Royal capital of Sweden, Stockholm lies where lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea. This location is the reason the city grew to prominence in Sweden, first established as a defensive fortification (when this happened is unknown). Stockholm thrived on the trade the Mälardalen region and the outside world and quickly filled up the whole isle now known as Gamla Stan (Old Town). The oldest record of the city's existence dates from July 1252 making the city at least 750 years old.
Today Stockholm is Sweden's most populous city and the center of its largest metro area, and is the dominant cultural, economical and political hub of the country. The local economy is very much based on the service and telecom industries, with the suburban borough of Kista being among the world's most important IT hubs.
With the inner city alone located on a dozen islands, as well as the mainland, communications has always been an issue, even today there are only four fixed links between the northern and southern parts of the city. However, Stockholm has an impressive mass transit system for a city its size with several heavy and light rail lines plus an extensive network of bus lines.
After steady growth for centuries the city began losing population in 1962 to its suburbs, in total the city lost over 150 000 residents. This trend reversed in the late 1970s and is expected to surpass the old highpoint within the decade.