1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Helsingfors

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HELSINGFORS (Finnish Helsinki), a seaport and the capital of Finland and of the province of Nyland, centre of the administrative, scientific, educational and industrial life of Finland. The fine harbour is divided into two parts by a promontory, and is protected at its entrance by a group of small islands, on one of which stands the fortress of Sveaborg. A third harbour is situated on the west side of the promontory, and all three have granite quays. The city, which in 1810 had only 4065 inhabitants, Åbo the then capital having 10,224, has increased with great rapidity, having 22,228 inhabitants in 1860, 61,530 in 1890 and 111,654 in 1904. It is the centre of an active shipping trade with the Baltic ports and with England, and of a railway system connecting it with all parts of the grand duchy and with St Petersburg. Helsingfors is handsome and well laid out with wide streets, parks, gardens and monuments. The principal square contains the cathedral of St Nicholas, the Senate House and the university, all striking buildings of considerable architectural distinction. In the centre is the statue of the Tsar Alexander II., who is looked upon as the protector of the liberties of Finland, the monument being annually decorated with wreaths and garlands. The university has a teaching staff of 141 with (1906) 1921 students, of whom 328 were women. The university is well provided with museums and laboratories and has a library of over 250,000 volumes. Other public institutions are the Athenaeum, with picture gallery, a Swedish theatre and opera house, a Finnish theatre, the Archives, the Senate House, the Nobles' House (Riddarhuset) and the House of the Estates, the German (Lutheran) church and the Russian church. Some of the scientific societies of Helsingfors have a wide repute, such as the academy of sciences, the geographical, historical, Finno-Ugrian, biblical, medical, law, arts and forestry societies, as also societies for the spread of popular education and of arts and crafts. There are a polytechnic, ten high schools, navigation and trade schools, institutes for the blind and the mentally deficient, and numerous elementary schools. The general standard of education is high, the publication of books, reviews and newspapers being very active. The language of culture is Swedish, but owing to recent manufacturing developments the majority of the population is Finnish-speaking. Helsingfors displays great manufacturing and commercial activity, the imports being coal, machinery, sugar, grain and clothing. The manufactures of the city consist largely of tobacco, beer and spirits, carpets, machinery and sugar.