Republic of Karelia

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Subject of the Russian Federation
Republic of Karelia
Республика Карелия
flag coat of arms
coat of arms
Federal district Northwest Russia
surface 180,520  km²
population 643,548 inhabitants
(as of October 14, 2010)
Population density 3.6 inhabitants / km²
Capital Petrozavodsk
Official languages Karelian , Finnish ,
, Russian
Russians (78.9%)
Karelians (7.1%)
Belarusians (3.6%)
Ukrainians (2.0%)
Finns (1.3%)
Wepsen (0.5%)
(as of 2010)
head Artur Parfenchikov
Founded May 21, 1992
(June 8, 1920)
Time zone UTC + 3
Telephone prefixes (+7) 814xx
Postcodes 185000-186999
License Plate 10
ISO 3166-2 RU-KR
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Coordinates: 63 ° 42 '  N , 33 ° 33'  E

The Republic of Karelia ( Russian Республика Карелия Respublika Kareliya ; Karelian and Finnish Karjala ; Vepsian Karjal ) is a constituent republic of the Russian Federation in Northwest Russia area.



The Republic of Karelia covers most of the historical Karelia region . In the east it borders on the White Sea and in the west on 723 km with Finland , in particular on the region of South Karelia and North Karelia . The neighboring oblasts are Leningrad and Vologda in the south, Murmansk in the north and Arkhangelsk in the east. The landscape is a continuation of the Finnish lake landscape to the east, which is why there are numerous lakes in the area. In the south are the two largest lakes in Europe, Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega . A total of around 66,000 lakes are counted. 49% of the area of ​​Karelia is forest areas, 25% is water.


The average annual temperature is 3 ° C, with February being the coldest month at −11 ° C. The warmest month is June with 17 ° C. The highest recorded temperature in Karelia was 35 ° C, the lowest was −44 ° C.

natural reserve

Since 2006, a park called the Kalewalski Jungle has been under permanent protection as a national park . It lies on the Finnish border and, with a size of 74,400 hectares, is three times the size of the Bavarian Forest National Park . The forest area is one of the few still intact primeval forests in Europe. Until 1996, the Finnish paper groups Enso (now Stora Enso ) and UPM-Kymmene obtained raw wood from the Kalewalski jungle, which in Finland was processed into pulp and paper for the German market.

After a Greenpeace campaign to protect the virgin forests of Karelia, the two companies stopped logging in what is now the new national park and signed a moratorium on logging the virgin forests on the border. The area of ​​the new national park is of great importance for the preservation of biodiversity in Northern Europe: both large mammals such as brown bears , wolves and lynx , but also endangered bird species such as the three-toed woodpecker and eagle owl depend on the last untouched forests for survival.


According to the 2002 census, the Republic of Karelia has around 716,000 inhabitants. Of these, 75% (537,000 inhabitants) live in cities and 25% (179,000 inhabitants) in the countryside, 37% of the inhabitants live in the capital Petrozavodsk. The population density is four inhabitants per square kilometer. The mean age of the population is 37.1 years. The number of employable people is 450,000. The number of people who have exceeded the working age is 137,000 people.

Population development:

The area was originally settled by Finno-Ugric and Finnish-Permian peoples. Their descendants are the Karelians , Finns and Wepsen . As early as the Middle Ages, the region came partly under the rule of Russia, from 1721/43 then completely. Nevertheless, the Russian settlers remained a minority in large areas well into the Stalin era. Then, up to the end of the Soviet Union, massive immigration, predominantly Slavic, began, while at the same time many Karelians emigrated to Finland. The indigenous ethnic groups became small minorities. In 1926 there were 155,643 Slavs (Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians and Poles) in Karelia; In 1989 there were 669,420 people. This corresponds to 57.7% and 84.7% of the total population. After the end of the Soviet Union there was a sharp decline in population (1989-2010: - 146,602 people or 18.6%). Many Belarusians, Ukrainians and Finns have returned / emigrated to their mother countries. The rest is becoming more Russified. This also applies to the titular nation of the Karelians and the Wepsen.

Russian has been the only official language since the 1980s . Karelian, Wepsis and Finnish are so-called national languages. With the exception of the Finns (Lutherans), all major ethnic groups are traditionally supporters of the Russian Orthodox Church. However, no reliable information can be given about the religious conditions.

Ethnic group VZ 1926 VZ 1939 VZ 1959 VZ 1970 VZ 1979 VZ 1989 VZ 2002 VZ 2010 1
number % number % number % number % number % number % number % number %
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% 45,570 7.1%
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% 507.654 78.9%
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% 23,345 3.6%
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% 12,677 2.0%
Finns 2,327 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% 8,577 1.3%
Wepsen 8,587 3.2% 9,388 2.0% 7.179 1.1% 6.323 0.9% 5,864 0.8% 5,954 0.8% 4,870 0.7% 3,423 0.5%
Other 2,809 1.0% 20,713 4.4% 22,623 3.5% 20,726 2.9% 19,567 2.7% 21,505 2.7% 25,734 3.6% 42,302 6.6%
Residents 269.734 100% 468,898 100% 651,346 100% 713.451 100% 732.193 100% 790.150 100% 716.281 100% 643,548 100%
1 25,880 people could not be assigned to any ethnic group. These people are probably distributed equally proportionally to the ethnically assigned residents.


Lake Odjurskoye
Uhtua insurgent stamps in use from January 31 to February 18, 1922

Today's Republic of Karelia includes the historical area of ​​East Karelia and a smaller part of West Karelia. Today's Karelia did not emerge as an independent political administrative unit until 1923, as part of the Soviet Union.

East Karelia in the White Sea and Onega Lake area has always been under Russian Orthodox influence. The majority of the population there was Finnish or Karelian-speaking, but politically it was never part of Finland or Sweden. In the 18th century Russia conquered a large part of West Karelia from Sweden , the so-called Old Finland . After another war with Sweden, in 1808 it gained control over all of today's Finland. As a concession to the population and the Finnish-Swedish nobility, Russia united old Finland and its newly won Finnish possessions to form the Grand Duchy of Finland , a part of the Russian Empire with a relatively large degree of autonomy. Despite the majority of the Finnish-Karelian population, East Karelia did not become part of the Grand Duchy of Finland; it largely belonged to the Russian governorate of Olonez , a smaller part of the area was in the governorate of Arkhangelsk .

With the Russian rule, many Russian settlers also came to the country. As early as the Russian census of 1897, the Finnish-Karelian population was in the minority in some parts of today's Republic of Karelia. Their proportion of the population fluctuated from district ( Ujesd ) to district, sometimes significantly:

  • 32.8% in Ujesd Petrozavodsk (Olonez Governorate)
  • 50.4% in Ujesd Powenez (Olonez Governorate)
  • 54.8% in Ujesd Kem (Arkhangelsk Governorate)
  • 72.8% in Ujesd Olonez (Olonez Governorate)

After Finnish independence in 1917, West Karelia became part of the newly established state of Finland. East Karelia, however, remained with Russia or the Soviet Union. In Finland, the Greater Finland Movement had meanwhile formed, which called for East Karelia to join Finland. In 1918 and again in 1919, associations of Finnish nationalists attacked twice in East Karelia and at times advanced far into Soviet territory. From November 1921 there was an uprising by East Karelian separatists, which were reinforced by associations of Finnish nationalists and now at least passively supported by the Finnish government. After initial success, the uprising was suppressed in March 1922.

On July 25, 1923, the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) was formed under Edvard Gylling , who was born on November 30, 1881 in Kuopio and who had fought on the side of the Reds in the Finnish Civil War. Finnish became the official language alongside Russian and numerous autonomy rights were introduced.

After the defeat of the East Karelian separatists, thousands of Karelians fled to Finland. On the other hand, many of the “Reds” escaped to East Karelia and followed a utopian socialism that inspired many people in Karelia and even moved some of the Finns who emigrated to America and Canada to return. They founded utopian colonies (later collective farms), of which Säde in Olonec (Aunus) and Hiilisuo near Petrozavodsk became very well known, but later failed due to internal disputes. The Worpswede painter and architect Heinrich Vogeler also traveled several times to Karelia from 1925 to 1936 and produced politically motivated watercolors and drawings, some of which can be seen in the Karelian State Museum in Petrozavodsk.

The "independence" in the Republic of Karelia (ASSR) under Gylling was still quite extensive in the 1920s and 1930s. Finnish was taught and spoken in schools in the predominantly Karelian places. Gyling's behavior was definitely Finnish and led in the terrible years under the charge of nationalism in 1935 to his deposition and finally to his secret execution, probably in 1938. Even the vast majority of Finns who emigrated to Karelia and also those who returned from America did not survive these years . Between 1926 and 1939 the proportion of Karelians in Karelia fell from 37.6% to 23.2%. With the increasing repression during the Great Terror , Finnish lessons were banned in the Karelian-speaking areas (villages) and only reintroduced with the staged appointment of Otto Wille Kuusinen , but only until 1956. Since then, Finnish has not been used in schools in Karelia taught more, which led to a significant decline in the language - also among the ethnic Karelian population. Finland occupied parts of eastern Karelia between 1941 and 1944, and thousands of Karelians fled to Finland with the withdrawing Finnish troops in 1944. In the Soviet census of 1959, 17.2% of the population in Karelia stated Karelian or Finnish as their nationality. The assimilation of the Karelians to the Russian majority has continued since then, and offers from Finland to use Finnish teachers in corresponding areas have not yet been implemented.

Apart from a few folkloric institutions, with a share of 10% of the Karelians in the total population there is hardly any “Karelian” content in politics. One must assume that the Karelian ethnic group will disappear.

After the Finnish-Russian clashes in World War II ( Winter War , Continuation War ), parts of Finland fell to Soviet Karelia, but the area around the city of Vyborg became part of Leningrad Oblast. From March 1940 the former ASSR was an independent republic of the Soviet Union as Karelo-Finnish SSR ; on July 16, 1956, it was reintegrated into the Russian SFSR .

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Karelia became a republic within the Russian Federation. The head of the republic since May 2012 has been Alexander Chudilainen , and the chairman of the Legislative Assembly is Vladimir Semenov .

coat of arms

The gold bordered coat of arms is divided twice and has the national colors red, blue and green. A black red armored bear is in the sign. Above the shield there is a floating golden common cross with triangular incisions on the cross arms and a central oblique square opening. The shield border ends on both sides in a stylized branch that extends over the shield and has fallen on the right side.

Economy and Transport

Karelia is mainly developed through the Murman Railway, which connects Saint Petersburg with Murmansk via Petrozavodsk . Iron ore mining and forestry , which are determined by Finnish and Swedish companies (e.g. Ikea ) and hardly provide jobs for the local population, are important.

Agriculture has largely collapsed, the old fields and meadows are covered in bush, the villages are difficult to reach via gravel roads.

Administrative divisions and cities

The Republic of Karelia is divided into 22 Rajons and two city ​​districts . In terms of population, the main and only major city, Petrozavodsk, are followed by the cities of Kondopoga , Segescha and Kostomukscha by a large margin . In total there are 13 cities and eleven urban-type settlements in the republic .

Biggest cities
Surname Russian Karelian Residents
(October 14, 2010)
Petrozavodsk Петрозаводск Petroskoi 261,987
Kondopoga Кондопога Kondupohju 32,987
Segescha Сегежа Segeža 29,631
Kostomuksha Костомукша Koštamuš 28,436
Sortavala Сортавала Sortavala 19,235
Medvezhyegorsk Медвежьегорск Karhumagi 15,533

Web links

Commons : Republic of Karelia  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Administrativno-territorialʹnoe delenie po subʺektam Rossijskoj Federacii na 1 janvarja 2010 goda (administrative-territorial division according to subjects of the Russian Federation as of January 1, 2010). ( Download from the website of the Federal Service for State Statistics of the Russian Federation)
  2. a b Itogi Vserossijskoj perepisi naselenija 2010 goda. Tom 1. Čislennostʹ i razmeščenie naselenija (Results of the All-Russian Census 2010. Volume 1. Number and distribution of the population). Tables 5 , pp. 12-209; 11 , pp. 312–979 (download from the website of the Federal Service for State Statistics of the Russian Federation)
  3. Karelian, Finnish and Wepsi are not recognized as official languages, but only as minority languages. Constitution of the Republic of Karelia , Karelian law on support for the Karelian, Finnish and Wepsi languages
  4. Nacional'nyj sostav naselenija po sub "ektam Rossijskoj Federacii. (XLS) In: Itogi Vserossijskoj perepisi naselenija 2010 goda. Rosstat, accessed on June 30, 2016 (Russian, ethnic composition of the population according to federal subjects , results of the 2010 census).
  5. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Karelia
  6. Population of Russian territorial units by nationality 2010. ( MS Excel ; lines 192–201; Russian)