Espoo (; Esbo ) is the second largest city and municipality in Finland. It is part of the Greater Helsinki, and most of its population lives in the inner urban area of the Helsinki metropolitan area, along with the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa, and Kauniainen. Espoo shares its eastern border with Helsinki and Vantaa, while enclosing Kauniainen. The city is located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, in the region of Uusimaa and has a population of .
Espoo does not have a traditional city center, having instead several local regional centers. Espoo is thus divided into seven major areas (suuralueet, storområden): Vanha-Espoo (with Espoon keskus), Suur-Espoonlahti, Pohjois-Espoo, Suur-Kauklahti, Suur-Leppävaara, Suur-Matinkylä, and Suur-Tapiola.
Aalto University is based in Otaniemi, Espoo, along with a thriving science community that includes numerous startups and organizations such as VTT – the Technical Research Center of Finland. Several major companies are based in Espoo, including Nokia, HMD Global, Tieto, KONE, Neste Oil, Fortum, Orion Corporation, and Outokumpu, as well as video game developers Rovio and Remedy Entertainment.
The city of Espoo is officially bilingual. The majority of the population, 83.6%, speaks Finnish as their mother tongue, while a minority of 8.3% speaks Swedish language. 8% of Espoo's population has a first language other than Finnish or Swedish.
In 1557, King Gustaf Wasa decided to stabilize and develop the region by founding a royal mansion in Espoo. The government bought the villages of Espåby and Mankby (Finnish: Mankki) and transferred the population elsewhere, and built the royal mansion in Espåby. (Mankby was eventually abandoned and was never repopulated.) The royal mansion housed the king's local plenipotentiary (vogt), and collected royal tax in kind paid by labor on the mansion's farm. The administrative center Espoon keskus has grown around the church and the Espoo railway station, but the municipality has retained a network-like structure to the modern day.
In 1920, Espoo was only a rural municipality of about 9,000 inhabitants, of whom 70% were Swedish speaking. Agriculture was the primary source of income, with 75% of the population making their living from farming. Kauniainen was separated from Espoo in 1920, and it gained city rights the same year as Espoo, in 1972.
Espoo started to grow rapidly in the 1940s and '50s. It quickly developed from a rural municipality into a fully-fledged industrial city, gaining city rights in 1972. Due to its proximity to Helsinki, Espoo soon became popular amongst people working in the capital. In the fifty years from 1950 to 2000, the population of Espoo grew from 22,000 to 210,000. Since 1945, the majority of people in Espoo have been Finnish speaking. In 2006, the Swedish speaking inhabitants represented barely 9% of the total population. The population growth is still continuing, but at a slower rate.
The city borders Helsinki, the Finnish capital, which is to the east. Other neighbouring municipalities are Vantaa to the east and northeast, Nurmijärvi to the north, Vihti to the northwest, and Kirkkonummi to the west and southwest. Espoo is a part of the Finnish Capital Region, which is the inner core of the Greater Helsinki metropolitan area.
Espoo has six Natura 2000 : Bånberget forests, Espoonlahti–Saunalahti bay area (partially in Kirkkonummi), Laajalahti bay, Matalajärvi lake, Nuuksio National Park (partially in Kirkkonummi and Vihti), as well as forests in Vestra (partially in Vantaa).
Espoo contains many high income suburbs, and six out of the ten highest average income postal code areas in Finland are in Espoo.
Espoo has several old manors of which two are open to the general public. The most important is Espoon kartano (Esbo gård, Espoo Manor), first mentioned in maps in 1495, and belonging to the noble Ramsay family since 1756. The current main building dates back to 1914, but a mill dates from the 1750s and Finland oldest walved bridge from 1777 is on the King's Road (Kuninkaantie, Kungsvägen) which passes by the manor. The main building can be rented for weddings and similar occasions. Guided tours are available on request for groups. The other manor open to public is Pakankylän kartano, located on the northern shore of Lake Bodom. The manor hosts a restaurant and club rooms, partly with original furniture open to the public, but meant originally to Kaisankoti sanatory and old people's home located on ground of the manor.
The Metal band Children of Bodom comes from Espoo, Finland. They are named after the unsolved murder known as the Lake Bodom murders which took place at the shore of Lake Bodom, a lake in northern Espoo, in 1960. The bands Norther and Kiuas also come from Espoo.
The educational department took part in Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 in Finland.
Espoo is home to several sports teams. Espoo Blues were an ice hockey team which played at highest level SM-liiga between 1998 and 2016 before the team went bankrupt. Between 1984 and 1998 the team was known as Kiekko-Espoo. A new team called Espoo United was established to replace Espoo Blues and United now play ice hockey at the second highest level Mestis. The Espoo United women's hockey team play at the highest level, women's SM-liiga. Espoo United are also active in basketball and the male basketball team play at the second highest level and the women's basketball team play at the highest level, Naisten korisliiga.
FC Honka (also known as Esport Honka) is a football club that was promoted into the Finnish premier division ( Veikkausliiga) for the first time in its history at the end of the 2005 season. Honka currently plays at the second highest level Ykkönen. They play their home matches at Tapiolan urheilupuisto. Espoo also has two floorball teams playing at highest level Salibandyliiga. The two teams are Esport Oilers and Westend Indians.
Espoo is the birthplace of 2007 Formula One World Champion Kimi Räikkönen, former Dallas Stars forward Jere Lehtinen (three time NHL Selke Trophy winner), former Formula One driver JJ Lehto, professional downhill mountain biker Matti Lehikoinen, professional ten-pin bowling star Osku Palermaa and 2009 European Figure Skating Champion Laura Lepistö.
Support for the center-right National Coalition Party is high in Espoo. Results of the Finnish parliamentary election, 2011 in Espoo: