Karelia (Karelian and Finnish Karjala; Russian: Карелия, Kareliya; Swedish: Karelen), the land of the Karelian peoples, is an area in Northern Europe of historical significance for Finland, Russia, and Sweden. It is currently divided between the Russian Republic of Karelia, the Russian Leningrad Oblast, and Finland (the regions of South Karelia and North Karelia).
Various subdivisions may be called Karelia. Finnish Karelia was a historical province of Finland, now divided between Finland and Russia, often called just Karjala in Finnish. The eastern part of this chiefly Lutheran area was ceded to Russia after the Winter War of 1939-40. This area is the "Karelia" of the Karelian question in Finnish politics.
The Republic of Karelia is a Russian federal subject, including the so-called "East Karelia" with a chiefly Russian Orthodox population.
Karelia was bitterly fought over by Sweden and the Novgorod Republic since the 13th-century Swedish-Novgorodian Wars. The Treaty of Nöteborg (Finnish: Pähkinäsaaren rauha) in 1323 divided Karelia between the two. Viborg (Finnish: Viipuri) became the capital of the new Swedish province.
The Treaty of Nystad (Finnish: Uudenkaupungin rauha) in 1721 between Imperial Russia and Sweden ceded most of Karelia to Russia. After Finland had been occupied by Russia in the Finnish War, parts of the ceded provinces (Old Finland) were incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Finland. In 1917 Finland became independent and the border was confirmed by the Treaty of Tartu in 1920.
Finnish partisans were involved in attempts to overthrow the Bolshevists in Russian Karelia (East Karelia) in 1918–20, for instance in the failed Aunus expedition. These mainly private expeditions ended after the peace treaty of Tartu. After the end of the Russian Civil War, and the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922, the Russian part of Karelia became the Karelian Autonomous republic of the Soviet Union (ASSR) in 1923.
In 1939 the Soviet Union attacked Finland starting the Winter War. The Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940 handed most of Finnish Karelia to the Soviet Union. About 400,000 people, virtually the whole population, had to be relocated within Finland. In 1941 Karelia was re-conquered for three years during the Continuation War 1941–1944 when East Karelia was also occupied by the Finns. The Winter War and the resulting Soviet expansion caused considerable bitterness in Finland, which lost its second biggest city, Viipuri, its industrial heartland along the river Vuoksi, the Saimaa canal that connected central Finland to the Gulf of Finland, access to the fishing waters of Lake Ladoga (Finnish: Laatokka), and made an eighth of her citizens refugees without chance of return.
As a consequence of the peace treaty, the Karelian ASSR was incorporated with the Karelo-Finnish SSR 1941–1956, after which it became an ASSR again. Karelia was the only Soviet republic that was "demoted" from an SSR to an ASSR within the Russian SFSR. Unlike autonomous republics, Soviet republics (in theory) had the constitutional right to secede. The possible fear of secession, as well as the Russian ethnic majority in Karelia may have resulted in its "demotion." In 1991 the Republic of Karelia was created out of the ASSR.
The collapse of the Soviet Union brought an economic collapse. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the area has experienced massive urban decay. The hastily and poorly constructed buildings from the Soviet era, as well as older houses remaining from the Finnish era, are being abandoned.
Karelia is divided between Finland and Russia. The Republic of Karelia is a federal subject of Russia, which was formed in 1991 from the Karelian ASSR. The Karelian Isthmus belongs to the Leningrad Oblast. The Finnish side consist of parts of the regions (maakunta) of South Karelia and North Karelia.
There are some small but enthusiastic groups of Finns campaigning for closer ties between Finland and Karelia. The political expression of these irredentist hopes is called the Karelian question and is about Finland's re-acquisition of the ceded Finnish Karelia. These hopes live on, for instance, in the Karjalan Liitto and ProKarelia. These ambitions for closer ties with East Karelia do not include territorial demands. However, much of the original Finnish population of the Russian side of Karelia has been either resettled and integrated to inner Finland, Russified or dispersed into Russia as victims of Soviet internal population transfers.
Coats of Arms of Karelia
Karelia stretches from the White Sea coast to the Gulf of Finland. It contains the two largest lakes in Europe, Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega. The Karelian Isthmus is located between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga.
The border between Karelia and Ingria, the land of the closely related Ingrian people, has originally been the Neva river itself but later on it was moved northward into Karelian isthmus to follow the Sestra River/Rajajoki (Russian: Сестра/Раяйоки), today in the Saint Petersburg metropolitan area, but in 1812–1940 the Russo-Finnish border.
On the other side of Lake Ladoga, River Svir is usually thought of as the traditional southern border of Karelian territory, as Lake Saimaa marks the Western border while Lake Onega and the White Sea mark the Eastern border. In the North there were the nomadic Samis, but no natural border except for huge woods (taiga) and tundra.
In historical texts Karelia is sometimes divided into East Karelia and West Karelia, which are also called Russian Karelia and Finnish Karelia respectively. The area to the north of Lake Ladoga which belonged to Finland before World War II is called Ladoga Karelia, and the parishes on the old pre-war border are sometimes called Border Karelia. White Karelia is the northern part of East Karelia and Olonets Karelia is the southern part.
The Karelian language is spoken in the Republic of Karelia and also in the Tver Karelian villages. The Veps language is spoken on both sides of the River Svir. The so called Karelian dialects spoken mainly in Finnish South Karelia form the southeastern dialect group of Finnish. Similar dialects are also spoken in Ingria, which is an area between the Estonian border and Lake Ladoga. They appeared there in the 17th century after the Swedish conquest of the area. The older inhabitants of the Ingria, the Ingrians, have their own language which is related to the Karelian language and the south-eastern dialects of Finnish.  The dialects in Finnish North Karelia belong to the large group of Savonian dialects in Eastern and Central Finland.  Karelians who evacuated from Finnish Karelia resettled all over Finland and today there are approximately one million people in Finland having their roots in the area ceded to the Soviet Union after the World War II. In Finland, about 5,000 people speak Karelian.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Karelia|
| Republic of Karelia (English)|
Республика Карелия (Russian)
|File:Map of Russia - Republic of Karelia (2008-03).svg|
|Coat of Arms||Flag|
|File:Coat of Arms of Republic of
Coat of arms of the Republic of Karelia
Flag of the Republic of Karelia
|Anthem: Anthem of the Republic of Karelia|
|Established||July 16, 1956|
|Area||172,400 km² (66,564 sq mi)|
|- Rank within Russia||20th|
|Population (as of the 2002 Census)|
|- Rank within Russia||67th|
|- Density||4.2/km² (10.9/sq mi)|
|Government (as of October 2008)|
|Legislative body||Legislative Assembly|
|Constitution||Constitution of the Republic of Karelia|
The Republic of Karelia (Russian: Респу́блика Каре́лия, Respublika Kareliya; Karelian: Karjalan tazavaldu; Finnish: Karjalan tasavalta; Veps: Karjalan Tazovaldkund) is a federal subject of Russia (a republic).
The Republic is located in the north-western part of the Russian Federation, taking intervening position between the basins of White and Baltic seas. The White Sea shore line is 630 kilometers (391 mi).
There are about 27,000 rivers in Karelia. Major rivers include:
There are 60,000 lakes in Karelia. Republic's lakes and swamps contain about 2,000 km³ of high-quality fresh water. Lake Ladoga (Finnish: Laatokka) and Lake Onega (Ääninen) are the largest lakes in Europe. Other lakes include:
and South Karelia lie in Finland and the Karelian Republic in Russia. The Karelian Isthmus is now part of Leningrad Oblast]]
The most part of the republic's territory (148,000 km², or 85%) is composed of state forest stock. The total growing stock of timber resources in the forests of all categories and ages is 807 million m³. The mature and overmature tree stock amounts to 411.8 million m³, of which 375.2 million m³ is coniferous.
According to the 2002 Census, ethnic Russians make up 76.6% of the republic's population, while the ethnic Karelians are only 9.2%. Other groups include Belarusians (5.3%), Ukrainians (2.7%), Finns (2.0%), Veps (0.7%), and a host of smaller groups, each accounting for less than 0.5% of the total population. 4,886 people (0.7%) did not indicate their nationality during the Census.
|census 1926||census 1939||census 1959||census 1970||census 1979||census 1989||census 2002|
|Russians||153,967 (57.2%)||296,529 (63.2%)||412,773 (62.7%)||486,198 (68.1%)||522,230 (71.3%)||581,571 (73.6%)||548,941 (76.6%)|
|Karelians||100,781 (37.4%)||108,571 (23.2%)||85,473 (13.0%)||84,180 (11.8%)||81,274 (11.1%)||78,928 (10.0%)||65,651 (9.2%)|
|Belarusians||555 (0.2%)||4,263 (0.9%)||71,900 (10.9%)||66,410 (9.3%)||59,394 (8.1%)||55,530 (7.0%)||37,681 (5.3%)|
|Ukrainians||708 (0.3%)||21,112 (4.5%)||23,569 (3.6%)||27,440 (3.8%)||23,765 (3.2%)||28,242 (3.6%)||19,248 (2.7%)|
|Finns||2,544 (0.9%)||8,322 (1.8%)||27,829 (4.2%)||22,174 (3.1%)||20,099 (2.7%)||18,420 (2.3%)||14,156 (2.0%)|
|Veps||8,587 (3.2%)||9,392 (2.0%)||7,179 (1.1%)||6,323 (0.9%)||5,864 (0.8%)||5,954 (0.8%)||4,870 (0.7%)|
|Others||2,194 (0.8%)||20,709 (4.4%)||29,869 (4.5%)||20,726 (2.9%)||19,565 (2.7%)||21,505 (2.7%)||25,734 (3.6%)|
The Karelian language is close to Finnish, and in recent years, it has been considered by some authorities as a dialect of Finnish. Nevertheless, Eastern Karelian is not completely mutually intelligible with Finnish and could be considered a separate language. Russian is currently the only official language of the republic, but there is a motion in the republic's government to make Karelian official as well.
Ethnic Russian and other Soviet-era immigrants in the republic rarely speak Karelian. Russification of Karelia is still ongoing.
Industrial activity in Karelia is dominated by the forest and wood processing sector. Timber logging is carried out by a large number of small enterprises whereas pulp and paper production is concentrated in five large enterprises, which produce about a quarter of Russia's total output of paper. In 2007, extractive industries (including extraction of metal ores) amounted to 30% of the republic's industrial output, whereas processing industries contributed 56,4%. The latter figure includes pulp-and-paper (23.6%), metals and metal-working (7.9%), woodworking (7.1%), foodstuffs (5.8%) and machine-building (3.9%). Production and distribution of electicity, natural gas and water made up 13.6% of the the region's output. Total gross regional product in 2007 was 109.5 billion rubles. GRP pro capita in 2007 was 151,210 rubles.
Karelia has a relatively well developed network of transport infrastructure. Water communications connect Karelia with the Barents, Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas through the system of rivers, lakes and canals. Federal railway (see Murmansk Railway) and automobile highways cross Karelia and connect Murmansk Region and Murmansk sea port with St. Petersburg, Moscow, the center of Russia and with Finland. Regular airline service connects Petrozavodsk with Joensuu and Helsinki in Finland. A fast fibre-optic cable link connecting Finnish Kuhmo and Karelian Kostomuksha was built in 2007, providing fast telecommunications.
Historically, Karelia was a region to the northwest of Russia, east of present-day Finland, controlled by the Novgorod Republic. From the 13th century and onwards, various parts were conquered by Sweden, and incorporated into Swedish Karelia until they were lost to Russia by the Treaty of Nystad in 1721.
In 1920, the province became the Karelian Labour Сommune. In 1923, the province became the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Karelian ASSR). From 1940 it was made into the Karelo-Finnish SSR, incorporating the Finnish Democratic Republic created during the Winter War. Annexed territories were incorporated into Karelo-Finnish SSR after the Winter War but after the Continuation War the Karelian Isthmus was incorporated into the Leningrad Oblast. Its status was changed back to an ASSR in 1956. During the Continuation War in 1941 Finland occupied large parts of the area but was forced to withdraw in 1944. Though Finland is not currently pursuing any measures to reclaim Karelian lands ceded to Russia, the "Karelian Question" is still a topic present in Finnish politics.
The highest executive authority in the Republic of Karelia is the Head of the Republic. As of 2008, the Head of the Republic is Sergey Leonidovich Katanandov, who was elected in May 2002.
in 1911, photograph by S. Prokudin-Gorski]]
Karelia is sometimes called "the songlands" in the Finnish culture, as Karelian poems constitute most of the Karelo-Finnish epic Kalevala.
The Karelians have been traditionally Russian Orthodox, known in Finland for their small chapels called tsasouna (variant spelling of Russian "часовня" "chasovnya", chapel) associated with villages or graveyards. However, first Catholicism and then Lutheranism was brought to the area by the Finnish immigrants during Sweden's conquest of Karelia and some Lutheran parishes remain in Karelia.