Jönköping is an old trading centre (Köping) situated at a natural crossroads for routes following the rivers Nissan and Lagan, and the road connecting the provinces of Östergötland and Västergötland, a result of the town's geographical position at the southern end of lake Vättern, which divides the two provinces.
On 18 May 1284 Jönköping became the first City in Sweden to be granted its rights by king Magnus Ladulås, who ruled mostly from Vättern's largest island Visingsö. The first part of the city's name, "Jön", is derived from a creek, "Junebäcken", in Talavid, in what is now the western part of the city. The second part of the name "köping", is, as mentioned above, an old word for a trading centre or market place.
The geographical position of the city also left it vulnerable to attack via the river routes that led south, mainly from Danes. At that time the provinces of what is today southern Sweden — Scania, Halland and Blekinge — belonged to Denmark. The city was plundered and burned several times until it was fortified during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Jönköping was known for its matchstick industry between 1845–1970. Today it is an important Nordic logistical center, with many companies' central warehouses (such as Elkjøp, IKEA, Electrolux and Husqvarna) situated there.