OECD Territorial Reviews: Helsinki, Finland 2003

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The Greater Helsinki Region emerged from the 1990s as an internationally competitive economy. This review examines the factors contributing to this success and the new development challenges it has created. One critical policy question is the Finnish dependence on the telecom/mobile industry. The current strategic positioning of the Finnish ICT cluster builds on a high-return/high-risk scenario. Long-term regional competitiveness requires a more focused strategy of diversification, i.e. developing ICT activities beyond the current cluster scope. Social inclusion is another crucial issue. Persistent unemployment among the less educated population and growing income disparities are calling for the restructuring of past policies. The Greater Helsinki Region needs to find ways to promote new opportunities of social cohesion. Rapid population growth has resulted from greater economic competitiveness requiring renewed commitment to managed growth and compact development. All of these challenges create needs for greater metropolitan co-ordination that are examined in turn.

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Constraints and Potentials of Territorial Development

The definition of the Greater Helsinki Region is based on four main factors: co-operation between different actors, commuting (travel-to-work area), connectivity and using NUTS 3 regions as building blocks. This study is a first attempt to describe Helsinki and its adjacent regions as a whole.1 The Greater Helsinki Region consists of four regions: Uusimaa, Itä-Uusimaa, Häme (former Kanta-Häme) and Päijät-Häme, classified by the European Union as NUTS 3 regions (Figure 2.1). The 1 757 000 inhabitants living in these regions constitute approximately one-third of Finland’s entire population. Three-fourths of the Greater Helsinki Region’s population lives in Uusimaa. Within the Greater Helsinki Region, these NUTS 3 regions are further divided into ten NUTS 4 sub-regions (Table 2.1). The central part of the region comprising Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen forms the Helsinki Metropolitan Area populated by 965 000 inhabitants. With its 560 000 inhabitants, the capital city Helsinki is the largest city in Finland....

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