Studies of Urbanization and Migration in Advanced and Developing Countries
Edited by H. S. Geyer
E. Heikkila and T. Jarvinen THE HISTORY OF URBANIZATION IN FINLAND THE SETTLEMENT STRUCTURE BEFORE WORLD WAR I1 The roots of modern urban culture in Finland stretch back to the end of the 1200s when Turku developed into an administrative and religious centre. At the end of the Middle Ages there were six cities of which Turku and Vyborg were the largest. Urban population was small in proportion but the cultural significance of the cities was considerable. According to law only Turku had a right to practise foreign trade, but this stipulation was not always followed. Vyborg was an important centre for Russian trade and the peasant population of the south coast regularly sailed to Tallinn, the nearest trading town belonging to the German Hansa. In the beginning of the 1600s when Sweden was a great power, armed conflicts were common and at least 100,000 Finns died in wars. Only the years of famine were as devastating. Population began to grow when wars and the diseases that followed them abated and the land yielded good crops. Population growth was twice that of Sweden in the beginning of the 1700s (Ahtiainen et al., 1998). The low death rate can be partly explained by the fact that population was not concentrated in built-up areas where the propensity to epidemics was consequently higher (Tarkka et al., 1991: 25). Russia conquered Finland from Sweden in 1809 and established an autonomous country. The emperor proclaimed Helsinki as capital in 1812. The concentration of the...
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