Helsinki is the capital and largest city of Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. Helsinki has a population of 629,512, an urban population of 1,231,595, and a metropolitan population of over 1.4 million, making it the most populous municipality and urban area in Finland. Helsinki is located some 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Tallinn, Estonia, 400 km (250 mi) east of Stockholm, Sweden, and 388 km (241 mi) west of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Helsinki has close historical connections with these three cities.
The Helsinki metropolitan area includes the urban core of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen, and surrounding commuter towns. It is the world's northernmost metro area of over one million people, and the city is the northernmost capital of an EU member state. The Helsinki metropolitan area is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the Nordic countries, the City of Helsinki being the third largest after Stockholm and Oslo. Helsinki is Finland's major political, educational, financial, cultural, and research center as well as one of northern Europe's major cities. Approximately 75% of foreign companies operating in Finland have settled in the Helsinki region. The nearby municipality of Vantaa is the location of Helsinki Airport, with frequent service to various destinations in Europe and Asia.
In 2009, Helsinki was chosen to be the World Design Capital for 2012 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, narrowly beating Eindhoven for the title. The city was the venue for the 1952 Summer Olympics and the 52nd Eurovision Song Contest 2007.
In 2011, the Monocle magazine ranked Helsinki the most liveable city in the world in its "Liveable Cities Index 2011". In the Economist Intelligence Unit's August 2015 Liveability survey, assessing the best and worst cities to live in globally, Helsinki placed among the world's top ten cities.
Called the "Daughter of the Baltic", Helsinki is located on the tip of a peninsula and on 315 islands. The inner city area occupies a southern peninsula, which is rarely referred to by its actual name Vironniemi. Population density in certain parts of Helsinki's inner city area is very high, reaching 16,494 inhabitants per square kilometre (42,720/sq mi) in the district of Kallio, but as a whole Helsinki's population density of 3,050 per square kilometre (7,900/sq mi) ranks the city as quite sparsely populated in comparison to other European capital cities. Much of Helsinki outside the inner city area consists of postwar suburbs separated from each other by patches of forest. A narrow, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) long Helsinki Central Park, stretching from the inner city to the northern border of Helsinki, is an important recreational area for residents. The City of Helsinki has about 11,000 boat berths and possesses over 14 000 hectares of marine fishing waters adjacent to the Capital Region. Some 60 fish species are found in this area. Recreational fishing is a popular hobby among kids and adults alike.
Major islands in Helsinki include Seurasaari, Vallisaari, Lauttasaari, and Korkeasaari – the lattermost being the site of the country's biggest zoo.
Owing to the mitigating influence of the Baltic Sea and North Atlantic Current (see also Extratropical cyclone), temperatures in winter are higher than the northern location might suggest, with the average in January and February around −5 °C (23 °F).
Winters in Helsinki are notably warmer than in the north, and the snow season is much shorter. Temperatures below −20 °C (−4 °F) occur a few times a year or less. However, because of the latitude, days last 5 hours and 48 minutes around the winter solstice with very low Sun (at noon Sun is little bit over 6 degrees in the sky), and the cloudy weather at this time of year accentuates the darkness. Conversely, Helsinki enjoys long daylight in summer, during the summer solstice days last 18 hours and 57 minutes.