Kiruna - Giron
275px-Kiruna in Sweden
Kiruna - Giron
Country Sweden
Province Lapland
County Norrbotten County
Municipality Kiruna Municipality
Charter 1948
 • Total 16.53 km2 (6.38 sq mi)
Population (31 December 2010)[1]
 • Total 18,148
 • Density 1,098/km2 (2,840/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Kiruna (Northern SamiGironFinnishKiiruna) is the northernmost city in Sweden, situated in the province of Lapland. It had 18,148 inhabitants in 2010[1] and is the seat of Kiruna Municipality (pop. 23,099 in 2008[2]) in Norrbotten County.



Archeological findings have shown that the region around Kiruna has been inhabited for at least 6,000 years. Centuries before Kiruna was founded in 1900, the presence of iron ore at Kiirunavaara and Luossavaara had been known by the local Samipopulation. In 1696, Samuel Mört, a bookkeeper of the Kengis works, wrote on the presence of iron in the two hills. The Swedish senior enforcement officer and cartographer and mapper Anders Hackzell mapped the Kiruna area in 1736 and gave the mountains of the area their Swedish language names Fredriks berg (original Finnish name still in use as well: Kiirunavaara) and Berget Ulrika Eleonora (original Finnish name still in use as well: Luossavaara), after the King of Sweden Fredrik I and his wife Ulrika Eleonora.

Despite the findings of large amounts of ore, no mining was initiated because of the remote location and the harsh climate. Some ore was extracted in the 19th century by extracting it in summer and transporting it in winter, using sleds drawn by reindeer andhorses. However, the costs were high and the quality of the phosphorous ore poor, until, in 1878, the Gilchrist-Thomas process, invented by Sidney Gilchrist Thomas and Percy Gilchrist, allowed for the separation of phosphor from the ore.[3][4]

In 1884, a concession for a railway from Luleå to Narvik was granted to The Northern of Europe Railway Company. The provisional railway between Luleå and Malmberget was finished in 1888 and the first train left Malmberget in March. Around the same time, the English company went bankrupt and had to sell the line to the Swedish state for 8 million Swedish crowns, around half the amount initially invested. After a significant rebuild, the railway to Gällivare could be used again and iron ore was extracted atMalmberget by Aktiebolaget Gellivare Malmfält (AGM).[4][5]

At the initiative of Robert Schoug, the Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag (LKAB) was founded in 1890. In 1893, Gustaf Bromsbecame CEO of both LKAB and AGM. LKAB pressed for continuing Malmbanan via Luossavaara and Kiirunavaara to the ice-free coast of Norway. The continuation of the railway line to Narvik was controversial, because opponents feared the influence ofRussia (then controlling Finland and already connected to Sweden at HaparandaTornio) on an international railway line.

[1][2]Kiruna city hall in summer

The decision to build was finally taken in 1898. The railway came to Kiruna 15 October 1899 and the Swedish and Norwegian sections were joined 15 November 1902. For LKAB, this had been so expensive that they could barely avoid bankruptcy in 1901, just after the ore mining at Kiirunavaara had started. King Oscar II only opened the railway line 14 July 1903, preferring summer over winter to travel north.[4][5][6]

The architects Per Olof Hallman and Gustaf Wickman were appointed to design the city, to be built at Haukivaara, near both iron ore mines, with then revolutionary consideration of geographical and climatological circumstances; being built on a hill, winter temperatures are much milder than in other towns, and due to the street plan and the positioning, wind is limited. On 27 April 1900, Hallmans plan was officially accepted.

Gustaf Broms proposed to name the settlements Kiruna, a short and practical name that could also be pronounced by Swedish speaking inhabitants. LKAB appointed Hjalmar Lundbohm, who had finished neither high school nor his geology studies, as local manager in Kiruna.[7][8][9]