Tampere (Swedish: Tammerfors) is the third largest city in Finland with around 225,000 inhabitants and a metro population of nearly half a million. Being located 170km north of the Finnish coastal capital Helsinki, it is also the biggest inland town in the whole Nordic region. Geographically, the city lies on a narrow isthmus between Lake Näsijärvi, which reaches far to the north, and Lake Pyhäjärvi in the south. In addition, there are 200 lakes and ponds in Tampere, and a total of 450 in the entire region. Despite being predominantly a former heavy industry centre, today Tampere is a major hub for information technology, research, education, culture, sports and business. In 2010, the City of Tampere came in first in an image survey comparing the largest cities in Finland. Leaving Helsinki behind, it was also found the most attractive city among Finns who plan on moving.
Tammerkoski rapids that now run in a canal through downtown Tampere connected the two major lakes with an elevation drop of 18 metres. As early as the 7th century people started to gather at the banks of the lakes, and in the 18th century the utilization of the rapids as a source of hydropower resulted in a population boom. Tampere was officially founded on the banks of Tammerkoski in 1775 by Gustav III of Sweden, and four years later, 1 October 1779, Tampere was granted full city rights. The newly founded city was soon after established as a proving ground of revolutionary economical theories by declaring a freedom of trade to the city dwellers. The status of free town enabled import and export of foreign goods without customs. In addition, it was ordered that the citizens were allowed to freely practice any Christian faith. Due to the uncommon liberties, Tampere grew as a major market town and industrial centre in the 19th century. During the latter half of 19th century almost half of Finland's industrial labour force was in Tampere. The town's industrial inclination in the 19th and 20th centuries gave it the nickname "Manchester of the North", "Manse" for short (in Finnish) that sticks to this day.