- January 26, 2014
- Johannesburg, South Africa
We welcome all participants and guests to the 147th edition of the Forum Song Contest here in Kiruna, the northernmost Swedish town.
The town is the site of the world's largest and most modern underground iron ore mine, and is located 145 km north of the Arctic circle. In summertime it experiences the midnight sun between 28 May and 16 July, as well as polar night from 11 December to 1 January. In addition it is a prime location to witness the spectacle of the Northern lights or Aurora Borealis.
The reason we have returned to Sweden, and are all gathered here in Kiruna, is because of Sweden's victory in FSC #146, with Agnes and her latest hit song Fingers Crossed.
Kiruna is the northernmost town in Sweden, and is situated in the province of Lapland. It is the seat of the Kiruna municipality in the Norrbotten county, and boasts about 18,000 inhabitants. The city was built in the 1890's to serve the Kiruna mine. In 2004, it was decided that the present centre of the municipality would have to be relocated to counter mining-related subsidence. As a result the entire city centre will be moved 3km to east in a process that started in 2014, and will continue until 2100.
The presence of iron ore in the area had been known to the local Saami people for centuries. In 1736 the Swedish authorities became aware of the iron ore after it was reported to them by Mangi, a Sami Man. This led to the area being mapped, but despite the findings of large amounts of ore, no mining was initiated because of the remote location and the harsh climate. In the 1800's some ore was being extracted in summer, and transported in winter using sleds drawn by reindeer and horses.
Large-scale mining could only begin after the railway reached Kiruna in 1899, and in 1903 the new railway line was officially opened linking Kiruna to the ice-free harbour in Narvik, Norway, and in the other direction to the rest of Sweden via Luleå. With mining now possible, it was time to design and build a town, and plans were approved on 27 April 1900. It was decided to name the new town Kiruna, a short and practical name that could also be pronounced by Swedish speaking inhabitants. Kiruna is the name of a bird, the rock ptarmigan, in Saami and Finnish.
The town's population increased from 18 in 1899 to 7,438 in 1910 and 12,884 in 1930. During this time official housing was built, as well as roads, a hospital, a fire station and church. The town also had a tram from 1907, transporting workers between the town and the mine. By 1926 Kiruna was also connected by road to the rest of Sweden.
In 1948, Kiruna gained city rights and started to receive large amounts of money from the mine. The city centre was renovated starting in 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. Kiruna airport opened in 1960, and the increased communications were also beneficial for tourism.
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 world's largest igloo. 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.
In 1957, the Kiruna Geophysical Observatory 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. In 1987, Umeå University started a space engineering program in Kiruna. 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.
Kiruna church is one of Sweden's largest wooden buildings. The exterior is built in a Gothic Revival style, while the altar is Art Nouveau. In 2001, Kiruna Church was voted the most popular pre-1950 building in Sweden, in a country-wide poll conducted by the Swedish Travelling Ex-hibitions, a government agency connected to the Ministry of Culture. It is considered to be "the Shrine of the Nomadic people." Because of the expansion of the Kiruna mine, the church is planned to be moved to a new site in 2025-2026.
Our host venue for this 147th edition of the Forum Song Contest is the Arena Arctica.
Arena Arctica is a modern aircraft hangar in Kiruna Airport for fixed-wing aircraft, and is also used for events. It has a maximun capacity of 5,000 for events and concerts. The arena hosted the Second chance round of Melodifestivalen 2008. It is a flexible multi-arena that is excellent for both large and small events - everything from climate research and cold testing of aircraft to product launches, company parties, concerts, ex-hibitions and fairs.
Time to be introduced to our stylish hosts who will keep us entertained and informed: Let me introduce Carina Berg and Linus Wahlgren.
Carina Lilly Berg Luuk (born 11 November 1977) is a Swedish comedian and television presenter. Berg grew up in Åkersberga, studied the aesthetics program at Danderyds gymnasium and then went on to study radio at Kaggeholms folkhögskola. She used to be married to and has son with Kristian Luuk, who she met in 2005 when they shared presenter duties for the TV4 show God natt, Sverige, Berg's television debut. Along with Christine Meltzer she won a Kristallen-award in 2015 for "Best female television presenter". Berg is since December 2018 married to footballer Erik Berg.
Linus Carl Henrik Wahlgren (born 10 September 1976) is a Swedish actor. He is the son of actors Christina Schollin and Hans Wahlgren and brother to actors and singers Pernilla and Niclas Wahlgren. He has also appeared in a few episodes of his sister Pernilla Wahlgrens TV-series Wahlgrens värld which is broadcast on
Kanal 5. He has starred in several Swedish films and tv series, and has provided voice-over dubbing in Swedish for movies like 101 Dalmatians, Robots and Atlantis: The Lost Empire.