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The Republic of Karelia ( , ; ; ; ) is a federal subject of Russiamarker.


The Republic is located in the north-western part of the Russian Federation, taking intervening position between the basins of Whitemarker and Baltic seasmarker. The White Sea shore line is .

Time zone

The Republic of Karelia is located in the Moscow Time Zone (MSK/MSD). UTC offset is +0300 (MSK)/+0400 (MSD).


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 Ladogamarker (Finnish: Laatokka) and Lake Onegamarker (Ääninen) are the largest lakes in Europe. Other lakes include:

National parks

Natural resources

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 over mature tree stock amounts to 411.8 million m³, of which 375.2 million m³ is coniferous.

Fifty useful minerals are found in Karelia, located in more than 400 deposits and ore bearing layers. Natural resources of the republic include iron ore, diamonds, vanadium, molybdenum, and others.


The Republic of Karelia is located in the Atlantic continental climate zone. Average temperature in January is -8.0°C, and +16.4°C in July. Average annual precipitation is 500-700 mm.

Administrative divisions


  • Population: 716,281 (2002)
    • Urban: 537.395 (75.0%)
    • Rural: 178,886 (25.0%)
    • Male: 331,505 (46.3%)
    • Female: 384,776 (53.7%)
  • Females per 1000 males: 1,161
  • Average age: 37.1 years
    • Urban: 35.9 years
    • Rural: 40.6 years
    • Male: 33.9 years
    • Female: 39.9 years
  • Number of households: 279,915 (with 701,314 people)
    • Urban: 208,041 (with 525,964 people)
    • Rural: 71,874 (with 175,350 people)
  • Vital statistics (2008)
    • Births: 7,705 (11.2 per 1000)
    • Deaths: 11,171 (16.2 per 1000)

  • Ethnic groups
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.

Statistics for 2007
  • Net Immigration: +1.8 per 1000
  • NGR: -0.55% per Year
  • PGR: -0.37% per Year


Gross regional product in 2007 was 109.5 billion rubles. GRP pro capita was 151,210 rubles, somewhat lower than the national average of 198,817 rubles.

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. Three largest companies in the pulp and paper sector in 2001 were: OAO Kondopoga (sales of $209.4 mln in 2001), Segezha Pulp and Paper Mill ($95.7 mln) and OAO Pitkjaranta Pulp Factory ($23.7 mln).

In 2007, extractive industries (including extraction of metal ores) amounted to 30% of the republic's industrial output. There are about 53 mining companies in Karelia, employing more than 10,000 people. One of the most important companies in the sector is OAO Karelian Pellet, which is the 5h largest of Russia's 25 mining and ore dressing enterprises involved in ore extraction and iron ore concentrate production. Other large companies in the sector were OAO Karelnerud, Mosavtorod State Unitary Enterprise and Pitkjaranta Mining Directorate State Unitary Enterprise.

Processing industries contributed 56,4% of the overal production in 2007. 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 region's output.

Karelia has a relatively well developed network of transport infrastructure. Water communications connect Karelia with the Barentsmarker, Balticmarker, Blackmarker and Caspian Seasmarker through the system of rivers, lakes and canals. Federal railway (see Murmansk Railway) and automobile highways cross Karelia and connect Murmanskmarker Region and Murmansk sea port with St. Petersburgmarker, Moscowmarker, the center of Russia and with Finland. Regular airline service connects Petrozavodskmarker with Joensuumarker and Helsinkimarker in Finland. A fast fibre-optic cable link connecting Finnish Kuhmomarker and Karelian Kostomukshamarker was built in 2007, providing fast telecommunications.

The Republic's main export partners in 2001 were Finland (32% of total exports), Germanymarker (7%), Netherlandsmarker (7%) and the United Kingdommarker (6%). Main export products were lumber (over 50%), iron ore pellets (13-15%) paper and cardboard (6-9%) and sawn timber with (5-7%). Many of Karelia's companies have received investments from Finland.


Historically, Karelia was a region to the northwest of Russia, east of present-day Finlandmarker, controlled by the Novgorod Republic. From the 13th century and onwards, various parts were conquered by Swedenmarker, and incorporated into Swedish Kareliamarker 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 Oblastmarker. Its status was changed back to an ASSR in 1956. During the Continuation War in 1941 Finlandmarker 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 autonomous Republic of Karelia in its present form was formed on November 13, 1991.


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.

The parliament of the Republic of Karelia is the Legislative Assembly comprising fifty deputies elected for a four year term.

The Constitution of the Republic of Karelia was adopted on February 12, 2001.


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.

See also



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