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Kiruna is located in Sweden
Coordinates: 67°51′N 20°13′E / 67.85°N 20.217°E / 67.85; 20.217Coordinates: 67°51′N 20°13′E / 67.85°N 20.217°E / 67.85; 20.217
Country Sweden
Province Lapland
County Norrbotten County
Municipality Kiruna Municipality
Charter 1948
Area [1]
 - Total 15.92 km2 (6.1 sq mi)
Population (2005-12-31)[1]
 - Total 18,154
 - Density 1,140/km2 (2,952.6/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Kiruna (Northern Sami: Giron, Finnish: Kiiruna) is the northernmost city in Sweden, situated in Lappland province, with 18,154 inhabitants in 2005.[1] It is the seat of Kiruna Municipality (pop. 23,099 in 2008[2]) in Norrbotten County.



The church in Kiruna.

Kiruna is located in the north of Sweden, 145 kilometers north of the Arctic circle. The city centre is built on the Haukavaara hill at an altitude of 530m, high above the Torne river to the north and the Kalix river to the south. Other parts of the town are Lombolo and Tuolluvaara. Near Kiruna are the mountains Kiirunavaara and Luossavaara. Kiirunavaara is an iron ore mine that is the town's primary economic resource. Luossavaara is a former mine and now used as a skiing slope.

The city is built near the lake Luossajärvi with outflow to the Luossajoki that flows in the Torne river at Laxforsen. The area around Kiruna is very sparsely populated. The northwest, west and southwest of Kiruna are dominated by the Scandinavian mountains, visible from the city centre. Swedens highest mountain, Kebnekaise, is 75 km from the city centre and can be seen from it as well. To the west is Nikkaluokta and to the northwest are Abisko, Björkliden, Riksgränsen and the Norwegian town of Narvik, 180 km via the road. 12 km north of Kiruna is Kurravaara, on the edge of the Torne River. The land north of Kurravaara is roadless, uninhabited land, partly barren and partly birch forest, up to the Norwegian and Finnish borders at Treriksröset. The lower-lying east is dominated by boreal forest, stretching hundreds (if not thousands) of kilometers into Finland and Russia. Around 15 km east of Kiruna is a group of villages at the Torne River, most notably Jukkasjärvi, where an ice hotel is built in winter, attracting tourists from all over the world. The twin cities Gällivare and Malmberget are some 120 km south of Kiruna.

Kiruna became a Swedish city on January 1, 1948, and was at one time listed as the largest city in the world by area,[3] even if most of its territory of course was non-urban. After the Swedish municipality reform in the 1970s, the term "city" has been legally discontinued. Today only the built-up area is considered a de facto city.



Being located 145 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, Kiruna has a Sub-Arctic climate with short, cool summers and long, cold winters, although the city itself can be considerably milder than the surrounding forest. Snowcover generally lasts from mid-October to mid-May, but snowfall can occur year-round. The sun doesn't set between May 30 and July 15, and perpetual daylight lasts from early May to early August. The period that the sun doesn't rise lasts from early December to early January, the exact boundaries depending on local topography. In this time of the year, a few hours of twilight are the only daylight available.

During the midnight sun period, temperatures can rise as high as 25 degrees Celsius (77 F).

Weather data for Kiruna
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) -11.1
Daily mean °C (°F) -13.9
Average low °C (°F) -21.9
Precipitation mm (inches) 30.1
Sunshine hours ? 60 ? 180 ? 260 ? 170 ? 80 ? 0 1,400
Avg. precipitation days 17 14 14 13 12 13 16 17 15 16 16 17 192
Source: SMHI [4][5][6] 2009-05-28


View from just outside Kiruna, with European route E10 left to Luleå and right to Narvik, Norway.

Kiruna is located at the E10 road, connecting Luleå with Norway and passing close by Gällivare (south of Kiruna) and Narvik (on the Norwegian coast). A short road connects to Kurravaara at the Torne river and ends there. Another road connects Kiruna with Nikkaluokta close to Kebnekaise and is used by tourists to get to the mountains. It also passes by or nearby several villages in the Kalix river valley.

Buses connect Kiruna with major towns in Norrbotten province and villages nearby and in the wider region. The railway connects Luleå with Gällivare, Kiruna and Narvik. Although built to serve the mine, Swedish Rail runs daily passenger traffic on the line: a night train from Narvik to Stockholm, a day train from Narvik to Luleå (connecting with a second night train to Stockholm and Göteborg), and trains to Luleå and Narvik that start and finish in Kiruna. The latter is known as Karven and popular for day trips to the mountains near Abisko, Björkliden and Riksgränsen, particularly in winter. Additional long-distance trains are run by Connex in summer.

Kiruna Airport is located southeast of the city, 8 km by road. A few flights per day connect Kiruna with Stockholm, either directly or via Luleå or Umeå. During tourist season, buses connect Kiruna airport to the city center.



Kiruna city hall in summer.

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 Sami population. In 1696, Samuel Mört, a bookkeeper of the Kengis works, wrote on the presence of iron in the two hills. Anders Hacksell mapped the area in 1736 and named the mountains Fredriks berg (Kiirunavaara) and Berget Ulrika Eleonora (Luossavaara), after king 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 and horses. However, the costs were high and the quality of the phosphorous ore poor, until, in 1878, the Thomas process, invented by Sidney Thomas and Percy Gilchrist, allowed for the separation of phosphor from the ore.[7][8]

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 at Malmberget by Aktiebolaget Gellivare Malmfält (AGM).[8][9]

At the initiative of Robert Schoug, the Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag (LKAB) was founded in 1890. In 1893, Gustaf Broms became CEO of both LKAB and AGM. LKAB pressed for continuing Malmbanen 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 of Russia (then controlling Finland and already connected to Sweden at Haparanda-Tornio) on an international railway line. 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.[8][9][10]

The architects Per-Olov Hallman and Gustaf Wickman were appointed to design the city, to be built at Haukivaara, near both iron ore mines, with then revolutionairy 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 highschool nor his geology studies, as local chef in Kiruna.[11][12][13]

Early history

Population development in Kiruna town

Before the design for the settlement had been accepted, houses were built in an disorganised manner with illegal slums similar to those in the other mining town, Malmberget, 80 km south of Kiruna. Also, provisional buildings served as a church, a school, a hospital, a hotel and a police station. However, official residences were built at a high pace, and when the king opened the railway in 1903, all illegal residences and most other provisional buildings had been demolished and replaced. The very first building, B:1, is preserved and can be seen at Hjalmar Lundbohmsgården. In 1899, 18 people were registered as living in soon-to-be Kiruna. This increased to 222 in 1900, 7,438 in 1910 and 12,884 in 1930. The residences did not fully keep up with this rapid growth; by 1910 there were 1,877 official rooms and some unrecognised residences, which meant that an average of three to four people lived in a single room; this density decreased steadily during the decades to follow. Kiruna became a municipalsamhälle (a community within a municipality) in 1908. This caused unhappiness in local organisations, such as Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Arbeteraförening, that had hoped for a status as köping, which would have kept more of the mining income inside the locality. In return, the mining company LKAB paid for a hospital, fire station, sewage, roads, a church (opened 1912) and the priests home.[7][9][11]

In April 1907, a tram began operation in Kiruna, the northernmost in the world. This meant miners would no longer have to walk several kilometers through the sub-arctic cold, nor would they need to climb a hundred meters up the mining hill. The network consisted of three lines: bergbanan (mountain line), stadsspårvägen (city tram) and gruvspårvägen (mine tram). The mountain line closed in 1955 after a road up the mine had been built 1949. The city line had a total length of 8 km at longest and was unique due to the 1-meter gauge, double windows and heated wagons. It closed in 1958 after gradually being replaced by buses. Between 1941 and 1964, a tram was used inside the mine, with wagons bought from closed down tramlines from all over Sweden.[10]

The economy for iron ore was good in the early 20th century. Before the start of the work, Hjalmar Lundbohm had been worried about whether the Kiruna winter would allow for working outside at all, but despite early research into underground mining, mountaintop removal mining was the primary method in the early years. Mechanisation was attempted early using steam powered excavators, but the cold climate led to considerable difficulties and only when electrical machinery became available in the 1910s, significant mechanisation was achieved. The peak of Kiirunavaara, Statsrådet, was 247,7 meter above Luossajärvi until it was spectacularly blown off in 1910.[8][9]

A general strike hit Sweden in 1909 and Kiruna was no exception. Hoping for a better future, thousands of people left Kiruna, including a group of 500 inhabitants emigrating to Brazil. Most of them returned, disappointed that life in Latin America was not what they had hoped it to be, Hjalmar Lundbohm personally lent money for the trip home to some of the emigrants.[8][9]

During World War I, iron ore production dropped to the lowest level in LKAB's history, and when exports increased again, a successful three-month strike in 1920 meant a 20% increase in salaries for the miners. Production dropped to a minimum in 1922 and a three-day workweek was introduced, but during the fabulous twenties it increased to a record nine million tonnes in 1927.[9]

In 1921, mining started at the other of the two ore hills in Kiruna, Luossavaara. However, the total amount of ore that could be mined in open pit mining here was small compared to Kiirunavaara, and LKAB preferred to concentrate resources in one place. Nevertheless, mining here continued until 1974 and later it became a research mine.[8][9]

During the first decades of Kiruna's existence, no road connected it to the outside world. The only connection was by railway or, as in the time before the railway, by boat (in summer) via the Torne and Kalix rivers to Jukkasjärvi and Håmojåkk and then proceed by foot. A road from Kiruna was built to Tuolluvaara in 1901, Poikkijärvi in 1909, Alttajärvi in 1913 and connected to Svappavaara in 1926, from where roads already connected via Vittangi to Pajala and via Lappesuando to Gällivare and further south.[10]

The Great Depression led to a 70% drop in ore production, a drop that would turn into a dramatic increase on the eve of World War II.[9]

Although some tourists already came to the area in the 19th century, the completion of the railway line truly made tourism possible. Tourists came for the rivers and the mountains, but also geologists and entire classes of students came to see the mine. Additionally, a yearly winter sports festival was started, which attracted people from a wide area. The Sami population was already a tourist attraction in the early days of Kiruna's existence.[14]

World War II

The municipality of Kiruna shares borders with Norway and Finland, and Kiruna is located relatively close to both countries. This led to many soldiers being transported to the area whenever mobilisation was requested; first in September 1939 after the German invasion of Poland, then in November 1939 after the Russian invasion of Finland, but in both cases the Swedish soldiers did not engage in any fighting. In March 1940, Churchill requested permission to transport soldiers from Narvik in Norway to Finland via Kiruna and Haparanda in Operation Chaterine. Out of fear that the presence of British soldiers near the Kiruna ore mine would provoke a German attack on Sweden, the request was denied.[15]

After the German invasion of Norway, at least ten soldiers were stationed along every bridge along Malmbanan, preparing for the possibility to blow up the bridges should the German army invade Sweden. Additionally, foreigners were banned from visiting Kiruna or the iron ore line, and only the Sami, military personnel, locals and people working for the government were permitted to travel between Kiruna and Riksgränsen.[15]

After the battle at Bjørnfjell, 15 April 1940, wounded and fallen Norwegian soldiers were transported to Kiruna.[15]

Despite the conditions for Swedish neutrality, rail cars with food, skis and helmets were transported from Kiruna to the Norwegian soldiers in Bjørnfjell.[15]

Swedish iron ore from Kiruna was of major importance to the German war machine, possibly paid for partly with gold stolen from Jews. A group of people working at LKAB organised in the Wollweberliga, planning to sabotage transports to Germany. In late November 1941, Edvard Nyberg, Ernst Wollweber and others produced a mine to be attached to the ore cars. Nyberg was caught, was fired from LKAB and spent 3 1/2 years in prison. Upon his release, he founded Nybergs Mekaniska Verkstad which is still one of Kirunas biggest companies [1].[15][16]

Germany requested from Sweden use of the railway network to transport military equipment, but the Swedish government agreed only to transitering av human karaktär, men ej underhåll till stridande trupp (transit of humanitarian character, but no maintenance of fighting soldiers). Germany argued that, now that Norway was occupied, the German soldiers there were no longer fighting, and thus transported a large amount of military equipment, ammunition and, secretly, troops from south to north Norway, via Malmbanan and Kiruna. Troops were often transported in transports declared as material transports. Despite being strictly against the rules, there was considerable interaction between the German soldiers and the Swedish locals, including trading and football matches.[15]

During the war, up to 2000 refugees from 20 different countries were kept in Kiruna. Also German prisoners of war, for example from crashed airplanes, were kept in Kiruna before being transported south. However, small-scale sabotage, such as sand in the engines, was also common and loose weapons often ended up at the bottom of the Luossajärvi lake, next to the railway stop.[15]

North of Tornetrásk, at Kaivare, a radio base Kari was built in secrecy and used by the Norwegian resistance. It was also used for the smuggling of arms to Norway and refugees from Norway.[15][17]


In 1948, Kiruna gained city rights and started to receive large amounts of money from the mine. The city centre was renovated starting it 1953; most buildings built before 1920 were demolished and replaced, and many of the current buildings were built in the following period. The town grew and new neighborhoods were built, as well as new apartment buildings and villas in existing neighborhoods. The area currently known as Lombolo was built in the 1960s.[11]

After World War II, the economy of Kiruna started to diversify. Initially, the mechanisation of the mining industry led to more mechanical workshops developing machinery for the mine, still dependent on the mining, but individual companies with spinoffs that could be sold to other areas than the Kiruna mine alone. In the 1950s, a fund, Norrlandsfonden was estabilshed, in which profits from LKAB would be invested in order to diversify the local economy. The municipality started to lend money to starting companies against very beneficial rates, a scheme that lasted until 1959 because the banks, that insisted this was false competition, had established more relaxed rules for lending out money. The industrial area east of the city was built in the 1950s to separate industry from neighborhoods.[18]

On 10 November 1960, Kiruna airport opened to separate civilian air traffic from the military airplanes that had landed at Kalixfors airport and at Luossajärvi since World War I. A road to Nikkaluokta was opened in 1971 and to Riksgränsen and Narvik in 1984. The latter had been debated heavily, for alternative plans existed to build the road to Norway on the northern side of Torneträsk, via Laimo, Kattuvuoma, Salmi to Innset and Bardu in Norway. This road was never built, but a 25 km long track between Laimo and Salmi was built at the initiatives of the locals and finished in 1962; however, this track, called Talmavägen, is not connected to any other road.[10]

Increased communications were also beneficial for the tourism. Swedish Railways had already run special trains before World War II, but started a special Dollar train in the summer months between Gothenborg and Kiruna, connecting to cruise ships from the United States. The canoe club Kiruna Långfärdspaddlare was founded in 1972 and rafting for tourists restarted after it had been discontinued for 20 years due to the drowning of Valfrid Johansson. Until the 1980s, tourism had been mainly a summer business, but touristic exploitation of dog sledging was started in 1983 in Jukkasjärvi. In 1990, the first Icehotel was built in Jukkasjärvi and advertised as the worlds largest igloo. It had been built using techniques from the building of Malmbanan 90 years before, and was also inspired by the Snow Festival, that had started in 1986 to celebrate the Swedish Viking satellite. Since 1998, a special tourist area exists in the mine and since 1999, tourists can visit the various areas of research going on in Kiruna.[14]

In 1957, the Kiruna Geophysical Observatory (KGO) (now the Swedish Institute of Space Physics) was founded and established by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Esrange Space Centre is established in 1966. Here, rocket operations and ground-based observations are carried out since 1966, balloon operations since 1974, satellite operations since 1978 and testing operations since 2000 (with the Swedish Defence Material Administration). ESA also operates a satellite station near at Salmajärvi, near Esrange, since 1989. In 1987, Umeå University started a space engineering program in Kiruna, and GIS education was started by Luleå University of Technology in 1991. In 1993, The Umeå space engineers moved to the same building housing IRF and a year later another Luleå University programme, civil engineering with specialisation in space technology, started at the same location. Since 2006, the Erasmus Mundus Master Course in Space Science and Technology has started with at least one semester spent at LTU. In 2007, education along IRV was split and only the Department of Space Science, belonging to Luleå University of Technology, remained, while the Umeå University programme in Space Engineering quit.[19][20][21]

The Kiruna Icehotel has been built in Jukkasjärvi each winter since 1990 and has become a major tourist attraction.[22]

Until the 1970s, Kiruna's population steadily increased as the iron ore economy was thriving. 1973 was a record year for the iron ore company LKAB, mining 24 million ton ore from Kiruna and nearby Svappavaara. However, a steel crisis led to a dramatic decrease in the iron ore economy, and LKAB had losses in 1977 for the first time in decades. Additionally, increasing transport capacity meant increasing competition from Africa, South America and Australia, where mining is mostly done in the open and thus cheaper. In ten years the number of employees decreased from 8,000 to 4,000 and the population of Kiruna began to drop. The mines at Svappavaara, Tuolluvaara and Luossavaara closed and only Kirunavaara remained. The local job office was jocularly called Resebyrån (the travel agency) because the only message to unemployed youths was: move. Since then, the population has gone steadily downhill, but has stabilised in recent years due to the diversification of the economy.[23][24]

Since 1985, the snow festival has been organised each winter, including various activities such as an ice sculpture contest. In 2000, when the city was 100 years old, the Kiruna festival was first organised and has since been organised every year in summer.[25][26]



Iron ore pellets from Kiruna.

Iron ore extraction is a key industry of the area, and the town is very dependent on the mining company LKAB. During World War II, large quantities of iron were transported from northern Sweden by rail to the east coast, and further down to be sold to Germany. (See Swedish iron ore during World War II).

In recent years attempts have been made to reduce the area's dependence on mining with initiatives to promote science, R&D and government related activities. Initiatives have included the proposed relocation of the Swedish Space Corporation and the establishment of the Environment and Space Research Institute (Miljö- och rymdforskningsinstitutet); the former was never executed and the latter was essentially only a temporary success.


The ESTRACK Kiruna Station of ESA, the European Space Agency, is located in the municipality. So is Esrange, the European Space and Sounding Rocket Range, as well as an EISCAT station and EISCAT scientific headquarters.[27]

Also in Kiruna are the Institute of Space Physics[28] and the Department of Space Science belonging to Luleå University of Technology.[29]

In 2007, the Swedish government announced that Kiruna would be the host of Spaceport Sweden, signing an agreement with Virgin Galactic.[30][31]


Tourism is an important source of income for Kiruna and the surrounding region with around 300,000 tourist-nights per year (1998).[14]

Throughout the year, fishing and hunting are popular activities by both locals and tourists. Visits can be done to the mine, the church and different research agencies, such as Abisko Scientific Research Station the Institute of Space Physics or Esrange. Tourists can experience the sami culture, particularly in combination with winter activities such as dog sledding.[14][32]

In summer, many come to the mountains to hike up to Kebnekaise, to walk on trails such as Kungsleden and Nordkalottruta, or to hike in the national parks such as Abisko National Park. The location north of the arctic circle attracts tourists for experiencing the midnight sun. Tourists also come for the lakes and rivers of Lapland. There exists rafting on the Kalix and Torne rivers, canoeing in the Vistas valley near Nikkaluokta, and boat trips on lakes such as Torneträsk. Caving can be done near Björkliden. Each year in summer, the Kiruna festival is organised, a music festival in the midnight sun.[14][32][33]

In winter, the Icehotel attracts tourists from all over the world. The northern location makes it a good place to observe the northern lights, and snow cover generally lasts from October to May. The long and certain snow cover makes it a good place for skiing (cross-country and alpine), dog sledding or driving a snowmobile. Ice climbing can be done in the mountains and sometimes one can go ice skating on lakes or rivers. Each year in winter, the Snow festival is organised, including scooter jumping, reindeer racing, an ice sculpture contest, and more.[14][32][34]


  • Car testing
  • Northern European Aerospace Testrange

Moving the town

In 2004, it was decided that the present centre of the municipality (N67°49'48'', E20°25'48'') must be relocated to counter mining related subsidence. The relocation will be made gradually over the coming decade. On January 8, 2007, the new location was decided. Kiruna will gradually move northwest to the foot of the Luossavaara mountain, by the lake of Luossajärvi.[35]

The first actual work on moving the town was done in November 2007, when work on the new main sewage pipe started.[36] In the same week, first sketches for the layout of the new part of the town became available.[37] The sketches include a travel centre, the new locations for the city hall and the church, an artificial lake and an extension of the Luossavaara hill into the city.[38] The location of the new section of the E10 is still uncertain, as is the location of the railway and the railway station.

A more official sketch was published early in spring 2008, which was then discussed with various interest groups before a further version is produced.

Most of the buildings in Kiruna will simply be torn down and rebuilt at the target site. However, the Kiruna city hall, the most architecturally significant building in Kiruna, will be cut into four parts, each of which will be transported whole to the target site and reassembled there. The move will require an extremely flat and level road tens of metres wide and will be extremely slow.


Dog sledding is a popular activity in the countryside surrounding Kiruna.

In the village of Jukkasjärvi there is an Ice hotel which is reconstructed every year.

The church in Kiruna from 1912 is also notable, one of Sweden's largest wooden buildings. The church exterior is built in an Neo Gothic style, while the altar is in Art Nouveau. It has separately been voted Sweden's best looking church and the foremost Swedish pre-1950 construction.

Notable residents

Twin cities

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Tätorternas landareal, folkmängd och invånare per km2 2000 och 2005" (in Swedish) (xls). Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 2009-04-19.  
  2. ^ "Folkmängd i riket, län och kommuner 31 december 2008 och befolkningsförändringar 2008" (in Swedish) (xls). Statistics Sweden. 2009-02-14. Retrieved 2009-03-08.  
  3. ^ "Historien om världens största stad" (in Swedish). Norrländska Socialdemokraten. Retrieved 2008-11-30.  
  4. ^ "Nederbörd, normalvärden 1961-90" (in Swedish). SMHI. Retrieved 2009-05-28.  
  5. ^ "Dataserier med normalvärden för perioden 1961-1990" (in Swedish). SMHI. Retrieved 2009-05-28.  
  6. ^ "Klimatkartor" (in Swedish). SMHI. Retrieved 2009-05-28.  
  7. ^ a b "Historia - Kiruna kommun" (in Swedish). Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Press room/History/1696 -". Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Barck, Åke (27 April 2000). "Gruvstaden - Gruvorna" (in Swedish). Kiruna 100-årsboken. Kiruna: Kiruna kommun. p. 60–74. ISBN 9163093715.  
  10. ^ a b c d Theander, Agge; Elis Aidenpää, Rolf Bergström (27 April 2000). "Komunikationer - Från hästskuts till e-post" (in Swedish). Kiruna 100-årsboken. Kiruna: Kiruna kommun. p. 132–147. ISBN 9163093715.  
  11. ^ a b c Persson, Curt; Jan-Erik Johansson (27 April 2000). "Kiruna - Från ödemark till stad" (in Swedish). Kiruna 100-årsboken. Kiruna: Kiruna kommun. pp. 27–43. ISBN 9163093715.  
  12. ^ Persson, Curt (27 April 2000). "Kiruna - Hjalmar Lundbohm" (in Swedish). Kiruna 100-årsboken. Kiruna: Kiruna kommun. pp. 50–57. ISBN 9163093715.  
  13. ^ "Kiruna - technical visits". Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  14. ^ a b c d e f Barck, Åke (27 April 2000). "Näringsliv och forskning - Turismen" (in Swedish). Kiruna 100-årsboken. Kiruna: Kiruna kommun. p. 60–74. ISBN 9163093715.  
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h Theander, Agge; Thomas Roth (27 April 2000). "I skuggan av krigen" (in Swedish). Kiruna 100-årsboken. Kiruna: Kiruna kommun. p. 234–250. ISBN 9163093715.  
  16. ^ Sternlund, Hans. "De fick prestigefyllt pris" (in Swedish). Norrländska Socialdemokraterna. Retrieved 22 February 2009.  
  17. ^ Anders Svensson (11 juli 2008). "Sverige, USA, FRA och signalspaning" (in Swedish). Internationalen. Retrieved 22 february 2009.  
  18. ^ Kjell Nilsson (27 April 2000). "Näringsliv och forskning - Från AK till IT" (in Swedish). Kiruna 100-årsboken. Kiruna: Kiruna kommun. p. 86–90. ISBN 9163093715.  
  19. ^ "Overview - Swedish Institute of Space Physics". Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  20. ^ "Esrange space centre - history". Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  21. ^ Agge Theander (27 April 2000). "Näringsliv och forskning - Rymd, miljö och gruva" (in Swedish). Kiruna 100-årsboken. Kiruna: Kiruna kommun. p. 116–129. ISBN 9163093715.  
  22. ^ "ICEHOTEL". Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  23. ^ Petra Sternlund (01 2009). "En annan tid ett annat KIRUNA" (in Swedish). I love Kiruna: 94–97.  
  24. ^ Sternlund, Hans (19 May 2008). "Ny gruvepok invigs" (in Swedish). Svappavaara: Norrländska Socialdemokratern. Retrieved 9 February 2009.  
  25. ^ "Historik Snöfestivalen 2009" (in Swedish). Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  26. ^ "Kirunafestivalen". Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  27. ^ "What is EISCAT?". Retrieved 2009-02-03.  
  28. ^ "IRF Kiruna". Retrieved 2009-02-03.  
  29. ^ "Welcome to the Department of Space Science". Retrieved 2009-02-03.  
  30. ^
  31. ^ Spaceport Sweden open for business
  32. ^ a b c "Kiruna Lappland". Retrieved 2009-03-08.  
  33. ^ "Kirunafestivalen" (in Swedish). Retrieved 2009-03-08.  
  34. ^ "Snöfestivalen" (in Swedish). Retrieved 2009-03-08.  
  35. ^ TT (2007-01-08). "Klart med Kirunas flytt" (in Swedish). Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 2007-01-08.  
  36. ^ Jessica Rosengren (2007-11-23). "Kirunaflytten är igång" (in Swedish). Norrländska Socialdemokraten,. Retrieved 2007-11-25.  
  37. ^ Jessica Rosengren (2007-11-23). "Nu finns det skiss över nya Kiruna" (in Swedish). Norrländska Socialdemokraten. Retrieved 2007-11-25.  
  38. ^ Skissförslag nov.-07

External links

Murkrona.svg Kiruna is one of 133 places with the historical city status in Sweden.

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

View over Kiruna
View over Kiruna

Kiruna (pronounced key-rune-a) in Norrbotten county, Norrland is the northernmost and one of the most unusual towns in Sweden and with its 18,000 inhabitants, the largest town in Swedish Lapland.


Kiruna houses the largest underground mine (iron ore) in the world and is also known for the Satellite/Space projects, the Sámi culture, the long winters, the modern town planning, the beautiful church and town hall, the Icehoteland the easy access to the wilderness and adventure of northern Lapland, including Swedens highest mountain, Kebnekaise.

At N67°49'48'' latitude, Kiruna is located about 145 km north of the Arctic Circle, making it possible to experience the midnight sun and polar night there. This means that the sun will shine 24h a day between roughly the last week of May until the middle of July. And also that the opposite happens in the winter, from the first week of December until the second week of January, Kiruna has zero hours of sunlight per day. However, this doesn't mean that it's completly dark the whole days. When the night is the longest, there is daylight/twilight for around one hour during midday.

The Kiruna Municipality includes several small villages and settlements scattered around a rather large wilderness area approximately the size of Slovenia. The biggest and most visited includes: Jukkasjärvi, Abisko, Karesuando and Vittangi.

Get in

By Plane

SAS [1] and Norwegian [2] has direct flights to Kiruna (also via Umeå) from Stockholm Arlanda. (Norwegian are usually the cheaper one, but especially students and youths (under the age of 26) can find even cheaper tickets with SAS.) Barents AirLink (Nordkalottflyg) [3] has flights from Luleå.

The small airport is located a few kilometers outside the city centre, and unfortunately the connections are kind of bad during off-season where the airport bus is only going at weekdays and not very often. In the evening or on weekends a taxi (should be pre-ordered, otherwise very long waiting time) or pre ordered couch is pretty much the only way to get anywhere (or hitchhiking), but that can be very expensive. During high season there is usually no problems since an airport bus is available then.

By Train

SJ operates night trains trains going all the way from Gothenburg and Stockholm and north along the eastern parts of Sweden passing cities like Uppsala, Gävle, Sundsvall, Umeå and Boden where sometimes a change of trains are required to get to Kiruna instead of Luleå. In summer, Connex operates trains from Göteborg and Malmö to KirunaNarvik. The train travel time from Stockholm is about 17 hours. There are two kinds of sleeping cars available on the trains, "liggvagn" which is the general ones where 6 passengers share a berth with six seats/beds. Then there are "sovvagnar", the slightly more expensive ones where a booking gives full access to an small berth for 2 or 3 people, so no sharing space with strangers is required. The cheapest option, however, is to sit during the whole trip in a normal car without any beds, in the "sittvagn". An onboard restaurant and bar is accessible for all passengers at all night trains, but they are rather expansive prices, but bringing your own food onto the train is allowed.

The train station in Kiruna is located maybe 400m from the city centre so a walk is very much possible, everything from the station is uphill all of the way.

By Bus

It is possible to take long distance busses between cities in Norrbotten County, such as Luleå, Gällivare, Jokkmokk, Happaranda, etc. [4]

By Car

It is by all means possible to rent a car and drive to Kiruna, but keep in mind that it is very far away from all major other cities, the roads are quite narrow and a little bit too often not in a good shape. Speed limits are low and speeding tickets high. Not totally without a reason, due to weather conditions and the frequency of wildlife such as hares, reindeer and moose on the road, can make the trip a little bit more interesting than bargained for.

The hazards of driving a car in the north during the winter when a car breakdown in the middle of nowhere actually can be life-threatening due to the cold should not be underestimated. The cellphone coverage can be quite sparse so warm blankets, extra clothes etc. should always be stored in the car during winter for emergencies. The road distances from Kiruna are: Gällivare(closest city) 115km, Luleå 344Km, Umeå 600Km, Stockholm 1240Km

Kiruna kyrkan (Kiruna Church) .
Kiruna kyrkan (Kiruna Church) .
At the Esrange rocket-facility
At the Esrange rocket-facility
  • Kiruna Kyrka The church, [5] Open daily 11-15.45, Free entry.

Kiruna Kyrka is a is one of Sweden's largest wooden buildings and is famous for its special tent like structure. It was built 1907-1912 by architect Gustaf Wickman and won the award XXX in 19xx.

  • Stadshuset The City Hall, Open daily, Free entry

Stadshuset is another landmark of Kiruna, it houses the local goverment and often hosts various exhibitions. It also has an small but quite well renowned art collection of famous Swedish old artists.

  • Hjalmar Lundbohmsgården

Hjalmar Lundbohm was the first manager for the mining company LKAB that is the reason why the city of Kiruna was built in the first place. This museum located in his old office and home is dedicated to the early days of Kiruna and the startup of LKAB and the building of the rail road Kiruna-Narvik.

more to come...

  • Jukkasjärvi Kyrka [6] Open daily, Free entry.

One of Sweden's oldest intact wooden buildings, it's oldest part dates back from 1607. The church and famous for its altar painting and exquisite handicrafted organ.

  • Icehotel During winters this is the world famous and original Icehotel. During the days 10-18 it functions as a museum and everyone can visit this very special and magical place, and see the ice and snow sculptures first hand. After 18 it is only open for the guests that actually will spend a night in one of the many snow rooms.

During Summers there is an ice exhibition in a large freeze house. However this exhibition is not open every year. In summer 2008 will be no exhibition.


There are many things to do around the Kiruna area if you like outdoor activities and wilderness adventures. Many companies offer the same or very similiar packages, here a list of popular and common activities can be found, sorted by season. There is also some other activities available. You should be aware of that pollution of the wilderness (and the city) is not liked, it's even illegal in Sweden to do so. So be sure to not leave trash behind you in the fells etc. It also keeps the enviroment in its best condition.

This section is under construction, as all the other.

  • The nearby space-facility Esrange offers guided tours.
  • Xero, [7] Zero-gravity flights on an Ilyushin 76MDK, that is used to train cosmonaunts. The experience is offered on request and pre booking is necessary. Book well in advance though, as these flights will only be offered a few times a year and you get to fork out upwards of $8000 for the 90-min rollercoaster ride.
  • Take a tour to the mine - Infomine
  • Cinema
  • Dancing
  • Bowling
  • Gym
  • Swimming
  • Wilderness Safaris
  • Nordic light tours
  • Snow mobile excursions
  • Dog sled tour
  • Cross country skiing
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Ice-fishing
  • Hiking
  • River rafting
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hunting
  • Gold digging
  • Waterpark

Special Events

There are certain dates when special things happen in Kiruna:

  • the snowfestival (Snöfestivalen)
  • Arctic Light Film Festival (commonly: Filmfestivalen)
  • the winter market
  • the Kiruna festival (Kirunafestivalen)
  • the summer market in Jukkasjärvi
  • the autumn market


Don't miss any of the local specialities consisting of various forms of reindeer meat that can be found in almost any foodplace, there is everything from simple reindeer kebab, and sandwiches with reindeer meat to luxurious reindeer dishes at the fanciest restaurants. Also salmon, moose, other fish and animals "from the wild" can be seen as specialities.

!A list will be added shortly!

In Kiruna city

Fast Food Joints


Cafés and Other

  • Camp Alta - Self catering cottages, Sauna, Hot tub, Activities [8]
  • Camp Ripan - Cabins, Caravan parking, Restaurant, Activities [9]
  • Gullriset - Self cetering apartments, Sauna [10] (Swedish web only)
  • Hotell City - Hotel, Sauna, Internet, Breakfast [11] (Swedish web only)
  • Hotell E-10 - Hotel, Sauna, Restaurant & Bar, Internet [12]
  • Hotell Kebne - Hotel, Sauna [13]
  • Hotell Rallaren - Hotel, Sauna, Hot tub, Massage, Restaurant & Bar, WiFi, Activities [14]
  • Hotell Samegården - Hotel, Sami museum [15] (Swedish web only)
  • Hotell Vinterpalatset - Hotel, Sauna, Restaurant, WiFi [16]
  • ICEHOTEL - Cabins, Icehotel/exhibitions, Activities, Restaurant & Bar, Sauna, Internet [17]
  • Järnvägshotellet - Hotel, Restaurant, Pub [18] (Swedish web only)
  • Kiruna Rumservice - Self catering apartments, Sauna [19] (Swedish web only)
  • Kiruna Vandrarhem/Hostel - Hostel [20] (Swedish web only)
  • Malmfältens Folkhögskola - Rooms [21] (Swedish web only)
  • Scandic Ferrum - Hotel, Sauna, Restaurant, Bar, Nightclub, Gym, Internet [22]
  • Yellow House - Hostel, Sauna, Breakfast [23]
  • Kiruna hospital (Sjukhus) - In the hospital, but not as a patient! There is an integratet "lilla Hotelet" (engl.:"the small hotel") - actually for temporary workers but sometimes they offer a room for others. A room with shared kitchen and shared bathroom from 150 SEK (no food). Contact: [24]
  • ICA supermarket - at the corner of "Föreningsgatan" and "Seger Svanbergsgatan", open mon-fri till 7pm, sat-sun till 2pm
  • Coop supermarket - at the corner of "Hjalmar Lundbohmsvägen" and "Trädgårdsgatan", open mon-sun till 10pm
  • also several gas stations who have long opening hours


Ok lets face it, the night-life in Kiruna is hardly award winning in any way. This is a rather small city and does not offer great variety. The crowds going out are most often the same people from time to time, and the chances are quite high that most locals going out already know each other, if not as friends then at least by name and/or rumour. This is both a blessing and a curse, depending on circumstances. People tend to drink quite heavily and most would never talk to strangers, but some would love to, don't give up! However this does not mean that going out in Kiruna is not fun. Sure after a few times it starts to feel a bit repetitive (which might not always be bad) but going out a night or two can often be quite fun, just don't expect too much, take it as it is, ignore things that bother you and enjoy the night!

The most popular place is currently the nightclub at hotel Ferrum mostly at room 208, which usually has an age restriction of 23. Babylon (formerly known as Arran) is for the younger crowd and thus often a little bit noisier. From time to time they have 30++ nights also. The two central bars O'learys and Caffreys can offer less crowd and a good enough environment for a beer or two after a long day. Friday and Saturday are the main days for going out, but Wednesdays ("little Saturday") can sometimes get lively as well.

Get out

In the mountainous areas to the west of Kiruna are several national parks e.g. Abisko. The railway to the port town of Narvik in Norway offers excellent views year-round.

  • Space – Virgin Galactic has plans to build a Spaceport here, offering sub-orbital flights.
Routes through Kiruna
NarvikAbisko  W noframe E  GällivareLuleå
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Proper noun


  1. A municipality and a town in Sweden.




Proper noun


  1. Kiruna


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