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Story of Kokkola

Kokkola has always been an international town – or at least ever since the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf founded it on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia 400 years ago.

Kokkola quickly became an important port that enabled the export of tar to Sweden and elsewhere in Europe and the import of all kinds of necessary goods, such as raw materials and household items, and even scientific and artistic trends and new ideas.

Therefore, we can say that the sea has shaped the thoughts, culture and mindset of the people of Kokkola for many centuries. Perhaps this is why the locals have always found it easy to look beyond our familiar city borders. Many have left the city to explore the world, but almost as many have also returned. The people of Kokkola understand that not all wisdom can be found in our own corners. Instead, having an open mind is the key to success.

That is why the sea means more to the locals than just beautiful sunsets and the quiet whisper of the waves. The sea is a symbol of the freedom of thought and of the countless opportunities the world has to offer. The sea reminds us that when we try hard enough and seek new perspectives, anything is possible.

    • Kokkola was founded in 1620
    • The municipality of Kaarlela was incorporated into Kokkola in 1977, and the municipalities of Kälviä, Lohtaja and Ullava in 2009.
    • Population: 48 006 (31.12.2022)
    • Total area: 2 731 km², in which 1 444 m² is land
    • Population by mother tongue: Finnish speakers: 83.4 %, Swedish speakers 12,2 % and Other languages 4,2 %.
    • Income tax percentage 2023:  8,86 %
    • City Council 43 delegates: The Centre Party 10, The Finnish Social Democratic Party 8, The Finnish Christian Democrats (KD) 4, The Swedish People’s party of Finland 4, The National Coalition Party 6, The Left Alliance 2, The Finns Party 7, The Greens 2
    • Chair Tiina Isotalus (Finnish Social Democratic Party, SDP)
    • City Board 12 members
    • Chair Sari Innanen (Centre Party)
    • Mayor Stina Mattila
    • Personnel: 2 318 employees (31.12.2019)
    • The biggest employers: The City of Kokkola, Wellbeing services county of Central Ostrobothnia, Boliden Kokkola Oy, Jervois Finland Oy
    • Kokkola is located in the middle of Finland, on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia: to Helsinki 483 km, to Jyväskylä 242 km, to Oulu 198 km
    • Neighbouring municipalities: Halsua, Kalajoki, Kannus, Kaustinen, Kruunupyy, Lestijärvi, Luoto and Toholampi
  • Kokkola has a total of 14 twin cities and municipalities, active collaboration taking place each year with four or five of them. Contact with the other twin cities mainly focuses around specific events.

    Averoy (Norway)

    Boldog (Hungary)

    Fitchburg (USA)

    Fredericia (Denmark)

    Fushun (China)

    Hatvan (Hungary)

    Härnösand (Sweden)

    Järva (Estonia)

    Kristiansund (Norway)

    Marijampole (Lithuania)

    Mörbylånga (Sweden)

    Ratingen (Germany)

    Sudbury (Canada)

    Ullånger (Sweden)

  • City symbols are species of plants and animals that are characteristic of a city’s nature, related to the city’s history, or otherwise descriptive of the city. In 1997, the Kokkola City Board named Kokkola’s city symbols on the basis of a consultative referendum.

    Flying squirrel

    Kokkola’s symbolic animal is the flying squirrel. The flying squirrel is a large-eyed, grey and white animal that is the size of a kitten. It has extraordinary habits: the flying squirrel searches for food at dusk and at night, gliding from tree to tree using its parachute-like membranes. Even though this is an endangered species, it can be found in surprisingly large numbers in the woods skirting Kokkola’s seafront and fields. Within the EU area, the species can only be found in Finland and Estonia.


    Whitefish is the regional symbol of Central Ostrobothnia. In economic terms, whitefish is the most important species of fish in the waters surrounding Kokkola. River Perhonjoki, running through Kokkola, also still supports a healthy whitefish population.

    The large European whitefish can be found in River Perhonjoki, while the smaller sea-spawning variety inhabits the sea outside Kokkola.

    White-tailed eagle

    According to legend, the City of Kokkola was named after white-tailed eagles (kokko being an old Finish word for eagle) that used to feast on their catch, sitting on the four rocks protruding from the sea (the Kokko rocks) near where the City of Kokkola now lies.

    The white-tailed eagle is Finland’s largest bird of prey. The species was already close to vanishing from Finland, but as a result of conservation efforts the population is now recovering.

    There were white-tailed eagles nesting in Öja all the way to 1975, when the last nest was destroyed during forest felling. The species staged a return among Kokkola’s nesting varieties early in the millennium. Nowadays, two to three pairs nest in the area, providing a relatively common yet always exhilarating sight on Kokkola’s shores.

    Sea buckthorn

    This shrubby plant, native to stony beaches, can only be found on the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia and the Sea of Åland.

    The sea buckthorn berry is orange-yellow, with a high concentration of vitamin C. In the past, this berry has also been industrially utilised in Kokkola.