fi/default.aspx?docid=6847&site=3&id=0. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
^ a b "Population according to language and the number of foreigners and land area km2 by area as of 31 December 2008". Statistics Finland's PX-Web databases. Statistics Finland. http://pxweb2.stat.fi/Dialog/varval.asp?ma=060_vaerak_tau_107_fi&ti=V%E4est%F6+kielen+mukaan+sek%E4+ulkomaan+kansalaisten+m%E4%E4r%E4+ja+maa%2Dpinta%2Dala+alueittain++1980+%2D+2008&path=../Database/StatFin/vrm/vaerak/&lang=3&multilang=fi. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
^ "Population according to age and gender by area as of 31 December 2008". Statistics Finland's PX-Web databases. Statistics Finland. http://pxweb2.stat.fi/Dialog/varval.asp?ma=050_vaerak_tau_104_fi&ti=V%E4est%F6+i%E4n+%281%2Dv%2E%29+ja+sukupuolen+mukaan+alueittain+1980+%2D+2008&path=../Database/StatFin/vrm/vaerak/&lang=3&multilang=fi. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
^ "List of municipal and parish tax rates in 2011". Tax Administration of Finland. 29 November 2010. http://www.vero.fi/nc/doc/download.asp?id=7996;193801. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
^ "Etusivu." Future Film. Retrieved on 19 January 2011. "Future Film Oy - Hovrättsesplanaden 9, 65100 VAASA - FIN"
^ "Contact Information." Future Film. Retrieved on 19 January 2011. "Office Oy Future Film Ab Hovioikeudenpuistikko 9 65100 VAASA FINLAND"
^ "Yhteystiedot & Palaute." Kotipizza. Retrieved on 11 October 2011. "Käyntiosoite: Vaskiluodon Satamaterminaali II kerros, 65170 Vaasa"
^ "Malmö stads vänortssamarbete" (in Swedish). © 2004-2009 Malmö stad, 205 80 Malmö, Organisationsnummer: 212000-1124. http://www.malmo.se/faktaommalmopolitik/internationelltsamarbete/vanortssamarbetet.4.33aee30d103b8f15916800032874.html. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
^ Bellingham Sister Cities Association,
Vaasa – Official website (English)
Vaasa – Official website (Finnish)
Vasa – Official website (Swedish)
Tourist's Vaasa (Finnish) (Swedish) (English) (German)
Ostrobothnian Museum and Terranova Kvarken Nature Centre (Finnish) (Swedish) (English)
Vaasa Pages.com Vaasa history timeline, old maps and aerial photos, hundreds of photos, housing exhibition. (English)
Map of Vaasa
Clickable map of Vaasa (English)
Pohjalainen – local newspaper (Finnish)
Vasabladet – local newspaper (Swedish)
Radio Vaasa – local radiostation (Finnish) (Swedish)
Pohjanmaan Radio – Regional public service radio in Finnish (part of Radio Suomi) (Finnish)
Radio Vega Österbotten – Regional public service radio in Swedish (part of Radio Vega) (Swedish)
Vaasan Ylioppilaslehti – Monthly paper for the students at Vaasa University (Finnish)
The Vaasa Centaur - International students e-zine (English)
Vaasalaisia.info – Local "townblog" and message-board. (Finnish)
Tritonia is the Academic Library of Vaasa and is shared by the city's three universities
University of Vaasa (Finnish) (Swedish) (English) (German)
Åbo Akademi, Vasa (Swedish) (English)
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration (Swedish) (English)
Vaasa University of Applied Sciences (Finnish) (Swedish) (English)
Swedish Polytechnic (Swedish) (English)
University of Helsinki, Vaasa Unit of Legal Studies (Finnish) (Swedish) (English)
Western Finland Design Center MUOVA, University of Art and Design (Finnish) (Swedish) (English)
The Tritonia Academic Library (Finnish) (Swedish) (English)
Vaasa Consortium of Higher Education (Finnish) (Swedish) (English)
The Vaasa Region Sports Academy (Finnish) (Swedish) (English)
Vaasan Steinerkoulu – Vaasa Steiner School (Finnish)
Vaasa Airsoft Association - The only registered airsoft association in the Vaasa region (Swedish) (Finnish)
VPS-Vaasa – the biggest football club in Vaasa (Finnish)
Vasa IFK – football club (Finnish) (Swedish)
FC Kiisto – football club (Finnish)
FC Sport – football club (Finnish)
Vaasan Sport – icehockey team (Finnish) (Swedish)
Vaasan Salama – basketball club (Finnish)
Vaasan Maila – Finnish baseball club (Finnish)
Vaasan Diana-57 – archery club (Finnish)
Vaasan keilailuliitto – bowling club (Finnish)
High Sport – climbing club (Finnish) (Swedish)
Vasa Idrottssällskap – athletics club (Swedish)
Tennis-61 – tennis club (Finnish)
Vaasa Saints – ultimate club (Finnish)
Vaasa Golf – golf club (Finnish) (Swedish)
Vaasan Urheiluautoilijat – motorsport club (Finnish)
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