A Brief History of Malmö
There used to be two villages, one referred to as Upper Malmö and the other as Lower Malmö. The latter, closer to the sea, would later become the city of Malmö. Exactly when this happened is uncertain but the earliest written document we have mentioning Malmö as a city is from 1275. During the Middle Ages, the city was prospering, mostly thanks to large quantities of herring, which became the most important part of trading. The importance of the Hanseatic Cities (trading cities) in Germany decreased, which helped Malmö to establish itself as a center of trading. At that time, southern Sweden still belonged to Denmark and Malmö was its second-biggest city, with about 5,000 people.
Toward the end of the 16th century, business and population growth would stagnate and things got even worse when Denmark lost Scania to Sweden at the Peace Treaty of Roskilde in 1658. Malmö had now gone from a central part of Denmark to an isolated city without much significance in the south of Sweden. Malmö still maintained its position as a city of commerce but all the wars that were now taking place between Sweden and Denmark slowed down trading significantly.
The tough times would pass and a big part of that change was the expansion of the harbor in the late 18th century. In the 19th century, railroads would expand in Sweden as well, which led to a steady increase in population and Malmö would yet again become an important place for trading. From 1850 to 1915, the population jumped from 13,000 to over 100,000 and in 1870 Malmö became the third-biggest city in Sweden, a title it has held ever since. It was also during the 19th century that Malmö would transform itself into an industrial city. Importing of goods increased thanks to the bigger harbor and introduction of the railway system. Throughout the 20th century, Malmö’s industrialization would mold its social character and influence the political system, as the Social Democratic party (working class party) ruled the city from 1919-1985.
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