The history of Stockholm, capital of Sweden, for many centuries coincided with the development of what is today known as Gamla stan, the Stockholm Old Town. Stockholm's raison d'être always was to be the Swedish capital and by far the largest city in the country. Stockholm is the most populous urban area in the Nordic countries; 965,232 people live in the municipality, approximately 1.6-million in the urban area, and 2.4-million in the metropolitan area. The city stretches across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Outside the city to the east, and along the coast, is the island chain of the Stockholm archipelago. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. It is also the capital of Stockholm County.