The Port of Kokkola is the only city in and the capital of the Central Ostrobothnia region of Finland. It lies on the eastern shores of the Gulf of Bothnia off the Baltic Sea. The Port of Kokkola is one of Finland’s three deep-water ports and a busy industrial center for the chemical industry. In 2007, over 36 thousand people called Kokkola home.
King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden first chartered the Port of Kokkola in 1620 when Finland was a part of Sweden. The purpose for the new town was to ship tar, but it soon became a ship-building center. It was, for a time, Finland’s richest town. Today, it is a bi-lingual town. In fact, until 1933, Kokkola had a Swedish-speaking majority. Until 1977, the name of the town was Swedish – Gamlakarleby.
The first permanent settlement appeared on the site around 1200 AD when Swedish settlers established a small port for trade. They exchanged fish and furs from the region for grains and salt from Stockholm. Though it wasn’t an official Swedish port, the Port of Kokkola avoided many government-imposed limitations. Tar burning and ship-building industries grew, and the town grew in importance for the Ostrobothnia region.
During the 17th and early 18th Centuries, the government approved the official Port of Kokkola, acknowledging its importance to trade for Sweden. In 1765, the Port of Kokkola’s golden age began when the King granted rights for shipping to foreign countries. The first quay was built in the 1860s, and merchant villas were constructed. The railway arrived in town in 1885, and the old port was abandoned.
In the early 20th Century, the Port of Kokkola became one of Finland’s biggest timber ports. Then in the late 1940s, with the appearance of chemical plants, Kokkola grew into an important industrial port. Today, the Port of Kokkola is part of the international trade community, playing a vital role in the country’s economy.