Finnish Karelia

From Academic Kids

Finnish Karelia, historically also Swedish Karelia or Carelia, is a historical province in eastern Finland. It refers to the western parts of Karelia that during the second millennium has been under western dominance, religiously and politically. Western Karelia is separate from East Karelia, or Russian Karelia, which has been dominated by Novgorod and Moscow.

The name is Karjala in Finnish and Karelen in Swedish. Karelia borders to Nylandia, Savonia and Ostrobothnia. It is also bounded by Russia and the Gulf of Finland. The most of Finnish Karelia was ceded by Finland to the Soviet Union in 1940, after the Winter War, and today parted between the Russian autonomous Republic of Karelia and the Russian Leningrad Oblast.

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For current affairs see: Eastern Finland, Southern Finland

Parts of the historical province of Karelia are divided between the Provinces, of Eastern Finland and Southern Finland. Within the provinces there are also the Regions of North Karelia and South Karelia. These border to the Russian subdivisions of Leningrad Oblast, which occupies the Karelian Isthmus, and the Autonomous Republic of Karelia which represents East Karelia.


Main article: History of Karelia

During the 13th century Karelia was fought over between Novgorod and Sweden. In some Swedish sources the Karelians are described as allies to the Novgorodians. The "Third Swedish crusade", led by the marsk Torkel Knutsson, which took place 12931295, resulted in the western parts of Karelia coming under Swedish rule, and in the building of the Castle of Vyborg.

The hostilities continued in 1300 when a Swedish force attacked the mouth of river Neva and built a fort near the current location of Saint Petersburg. The fort was destroyed the following year by the Novgorodians. Indecisive fighting in 1321 and 1322 led to negotiations and peace by the Treaty of Nöteborg which for the first time decided the border between Sweden and Novgorod. Sweden got western Karelia with the Karelian Isthmus; and Novgorod got Ingria, Ladoga Karelia and East Karelia.

In 1635 Savonia and the parts of Karelia around Vyborg were incorporated in the Viborg and Nyslott County. After the Treaty of Nystad in 1721 Vyborg and the Kexholm County were ceded to Russia; and the rest was incorporated into the Kymmenegårds and Nyslott County. Most of this was also ceded to Russia in the Treaty of Åbo of 1743. After the conquest in 1808 of the rest of Finland, Russia's 18th century gains, called "Old Finland", were in 1812 joined to the Grand Duchy of Finland as a gesture of good will.

During the Continuation War (1941-1944) Eastern Karelia was considered a Finnish irredenta and occupied by Finland. After World War II, when the new border was established close to that of 1721, the Finnish remains of the Province of Viipuri were made into the "Province of Kymi". In 1997 the Kymi province was incorporated with the province of Southern Finland.

Western Karelia, as an historical Province of Sweden, was religiously and politically distict from the eastern parts that were under the Russian Orthodox Church.


Main article: Geography of Karelia


Main article: Culture of Karelia

The traditional culture of "Ladoga-Karelia", or Finnish Karelia according to the pre-Winter War borders, was by and large similar to that of Eastern Karelia, or Russian Karelia. Karelians live, and did even more so before Stalinism and the Great Purges, also in vast areas east of Finland (in Eastern Karelia, not marked on the map to the right), where folklore, language and architecture during the 19th century was in the center of the Finns' interest, representing a "purer" Finnish culture than that of Southern and Western Finland, which had been for thousands of years in more contact with (or "contaminated by") Germanic and Scandinavian culture. The Kalevala and Finnish Art Nouveau are expressions hereof. However, many of them thought then that Karelian culture had contaminated too much by Slavic culture.

The Karelian language is very closely related to the Finnish language, and particularly by Finnish linguists seen as a dialect of Finnish, although the variety spoken in East Karelia is usually seen as a proper language. [1] ( The dialect spoken is the South Karelian Region of Finland is considered to be part of the South Eastern dialects of the Finnish language. The dialect spoken in the Karelian Isthmus before World War II and the Ingrian language are also seen as part of this dialect group.[2] ( The dialect that is spoken in North Karelia is considered to be one of the Savonian dialects.[3] (

Famous Karelians


Main article: Heraldry of Karelia

The arms is crowned by a ducal coronet, though by Finnish tradition this more resembles a Swedish count's coronet. The symbolism of the coat of arms is supposed to represent how the region was fought over by Sweden and Russia for centuries. Blazon: "Gules, in center chief a crown or above two duelling arms, the dexter armored holding a sword and the sinister chain-mail armored with a scimitar, all argent except for hafts and gauntlet joint or."

See also: Sami music

External links

  • The Many Karelias ( - Virtual Finland
  • Maps of Karelia ( - Heninen
  • Flag ( - Flags of the World
  • The Karelians (
  • ProKarelia (


hu:Karelen tartomány sv:Karelen


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