Transport infrastructure played a key role in redefining Finland’s economic geography. An empirical investigation involving new gis databases that combine data about railways, population, and administrative boundaries at the municipal level between 1870 and 2000 permits the identification of three main phases of railway expansion: The first phase was a concentration of railways around Helsinki; the second, the construction of a grid-based national railway network, which coincided with a spread of the population into rural areas; and the third, an expansion of the railway into local networks when Finland’s industry began to coalesce around metropolitan areas.

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