Gothenburg – the City

Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden and the fifth largest city in the Nordics. It lies on Sweden’s west coast and is home to about 1 million inhabitants. Gothenburg is home to the largest port city and has always been historically and economically significant since the Viking age because of its close vicinity to Kattegat, an entryway to the North Sea. Gothenburg is home to an extensive archipelago where many vacation and fish during the warmer months. The larger Gothenburg region includes the municipalities of Ale, Alingsås, Härryda, Kungälv, Lerum, Lilla Edet, Mölndal, Partille, Stenungsund, Tjörn, Öckerö, and Kungsbacka.


Gothenburg has a temperate climate with mild temperatures throughout the year. Gothenburg is quite warm compared to similarly located cities because of the influence of the nearby warm waters of the gulf stream. In the summer, temperatures average a high of 19 to 20°C (66 to 68°F). Because of its close vicinity to the Western coastline, Gothenburg is often very windy throughout the year. Average winter temperatures range from -3 to 3°C (27 to 37°F). It is rare that temperatures drop below -20°C (-4°F), but it normally occurs at least a few times each winter. Gothenburg normally has higher precipitation than other Swedish areas, but snowfall is generally restricted to the months of November to April. As with other places in Sweden, the sunlight drastically changes between the seasons. In June, the average monthly hours of sunshine is 256, while it is only 32 in December.

The Greater Gothenburg Area

As mentioned earlier, Gothenburg is located on the West Coast of Sweden in the Västra Götaland region. Within the region, it is relatively easy to travel by car or train from one part to another. Thus, many people chose to live in smaller towns within the region and commute to Gothenburg for work. There are several official boroughs that are outside of the city limits of Gothenburg, but have the same jurisdiction. Most of these are smaller towns who began as neighborhoods in the outskirts of Gothenburg. Some of them have petitioned to form their own independent municipalities but have been rejected by the Swedish government. Some of the most popular of these areas are Örgryte, Tuve-Säve, Majorna, and Lärjedalen. Many of the areas in the Greater Gothenburg region are small towns with farming or industrial economies, small seaside coastal communities, or archipelago towns.

Gothenburg Archipelago

The archipelago of Gothenburg (comprises northern and southern archipelagoes. The southern archipelago is part of Gothenburg municipality located in the province of Västergötland while the northern archipelago is Öckerö municipality, located in the province of Bohuslän.

There are ferries from Lilla Varholmen to the northern archipelago. Some of the islands are interconnected by bridges. Southern archipelago ferries go from Saltholmen, plus a freight ferry from Fiskebäck. No cars are allowed in the southern part of the archipelago which makes this the perfect destination for long walks and bike rides. You travel on the same ticket the whole way from the city, including the ferry from Saltholmen. The northern part of the archipelago is accessed by a car ferry from Lilla Varholmen at Hisingen and you can bring your car to most islands.


The present day city of Gothenburg was first established as a fort during the Thirty Years’ War in the 1600s. It was formed as a strategic fort since it was Sweden’s only access to the Atlantic ocean. The Vikings also inhabited the area since it was near the important port of Kattegatt. Rock carvings and authentic memorabilia is still being found in the area to this day. The city got its name during the reign of Karl IX during the beginning of the 1600s. For a while, it was only inhabited by foreign merchants and the official language of the region was actually Dutch. Dutch influence can be seen in the layout of the city, as well as some examples of remaining architecture from the period. The city design for Gothenburg was actually based on the canal system in Amsterdam. During the 18th century, the city flourished because of trade opportunities and the plethora of seafood that could be sold and exported. During the middle of the 19th century, industrialization came to the region. Volvo was established in the area in 1926 bringing lots of jobs and economic growth to the region. Gothenburg is still the largest port in Sweden today and the economy still relies heavily on trade, fishing, and the automotive industry.


Gothenburg is ruled by a city council made of 81 members but there is opportunity for great involvement in the political realm for citizens since Gothenburg’s city council often holds public referendums. Gothenburg is classified as a municipality so the politicians’ decisions have impact on the local community. Gothenburg is located in Västra Götaland, which has a regional council that can make decisions impacting the entire region. Those who live in other municipalities just outside of Gothenburg can vote in their respective municipality elections as well as the regional elections. Gothenburg also appoints a mayor who is the chairman of the municipal executive committee.

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