Archaeologists believe that Kiruna, located in the Swedish province of Lapland, has been inhabited by humans for over 6000 years, but its growth began after 1900 when it officially became a city. This hillside mining town, close to the Kiirunavaara and Luossavaara mountains, flourished after efficient extraction methods were applied, enabling local mining company Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag (LKAB) to retrieve more of the iron ore found extensively throughout the area.
After initially poor yields during the mid-19th century, which were transported by reindeer sleds, more modern technology improved the yield. This led to a decision to extend the railway system to the area, which led to a further increase in production. The greater demand for workers soon led to the creation of a city at Haukivaara named Kiruna, a version of the name of the nearby mountain that the founders felt could be pronounced by their Scandinavian neighbours.
Architects Per Olof Hallman and Gustaf Wickman undertook the project, which would see the makeshift township replaced with safer, cleaner buildings. The first completed building has been maintained for its historical significance and can be viewed by the public. The city's prospects continued to improve in line with the growth of its mining concerns until the advent of World War I in 1914, which slowed production to an all-time low.
The city no longer relies on the mining industry exclusively and earns considerable income from tourism, with direct flights to Kiruna from Scandinavia with connections to the UK and many other parts of Europe providing a regular stream of visitors. They come to enjoy the landscape, experience the northern lights and see the temporary ice hotel. In spite of this, mining remains at the heart of Kiruna's community and seems likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.