Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden and the fifth largest in the Nordic countries. Situated by the Kattegat, on the west coast of Sweden, the city proper has a population of 541,145, with 549,839 in the urban area and 970,912 inhabitants in the metropolitan area. Gothenburg is classified as a global city by GaWC, with a ranking of Gamma−. The city was ranked as the 12th most inventive city in the world by Forbes.
Gothenburg is home to many students, as the city includes both the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology. Volvo was founded in Gothenburg in 1927. The city is a major centre in Sweden for sports and home to the IFK Göteborg, BK Häcken, GAIS and Örgryte IS association football teams as well as the Frölunda HC ice hockey team.
The city is known for hosting some of the largest annual events in Scandinavia. The Göteborg International Film Festival, held in January since 1979, is the leading film festival in Scandinavia with over 155,000 visitors annually. During the summer a broad variety of music festivals take place, such as Way Out West and Metaltown. Gothia Cup, held every year in Gothenburg, is in regards to the number of participants the world's largest football tournament: in 2011, a total of 35,200 players from 1567 teams and 72 nations participated.
In the early modern period, the configuration of Sweden's borders made Gothenburg strategically critical as the only Swedish gateway to the North Sea and Atlantic, lying on the west coast in a very narrow strip of Swedish territory between Danish Halland to the south and Norwegian Bohuslen to the north. After several failed attempts, Gothenburg was successfully founded in 1621 by King Gustavus Adolphus (Gustaf II Adolf).
The site of the first church built in Gothenburg, subsequently destroyed by Danish invaders, is marked by a stone near the north end of the Älvsborg Bridge in Färjenäs park. The church was built in 1603 and destroyed in 1611. The city was heavily influenced by the Dutch, Germans and Scots, and Dutch planners and engineers were contracted to construct the city as they had the skills needed to drain and build in the marshy areas chosen for the city. The town was designed like Dutch cities such as Amsterdam, Batavia (Jakarta) and New Amsterdam (Manhattan Island). The plan of the streets and canals of Gothenburg closely resembles that of Jakarta, which was built by the Dutch around the same time. The Dutchmen initially won political power and it was not until 1652, when the last Dutch politician in the city's council died, that Swedes acquired political power over Gothenburg. During the Dutch period the town followed Dutch town laws and there were propositions to make Dutch the official language in the town. Heavy city walls were built during the 17th century. These city walls were torn down after about 1810, because the development of cannons made such walls less valuable as a defence.
Along with the Dutch, the town also was heavily influenced by Scots who came to settle in Gothenburg. Many became people of high profile. William Chalmers was the son of a Scottish immigrant and donated his fortunes to set up what later became Chalmers University of Technology. In 1841 the Scotsman Alexander Keiller founded the Götaverken shipbuilding company that still exists today. His son James Keiller donated Keiller Park to the city in 1906.
In the 18th century, fishing was the most important industry. However, in 1731 the Swedish East India Company was founded, and the city flourished due to its foreign trade with highly profitable commercial expeditions to China.
The harbour developed into Sweden's main harbour for trade towards the west, and with Swedish emigration to the United States increasing, Gothenburg became Sweden's main point of departure. The impact of Gothenburg as a main port of embarkation for Swedish emigrants is reflected by Gothenburg, Nebraska, a small Swedish settlement in the United States.
With the 19th century, Gothenburg evolved into a modern industrial city that continued on into the 20th century. The population increased tenfold in the century, from 13,000 (1800) to 130,000 (1900). In the 20th century, major companies that developed included SKF (est. 1907) and Volvo (est. 1927).