Settlements and Towns

The 455 municipalities (=local authorities) of Finland lay down their own municipal tax rate on the basis of their needs for financing the required services of maintaining local infrastructures, water supply, electricity generation, operation of ports, etc. The state pays the local authorities to provide welfare services in proportion to population, but allows the local authorities to decide on how best to provide the services of health care, basic education, libraries, fire-fighting, rescue, etc. The size of the municipalities varies considerably both in terms of population and geography, but health care, family allowances, unemployment benefits, and other social services are excellent throughout the country. Sixty-four percent of the population live in towns, of which the Finnish capital Helsinki (Helsingfors), a port city with c.550,000 inhabitants, is the largest. Together with the neighboring towns of Espoo (200,000), Vantaa (170,000), and Kauniainen, almost one-fifth of the Finnish population live in the greater metropolitan area. Other major towns are Tampere (186,000), the two seaport towns of Turku (170,000) and Oulu (120,000), Lahti (95,000), Kuopio (85,000), Pori (77,000), Jyvaskyla (75,000), Lappeenranta (57,000), Kotka (56,000), and Vaasa (55,000). The smallest Finnish town with a university is Rovaniemi (36,000) in Lappin laani.

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