Northern Ostrobothnia (terms ‘North Ostrobothnia´ and ‘Northern Ostrobothnia´ used in some contexts are synonymous to Oulu region) extends across Finland from the Gulf of Bothnia coast to the Russian border and has an area of 37 000 km². It is a growing and developing region that has a population of more than 400 000 persons (8% of the Finnish population) 80% of whom live in built-up areas. The population is well educated and has the lowest average age of any region in the country.
The principal city, Oulu, is the second most important population centre in the country after the capital, Helsinki. The total population of Oulu and its surrounding districts is nearly 250 000. In contrast, the remaining parts of the region are extremely sparsely populated. The average population density of the region falls down to about 11 inh/km2.
The few more densely populated centres in the area have significant industrial facilities specialized in the field of wood processing, steelworks, chemistry, and electronics industry. The provincial capital, Oulu, is known for its high-tech expertise and electronics companies. Both agriculture and forestry still represent essential sources of income in the rural areas.