Pedestrians braved ice, slush and puddles in rainy Helsinki on Friday, 16 February 2024. The Finnish capital reported last week that its population grew by almost 11,000 between 2022 and 2023, representing the first increase of over 10,000 since the urban expansion of the 1960s. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)


THE POPULATION of Helsinki grew last year close to the record-pace witnessed during the suburban expansion of the 1960s.

Statistics Finland has released preliminary data revealing that the city's population stood at 674,963 at the end of 2023, marking an increase of 10,935 from the previous year and the first increase of over 10,000 since the 1960s.

The City of Helsinki noted in a press release last week that if the preliminary data are confirmed this spring, it would be a new record for population growth since the 1940s, with the exception of 1965, when the eastern neighbourhood of Vuosaari was added to Helsinki.

In the 2000s, the city has added on average fewer than 5,000 people to its population on an annual basis.

The Finnish capital was also a significant driver of population growth nationally, accounting for roughly a quarter of the population growth recorded in Finland in 2023. In relative terms, though, its population grew by 1.6 per cent year-on-year, below the growth rates recorded in Espoo (2.9%), Tampere (2.4%) and Vantaa (1.9%).

The City of Helsinki highlighted that its population growth is attributable largely to migration gains from overseas, especially in the form of work-based immigration. The preliminary data indicate that the city gained around 8,500 new residents last year from international migration and 2,050 new residents from internal migration.

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) has reported that Filipino, Russian and Indian nationals applied for the most work-based residence permits in Finland in 2023.

The number of both births and deaths decreased in Helsinki in 2023. While the city recorded only 6,100 births – the second lowest total in the 2000s – the number of deaths increased by 200 from an already elevated level to 5,719.

The population increased by far the most in the 30–49-year-old age group but declined slightly in both the 0–6-year-old and 50–74-year-old age groups, according to the preliminary data.

A geographical examination, in turn, shows that population growth was fast particularly in neighbourhoods where the number of residential units has increased in recent years. Pohjois-Pasila, for example, saw its population surge by as much as 1,200 and Jätkäsaari, Kalasatama and Sompasaari each by about 500.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT