At the northern end of the Gulf of Bothnia, this curious city is located one kilometre from the sea, at the mouth of the Torne Alv river, which today serves as the natural border between Sweden and Finland. In 1809, with the end of the Russo-Swedish war, this Finnish-speaking valley was divided between Sweden and Finland. While Tornio, on the other side of the river, remained Finnish, Haparanda, who had become Swedish, obtained her privileges in 1842. In this commercial city transited the goods exchanged between Bothnia and the Arctic. From a bygone era, there are still a few wooden houses in Torggatan street and around the only square (Torget). Later, during the two world wars, Haparanda was an important transit centre for prisoners of war. Built in 1919, the impressively large railway station shows how hopes for the further development of the city have been disappointed.
The town centre, 500 m from the border, is made up of a few blocks of low, modern houses that are arranged around the square. With its large manor-style hotel, fountain and small garden, this square is not lacking in charm, and the majestic water tower a hundred metres behind the Stadshotell doesn't spoil the picture. But the city strikes above all by its silence, its languor, its deserted streets. For the anecdote, the largest and northernmost Ikea school in the world. On summer evenings, when the sun hardly sets, you can hear the buzzing of clouds of mosquitoes as you walk along the banks of the wide river. We go from Haparanda to Tornio in the blink of an eye, and thus from Sweden to Finland, don't forget the one hour time difference and the return to the euro!
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