The earliest written mention of Malmö as a city dates from 1275. It is thought to have been founded a couple of decades earlier, as a fortified quay or ferry berth of the Archbishop of Lund, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) to the north-east. Malmö was for centuries Denmark's second-biggest city. Its original name was Malmhaug (with alternate spellings), meaning "Gravel pile" or "Ore Hill".
In the 15th century, Malmö became one of Denmark's largest and most frequented cities, reaching a population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants. It became the most important city around the Øresund, with the German Hanseatic League frequenting it as a marketplace, and was notable for its flourishing herring fishery. In 1437, King Eric of Pomerania (King of Denmark from 1396–1439) granted the city's arms: argent with a griffin gules, based on Eric's arms from Pomerania. The griffin's head as a symbol of Malmö extended to the entire province of Scania from 1660.
In 1434, a new citadel was constructed at the beach south of the town. This fortress, known today as Malmöhus, did not take its current form until the mid-16th century. Several other fortifications were constructed, making Malmö Sweden's most fortified city, but only Malmöhus remains.
Lutheran teachings spread during the 16th century Protestant Reformation, and Malmö became one of the first cities in Scandinavia to fully convert (1527–1529) to this Protestant denomination.
In the 17th century, Malmö and the Scanian region (Skåneland) came under control of Sweden following the Treaty of Roskilde with Denmark, signed in 1658. Fighting continued, however; in June 1677, 14,000 Danish troops laid siege to Malmö for a month, but were unable to defeat the Swedish troops holding it.
By the dawn of the 18th century, Malmö had about 2,300 inhabitants. However, due to the wars of Charles XII of Sweden (reigned 1697–1718) and to bubonic plague epidemics, the population dropped to 1,500 by 1727. The population did not grow much until the modern harbour was constructed in 1775. The city started to expand and the population in 1800 was 4,000. 15 years later, it had increased to 6,000.
In 1840, Frans Henrik Kockum founded the workshop from which the Kockums shipyard eventually developed as one of the largest shipyards in the world. Between 1856 and 1864 the Southern Main Line was built and enabled Malmö to become a center of manufacture, with major textile and mechanical industries. In 1870, Malmö overtook Norrköping to become Sweden's third-most populous city, and by 1900 Malmö had strengthened this position with 60,000 inhabitants. Malmö continued to grow through the first half of the 20th century. The population had swiftly increased to 100,000 by 1915 and to 200,000 by 1952.
By 1971, Malmö reached 265,000 inhabitants, but this was the peak which would stand for more than 30 years.
By the mid-1970s Sweden experienced a recession that hit the industrial sector especially hard; shipyards and manufacturing industries suffered, which led to high unemployment in many cities of Scania. Kockums shipyard had become a symbol of Malmö as its largest employer and, when shipbuilding ceased in 1986, confidence in the future of Malmö plummeted among politicians and the public. In addition, many middle-class families moved into one-family houses in surrounding municipalities such as Vellinge Municipality, Lomma Municipality and Staffanstorp Municipality, which profiled themselves as the suburbs of the upper-middle class. By 1985, Malmö had lost 35,000 inhabitants and was down to 229,000.
The Swedish financial crises of the early 1990s exacerbated Malmö's decline as an industrial city; between 1990 and 1995 Malmö lost about 27,000 jobs and its economy was seriously strained. However, from 1994 under the leadership of the then mayor Ilmar Reepalu, the city of Malmö started to create a new economy as a centre of culture and knowledge. Malmö reached bottom in 1995, but that same year marked the commencement of the massive Øresund Bridge road, railway and tunnel project, connecting it to Copenhagen and to the rail lines of Europe. The new Malmö University opened in 1998 on Kockums' former dockside. Further redevelopment of the now disused south-western harbour followed; a city architecture exposition (Bo01) was held in the area in 2001, and its buildings and villas form the core of a new city district. Designed with attractive waterfront vistas, it was intended to be and has been successful in attracting the urban middle-class.
Since 1974, the Kockums Crane had been a landmark in Malmö and a symbol of the city's manufacturing industry, but in 2002 it was disassembled and moved to South Korea. In 2005, Malmö got a new landmark with completion of Turning Torso, the tallest skyscraper in Scandinavia. Although the transformation from a city with its economic base in manufacturing has returned growth to Malmö, the new types of jobs have largely benefited the middle and upper classes. While the inner city becomes gentrified and the upper-middle class have settled the Western Harbour, little has changed for the inhabitants of the districts of the Million Programme; Malmö remains a city of sharp social divides and high unemployment.
Malmö is located at 13°00' east and 55°35' north. It is located near the southwestern tip of Sweden, in the Scania province.
Malmö is part of the transnational Øresund Region and since 2000, the Øresund Bridge crosses the Øresund to Copenhagen, Denmark. The bridge opened 1 July 2000, and measures 8 kilometres (5 miles) (the whole link totalling 16 km), with pylons reaching 204.5 metres (670.9 feet) vertically. Apart from the Helsingborg-Helsingør ferry links further north, most ferry connections have been discontinued.
Malmö, like the rest of southern Sweden, has an oceanic climate. Despite its northern location, the climate is surprisingly mild compared to other locations in similar latitudes, or even somewhat farther south, mainly because of the Gulf Stream. Because of its northern latitude, daylight extends 17 hours in midsummer, to only around 7 hours in midwinter. The actual sunshine is measured at 1,700 hours per annum in Falsterbo a bit further south and 1,592 hours per annum in Lund somewhat north, according to the 1961–1990 averages. For 2002–2014, the sunshine is measured at 1,895 hours per annum in Falsterbo and 1,803 hours per annum in Lund. The sunshine data in the weather box is based on the 2002–2014 data for Falsterbo which most closely resemble those for Malmö.
Summers are mild with average high temperatures of 20 to 23 °C (68 to 73 °F) and lows of around 11 to 13 °C (52 to 55 °F). Heat waves during the summer arise occasionally. Winters are fairly cold and windy, with temperatures steady between −3 to 4 °C (27 to 39 °F), but it rarely drops below −10 °C (14 °F). Scania's summers are in general made warmer due to its proximity to the Atlantic, with Denmark in between, which reduces continental effects with large temperature differences between seasons.
Rainfall is light to moderate throughout the year with 169 wet days. Snowfall occurs mainly in December through March, but snow covers do not remain for a long time, and some winters are virtually free of snow.
Oresund Line trains cross Øresund Bridge every 20 minutes connecting Malmö to Copenhagen, and the Copenhagen Airport. The trip takes around 20 minutes. Also some of the X 2000 and Intercity trains to Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Kalmar cross the bridge, stopping at Copenhagen Airport. In March 2005, excavation began on a new railway connection called the City Tunnel, which opened for traffic on 4 December 2010. The tunnel runs south from Malmö Central Station through an underground station at the Triangeln railway station to Hyllievång (Hyllie Meadow). Then, the line comes to the surface to enter Hyllie Station, also created as part of the tunnel project. From Hyllie Station, the line connects to the existing Øresund line in either direction, with the Øresund Bridge lying due West.
Besides the Copenhagen Airport, Malmö has an airport of its own, Malmö Airport, today chiefly used for domestic Swedish destinations, charter flights and low-cost carriers.
The motorway system has been incorporated with the Øresund Bridge; the European route E20 goes over the bridge and then, together with the European route E6 follows the Swedish west coast from Malmö–Helsingborg to Gothenburg. E6 goes further north along the west coast and through Norway to the Norwegian town Kirkenes at Barents Sea. The European route to Jönköping–Stockholm (E4) starts at Helsingborg. Main roads in direction of Växjö–Kalmar, Kristianstad–Karlskrona, Ystad (E65), and Trelleborg start as freeways.
Malmö has 410 kilometres (250 mi) of bike paths and approximately 40% of all commuting is done by bicycle.
Malmö has two industrial harbours; one is still in active use and is the largest Nordic port for car importation. It also has two marinas: the publicly owned Limhamn Marina (55°35′N 12°55′E) and the private Lagunen (55°35′N 12°56′E), both offering a limited number of guest docks.
The public transport has been served by a tram network from 1887 till 1973. Afterwards it was replaced by a bus network.
Malmö Municipality is an administrative unit defined by geographical borders, consisting of the City of Malmö and its immediate surroundings.
Malmö (Malmö tätort) consists of the urban part of the municipality together with the small town of Arlöv in the Burlöv Municipality. Both municipalities also include smaller urban areas and rural areas, such as the suburbs of Oxie and Åkarp. Malmö tätort is to be distinguished from Malmö stad (the city of Malmö), which is a semi-official name of Malmö Municipality.
The leaders in Malmö created a commission for a socially sustainable Malmö in November 2010. The commission's was tasked with providing evidence-based strategies for reducing health inequalities and improve living conditions for all citizens of Malmö, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged and issued its final report in December 2013.
Malmö is a young city, with almost half of the population under the age of 35 (48%).
After 1971, Malmö had 265,000 inhabitants, but the population then dropped to 229,000 by 1985. The total population of the urban area was 280,415 in December 2010. It then began to rise again, and had passed the previous record by the 1 January 2003 census, when it had 265,481 inhabitants. On 27 April 2011, the population of Malmö reached the 300,000 mark.
Circa 43% of the population have a foreign background (135,509 residents); 31% was born abroad (99,788) and another 11% was Swedish-born (35,721), with foreign-born parents. The Middle East, Horn of Africa, former Yugoslavia and Denmark are the main sources of immigration.
As of 2015, Malmö had the fourth-highest proportion of foreign-born residents of any municipality in Sweden. In addition to these figures, 14% of the population are foreign nationals.
In 2011, the 10 largest groups of immigrants were born in Iraq (9,940), Denmark (8,972), Serbia (8,426), Bosnia and Herzegovina (5,969), Lebanon (3,780), Iran (3,375), Poland (3,053), Turkey (2,110), Hungary (2,038) and Romania (2,014). The 5 largest groups in 2014 were:
- Iraq (11,003)
- Serbia (8,179)
- Denmark (7,916)
- Poland (7,103)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (6,223)
In 2011, 174 countries and about 150 languages were represented in Malmö.
Greater Malmö is one of Sweden's three officially recognized Metropolitan areas (storstadsområden) and since 2005 is defined as the municipality of Malmö and 11 other municipalities in the southwestern corner of Scania. On 31 March 2012, its population was recorded as 664,428. The region covers an area of 2,522 square kilometres (974 sq mi). The municipalities included, apart from Malmö, are Burlöv, Eslöv, Höör, Kävlinge, Lomma, Lund, Skurup, Staffanstorp, Svedala, Trelleborg and Vellinge. Together with Lund, Malmö is the region's economic and education hub.
The economy of Malmö was traditionally based on shipbuilding (Kockums) and construction related industries, such as concrete factories. The region's leading university, along with its associated hi-tech and pharmaceutical industries, is located in Lund about 16 kilometres (10 miles) to the north-east. As a result, Malmö had a troubled economic situation following the mid-1970s. Between 1990–1995, 27,000 jobs were lost, and the budget deficit was more than one billion Swedish krona. In 1995, Malmö had Sweden's highest unemployment rate.
However, during the last few years there has been a revival. The main contributing factor has been the economic integration with Denmark brought about by the Øresund Bridge. Almost 10% of the population of Malmö works in Copenhagen. Also the university founded in 1998 and the effects of integration into the European Union have contributed.
In 2004, the rate of wage-earners was 63%, compared to 74% in Stockholm and 71% in Gothenburg. This in turn led to Malmö municipality in 2007 having the 9th lowest median income in Sweden.
As of 2005, the largest companies were:Skanska – heavy construction: 3,025 employees
ISS Facility Service AB – hospital service, cleaning, etc.: 1,725 employees
E.ON Sverige – electricity: 1,025 employees
Sydsvenskan – newspaper: 1,025 employees
Pågen – bakery: 975 employees
Seavus – software developer: 515 employees
Almost 30 companies have moved their headquarters to Malmö during the last seven years, generating around 2,300 jobs.
The number of start-up companies is high in Malmö. Around 7 new companies are started every day in Malmö. In 2010, the renewal of the number of companies amounted to 13.9%, which exceeds both Stockholm and Gothenburg. Among the industries that continue to increase their share of companies in Malmö are transport, financial and business services, entertainment, leisure and construction.
Malmö has the country's eighth largest school of higher education, Malmö University, established in 1998. It has 1,500 employees and 24,000 students (2011).
In addition nearby Lund University (established in 1666) has some education located in Malmö:Malmö Art Academy (Konsthögskolan i Malmö)
Malmö Academy of Music (Musikhögskolan i Malmö)
Malmö Theatre Academy (Teaterhögskolan i Malmö)
The Faculty of Medicine, which is located in both Malmö and Lund.
The United Nations World Maritime University is also located in Malmö. The World Maritime University (WMU) operates under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. WMU thus enjoys the status, privileges and immunities of a UN institution in Sweden.
Secondary education schools in Malmö are ranked at place 248 out of the 290 councils in Sweden.
A striking depiction of Malmö (in the 1930s) was made by Bo Widerberg in his debut film Kvarteret Korpen (Raven's End) (1963), largely shot in the shabby Korpen working-class district in Malmö. With humour and tenderness it depicts the tensions between classes and generations. The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1965. The 2005 documentary "Utan gränser – en film om idrott och integration" (Without Borders – A Film About Sports and Integration) was filmed by journalist Paul Jackson for the sports club IFK Malmö and was described by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet as "a documentary on how to succeed with integration" of migrants into Swedish society. The film featured Malmö native Osama Krayem, who would later be one of the perpetrators of the 2016 Brussels bombings.
The cities of Malmö and Copenhagen are, with the Öresund Bridge, the main locations in the television series The Bridge (Bron/Broen).
In 1944, Malmö Stadsteater (Malmö Municipal Theatre) with a repertoire comprising stage theatre, opera, musical, ballet, musical recitals and experimental theatre. In 1993 it was split into three units, Dramatiska Teater (Dramatical Theatre), Malmö Musikteater (Music Theatre) and Skånes Dansteater (Scanian Dance Theatre) and the name was abandoned. The ownership of the last two where transferred to Region Skåne in 2006 Dramatiska Teatern regained its old name. In the 1950s Ingmar Bergman was the Director and Chief Stage Director of Malmö Stadsteater and many of his actors, like Max von Sydow and Ingrid Thulin became known through his films. Later stage directors include Staffan Valdemar Holm and Göran Stangertz. Malmö Musikteater were renamed Malmö Operan and plays operas and musicals, classics as newly composed, on one of Scandinavia's large opera scenes with 1,511 seats. Skånes dansteater is active and plays contemporary dance repertory and present works by Swedish and international choreographers in their house in Malmö harbour.
Since the 1970s the city has also been home to independent theatre groups and show/musical companies. It also hosts a rock/dance/dub culture; in the 1960s The Rolling Stones played the Klubb Bongo, and in recent years stars like Morrissey, Nick Cave, B.B. King and Pat Metheny have made repeated visits.
The Cardigans debuted in Malmö and recorded their albums there. On 7 January 2009 CNN Travel broadcast a segment called "MyCity_MyLife" featuring Nina Persson taking the camera to some of the sites in Malmö that she enjoys.
The Rooseum Centre for Contemporary Art, founded in 1988 by the Swedish art collector and financier Fredrik Roos and housed in a former power station which had been built in 1900, was one of the foremost centres for contemporary art in Europe during the 1980s and 1990s. By 2006, most of the collection had been sold off and the museum was on a time-out; by 2010 Rooseum had been dismantled and a subsidiary of the national Museum of Modern Art inaugurated in its place.
In December 2009, Moderna Museet Malmö was opened in the old Rooseum building. It is a part of the Moderna Museet, with independent exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. The collection of Moderna Museet holds key pieces of, among others, Marcel Duchamp, Louise Bourgeois, Pablo Picasso, Niki de Saint Phalle, Salvador Dalí, Carolee Schneemann, Henri Matisse and Robert Rauschenberg
The Malmö Konsthall is one of the largest exhibition halls in Europe for contemporary art, opened in 1975.
Malmö's oldest building is Sankt Petri Church. It was built in the early 14th century in Baltic Brick Gothic probably after St Mary's Church in Lübeck. The church is built with a nave, two aisles, a transept and a tower. Its exterior is characterized above all by the flying buttresses spanning its airy arches over the aisles and ambulatory. The tower, which fell down twice during the 15th century, got its current look in 1890. Another major church of significance is the Church of Our Saviour, Malmö, which was founded in 1870.
Another old building is Tunneln, 300 metres (1,000 ft) to the west of Sankt Petri Church, which also dates back to around 1300.
The oldest parts of Malmö were built between 1300–1600 during its first major period of expansion. The central city's layout as well as some of its oldest buildings are from this time. Many of the smaller buildings from this time are typical Scanian: two story urban houses that show a strong Danish influence.
Recession followed in the ensuing centuries. The next expansion period was in the mid 19th century and led to the modern stone and brick city. This expansion lasted into the 20th century and can be seen by a number of Art Nouveau buildings, among those is the Malmö synagogue. Malmö was relatively late to be influenced by modern ideas of functionalist tenement architecture in the 1930s.
Around 1965, the government initiated the so-called Million Programme, intending to offer affordable apartments in the outskirts of major Swedish cities. But this period also saw the reconstruction (and razing) of much of the historical city centre.
Since the late 1990s, Malmö have seen a more cosmopolitan architecture. Västra Hamnen (The Western Harbour), like most of the harbour to the north of the city centre, was industrial. In 2001 its reconstruction began as an urban residential neighbourhood, with 500 residential units, most were part of the exhibition Bo01. The exhibition had two main objectives: develop self-sufficient housing units in terms of energy and greatly diminish phosphorus emissions. Among the new buildings towers were the Turning Torso, a skyscraper with a twisting design, 190 metres (620 ft) tall, the majority of which is residential. It became Malmö's new landmark. The most recent addition (2015) is the new development of Malmö Live This new building features a hotel, a concert hall, congress hall and a sky bar in the centre of Malmö.
The beach Ribersborg, by locals usually called Ribban, south-west of the harbour area, is a man-made shallow beach, stretching along Malmö's coastline. Despite Malmö's chilly climate, it is sometimes referred to as the "Copacabana of Malmö". It is the site of Ribersborgs open-air bath, opened in the 1890s.
The long boardwalk at The Western Harbour, Scaniaparken and Daniaparken, has become a new favourite summer hang-out for the people of Malmö and is a popular place for bathing. The harbour is particularly popular with Malmö's vibrant student community and has been the scene of several impromptu outdoor parties and gatherings.
In the third week of August each year a festival, Malmöfestivalen, fills the streets of Malmö with different kinds of cuisines and events.
BUFF International Film Festival, an international children and young people's film festival held in Malmö every year in March.
Nordisk Panorama – Nordic Short & Doc Film Festival, a film festival for short and documentary films by film makers from the Nordic countries, held every year in September.
Malmö Arab Film Festival (MAFF), the largest Arabic film festival in Europe.
The Nordic Game conference takes place in Malmö every April/May. The event consists of conference itself, recruitment expo and game expo and attracts hundreds of gamedev professionals every year.
Malmö also hosts other 3rd party events that cater to all communities that reside in Malmö, including religious and political celebrations.
In 1914 the Baltic Exhibition was held in Malmö which consisted of exhibitions about industry, art and crafts from Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Russia.
In 1992 Malmö was the host of the Eurovision Song Contest 1992 after Carola won it the previous year, 1991 in Rome, Italy. Malmö hosted again in 2013 at the newer Malmö Arena, after Swedish singer Loreen's victory at Eurovision Song Contest 2012, in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Sydsvenskan, founded in 1870, is Malmö's largest daily newspaper, and also one of its larger employers (see section Economy). It has an average circulation of 130,000. Its main competitor is the regional daily Skånska Dagbladet, which has a circulation of 34,000. In addition to these, a number of free-of-charge papers, generally dealing with entertainment, music and fashion have local editions (for instance City, Rodeo, Metro and Nöjesguiden). Malmö is also home to the Egmont Group's Swedish magazine operations. A number of local and regional radio and TV broadcasters are based in the Greater Malmö area.
Sports in southern Sweden is dominated by Football. Over the years the city's best football team has been Malmö FF who play in the top level Allsvenskan. They had their most successful periods in the 1970s and 1980s, when they won the league several times. In 1979, they advanced to the final of the European Cup defeating AS Monaco, Dynamo Kiew, Wisla Krakow and Austria Wien (Vienna) but lost in the final at the Munich Olympic Stadium against Nottingham Forest by a single goal just before half time scored by Trevor Francis. To date, they are the only Swedish football club to have reached the final of the competition. Malmö FF is the club where for instance Bosse Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimović began his their football careers. A second football team, IFK Malmö played in Sweden's top flight for about 20 years and the club's quarterfinal in the European Cup is the club's greatest achievement in its history. Today, the club resides in the sixth tier of the Swedish league system. Examples of other Malmö based clubs are IF Limhamn Bunkeflo and FC Rosengård. Both in Division 1 South, the third tier. Held in Sweden, Malmö was one of the four cities to host the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship and hosted the final.
The most notable other sports team is the ice hockey team Malmö Redhawks. They were the creation of millionaire Percy Nilsson and quickly rose to the highest rank in the early to mid-1990s and won two Swedish championships, but for a number of years have found themselves residing outside of the top flight. Malmö also has teams that play first division handball HK Malmö, baseball, American football and Australian football. Of these last mentioned sports only handball attracts a fair amount of attendance. Gaelic football has also been introduced to Malmö, with the new Malmö G.A.A. club winning the Scandinavian Championships in their inaugural year, 2009, and were again in the running for 2011.
Among non-team sports badminton and athletics are the most popular together with east Asian martial arts and boxing. Basketball is also fairly a big sport in the city, including the clubs Malbas and SF Srbija among others.
Women are permitted by the city council to swim topless in public swimming pools. Everyone must wear bathing attire, but covering of the breasts is not mandatory. "We don’t decide what men should do with their torso, why then do women have to listen to the men. Moreover, many men have larger breasts than women", remarked a council spokesman.
Malmö hosted the 2014 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships from 26 December 2013 to 5 January 2014.