Nickname(s): Björkarnas Stad (town of birches), Lill-Stockholm
Coordinates: 63°49′30″N 20°15′50″E / 63.82500°N 20.26389°E / 63.82500; 20.26389Coordinates: 63°49′30″N 20°15′50″E / 63.82500°N 20.26389°E / 63.82500; 20.26389
Country Sweden
Province Västerbotten
County Västerbottens län
Municipality Umeå Municipality
Charter 17th Century
  City 34.15 km2 (13.19 sq mi)
Elevation 12 m (39 ft)
Population (31 December 2010)[1]
  City 83,249[2]
  Density 2,331/km2 (6,040/sq mi)
  Metro 120,771
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 900 01 - 908 50
Area code(s) (+46) 90

Umeå (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈʉːmɛoː], local pronunciation: [ˈʉːmɛ]; South Westrobothnian [²ʉːm]; Finnish: Uumaja, Ume Sami: Ubmeje, Southern Sami: Upmeje, Northern Sami: Ubmi) is a town in northern Sweden. It is the seat of Umeå Municipality and the capital of Västerbotten County. The city is located on the Ume River.

Umeå is the biggest city in Norrland and the twelfth biggest in Sweden, with 79,594 inhabitants in 2010.[1] The municipality had 119,613 inhabitants at the end of 2014.[3] When the university was established in 1965, growth sped up, and the amount of housing has doubled in the last 30 years. As of 2011, 700 to 800 new apartments are constructed each year.[4]

Umeå is a university town and centre of education, technical and medical research in Sweden, with two universities and over 39,000 students. The city was elected as the European Capital of Culture of 2014.


The first written mention of Umeå is from the 14th century. The northern parts of Sweden, including the counties of Västerbotten and Norrbotten, were mostly settled by nomadic Sami people before this time but not necessarily forming any permanent settlement in the city's exact location. The name is believed to be derived from the Old Norse word Úma which means roaring. The name of the town would therefore mean "The Roaring River.[5][6]

Therefore, the coast came to be permanently settled by Germanic peoples moving upwards on the Bothnian Bay by boat, hence the Germanic names of towns and villages on the Westrobothnian coast. Some Kven people had permanent settlements in northern Westrobothnia (Piteå and Luleå) but were gradually assimilated with the Germanic tribes although some Finnish names of lakes and villages survived. Southern Westrobothnia (Umeå and Skellefteå) has been a permanent Germanic settlement since at least the 14th century, but probably since the Viking ages or earlier.

Umeå in its first form was a parish with a wooden church and trade post located in the section of town now known as Backen (or Kyrkbacken). Its location near the coast and on a river was probably one of the reasons that people chose to settle there.[7]

For the next couple of centuries Umeå was a place consisting of scattered parishes, where merchandise originating with the Sami people was traded, and was the last inhabited place before the northern wilderness took over. However, no real city was built at the location selected by the king, and it lost its town privileges in the 1590s.[7]

In 1622, a city was again founded by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden.[8] In 1638, it had about 40 houses.[7] It suffered from Russian attacks in 1714 and in 1720 when it was burnt to the ground during the Russian Pillage of 1719-1721. At the close of the Finnish War in 1809 the Russian army under Barclay de Tolly took Umeå and held it from June to August.[9]

In 1874 the town improved the plans for its structure after it became a government requirement. Umeå had already started making these changes[10] when on 25 June 1888, a fire devastated the eastern parts of Umeå and at least 2,300 of the 3,000 inhabitants became homeless. In the restoration following the fire, silver birch trees were planted along wide avenues to prevent future fires from spreading.[11] For this reason Umeå is sometimes known as "Björkarnas Stad", the "City of Birches".[12] and the name of the Umeå ice-hockey team, Björklöven, means "The Birch Leaves".


Umeå is situated on the inlet of the Gulf of Bothnia at the mouth of the Ume River, in the south of Västerbotten. Umeå is about 600 km (373 mi) north of Stockholm and about 400 km (249 mi) south of the Arctic Circle. It is the largest city north of the Stockholm-Uppsala region, and is sometimes referred to as the regional centre of northern Sweden. The nearby community of Holmsund serves as its port. From here a ferry line connects it with the neighbouring city of Vaasa (Swedish: Vasa) in Finland. The near connections to Finland affects the population of the city - several Sweden Finns live in Umeå.


The climate of Umeå is subarctic, recently around the border with continental, with short and fairly warm summers. Winters are lengthy and freezing but considering the latitude very mild due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. Average January temperature is about −8 °C (18 °F), July is 16 °C (61 °F). Considering its proximity to a major water body and its latitude, summers are warmer than would be expected. The record high of 32.2 °C (90.0 °F) was recorded on 23 July 2014, during a very warm summer in Sweden. The record low of −38.2 °C (−36.8 °F) was recorded on 15 February 1978.

Climate data for Umeå; Temp 2002-2015; Precipitation 1961-1990
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 10.6
Average high °C (°F) −3.1
Daily mean °C (°F) −6.7
Average low °C (°F) −10.3
Record low °C (°F) −35.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 45
Average precipitation days 24 20 22 16 16 15 16 18 19 20 21 23 230
Mean monthly sunshine hours 33 73 167 214 258 286 282 223 158 100 45 22 1,861
Source: [13][14][15]


The population of Umeå has grown consistently since the 1960s, when the university was built. In part because of the university, the town has attracted many residents from outside of Sweden, as well as students from other regions of Sweden. As of 2015, 10.4% of the population in the municipality of Umeå were foreign-born. The largest national origin group is from Finland, followed by Iraq, Iran and Somalia.[16]

Population of Umeå
1960 32,492    
1965 39,889+22.8%
1970 47,692+19.6%
1975 49,715+4.2%
1980 52,719+6.0%
1990 60,305+14.4%
1995 68,494+13.6%
2000 70,959+3.6%
2005 75,645+6.6%
2010 79,594+5.2%
Note: Umeå and Tomtebo merged.
Source: [17]


A bus stop in central Umeå.

The road infrastructure includes two European highways (E4 and E12) which pass the city.[18] The local bus system is centred at Vasaplan in the city centre, and has multiple routes travelling throughout the city.[19] About 4 kilometres (2 miles) from the city centre is Umeå Airport. It is the 7th largest airport in Sweden by number of passengers, with 844,932 passengers in 2010.[20][21]

The Bothnia Line (or Botniabanan) connects to Umeå from the south, it runs along the High Coast via Örnsköldsvik to Umeå. This railway was opened on 28 August 2010. The new railway line is 190 km (118 mi) long, containing 140 bridges and 25 kilometres (16 miles) of tunnels. It provides Umeå with a fast train connection to Stockholm (6 12 hours). A new railway station, Umeå East Station, was built in connection to Norrland's University Hospital and Umeå University.

The Wasaline ferry takes four hours to arrive at Vaasa, Finland.[22]

Umeå is located along the Blue Highway, which is an international tourist route from Mo i Rana, Norway to Pudozh, Russia via Finland.


The Opera of northern Sweden, the Norrland Opera, is based in the city. The annual Umeå Jazz Festival is one of the larger Scandinavian festivals for modern jazz.

Umeå is the home of the heavy metal band Meshuggah, which was labelled by the Rolling Stone as "one of the ten most important hard and heavy bands"; Other well-known metal bands from Umeå include Cult of Luna, Hollow, Persuader and Nocturnal Rites.

During the 1990s, the influence of Umeå hardcore punk bands such as Final Exit, Step Forward, Refused, Abhinanda, Shield and Doughnuts and the local labels Desperate Fight Records and Busted Heads Records led to the growth of Umeå's hardcore scene. Also significant were the number of straight edge groups.

It is also the home of the independent record label Ny Våg, releasing internationally known Umeå artists like AC4, Masshysteri and Invasionen.

The main museums in Umeå are: Bildmuseet - Museum of Contemporary Art and Visual Culture, Museum of the county of Västerbotten with Gammlia outdoor museum and the Swedish Ski Museum.

Umeå is a centre for cultural activities, with annual film and music festivals. The city has been elected the European Cultural Capital for 2014.[23]

Umeå is the centre of television in northern Sweden, SVT Nord and TV4's northern region office are both based in the city. The main newspapers of the county of Västerbotten, Västerbottens-Kuriren and Västerbottens Folkblad are also based in Umeå.

Umeå is the hometown of Mr Fox, main antagonist in the show Regular Ordinary Swedish Meal Time, along with all the crew of the Swedish YouTube channel.

A characteristic birch tree-lined avenue.
View of the Ume River by its estuary Umeå.


The city of Umeå currently hosts four major sports clubs. The women's football club Umeå IK. The men's hockey team IF Björklöven was very successful in the 1980s but has been less successful in recent years. Björklöven are currently playing in the Swedish second-tier league HockeyAllsvenskan while Umeå IK plays in the top Swedish women's football league Damallsvenskan. IBK Dalen and IKSU are among the major Floorball teams in Sweden, whereas both teams has been in the Swedish Championships finals two years in a row (as of 2013). Other sports clubs include:

Umeå also has a Roller Derby team, Ume Radical Rollers[24] started in 2009 and they are still present.

In 2011 Umeå Baseboll & Softboll was founded.[25] The team has 2 former national team players as coaches and currently play in Norra Regionserien.

Education and research

In 1951 the city's library was recognised as important for northern Sweden. The library is given a copy of every new book printed in Sweden.[26] Umeå University has about 37,000 students and 4,200 staff. The establishment of the university in the mid-1960s led to a population expansion from about 50,000 inhabitants to today's 75,645. The expansion continues, with about 1000 new inhabitants every year, and has made Umeå a modern, somewhat intellectual city to add to the traditional basis of heavy industry for cities along the coast of northern Sweden (Norrland).

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences or "Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet" is a university in Sweden. Although its head office is located in Uppsala (Ultuna), the university has several campuses in different parts of Sweden, including Umeå. Unlike other state owned universities in Sweden, it is funded through the budget for the Ministry of Agriculture.

The university hospital serves the entire region of northern Sweden.


Key research fields of the University are life sciences (especially medical and cell and the molecular biology of plants), human technology interaction, social welfare, ecology and gender perspectives.

The Umeå University works collaboratively with companies such as ABB, Volvo, Skanska, Ericsson, and Öhrlings PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Umeå, with Umeå Plant Science Centre, is another major site of research and education. > Notable companies based in Umeå:

Notable people


Bands, musicians and record labels

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Localities 2010, area, population and density in localities 2005 and 2010 and change in area and population". Statistics Sweden. 29 May 2012. Archived from the original on 17 December 2012.
  2. "Folkmängd per tätort efter region och vart 5:e år". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  3. "Folkmängd i riket, län och kommuner efter kön och ålder 31 december 2014". Statistics Sweden. 16 September 2015.
  4. "More about Umeå". Umeå Municipality. Archived from the original on 18 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  5. Lars-Erik Edlund, "Kåddis, Hjåggböle och Hej" i Svenska Turistföreningens årsbok 2001, s.31
  6. Mats Wahlberg: Svenskt ortnamnslexikon, Språk- och folkminnesinstitutet, Uppsala 2003, sid. 143
  7. 1 2 3 (Swedish) 1300-1652 Umeå kommun - Umeå official website. Retrieved 26 August 2008
  8. "living in Umeå - International Office". 2014-02-09. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
  9. (Swedish) 1714-1809 - Umeå kommun - Umeå official website. Retrieved 26 August 2008
  10. Hall, Thomas (2003). Planning Europe's Capital Cities. p. contents. ISBN 1135829020.
  11. Did you know that...? - Umeå University
  16. "Utrikes födda (Foreign born)". Umeå kommun. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  17. "Folkmängd i tätorter 1960–2005" (PDF). Statistiska centralbyrån. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  18. Sweden Tourism. Map of Sweden. Accessed 14 April 2010.
  19. Umeå University. Bus Transportation. Accessed 24 September 2014.
  20. "Fakta om flygplatsen" (in Swedish). Swedavia. Archived from the original on 18 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  21. "Pressinformation" (in Swedish). Swedavia. Archived from the original on 18 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  22. Welcome to Wasaline – the ferry connection between Vaasa and Umeå
  23. Umeå 2014 - Umeå - Capital of Culture 2014 Archived 24 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  25. Archived 17 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. Umeå's history, retrieved 6 May 2014

Media related to Umeå at Wikimedia Commons

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