Luleå is the county town of Norrbotten, Sweden’s largest county. It is an industrial city and export harbour for Swedish iron ore, a university town and a centre of trade, commerce and communications. With its strategic location, Luleå serves as the gateway to Swedish Lapland.
Luleå was founded in 1621 around the medieval church in Gammelstad. The city was an important commercial centre even then. However, the harbour in Gammelstad did not meet the demands of the expanding maritime trade, and in 1649 the city had to be moved ten kilometres to its present site. The old church town in Gammelstad is an outstanding example of a Northern Scandinavian church town and was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1996.
With 72,000 residents, the Municipality of Luleå ranks 26th, in terms of size, among other Swedish towns and cities, but in terms of service and quality of life, it is right at the top. Luleå’s infrastructure, communications, trade and commerce, social services, living environment and business climate scored the highest points in a comparison of Sweden’s 289 municipalities.
Luleå’s commercial and industrial sector is strong in many areas. Traditionally, Luleå has been viewed as a steel town, but today it is more a blend of different knowledge-based industries, education and research, private and public sector services and trade. Two out of three Luleå residents work in the service sector.
Luleå Airport is one of Sweden’s leading airports in terms of passenger numbers. There are about 15 daily flights both to and from Stockholm, as well as several regular daily flights within the region to Gällivare and Kiruna. Charter traffic is increasing.