From about the year 1000, this was the base traders and hunters set out from on their expeditions to northern Finland; it was not until 1779 that a Swedish king, Gustav III, founded the city itself. In 1828 a Scotsman named James Finlayson came to the infant city and established a factory for spinning cotton. This was the beginning of "big business" in Finland. The Finlayson firm is today one of the country's major industrial enterprises, but its local factory complex has been converted to house software firms, restaurants, a museum, and a multiplex cinema.
Although cotton and textile manufacturers put Tampere on the map as a traditional center of industry, the city is now known for its high-tech companies and large universities. Tampere's more than 200,000 inhabitants also nurture an unusually sophisticated cultural environment, with the international festivals of short film (March) and theater (August) among the most popular offerings. An isthmus little more than a half-mile wide at its narrowest point separates the lakes Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi, and at one spot the Tammerkoski Rapids provide an outlet for the waters of one to cascade through to the other. Called the Mother of Tampere, these rapids once provided the electrical power on which the town's livelihood depended. Their natural beauty has been preserved in spite of the factories on either bank. Don't be surprised to see people fishing for salmon off a bridge in the shadow of a pulp mill, a reminder of conscious efforts since the 1970s to keep the city's environment clean.