City Introduction & Context

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City Introduction & Context

Europe is an urban society, with many environmental challenges to face. The European Commission has long recognised the important role that local authorities play in improving the environment, and their high level of commitment to genuine progress.

The European Green Capital Award has been conceived as an initiative to promote and reward these efforts.

Starting in 2010, one European city is selected each year as the European Green Capital of the year. The award is given to a city that:

  • Has a consistent record of achieving high environmental standards;
  • Is committed to ongoing and ambitious goals for further environmental improvement and sustainable development;
  • Can act as a role model to inspire other cities and promote best practices to all other European cities.

European Green Capitals

The first European Green Capital was awarded in 2010 and nine cities have been awarded the title thus far. The European Green Capitals to date are:
2010 Stockholm, 2011 Hamburg, 2012 Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2013 Nantes, 2014 Copenhagen
2015 Bristol, 2016 Ljubljana, 2017 Essen, 2018 Nijmegen, 2019 Oslo and 2020 Lisbon.

Source: European Commission


Application Lahti 2021

Indicator   Units Year of Data
Population 119 573 Number of inhabitants 2017
Area 517.63 km2 2017
Population Density 267 gseg 2017
GDP 30 783.10 Inh/km2 2014
Köppen climate classification Dfc: Subarctic climate
Cold winters and short, cool-to-mild summers. Precipitation all year round.


Lahti is a city of 120 000 inhabitants in Southern Finland. Lahti and the neighboring municipality of Nastola merged in 2016. Lahti’s area increased over three fold and the population by 15 417 residents. Now, forests cover over 70% of Lahti (Fig. 1).

Figure 1Figure 1. Lahti’s city centre is densely built but, most of the city surface is covered by green and blue areas.

Located in between two capitals, Helsinki and St Petersburg, the City of Lahti has always been an important logistical route and marketplace (Map 2). Lahti has a special geographical environment and history. The Salpausselkä ice age formation, runs through the city from east to west, which is why some of the oldest human settlement remains, in all of Finland, are found there. The Salpausselkä Ridge provides numerous ecosystem services: large groundwater reservoirs (one of the most valuable in Northern Europe), recreational values for citizens and visitors, and a diversity of biotopes (Map 1).

Salpausselkä Ridge

Map 1. The Salpausselkä Ridge ice age formation, the Salpausselkä Ridge, brings unique characteristics and ample nature opportunities and value to the city.


Lahti Region

Map 2. Lahti is a regional centre with 200 000 inhabitants and easy connections to the airport, Helsinki and St Petersburg

For a long time, Lahti was only a small village linked to the wealthy agricultural municipality of Hollola. The last 50 years have proven to be a remarkable growth period for the city. After the Second World War, Lahti was growing faster than any other city in Finland. The rapid growth of Lahti City was a consequence of the industrialization and urbanization of Finland, during the 1960s and 1970s (Fig. 2), and it created numerous working opportunities, new industries and an economic boom for the area. Lahti was known as the “City of Carpenters” in the early 19th century.


Figure 2. The population growth and urbanisation of Lahti was very rapid after WWII, but plateaued by the mid-70s.

The rapid industrialization and population growth also caused some unpleasant environmental problems. Nearby Lake Vesijärvi was badly eutrophicated during 1970-1980, although, the first sewage water treatment plant started functioning in the 1960s.



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