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Abo

ABO (Finnish Turku), a city and seaport, the capital of the province of Abo-Bjorneborg, in the grand duchy of Finland, on the Aura-joki, about 3 m. from where it falls into the gulf of Bothnia. Pop. (1810) 10,224; (1870) 19,617; (1904) 42,639. It is 381 m. by rail from St Petersburg via Tavastehus, and is in regular steamer communication with St Petersburg, Vasa, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Hull. It was already a place of importance when Finland formed part of the kingdom of Sweden. When the Estates of Finland seceded from Sweden and accepted the Emperor Alexander of Russia as their grand duke at the Diet of Borga in 1809, Abo became the capital of the new state, and so remained till 1819 when the seat of government was transferred to Helsingfors. In November 1827 nearly the whole city was burnt down, the university and its valuable library being entirely destroyed. Before this calamity Abo contained 1110 houses and 13,000 inhabitants; and its university had 40 professors, more than 500 students, and a library of upwards of 30,000 volumes, together with a botanical garden, an observatory and a chemical laboratory. The university has since been removed to Helsingfors. Abo remains the ecclesiastical capital of Finland, is the seat of the Lutheran archbishop and contains a fine cathedral dating from 1258 and restored after the fire of 1827. The cathedral is dedicated to St Henry, the patron saint of Finland, an English missionary who introduced Christianity into the country in the 12th century. Abo is the seat of the first of the three courts of appeal of Finland. It has two high schools, a school of commerce and a school of navigation. The city is second only to Helsingfors for its trade; sail-cloth, cotton and tobacco are manufactured, and there are extensive saw-mills. There is also a large trade in timber and a considerable butter export. Ship-building has considerably developed, torpedo-boats being built here for the Russian navy. Vessels drawing 9 or 10 feet come up to the town, but ships of greater draught are laden and discharged at its harbour (Bornholm, on Hyrvinsala Island), which is entered yearly by from 700 to 800 ships, of about 200,000 tons.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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