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Turku founded in the 13th century, is the oldest and fifth largest city in Finland, with a population of 175,354 (as of 2006). Located at the mouth of the Aura river in the southwest of the country, it is the capital city of both the region of Finland Proper and the province of Western Finland, as well as being the centre of the country's third largest urban area, with around 300,000 inhabitants. Turku has one of the largest Finland-Swedish populations in the country. Due to its location, the Port of Turku is one of the busiest seaports in Finland with around 3.7 million passengers per year Turku has a cultural identity as Finland's historical centre, as it was the largest city in the country for a very long time. It was also the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland from 1809 to 1812 after which time Helsinki was made the capital. It also hosted the country's first university, The Royal Academy of Turku. Turku has been designated by the European Union to be the European Capital of Culture in the year 2011, together with Tallinn the capital of Estonia. Located at the mouth of the Aura river in the southwestern corner of Finland, Turku covers an area of 245 km² (94 sq mi) of land, spread over both sides of the river. The eastern side, where the Cathedral of Turku is located, is popularly referred to as täl pual jokke ('this side of the river'), while the western side is referred to as tois pual jokke ('the other side of the river'). The city centre is located close to the river mouth, on both sides of the river, though development has recently been expanding westward.

There are nine bridges over the Aura river in Turku. The first bridge in the city area, known as Pennisilta, was built in 1414, and has since been demolished. The oldest of the current bridges is Auransilta, which was constructed in 1904. The newest bridge is Teatterisilta ('theatre bridge'), a pedestrian-only bridge built in 1997. One of the best-known landmarks of Turku is the Föri, a small ferry that transports pedestrians and bicycles across the river. With a population of approximately 300,000, the Turku Region (LAU 1) is the third largest urban region in Finland, after Greater Helsinki and the area around Tampere. The region includes, in addition to the city itself the following municipalities: Askainen, Kaarina, Lemu, Masku, Merimasku, Mynämäki, Naantali, Nousiainen, Paimio, Piikkiö, Raisio, Rusko, Rymättylä, Sauvo, Vahto, and Velkua. Lying by the Baltic Sea and sheltered by the islands of the Archipelago Sea, Turku has a hemiboreal climate. Like much of southern Finland, the city experiences warm summers, with temperatures ranging up to 30 °C (86 °F), and relatively cold winters with frequent snowfall. The warmest month of the year is July, with an average temperature of 17 °C (62 °F), while the coldest is January. The average year-round temperature is 5 °C (41 °F). Turku ostensibly has a long-standing mutual feud with the city of Tampere, the second largest urban centre of Finland. This hostility is largely expressed in jokes in one city about the other; prominent targets are the traditional Tampere food, mustamakkara, the state of the Aura River in Turku, and the regional accents.

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