Gothenburg (Swedish: Göteborg; pronounced [jœtəˈbɔrj] ( listen)) is the second largest city in Sweden by population and the fifth-largest in the Nordic countries. Situated on the west coast of Sweden, the city proper has a population of 524,767, with 549,839 in the urban area and total of 945,713 inhabitants in the metropolitan area. Gothenburg is classified as a global city by GaWC, with a ranking of Gamma−.
The City of Gothenburg was founded in 1621 by King Gustavus Adolphus. It lies by the sea at the mouth of Göta Älv—the river running through the city—and is the largest seaport in the Nordic countries.
Gothenburg is home to many students, as the city includes both the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology. Volvo was founded in Gothenburg in 1927. The city is a major centre in Sweden for sports and home to the IFK Göteborg, BK Häcken, GAIS and Örgryte IS association football teams as well as the Frölunda HC ice hockey team.
Gothenburg is served by Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport, located 30 km (18.64 mi) southeast of the city centre. It is the second largest airport in Sweden. The city is also served by Gothenburg City Airport, located 15 km (9.32 mi) from the city centre.
The city is famous for hosting some of the biggest annual and non-annual events in Scandinavia, which has nicknamed Gothenburg as the «Event City». Gothenburg Film Festival, held in January since 1979, is the leading film festival in Scandinavia with over 155,000 visitors annually. In the summertime a broad variety of music festivals are taking place, such as Way Out West and Metaltown. Gothia Cup, held every year in Gothenburg, is in regards to the number of participants even the world’s largest football tournament: in 2011, a total of 35,200 players from 1567 teams and 72 nations participated. Additionally, many international artists often pick Gothenburg as their first choice for hosting concerts in preference to other Swedish cities such as Stockholm and Malmö.
Gothenburg is also famous for Liseberg, chosen as one of the top ten amusement parks in the world (2005) by Forbes Magazine.
In the 16th and 17th century, the configuration of Sweden’s borders made Gothenburg strategically important as the Swedish gateway to the west, lying on the west coast in the narrow area between the territories of Denmark–Norway. After several failed attempts, Gothenburg was successfully founded in 1621 by King Gustavus Adolphus (Gustaf II Adolf). The site of the first church built in Gothenburg, subsequently destroyed by Dutch invaders, is marked by a stone near the north end of the Älvsborg Bridge in Färjenäs park. The church was built in 1603 and destroyed in 1611. The city was heavily influenced by the Dutch and Dutch city planners were contracted to build the city as they had the skills needed to build in the marshy areas around the city. The town was designed like Dutch cities such as Amsterdam. The plan of the streets and canals of Gothenburg closely resembles that of Jakarta, which was built by the Dutch around the same time. The Dutchmen initially won political power and it was not until 1652, when the last Dutch politician in the city’s council died, that the Swedes acquired political power over Gothenburg. During the Dutch period the town followed Dutch town laws and there were propositions to make Dutch the official language in the town. Heavy city walls were built during the 17th century. These city walls were torn down after about 1810, because the development of cannons made such walls less valuable as a defence.
Along with the Dutch, the town also was influenced by Scots who came to settle in Gothenburg. Many became people of high profile. William Chalmers was the son of a Scottish immigrant and donated his fortunes to set up what later became Chalmers University of Technology. In 1841 the Scotsman Alexander Keiller founded the Götaverken shipbuilding company that still exists today. His son James Keiller donated Keiller Park to the city in 1906. The Scottish influence can still be felt in Gothenburg in the present-day with names like Glenn and Morgan, which in the rest of Sweden are rare, are not uncommon in Gothenburg, as is the use of a Scottish sounding «r» in the local dialect.
The Gothenburg coat of arms was based on the lion of the coat of arms of Sweden, symbolically holding a shield with the national emblem, the Three Crowns, to defend against its enemies.
In the Treaty of Roskilde (1658) Denmark-Norway ceded the then Danish province Halland, to the south, and the Norwegian province of Bohus County or Bohuslän to the north, leaving Gothenburg in a less exposed position. Gothenburg was able to grow into an important port and trade centre on the west coast thanks to the fact that it was the only city on the west coast that was granted, together with Marstrand, the rights to trade with merchants from other countries.
In the 18th century, fishing was the most important industry. However, in 1731 the Swedish East India Company was founded, and the city flourished due to its foreign trade with highly profitable commercial expeditions to Asian countries.
The harbour developed into Sweden’s main harbour for trade towards the west, and with Swedish emigration to North America increasing, Gothenburg became Sweden’s main point of departure. The impact of Gothenburg as a main port of embarkation for Swedish emigrants is reflected by Gothenburg, Nebraska, a small Swedish settlement in the United States.
With the 19th century, Gothenburg evolved into a modern industrial city that continued on into the 20th century. The population increased tenfold in the century, from 13,000 (1800) to 130,000 (1900). In the 20th century, major companies that developed included SKF (est. 1907) and Volvo (est. 1926).
In 2001, major protests occurred in the city during the EU summit and the visit by U.S. president George W. Bush.
View over Gustav Adolfs torg, square named after Gustavus Adolphus, the founding father of Gothenburg.