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Oulu, Sister City of Odessa

05 Nov, 2020
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Oulu, Sister City of Odessa

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The Finnish city of cutting-edge talents is the most populous one in Northern Finland with over 200,000 inhabitants and one of the northernmost largest cities in the world. Oulu is considered one of Europe's "living labs", where residents experiment with new technology (such as NFC tags and ubi-screens) at a community-wide scale. The City has an official twinning agreement with Odessa since 1957.


Already for centuries, the city has made its mark in international trade by exporting tar, paper, and technology solutions. Today, Oulu is the leading hub in Northern Scandinavia for business, education, and culture. Every day, approximately 2.6 billion people around the world use mobile technologies developed in Oulu. Today, the city is at the forefront in 5G network development – and going fast towards 6G.

Oulu is among Europe’s youngest cities, as the average age is just 38 years. One in three people have an academic degree. When it comes to quality of life, people in Oulu are the happiest in the North.

A city of four seasons

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Urban city and nature co-exist in Oulu: the beat of the city and the closeness of nature go hand in hand. The seaside and the river views are right next to the market square and the city centre. Residents practically have nature on their doorstep.

With the changing of the seasons, the Oulu landscape changes too. In the winter, there is the frozen sea attracting people to walk, skate and ski. The main event in springtime is when tens of thousands of migratory birds return to Liminganlahti bay. In the summer, the midnight sun shines all through the night. And by autumn, the nature is giving its best in the form of berries, mushrooms and colourful autumn leaves.

Oulu is famous for its extensive and well-maintained network of bicycle routes and the resilience of local winter bikers. Minus 20 degrees is not an excuse for not going to work or school by bike.

Smart city on the edge

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In Oulu, urban planning and construction aim to be sustainable, energy-efficient and suited to extreme conditions of the North. The entire urban community is needed to create new digital solutions and achieve the city’s carbon neutrality goals.

The cutting-edge experts in Oulu collaborate to innovate an urban environment in which well-being and aging, as well as know-how and culture, are acknowledged. Using people-first digital solutions offers many opportunities, for example for supporting the elderly in living at home.

Vivid cultural life of the North

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Art and culture are present and active in Oulu, its surrounding areas and Northern Finland. As a bidder for the European Capital of Culture 2026, Oulu is highlighting the significant role of culture in improving quality of life and in re-connecting people. It is worth mentioning the Geological and Zoological Museum of the Oulu University, the Museum under open sky at Turkansaari Island and the Museum House of the Seaman, the oldest Oulu building (built in 1737–1739).

Oulu is known for its distinctive and quirky events. For decades, the Air Guitar World Championships has been the official arena for world-class acts playing a non-existing instrument. And then there is the Polar Bear Pitching, where startup entrepreneurs dip themselves into a hole drilled in the sea ice while delivering their pitches to investors.

Twinning between Oulu and Odessa

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Oulu is the first and the oldest sister city of Odessa. They are both members of Eurocities network. The main events of the twinning:

  • January 1993. The representatives of Odessa City Council visited the Municipality of Oulu.
  • March 1993. Members of the friendship society “Ukraine-Finland”, headed by A. Nizov, visited Oulu.
  • May 1993. The Odessa friends Association delegation from Oulu, headed by Eino Laaksonen, visited Odessa.
  • November 1995. A delegation of Friends of Finland Association visited Oulu.
  • October 1996. City of Oulu representatives visited Odessa.
  • August 1997. Oulu delegation visited Odessa to realize the Oulu days in Odessa for the celebration of 40 years sister cities relationships and the participation in the EU programme.
  • May 2005. The folklore group of Odessa Music School No. 4 participated in the school festival for the celebration of the 400 years of Oulu foundation.
  • August 2005. Visit to Oulu by the delegation of Odessa City Council delegation, guided by Deputy Mayor L. Losuk, during the celebration of Oulu day.
  • January 2006. Cooperation agreement signed by Odessa Mayor Eduard Gurvits and Oulu Mayor Kari Nenonen. The parties agreed on the mutual collaborations related to the Oulu-11 development project. The aim of the agreement was to support Oulu as a candidate to European cultural capital for 2011.
  • On July 14th, 2006, Odessa Mayor Eduard Gurvits received the Ambassador of the Finnish Republic in Ukraine, Laura Reinilya. She was accompanied by Khanni Khuvarinin, press and cultural officer of the Finnish Embassy. The visit’s aim was to coordinate the celebration of the 50 anniversary of Odessa–Oulu relations. Odessa Mayor invited the Finnish Ambassador to the Odessa day on the 2nd of September.
  • On April, 22–26, 2007, Odessa Mayor Eduard Gurvits launched the celebration for the 50th anniversary of the twinning agreement. Events calendar: official meeting with “Oulu Friends in Odessa” union, Finnish literature evening, exhibition dedicated to Odessa-Oulu friendly relations, concert of art collectives from Odessa and Finland. Moreover, the two cities' delegations met to discuss the renewal of the exchange programme between Oulu University and Odessa State University "Mechnikov", and how to establish new bilateral business contacts.
  • On November, 21–26, 2007, participation of Odessa to Oulu's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the twinning, with a performance of Odessa’s artists “Malvy” bandura players trio.
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This article has been written in cooperation with the City of Oulu.


The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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