Umeå was granted its city charter in 1622 and present-day Umeå's city centre still lies where the original city was built. Umeå University was inaugurated in 1965 and since then Umeå's population has doubled. Today people who have moved to Umeå are in the majority, totalling 54 percent of the population, many of them from other countries.
Just like many other Swedish cities (for example Göteborg, Sundsvall, and Piteå) Umeå was founded in the early 1620's. King Gustaf II Adolf wanted a tighter grip on trade in order to be able to levy more taxes and he therefore forced the merchants to move to the new cities. The city was built on the lands of the Sanda homestead as a compromise between Ön and Backen.
The city was burned to the ground by marauding Russian troops in 1714 and 1720. A Russian army corps captured Umeå in 1809 without any fighting to speak of but left after a few days of occupation due to imminent peace negotiations. In June 1888 the whole of the eastern part of Umeå, the shipyards at Teg and the houses on Ön Island were devastated by a fire that began in the brewery close to Renmarksbäcken. About 2,300 of the city's 3,000 inhabitants were made homeless. When the city was rebuilt after the fire, wide avenues were laid out as fire protection and silver birch trees planted along them to prevent fires from spreading from one building to another.
Umeå soon became known around Sweden as the City of Birches. In 1951 Umeå was allocated the fifth copy of most of what is printed in Sweden, enabling it to build up a major academic library. A dental school opened in 1956, paving the way for the development of the university.
Umeå's Graduate School for Social Work was established in 1962, the same year that Umeå airport opened. Umeå University was inaugurated on 17 September 1965. In 1992 Umeå overtook Sundsvall to become the Norrland municipality with the largest population. In 2012, Umeå's population topped 117,000 after several years of record growth.