Situated in upper Norrland, northern Sweden, the charming and intellectual city of Umeå is one of Sweden's fastest growing cities. While the city of Umeå may have had a somewhat rocky start, it has grown in leaps and bounds since the establishment of the university in the mid 1960s. At the time the population exploded from only 50 000 people to the current population which is over 100 000 people. To add to this, the expansion continues at a rate of approximately 1000 new inhabitants each year. The large majority of these are university students which means that not only is the general population quite young but that a variety of languages and cultures can be found here.
Umeå was first mentioned in the 14th century at which time it took the shape of a parish with a wooden church. Its main function was that of an outpost to the Norrland wilderness and successive years saw a number of parishes built in a scattered fashion around it. It was one of the main places of Sami merchandise trading and it was the last inhabited place before the northern wilderness. This gave it prominence and led to it being granted a city charter in 1588 on the condition that the various parishes be consolidated into a single city. However no action was taken and the charter was lost. In 1621 a new charter was granted - this time with good results. A town of about 40 houses was built and the city of Umeå truly started to take form. Unfortunately this also meant that it became a bit of a target and it suffered from two Russian attacks - on in 1720 and another in 1809. In 1888 a fire devastated the eastern part of the city and left thousands homeless. As a result silver birch trees were planted along the avenues to prevent the spread of future fires. Many of these trees are still present and they have given the city the nickname of the 'City of Silver Birches'.
Today Umeå serves as a center of research, art and culture. It continues to expand at a phenomenal rate and its universities are actively involved in various research fields such as life sciences, human technology interaction, social welfare, gender perspectives and ecology. The university works hand in hand with various large companies such as ABB, Volvo, Skanska, Ericsson and Ohrlings Pricewaterhouse-Coopers. There is also a large University Hospital which services the whole of northern Sweden. You may not find much in the way of historical attractions in Umeå, but what you will find is a high level of education and very few traffic jams. The people here are intellectual, cultured and friendly making it a great place to make new friends if you are like minded. Why not visit Umeå and discover it's magic for yourself...