Gothenburg was the first city in Sweden to become a City of Refuge; a safe place for persecuted writers. In June 1996 one of the Deputy Mayors of Gothenburg signed a contract with Salman Rushdie, the president of the International Parliament of Writers. The city agreed to host a writer in accordance with a resolution adopted by the European Parliament. Stavanger, Norway, and Barcelona, Spain, became Cities of Refuge at the same time.
The first writer arrived in Gothenburg in 1997 and stayed for one year. He was a well known author from Nigeria. Gothenburg has also hosted writers from Burma (2000-2001), Chechenya (2005-2005), Georgia (2009-2010) and the former Soviet Union (2011-2013). Most of our guests have preferred to be anonymous. Svetlana Aleksievitj, author and journalist from Belarus, however, wrote in the local newspaper during her stay in Gothenburg 2006-2007.
Until June 2015, Khaled Harara, a rapper from Palestine, is guest in the city. During his stay, Gothenburg has started a cooperation with the cultural center Konstepidemin (the Epidemic of Art). Konstepidemin is a former hospital, which is now a meeting place for artists and between artists and audience. Konstepidemin hosts more than 130 artists’ studios.
Gothenburg is a port town with a strategic location between Oslo and Copenhagen. It has a population of around 533,000 people and is Sweden’s second largest city.
23% of the population living in Gothenburg were born outside of Sweden. The most prevalent countries of origin are Iraq and Iran, followed by Finland, Bosnia & Hercegovina, the former Yugoslavia, Poland, Somalia, Turkey, China and Norway. In particular a lot of young people want to move here – the predominant group is young adults aged 20-27.
The city is growing and is preparing to make space for 150.000 more residents by the year 2035. Culture is booming with several museums, a newly renovated City Library, an Opera, a National Orchestra, a big book fair and an international film festival. Culture for children and youth is a priority.