Competition between cities tightens, versatile provincial centres succeed

Finland’s national urban network remains comprehensive. There are 29 functionally important urban areas in Finland, almost half of which are versatile university-cities or neighbourhoods in the metropolitan area. On the other hand, smaller urban areas are already falling from the list of important urban areas. The data comes from a new book ‘The new era of urban policy’, which had its publication on Wednesday, and focuses on updating urban network research in Finland.

The role of a significant urban area is determined by seven variables in the urban network survey. A metropolitan area is defined as a nationally significant metropolitan area if its relative share of population or economic activities exceeds 1% of national value, or if it has a nationally significant role in administrative or academic structures. Urban network research has been carried out since 1998. It has been used to monitor the structure and development of the national urban network, and has used the classification of cities to target national development policy. The Urban Network Research Update 2019 has been produced by MDI, a regional development consultancy firm.

The national urban network has declined over the last two decades or so in six urban areas. The city network was at its most extensive at the turn of the millennium, when Forssa, Jämsä, Raahe, Raseborg, Uusikaupunki, Valkeakoski and Äänekoski were still on the list. In this update however Varkaus and Riihimäki have been awarded major urban area status. Over time, the decline in the urban structure has accelerated. In this update, a new region will be added to the list of significant urban areas, as the Ylivieska region,  will be added to the list.

Seinäjoki has strengthened its position in the city network over time. In the past, the focus of the structure was rapidly shifting to the west, where, in addition to Seinäjoki, Pori and Kokkola had also emerged. This update however shows the consolidation and even growth of urban areas in Eastern Finland, for example in Mikkeli. The most significant decline, on the other hand, has been in Kajaani. The diverse university cities have strengthened their position with Joensuu pulling ahead furthest. In this update, it is encouraging that many urban areas have stabilised though a number of smaller urban areas have been dropped from the list.

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Design Director Janne Antikainen,, tel. 0407641829