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Gavle montage 2013.jpg
Town square, Alderholmen, old town, the high-rise "Fullriggaren" at Gävle Strand, the town hall, buildings alongside the river of Gavleån
Sweden Gavleborg location map.svg
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Location of Gävle
Sweden location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Gävle (Sweden)
Coordinates: 60°40′29″N17°08′30″E / 60.67472°N 17.14167°E / 60.67472; 17.14167 Coordinates: 60°40′29″N17°08′30″E / 60.67472°N 17.14167°E / 60.67472; 17.14167
Country Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden
Province Gästrikland
County Gävleborg County
Municipality Gävle Municipality
  City42.45 km2 (16.39 sq mi)
1,615.07 km2 (623.58 sq mi)
8 m (26 ft)
 (2016) [2]
  Density1,673/km2 (4,330/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
80x xx
Area code(s) (+46) 26
Website www.gavle.se

Gävle (pronounced  [ˈjɛːvlɛ] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a city in Sweden, the seat of Gävle Municipality and the capital of Gävleborg County. It had 100 603 inhabitants in 2017, [3] which makes it the 13th most populated city in Sweden. [1] It is the oldest city in the historical Norrland (Sweden's Northern Lands), having received its charter in 1446 from Christopher of Bavaria. However, Gävle is far nearer the greater Stockholm region than it is to the other major settlements in Norrland.

An urban area or tätort in Sweden has a minimum of 200 inhabitants and may be a city, town or larger village. It is a purely statistical concept, not defined by any municipal or county boundaries. Urban areas referred to as cities or towns for statistical purposes have a minimum of 10,000 inhabitants. The same statistical definition is also used for urban areas in the other Nordic countries.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, formal name: the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.5 million have a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

Gävle Municipality Municipality in Gävleborg County, Sweden

Gävle Municipality is a municipality in east central Sweden where the City Gävle is the municipal seat.


In recent years, the city has received a lot of international attention due to its large Yule Goat figure made of straw - the Gävle Goat. The goat is erected in December each year and is often subsequently vandalised, usually by someone setting it on fire. The goat has now become a symbol for the city and is being used for various marketing purposes.

Yule Goat Northern European Yule/Christmas tradition; a decorative goat made out of straw, bound with red ribbons

The Yule goat is a Scandinavian and Northern European Yule and Christmas symbol and tradition. Its origin may be Germanic pagan and has existed in many variants during Scandinavian history. Modern representations of the Yule goat are typically made of straw.


Old town (Gamla stan) Gavle-Gamla Stan.JPG
Old town (Gamla stan)

It is believed that the name Gävle derives from the word gavel, meaning river banks in Old Swedish and referring to the Gavleån (Gävle River). The oldest settlement was called Gävle-ägarna, which means "Gavel-owners". This name was shortened to Gävle, then Gefle, and finally Gävle.

Old Swedish is the name for two distinct stages of the Swedish language that were spoken in the Middle Ages: Early Old Swedish, spoken from around 1225 until 1375, and Late Old Swedish, spoken from 1375 until 1526.

Gavleån river

Gavleån, Gävleån or Gävle River is a watercourse in the middle Gästrikland of Sweden from Storsjön to Gävle Bay (Gävlebukten) in the Bothnian Sea.

Gävle is first mentioned as a town in official history books in the year 1413 but only received its official town charters in the year 1446. [4]

For a long time Gävle consisted solely of small, low, turf or shingle roofed wooden buildings. Boat-houses lined the banks of Gavleån, Lillån, and Islandsån. Until the 18th century the town was built, as was the practice then, around the three most important buildings: the church, the regional palace, and the town hall.

Sod grass and roots beneath

Sod or turf is grass and the part of the soil beneath it held together by its roots or another piece of thin material.

Roof shingle

Roof shingles are a roof covering consisting of individual overlapping elements. These elements are typically flat, rectangular shapes laid in courses from the bottom edge of the roof up, with each successive course overlapping the joints below. Shingles are made of various materials such as wood, slate, flagstone, metal, plastic, and composite materials such as fibre cement and asphalt shingles. Ceramic roof tiles, which still dominate in Europe and some parts of Asia, are still usually called tiles. Roof shingles may deteriorate faster and need to repel more water than wall shingles. They are a very common roofing material in the United States.

Church (building) Building used for Christian religious activities

A church building or church house, often simply called a church, is a building used for Christian religious activities, particularly for Christian worship services. The term is often used by Christians to refer to the physical buildings where they worship, but it is sometimes used to refer to buildings of other religions. In traditional Christian architecture, the church is often arranged in the shape of a Christian cross. When viewed from plan view the longest part of a cross is represented by the aisle and the junction of the cross is located at the altar area.

Gavle at the end of the 17th century. The three most prominent buildings are (from left to right): The palace, the town hall, the church. Gavle before 1700.jpg
Gävle at the end of the 17th century. The three most prominent buildings are (from left to right): The palace, the town hall, the church.

Over the last 300 years Gävle has been ablaze on three different occasions. After the fire of 1776 the town was rebuilt with straight streets and rectangular city blocks. The number of stone and brick houses also started to increase. The biggest town fire occurred 1869, when out of a population of around 10,000 approximately 8,000 inhabitants lost their homes, and about 350 farms were destroyed. Almost the whole town north of Gavleån was burnt down. All the buildings south of Gavleån were saved. An area of the old town between the museum and the library has been preserved to this day as a historic reserve, Gamla Gefle .

Farm area of land for farming, or, for aquaculture, lake, river or sea, including various structures

A farm is an area of land that is devoted primarily to agricultural processes with the primary objective of producing food and other crops; it is the basic facility in food production. The name is used for specialised units such as arable farms, vegetable farms, fruit farms, dairy, pig and poultry farms, and land used for the production of natural fibres, biofuel and other commodities. It includes ranches, feedlots, orchards, plantations and estates, smallholdings and hobby farms, and includes the farmhouse and agricultural buildings as well as the land. In modern times the term has been extended so as to include such industrial operations as wind farms and fish farms, both of which can operate on land or sea.

After the catastrophe of the fire Gävle developed its characteristic grid plan with large esplanades and green areas. It is now a green town with wide avenues. Stopping the spread of future town fires was the main idea behind this development.

An extensive redevelopment of the central town area was started during the 1950s. Around 1970 Gävle became a large urban district when it was united with the nearby municipalities of Valbo, Hamrånge, Hedesunda, and Hille. New suburbs like Stigslund, Sätra, Andersberg, and Bomhus have grown up around the central city.

In the middle of the 1800s to the beginning of the 1900s there was a bad harvest and a high unemployment rate in Sweden. [5] At the same time, political and religious oppression occurred, and religious encounters outside the State Church were not allowed. This led many Swedes to emigrate to other countries such as the United States. During the early emigration era, Gävle was one of the cities from which people left on their journey to the US. People from different parts of Gästrikland and other neighboring counties made their way to the harbor town of Gävle and then commenced their departure to America. [6]

In 1986 as a result of the Chernobyl disaster, Gävle was subjected to a severe deposition of radionuclides, exceeding 185 kBq per square meter. The impact was much greater than experienced by other regions of western Europe and as such, Gävle became one of the most affected areas outside of the Soviet Union. [7]


Gavle park with the river Gavlean Gavlean1.jpg
Gävle park with the river Gavleån

Gävle is situated by the Baltic Sea near the mouth of the river Dalälven. At 60 degrees north and 17 degrees east, Gävle has the same latitude as Helsinki and the same longitude as Vienna and Cape Town. Bordering municipalities are Söderhamn, Ockelbo, Sandviken, Heby, Tierp and Älvkarleby. Twenty kilometers west of Gävle lies Sandviken.


Gävle has a similar climate to the rest of central Sweden, with an average temperature of around −10 °C (14 °F) in January and 20 °C (68 °F) in July. Yearly rainfall is around 600 mm (23.62 in). Under the Köppen climate classification Gävle is classified as humid continental, [8] in spite of the significant maritime influence. It is also one of the northernmost cities by significant size in the world with this climate type, since areas north of the 60th parallel for the most part are dominated by various subarctic climate types. Under the 1961-1990 normals, Gävle's fourth warmest month was just around the isotherm of 10 °C (50 °F) to not be classified as subarctic, but temperatures did go up sufficiently to be clear humid continental since.

Climate data for Gävle (2002–2018 averages; extremes since 1901)
Record high °C (°F)11.0
Mean maximum °C (°F)6.1
Average high °C (°F)−0.7
Daily mean °C (°F)−4.1
Average low °C (°F)−7.4
Mean minimum °C (°F)−20.8
Record low °C (°F)−30.4
Average precipitation mm (inches)35.2
Source #1: SMHI Open Data [9]
Source #2: SMHI climate data 2002–2018 [10]


View of the harbour, approx. 1940-1959 The harbour at Fredriksskans, Gavle, Gastrikland, Sweden.jpg
View of the harbour, approx. 1940-1959

Trade from the port of Gävle increased markedly during the 15th century when copper and iron began to be exported from the port. In order to ensure that all trade was via Stockholm, sailing to foreign ports from Gävle and a few other ports was forbidden.

During the 16th century, Gävle was one of the most important port and merchant towns with many shipping companies and shipyards.

In 1787 Gävle was awarded "free and unrestricted sailing rights" to and from foreign ports. This led to an increase in trade, which in turn led to an increase in buildings, industrial developments, trade and shipping.

Today there are few shipping companies or shipyards left, but an important port remains. It has over 1000 ships calling per year and is among the top ten common ports in Sweden.

Major companies



Gävle has, considering its size, a large and well nourished cultural life, being a cradle for many musicians such as The Deer Tracks and The Sound of Arrows. The city applied to become the European Capital of Culture in 2014.

Arts and museums

Gavle concert hall, home of the Gavle Symphony Orchestra Konserthuset Gavle 2013.jpg
Gävle concert hall, home of the Gävle Symphony Orchestra

The prison museum of Sweden, the county museum of Gävleborg, and the national railway museum are the three largest museums in the city. The prison museum is located near Gävle Castle and depicts the history of crime and punishment in Sweden. The county museum (located downtown) hosts an art collection spanning from the 1600s to present time and well as a section dedicated to cultural history. Finally, the Swedish Railway Museum (Rälsgatan 1), hosts a collection that began to accumulate in 1906 in Stockholm and which was moved to Gävle in 1970.

Gävle has a theater dating back to the 1800s. It is still used for performances today, including classic theater, opera, variety and stand-up.

There is also a concert hall in Gävle which was inaugurated in 1998. It is home to the 1912 Gävle Symphony Orchestra, whose principal conductor is Jaime Martín.


Gefle Dagblad founded in 1895 [11] and Arbetarbladet are the two leading media outlets covering Gävle in the papers. Both have a long history dating back to the early 1900s and the late 1800s, respectively. Aside from this, the Swedish national public TV broadcaster, SVT, has an editorial office in the city and the national public radio Sveriges radio broadcasts from the city.[ citation needed ]


Gavlerinken, home of Brynas IF Gavlerinken Arena 02.jpg
Gavlerinken, home of Brynäs IF

Gävle has teams competing in the highest national league in football (Gefle IF) as well as ice hockey (Brynäs IF) and floorball (Gävle GIK).

Ice hockey



Speed skating




University College of Gavle Hogskolan i Gavle.jpg
University College of Gävle

The University College of Gävle currently enrolls 14,500 students. [12] It offers over 800 courses and 45 degree programs in technology, social- and natural sciences and the humanities. Its research profiles are "Built Environment" ("Byggd miljö") and "Health in working life" ("Hälsofrämjande arbetsliv"). [13] Some courses are offered in English and are taken by both international and Swedish students.


Gävle is known for being the birthplace of the Gevalia coffee brand, which is produced by Kraft General Foods Scandinavia and exported around the globe. Gevalia is particularly popular in the Americas and produces dozens of unique flavored coffees for the United States that are not available to its customers in Europe. However, visitors who come to the factory in Gävle can sample many of the premium blends. (Gevalia is the Latin name for Gävle).

Other brands from Gävle include the throat lozenges Läkerol and the car-shaped sweets Ahlgrens Bilar.

Gävle preserves the memory of the Swedish-American labor activist and martyr Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, better known as Joe Hill, who was born there in 1879. The Hägglund family home still stands in Gävle at the address Nedre Bergsgatan 28, in Gamla Stan, the Old Town. As of 2011 it houses a museum and the Joe Hill-gården, which hosts cultural events.

Gävle goat

The Gavle Goat in 2009. Yule goat Gefle Sweden 2009.jpg
The Gävle Goat in 2009.

The history of the Gävle goat began in 1966. Stig Gavlén came up with the idea of placing a giant version of the traditional Swedish Christmas goat of straw in Slottstorget (Castle Square) in central Gävle. On 1 December the 13-metre tall, 7-metre long, 3 tonne goat was erected on the square. At midnight on New Year's Eve, the goat went up in flames. The goat has since had a history of being burnt almost every year, 2005 being the 22nd time it was burnt. Burning the goat is an illegal act and not welcomed by most citizens of Gävle, but undoubtedly this is what has made the goat famous. In 2006 the goat was covered in a flame-resistant coating to prevent arson, enabling the goat to remain standing throughout that winter. On December 27, 2015, the goat was burnt for the 28th time.

Notable people

European cooperation

Gävle is a member city of Eurotowns network. [15]


Gävle Hospital has approximately 300 physicians, and serves an area of approximately 150.000 people. [16] It has a centre for clinical research in cooperation with Uppsala University. [17]

Twin towns – sister cities

Gävle is twinned with five cities: [18]

See also

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  1. 1 2 "Kommuner i siffror". Statistics Sweden. 22 April 2018. Archived from the original on 17 December 2012.
  2. http://www.statistikdatabasen.scb.se/pxweb/sv/ssd/START__MI__MI0810__MI0810A/LandarealTatort/table/tableViewLayout1/?rxid=ff9309f9-7ecb-480f-a73c-08d86b3e56f8
  3. "Kommuner i siffror. Totalt". Statistiska Centralbyrån (in Swedish). Retrieved 2018-04-22.
  4. "Gävle stads privilegier - Gefle från A till Ö" (in Swedish). www.gd.se. 2012-09-10. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  5. "Perspektiv på Historien", Nyström Hans, Nyström Lars, Nyström Örjan, 2011
  6. "Ett land likt himmelriket… Emigrationen via Gävle till Nordamerika vid mitten av 1800-talet", Severin, Göran, 1996
  7. https://www.oecd-nea.org/rp/chernobyl/c02.html
  8. "Gavle, Sweden Climate Summary". Weatherbase. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  9. "SMHI Öppen Data nederbörd för Gävle A" [SMHI Open Data precipitation for Gävle A] (in Swedish). Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute.
  10. "Statistik från Väder och Vatten" [Statistics from Weather and Water] (in Swedish). SMHI. 20 May 2019.
  11. Gustafsson, Karl Erik. "Gefle Dagblad". www.ne.se. Nationalencyklopedin . Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  12. About the University of Gävle Archived 2011-09-03 at the Wayback Machine
  13. Om Högskolan (Swedish)
  14. Andreas Rudman and his Family Archived 2009-11-15 at the Wayback Machine (by Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig. Swedish Colonial News, Volume 2, Number 1. Winter 2000)
  15. "Eurotowns".
  16. Gävle sjukhus at jobblanken.se, part of Internetmedicin. Updated 2012
  17. Centre for Clinical Research – Gävleborg (CFUG) Archived 2014-03-17 at the Wayback Machine from Uppsala University homepage > Medicine and Pharmacy > Centres. Updated: 11/29/2011.
  18. "Vänorter, partnerskap och nätverk". gavle.se. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  19. "Sadraudzības pilsētas". jurmala.lv. Retrieved 26 April 2014.(in Latvian)(in English)
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