[Overview] Helsinki is the capital of Finland, located on the Vironniemi Peninsula on the northern shore of the Gulf of Finland, surrounded by the Baltic Sea on three sides. Helsinki was designated as the capital of the country when Finland declared itself independent in 1917. It covers an area of 686 square kilometers and has a population of 635,000.
[Politics] Helsinki is governed by the City Council and the city government. The City Council has 85 members who are directly elected by the citizens for a term of four years. Under the Council are the City Board, Audit Committee and other departments. The City Board consists of 15 members elected from members of the City Council, for a term of two years. It directs the city administration, prepares the issues for the City Council, and supervises the implementation of City Council's decisions. The city government has one mayor and four deputy mayors, elected by the City Council for a term of four years. The incumbent mayor, Jan Vapaavuori, took office in June 2017.
[Economy] Helsinki is Finland's largest industrial center, with well-developed machinery manufacturing and shipbuilding industries. The city is also the country's largest wholesale and foreign trade center. More than half of Finland's imports and exports pass through Helsinki. With its convenient and well-connected transportation system, Helsinki is also a transportation hub of the country.
[Culture and Education] Helsinki has well-developed science, education and cultural industries. There are many museums, galleries and institutions of higher learning in the city. The University of Helsinki is the largest institution of higher learning in Scandinavia and the oldest in Finland. There are many large theaters, including the Finnish National Theater, Helsinki City Theater, and Swedish Theater. There are also many churches in Helsinki and the most famous one is the 500-year-old Helsinki Cathedral.
[Relations with Beijing] On July 14, 2006, Beijing and Helsinki officially became sister cities. In October 2019, the two cities signed the Work Plan for Promoting the Cooperation between Beijing and Helsinki (2019-2023). In recent years, Beijing and Helsinki have maintained good official ties and engaged in productive cooperation in investment, trade, tourism, culture and other fields.
Investment and Trade: In 2015, thanks to the facilitation of Zhongguancun Science Park's liaison office in Finland, the first session of Sluch China was held in Z-Park of Beijing. Slush is the world's leading startup and tech event in Finland. In 2016, Techcode set up its Northern European incubator in Helsinki, which covers an area of more than 1,200 square meters. In 2017, with the help of Finnish company Oilon, Beijing District Heating Group completed its NOx emissions reduction project (6,268 t/h) through upgrading burners and using flue gas recirculation (FGR) and precious metal catalysts. Now, NOx emissions of Beijing District Heating Group's boilers meet the strictest emission standard (below 30mg/m3). In 2018, Beijing Fusen Technology Co., Ltd. invested approximately US$8 million to build wood processing plants and paper mills in Finland.
Tourism: In 2014, Helsinki joined the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) which was initiated by Beijing. In 2019, the WTCF Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit was successfully held in Helsinki. It was the first time the summit had been held in a European country.
Culture: In 2016, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the sister-city relationship between the two cities, Helsinki held a large outdoor cultural exchange event “Hello, Helsinki!” at the Xidan Cultural Square in Beijing. Since 2007, Beijing would hold “Happy Chinese New Year” event in Helsinki every year. In 2018, the 12th Happy Chinese New Year Celebration and the first Beijing Week was held in Helsinki. It was the first time that elements of investment, trade, science, technology, sports and tourism had been incorporated into the event. Beijing Municipal Radio and Television Bureau held the 2019 China-Finland Film and TV Conference in Helsinki.