Luleå has the seventh biggest harbor in Sweden for shipping goods. It has a large steel industry and is a center for extensive research. Luleå University of Technology is one of Sweden’s three technology universities and the northernmost university in Sweden.
The town's Royal charter was granted in 1621 by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. The original town was situated where Gammelstad (Old Town) is situated today. The town had to be moved in 1649 to the current site, due to the post-glacial rebound that had made the bay too shallow for ships to enter.
The Gammelstad Church Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1805, Luleå only had 947 inhabitants, but in 1865 Luleå succeeded Piteå as the county town in Norrbotten county and now had around 1400 residents. In the 1860s the industries also started taking root in the city.
The town has been plagued by fires in 1653, 1657 and in 1887, and the fire in 1887 was a devastating fire that destroyed most of the town, sparing only a few buildings. The Neo-Gothic Cathedral (originally the Oscar Fredrik church), dedicated in 1893, standing at 67 meters (220 ft), is the tallest building in town.
Luleå's commerce and industry are a mix of industry, research, education, trade, and services.
Major employers in the city are the SSAB steelworks and Luleå University of Technology. A Swedish Air Force wing, F 21 (or Norrbotten Air Force Wing), is stationed near Luleå at the neighbouring Luleå Airport. Other major employers include Ferruform (a subsidiary of Scania AB) and Gestamp HardTech (acquired from SSAB 2005-01-01).
The information technology industry in Luleå has about 2000 employees (2008).
Luleå is the home of several major innovations and technological milestones.
Facebook expands into Luleå
The new European computer center in Luleå is Facebook's first investment outside of the US. One of the reasons that Facebook choose Luleå was because of the natural cooling thanks to the climate, reliable electricity networks, cheap electricity and the clean energy. The computer center is the largest one in Europe, with 84,000 m2 (900,000 sq ft) which is comparable to 11 football fields.
The computer center will process large amounts of data through thousands of computers working as one. The establishment of Facebook in Luleå has also led to other companies realizing the potential of establishing in Luleå. The positive effect has also been noticeable at the university where the applications rate has risen with 18 percent- Luleå Science Park has also had an increase with 25 percent of new established companies.
Luleå has a subarctic climate (Köppen: Dfc), which borders on a continental climate (Köppen: Dfb) with short, mild to warm summers and long, cold, snowy winters. But due to the Gulf Stream Luleå has a warmer climate than other cities on the same latitude and even some that are further south in Canada, Alaska, Northeast China, and Siberia. During the summer in June and July the temperature in Luleå can some days rise to around +30 degrees Celsius. Summers are very bright with marginal twillight being the only exception during the summer solstice.
Luleå Airport has the longest runway in Sweden and serves about one million passengers annually.
Local buses are run by Luleå LLT.
Passenger train service is available from Luleå Central Station on Sweden's national SJ railway service northbound to Narvik on the Norwegian coast, and southbound to Stockholm. See Rail transport in Sweden.
The world’s first indoor mall was opened in Luleå in 1955 (architect: Ralph Erskine) and was named Shopping. There are two other malls in Luleå: Strand and Smedjan. The main shopping streets in Luleå are Storgatan and Kungsgatan. A couple kilometres outside Luleå is a shopping centre called Storheden.
Luleå has a variety of cultural institutions, among them Norrbottensteatern; Norrbotten Museum; and Norrbotten Big Band, led by Tim Hagans. In January 2007 the Cultural House (Kulturens Hus) was opened. A library, concerts, and art exhibitions are all hosted here. Luleå is also home to hardcore punk band Raised Fist, melodic death metal band The Duskfall, power metal band Machinae Supremacy and death 'n' roll band Helltrain.
One of the largest winter festivals in Luleå is an indoor festival called Minus 30-festivalen, held at At Kulturens hus (the House of Culture) annually on a Saturday in mid-March.
Luleå Hamnfestival (Luleå harbor festival) is a big summer event in the center of Luleå, mostly centered around the north harbor. The festival has been a recurring event each summer since 2013. Held in July, it is a free event not targeting a specific group. The festival is the new version of Luleåkalaset which was held each summer from 2002–2012, which itself replaced sjöslaget, the summer festival from 1988–2002.
Musikens makt (The power of music) is a smaller music festival that is each summer in August at Gültzauudden since 2010. This is a free concert.
Ice music is a new art form where professional musicians play on instruments made out of ice. The concerts are performed in a huge igloo and the instruments are pulsating in all the colors of the rainbow.
Luleå has many teams competing in a variety of sports.
Three teams in Luleå compete in the highest Swedish leagues: Luleå Basket (female basketball team, previously called Northland Basket); BC Luleå (male basketball team, previously named Plannja Basket and LF Basket Norrland); Luleå Hockey/MSSK (Munksund-Skuthamns Sportklubb) (female ice hockey team) and Luleå Hockey (male ice hockey team).
Luleå Basket has won two Swedish championships (2014 and 2015), while BC Luleå has won eight Swedish championships (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006,2007 and 2017). Luleå Hockey/MSSK female team won their first Swedish Championship in 2016 while the male Luleå Hockey team has won one Swedish Championship in 1996, the European Trophy in 2012 and the Champions Hockey League in 2015.
The Swedish Championship in Yukigassen is held in Luleå annually.