Turku is a city on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River, in the region of Finland Proper. Turku, as a town, was settled during the 13th century and founded most likely at the end of the 13th century, making it the oldest city in Finland. It quickly became the most important city in Finland, a status it retained for hundreds of years. After Finland became part of the Russian Empire (1809), and the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland was moved to Helsinki (1812), Turku continued to be the most populous city in Finland, until the end of the 1840s. Today it remains a regional capital and an important business and cultural center.
Because of its long history it has been the site of many important events and has extensively influenced Finnish history. Along with Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, Turku was designated the European Capital of Culture for 2011. In 1996 it was declared the official Christmas City of Finland.
Due to its location, Turku is a notable commercial and passenger seaport with over three million passengers travelling through the Port of Turku each year to Stockholm and Mariehamn.
As of 30 September 2012, Turku’s population was 179,529, making it the fifth largest city in Finland. As of 31 August 2008 there were 303,492 inhabitants living in the Turku sub-region, ranking it as the third largest urban area in Finland after the Greater Helsinki area and Tampere sub-region. The city is officially bilingual as 5.2 percent of its population identifies Swedish as a mother-tongue