Republic of Karelia
Республика Карелия
Other transcription(s)
 • KarelianKarjalan tašavalta
 • VepsianKarjalan tazovaldkund
 • FinnishKarjalan tasavalta
 • LivviKarjalan tazavaldu
Flag of Republic of Karelia
Coat of arms of Republic of Karelia
Anthem: Anthem of the Republic of Karelia
Coordinates: 63°49′N 33°00′E / 63.817°N 33.000°E / 63.817; 33.000
Federal districtNorthwestern[1]
Economic regionNorthern[2]
 • BodyLegislative Assembly[3]
 • Head[5]Artur Parfenchikov[4]
 • Total180,520 km2 (69,700 sq mi)
 • Rank20th
 • Total533,121
 • Estimate 
 • Rank70th
 • Density3.0/km2 (7.6/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Rural
Time zoneUTC+3 (MSK Edit this on Wikidata[9])
ISO 3166 codeRU-KR
License plates10
OKTMO ID86000000
Official languagesRussian[10]
Recognised languagesKarelian, Veps, Finnish[11]

The Republic of Karelia,[a] Karjala or Karelia[13] (Russian: Каре́лия, Ка́рьяла; Karelian: Karjala),[14] is a republic of Russia situated in the northwest of the country.[14] The republic is a part of the Northwestern Federal District, and covers an area of 172,400 square kilometres (66,600 square miles), with a population of 533,121 residents.[7] Its capital is Petrozavodsk.

The modern Karelian Republic was founded as an autonomous republic within the Russian SFSR, by the Resolution of the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) on 27 June 1923 and by the Decree of the VTsIK and the Council of People's Commissars of 25 July 1923, from the Karelian Labour Commune. From 1940 to 1956, it was known as the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic, one of the republics of the Soviet Union. In 1956, it was once again made an autonomous republic and remained part of Russia following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.


"Karelia" derives from the name of the ethnic group—Karelians. The name "Karjala" has unknown origins, however, it is theorised that it may come from the Proto-Finnish word karja, meaning "herd", which was borrowed from the Proto-Germanic harjaz ("army"); the ending -la means "earth".[15]


The republic is in the northwestern part of Russia, between the White and Baltic Seas. The White Sea has a shoreline of 630 kilometers (390 mi). It has an area of 172,400 km2 (66,600 sq mi). It shares internal borders with Murmansk Oblast (north), Arkhangelsk Oblast (east/south-east), Vologda Oblast (south-east/south), and Leningrad Oblast (south/south-west), and it also borders Finland (Kainuu, Lapland, North Karelia, Northern Ostrobothnia, and South Karelia); the borders measure 723 km. The main bodies of water next to Karelia are the White Sea (an inlet of the Barents Sea) to the north-east and Lake Onega and Lake Ladoga both shared with neighboring Oblasts to the south. Its highest point is the Nuorunen peak at 576 m (1,890 ft).

A geological map of Fennoscandia:
  Archean rocks of the Karelia, Belomorian, and Kola domains
  Proterozoic rocks of the Karelia and Kola domains


As a part of the Fennoscandian Shield's ancient Karelian craton, most of the Republic of Karelia's surficial geology is Archaean or Paleoproterozoic, dated up to 3.4 billion years in the Vodlozero block. This area is the largest contiguous Archaean outcrop in Europe and one of the largest in the world.

Since deglaciation, the rate of post-glacial rebound in the Republic of Karelia has varied. Since the White Sea connected to the World's oceans uplift along the southern coast of Kandalaksha Gulf has totaled 90 m.[clarification needed] In the interval 9,500–5,000 years ago the uplift rate was 9–13 mm/yr. Before the Atlantic period, uplift rate had decreased to 5–5.5 mm/yr, to then rise briefly before arriving at the present uplift rate is 4 mm/yr.[16]


There are about 27,000 rivers in Karelia.[17] Major rivers include:


A lake in the Republic of Karelia

There are 60,000 lakes in Karelia. The 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:

The lakes Ladoga and Onega are located in the south of the republic.


White Sea coast:

In Lake Onega:

In Lake Ladoga:

National parks

Natural resources

The majority of the republic's territory (148,000 km2 (57,000 sq mi), 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. The average temperature in January is −8.0 °C (17.6 °F) and +16.4 °C (61.5 °F) in July. Average annual precipitation is 500–700 mm.[18]

Administrative divisions

Main article: Administrative divisions of the Republic of Karelia

The Republic of Karelia includes 18 administrative-territorial units, including:

There are 818 settlements in the Republic of Karelia, including:

In 2006,[22] the implementation of municipal reform began in the republic.


Main article: History of Karelia

Middle ages

Korela Fort

The Karelian people and culture developed during the Viking Age in the region to the west of Lake Ladoga. Karelians were first mentioned in Swedish sagas around the 10th century. Russians first mentioned Karelians in 1143, they called Karelians "Korela".[23]

Sweden's interest in Karelia began a centuries-long struggle with Novgorod (later Russia) that resulted in numerous border changes following the many wars fought between the two, the most famous of which is the Pillage of Sigtuna of 1187. In 1137 the oldest documented settlement was established, the modern-day city of Olonets (Aunus).[24] Karelians converted to Orthodox Christianity in 1227.[25] The Karelians' alliance with Novgorod developed into domination by the latter in the 13th century, when Karelia became a part of Novgorod under the name of Obonezhie pyatina as an autonomy. Later Karelia had anti-Novgorod revolts in the 13th and 14th centuries. Later Karelia became a part of Muscovy when Novgorod was annexed in the second half of the 15th century.

Modern era

During the Great Northern War (1700–1721) the modern-day capital of Karelia, the city of Petrozavodsk was founded as a cannon factory by Peter the Great.[26]

19th century

On September 9(21) 1801 Olonets Governorate was created by order of Alexander I.[27]

After the whole of the Finland was acquired by the Russians in the 1808-1809 war, the Grand Duchy of Finland was established, to which part of the Karelia known as "Old Finland" were transferred by the will of the Tsar.

Early 20th century

Union of White Sea Karelians

In 1906, the Union of White Sea Karelians (Vienan karjalaisten liito) was created. The Union's main goal was to improve the life of the common Karelians and additionally develop their own national identity.[28] The union was temporarily dissolved in 1911 after series of repressions done by the local government.[29]

In 1917, the Murmansk Railroad was built, leading to the Karelian lands becoming a lot more strategically important. This has led much of intelligentsia to believe that the Russian tourism and Immigration into the region would rise, leading to further assimilation of the Karelians to the Russian culture.[30]

During the Finnish and the Russian Civil Wars the local peasantry rebelled against the new Soviet State due its Prodrazverstka policy, causing several squards of the "Whiteguard" to cross into the Karelian lands,[31] where then was organized a government that later swiftly declared independence from Russian Soviet Federative Republic, creating the Uhtua Republic. Later in 1920 Finnish forces occupied Olonets, creating another puppet government, which then merged with the other Karelian state into the United Karelian Government. The regions were reclaimed by the Red Army later the same year, the Tartu peace was signed and the Karelian United Government was dissolved.

As many other ethnically non-Russian states within RSFSR , the Karelia would receive autonomy within RSFSR, establishing the Karelian Labour Commune on June 8 of 1920, which enjoyed a large de-facto autonomy approved by Lenin in early 1921.[32]

In 1921, an uprising was started by the Forest Guerrillas in an attempt to gain control over Karelia yet again, but it was defeated by the Soviets shortly after.

During the years of its existence, the Commune was actively educating the people, opening the schools and libraries as of the Likbez policy were open and maintained. The Commune was later expanded in 1923 by transferring the Kolezhemskaya, Lapinskaya, Navodnitskaya and many other posads from Archangelsk Gubernia.

In 1923, the Karelian Labour Commune becomes the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic due its de-facto large autonomy, with the government of the region directly managing the local economy without having to pay its taxes to the RSFSR's state budget. The formal increase of the autonomy was first vetoed by People's Commissar for Nationalities of the RSFSR, but it was later accepted by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.[33][34]

Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

After the LIkbez policy was fulfilled, the Republic now shifted its goal from educating the people to expanding the production and electrifying the Republic according to the GOELRO plan. The first steps were the creation of Mevezegorsky and Pudozsky tree-cutting factories, the Kondopoga Paper Factory, and the launch of the Kem and the Uhta hydroelectrostations.

In the 1930s, the goal yet again shifted, now to improving the cultural and physical development and well-being of the locals by creation of many free clinics and hospitals, "Houses of Physical Culture", Theaters etc.[35]

Sandarmokh forest

Many of the Finns who fled to Karelia were detained and most likely shot during The Great Purge of 1937, with the Karelian ethnic Finns' population dropping to 21%.[36] Karelia has one of the biggest burial sites of Stalinist purges in Russia, Sandarmokh, where possibly thousands of victims were executed.

Winter War

Main article: Winter War

During the Winter War, a Soviet puppet government was created in occupied territories. The Finnish Democratic Republic was to incorporate most of Finland's pre-war territories plus some western parts of the KASSR. Some members of the FDP government were also members of the KASSR government.[37]

Evacuation from Kurkijoki, near Lahdenpohja

After the Moscow Peace Treaty territories of the Karelian Isthmus were transferred to the newly created Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic. After the evacuation of Finnish Karelia, the new territories were left unpopulated, so migrants from Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, and other Soviet republics moved in. To this day, this area has one of the lowest percentages of Karelian and Finnish populations in the Republic.

World War II

After the beginning of World War II, mass rallies were held on the territory of the republic, at which the inhabitants of Karelia declared their readiness to stand up for the defense of the Soviet Union. Workers of the Onega Tractor Plant wrote “We will work only in such a way as to fully meet the needs of our Red Army. We will double, triple our forces and crush, destroy the German fascists".[38]

On 24 June 1941, after the German army crossed Zapadnaya Dvina, Finnish president Risto Ryti announced declaration of war on the Soviet Union.[38] The Finnish army crossed the Soviet border on 1 July.[39]

Soon after the evacuation of border regions began, On July 3, a republican evacuation commission was created. At its first meeting, it was decided to evacuate children under 14 out of Petrozavodsk. The same decision also refers to the evacuation of 150 families of leading party and Soviet workers in Karelia. Those residents who could work had to remain in the harvest and defense work.[40]

In grey, Finnish occupied territories

By September the Finnish army already reached Petrozavodsk and captured Olonets.[39] Petrozavodsk offensive began on 20 September. To protect the city, the 7th Army under the command of General K.A. Meretskov was directly subordinated to the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander.[41]

On September 30, the position of the defenders of the city deteriorated sharply. The Finnish army managed to break through Soviet defenses and cut the highway to Kondopoga in the area of the Sulazhgorsky brick factory. In the south Finns came close to the city outskirts. On October 1, due to the threat of encirclement, an order was received from the command to withdraw the main units defending the city.

The fighting near Petrozavodsk allowed the authorities to evacuate most of the civilian population and a significant part of the production capacities. In total, more than 500 thousand people were evacuated from the republic to the east. Petrozavodsk University was temporarily relocated to Syktyvkar.[39]

Wartime concentration camp in Petrozavodsk under the Finnish military administration in Eastern Karelia

After the capture of Petrozavodsk, the capital of Soviet Karelia was transferred first to Medvezhyegorsk, then to Belomorsk. Less than 90 thousand people remained in the occupied territory, half of which are representatives of the Finno-Ugric peoples: Karelians, Vepsians, and Finns. The Finnish administration has officially recognized them as a "kindred" population. The rest received the status of "unrelated" people.[39] Most of them have been put into concentration camps, along with communists and people who could not speak Finnish or Karelian.

Former prisoners of the camps recalled that the staff often treated them more harshly than was supposed to according to the instructions. According to them, the Finns, in the presence of children, shot prisoners and beat women, children, and the elderly. One of the prisoners told the Finnish historian Helga Seppel that before leaving Petrozavodsk, the invaders shot several young people for unknown reasons.[39]

During the occupation, Petrozavodsk was renamed to Äänislinna.

Only a few territories of the KFSSR managed to escape the Finnish occupation: the Belomorsky, Loukhsky, Kemsky, Pudozhsky regions, as well as part of the Medvezhiegorsky, Tungudsky and Ukhta regions. By 1942, about 70 thousand people lived here.[40]

After the end of the Siege of Leningrad Soviet army was ordered to liberate Karelia.

On 21 June 1944 Svir-Petrozavodsk operation started. On 27 June the Finnish army left Petrozavodsk. By August the Soviet army reached pre-war borders.

Then the Soviet army got pushed back again and had to end the war with the help of pressure from its allies in the Moscow Armistice.


KFSSR building on VDNkH

After the end of World War II, the Karelian Isthmus was incorporated into the Leningrad Oblast and the city of Alakurtti was transferred to Murmansk Oblast.

After normalization of diplomatic relations between USSR and Finland the status of the Karelo-Finnish SSR was changed back to the Karelian ASSR in 1956. After this Karelian, Veps, and Finnish languages began a decline in usage due to the lack of support from the state and lack of education.[42]

The transformation of the KFSSR into the Karelian ASSR was supposed to show that the USSR did not have aggressive goals against Finland.[43]

In 1978, a Korean Air Lines Boeing 707-321B was shot down over Murmansk Oblast and landed near Louhi.


Stepanov Viktor Nikolaevich
Viktor Stepanov, first leader of Post-Soviet Karelia


The building of the Legislative Assembly in Petrozavodsk

The highest executive authority in the Republic of Karelia is the Head of the Republic. The acting Head of the Republic is Artur Parfenchikov, who was elected in February 2017 and later re-elected in 2022.

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 12 February 2001.


The Legislative Assembly of the Republic of Karelia is a permanent representative and the only legislative body of state power in the Republic of Karelia.[46] Since 2016, it consists of 36 deputies elected by the inhabitants of the republic according to a mixed electoral system: 18 deputies according to party lists (proportional system), and 18 in single-member districts (majority system) based on universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot. The term of office of deputies of one convocation is five years.

The 7th convocation was elected in September 2021 and will last until 2026. Of the 36 deputies, 22 are from United Russia, 4 from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, 2 from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, 4 from A Just Russia, 2 from Yabloko, 1 from New People, and 1 from the Party of Pensioners. Elissan Shandalovich (United Russia) was elected Chairman. Igor Zubarev (United Russia) was elected representative of the Legislative Assembly in the Federation Council.[47]


Government building in Petrozavodsk

Executive power is exercised by:[48]

The Head of the Republic is elected by the republic's inhabitants on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage by secret ballot. The term of office is 5 years and one person cannot hold office for more than two consecutive terms.

The current head of the republic is Artur Parfenchikov (appointed by President Vladimir Putin on 15 February 2017; on 10 September 2017, he was elected in the elections from the United Russia party). Alexander Rakitin has been appointed as the representative in the Federation Council.

Representatives in the Federal Assembly

Like every federal subject, Karelia has two representatives in the Federation Council: one from the legislative assembly and one from the republic's government.

Representative Branch of power Appointed by Title (at the time of promotion) Term of office Position in the Federation Council
Igor Zubarev legislative 27 deputies of the legislative assembly of the 7th convocation,[49] Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of Karelia of the 7th convocation, United Russia; member of the Federation Council in 2016-2021 5 years, from 6 October 2021 to September 2026 member of the committee on agrarian and food policy and environmental management
Vladimir Chizhov executive Artur Parfenchikov Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Union 5 years, from 27 September 2022 to September 2027 First Deputy Chairman of the Defense and Security Committee

Political parties

As of 1 March 2010, seven Russian political parties had their branches in the Republic of Karelia:[50] United Russia, Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Patriots of Russia, A Just Russia, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Yabloko, and Right Cause.[51] The socio-political movement of the Russian People's Democratic Union also has its own branch.[52]


Population: 533,121 (2021 Census);[53] 643,548 (2010 Census);[54] 645,205 (2002 Census);[55] 791,317 (1989 Census).[56]


Largest cities or towns in the Republic of Karelia
2010 Russian Census
Rank Administrative Division Pop.
1 Petrozavodsk Prionezhsky District 261,987 Segezha
2 Kondopoga Kondopozhsky District 32,987
3 Segezha Segezhsky District 29,631
4 Kostomuksha Town of republic significance of Kostomuksha 28,436
5 Sortavala Town of republic significance of Sortavala 19,235
6 Medvezhyegorsk Medvezhyegorsky District 15,533
7 Kem Kemsky District 13,051
8 Pitkyaranta Pitkyarantsky District 11,429
9 Belomorsk Belomorsky District 11,217
10 Suoyarvi Suoyarvsky District 9,766

Vital statistics

Historical population
Source: Census data
Largest cities of the Republic of Karelia.
Sortavala town
Voknavolok (Vuokkiniemi) village
Average population (×1,000) Live births Deaths Natural change Crude birth rate (per 1,000) Crude death rate (per 1,000) Natural change (per 1,000) Fertility rates
1870 200[57]
1903 395[57]
1906 364[58]
1910 400[59]
1913 444[60]
1970 714 11,346 5,333 6,013 15.9 7.5 8.4
1975 723 12,748 6,086 6,662 17.6 8.4 9.2
1980 741 12,275 7,374 4,901 16.6 10.0 6.6
1985 770 13,201 8,205 4,996 17.1 10.7 6.5
1990 792 10,553 8,072 2,481 13.3 10.2 3.1 1.87
1991 790 8,982 8,305 677 11.4 10.5 0.9 1.62
1992 788 7,969 9,834 −1,865 10.1 12.5 −2.4 1.46
1993 782 7,003 11,817 −4,814 9.0 15.1 −6.2 1.30
1994 774 6,800 13,325 −6,525 8.8 17.2 −8.4 1.26
1995 767 6,729 12,845 −6,116 8.8 16.7 −8.0 1.24
1996 760 6,461 11,192 −4,731 8.5 14.7 −6.2 1.19
1997 753 6,230 10,306 −4,076 8.3 13.7 −5.4 1.15
1998 747 6,382 10,285 −3,903 8.5 13.8 −5.2 1.18
1999 740 6,054 11,612 −5,558 8.2 15.7 −7.5 1.12
2000 732 6,374 12,083 −5,709 8.7 16.5 −7.8 1.18
2001 725 6,833 12,597 −5,764 9.4 17.4 −7.9 1.25
2002 717 7,247 13,435 −6,188 10.1 18.7 −8.6 1.33
2003 707 7,290 14,141 −6,851 10.3 20.0 −9.7 1.32
2004 696 7,320 13,092 −5,772 10.5 18.8 −8.3 1.31
2005 686 6,952 12,649 −5,697 10.1 18.4 −8.3 1.24
2006 676 6,938 11,716 −4,778 10.3 17.3 −7.1 1.22
2007 667 7,319 11,007 −3,688 11.0 16.5 −5.5 1.28
2008 659 7,682 11,134 −3,452 11.7 16.9 −5.2 1.35
2009 651 7,884 10,599 −2,715 12.1 16.3 −4.2 1.58
2010 644 7,821 10,471 −2,650 12.1 16.2 −4.1 1.58
2011 641 7,711 9,479 −1,768 12.0 14.7 −2.7 1.60
2012 640 8,027 9,804 −1,777 12.6 15.4 −2.8 1.71
2013 636 7,553 9,285 −1,732 11.9 14.6 −2.7 1.65
2014 634 7,816 9,245 −1,429 12.3 14.6 −2.3 1.74
2015 631 7,731 9,648 −1,917 12.2 15.3 −3.1 1.76(e)

Ethnic groups

According to the 2021 Census,[61] ethnic Russians make up 86.4% of the republic's population, ethnic Karelians 5.5%. Other groups include Belarusians (2.0%), Ukrainians (1.2%), Finns (0.7%), Vepsians (0.5%), and a host of smaller groups, each accounting for less than 0.5% of the total population.

1926 census 1939 census 1959 census 1970 census 1979 census 1989 census 2002 census 2010 census 2021 census1
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
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 82.2% 407,469 86.4%
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 7.4% 25,901 5.5%
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 3.8% 9,372 2.0%
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% 5,579 1.2%
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% 8,577 1.4% 3,397 0.7%
Vepsians 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% 3,423 0.5% 2,471 0.5%
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% 16,422 2.7% 17,434 3.7%
1 61,498 people were registered from administrative databases, and could not declare an ethnicity. It is estimated that the proportion of ethnicities in this group is the same as that of the declared group.[62]


A Bilingual street sign in Petrozavodsk

Currently Russian is the only official language of the republic. Karelian, Veps, and Finnish have been officially recognized languages of the republic since 2004, and they are de jure supported by the government.[11] In early 2000s Karelian and Veps language nests were created in Petrozavodsk, Kalevala, Tuksa and Sheltozero,[63] but were later shut down.[64] Now native languages of Karelia have little support from the government.[42]

Finnish was the second official language of Karelia from the creation of the Karelian Labour Commune up until the dissolution of the Soviet Union.[65] Thereafter there were suggestions to raise Karelian as the second official language, but they were repeatedly turned down.[66][11]


Religion in Republic of Karelia as of 2012 (Sreda Arena Atlas)[67][68]
Russian Orthodoxy
Other Christians
Spiritual but not religious
Atheism and irreligion
Other and undeclared

The Karelians have traditionally been Eastern Orthodox. Lutheranism was brought to Karelia during Sweden's conquest of Karelia and was common in regions that then belonged to Finland. Nowadays Lutherans can be found in most big settlements but they remain a minority.[69]

Catholics have one parish in Petrozavodsk.[70]

The Petrozavodsk Jewish Religious Community was registered in 1997.[71]

Karelian Muslims were organized into Karelian muftiate in 2001.[72]

According to a 2012 survey,[67] 27% of the population of Karelia adheres to the Russian Orthodox Church, 2% are unaffiliated Christians, and 1% are members of Protestant churches. In addition, 44% of the population declared to be "spiritual but not religious", 18% is atheist, and 8% follow other religions or did not answer the question.[67]


The remains of the Onega Tractor Plant

Karelia's economy is based on forestry, mining, tourism, agriculture, fishing[73] and the paper industry.

Despite being 0,4% of Russia's population, 65–70% of all Russian trout is grown in the Republic, 26% of iron ore pellets, 20% of paper, 12% of wood pulp and cellulose.

Karelia's gross regional product (GRP) in 2007 was 109.5 billion rubles.[74] The Karelian economy's GRP in 2010 was estimated at 127733.8 million rubles.[citation needed] Karelia's GRP in 2021 was 176 billion rubles.[73] This amounts to 291,841 rubles per capita, which is lower than national average.

The largest companies in the region include Karelsky Okatysh ($1319755601 of revenue in 2021), Segezha Pulp and Paper Mill ($86897488 of revenue in 2021), OAO Kondopoga ($20366599 of revenue in 2021).[75]

In the structure of the gross regional product in 2017, the main types of economic activity were:mining – 17.6%; manufacturing industries – 16.9%; transportation and storage – 11.8%; wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles – 9.8%; public administration and military security; social security – 8.7%.[76]

A fast fiber-optic cable link connecting Finnish Kuhmo and Karelian Kostomuksha was built in 2007, providing fast telecommunications.[74]

Budget sector

In 2022, the republic's budget received 75 billion 198 million rubles of revenue. At the same time, expenses amounted to 82 billion 202 million rubles.[77]

Tax revenues make up the majority of budget revenues and in 2008 amounted to 64% of operating income. The tax concentration is relatively high: the 10 largest taxpayers, mainly industrial enterprises, provided about 38% of all tax revenues in 2008.[78]



The Segezha Pulp and Paper Mill

The forest and wood processing sector dominates industrial activity in Karelia. A large number of small enterprises carry out timber logging whereas pulp and paper production is concentrated in five large enterprises, which produce about a quarter of Russia's total output of paper.[79] Three largest companies in the pulp and paper sector in 2021 were: OAO Kondopoga (sales of $369314325), Segezha Pulp and Paper Mill ($221317040) and RK-Grand (Pitkäranta Pulp Factory) ($78750849).[75]

The timber industry complex of Karelia produces 28% of the republic's industrial output.[80]


Karelsky okatysh

Karelia is a region with a lot of natural resources, from gold to metals.[81][82]

In 2007, extractive industries (including extraction of metal ores) amounted to 30% of the republic's industrial output.[74] There are about 53 mining companies in Karelia, employing more than 10,000 people.[83] One of the most important companies in the sector is AO Karelian Pellet, which is the 5th 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.[18]


The Harlu hydroelectric plant

As of 2021, there were 29 powerplants, of them 21 were hydroplants and 8 thermal power plants.[84]


Due to Karelia's climate, only 1,2% of the land is used for farming. Most of the farmland is located on podzol.[85]

20 agricultural organizations employing 2.3 thousand people. Animal husbandry is the leading branch of agriculture in the Republic, the main areas of which are dairy cattle breeding, pig breeding, broiler poultry farming, and fur farming.[86]

Annually agricultural enterprises of the region produce up to 59 thousand tons of milk. Based on its natural and climatic conditions, the plant growing industry is focused on the production of feed for livestock, the bulk of potatoes and vegetables are grown in small forms of management.[86]


Fishing enterprises of Karelia produced 91.9 thousand tons of aquatic biological resources in 2021.

In the Barents Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, 89.9 thousand tons of aquatic biological resources were caught, of them 34.6 thousand tons of cod and haddock, 34.1 thousand tons of blue whiting, 18 thousand tons of mackerel and 1.1 thousand tons of northern shrimp. 306 tons of fish were caught in the White Sea and 612 tons of kelp and fucus were harvested. The catch of freshwater fish amounted to 1.1 thousand tons.[87]


Ruskeala museum express

Karelia is popular for international and domestic tourism.

Traditional, active, cultural and ecological types of tourism are popular among tourists.[88]

Karelia attracts ecotourists with its nature and wilderness[89] and low population density. During the summer water tourism is also popular among many tourists.

Cultural tourism is also a big part of Karelia's tourism economy. The region attracts many tourists with its wooden architecture, local culture, and traditions.

Karelia also has the first Russian health resort – Martial Waters (1719).

Foreign trade

The economy of Karelia is export-orientated. By the volume of exports per capita, Karelia is among the leading regions of Russia. More than 50% of manufactured products (and up to 100% in several industries) are exported.[73]

The Republic's main export partners in 2001 were Finland (32% of total exports), Germany (7%), Netherlands (7%), and the United Kingdom (6%).[18] 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.[18]



Train station in Medvezhyegorsk

Karelia is a strategically important railroad region due to the fact that it connects Murmansk with the rest of Russia by Kirov Railway, which was electrified in 2005.[90]

There are also railways connections with Finland in Värtsilä and Kostomuksha, but they are not electrified.

Most of Karelia's railway lines are served by the Petrozavodsk branch of the Oktyabrskaya Railway, which is one of the largest budget-forming enterprises of the Republic.

All Karelian district capitals are connected by railroad, except for the Kalevalsky district and Prionezhsky district.

In total, Karelia has 1915 km of railways.[91]

Water communications

White Sea-Baltic Canal

Water communications connect Karelia with the Barents, Baltic, Black, White and Caspian Seas.

Whitea sea-Baltic Canal was built in the 1930s to connect the Baltic and White seas. The 227 km long canal was built by the prisoners. Even though it has 19 locks, the canal cannot pass vessels with a draft of more than 5 meters.[92] The canal is a part of the Volgo-Baltic Waterway.

There are also river ports on the coast of the White Sea, there were plans to upgrade them to ocean ports but they were deemed too expensive.[93]


R-21 Highway

Automobile highway R-21 "Kola" crosses Karelia and connects Murmansk Region and Murmansk seaport with St. Petersburg and Moscow.

E105 European highway also goes through Karelia.

Other highways connect with Finland in Louhsky district Värtsilä and Kostomuksha.

Many of Karelian roads are still unimproved.[94]

Air transportation

Petrozavodsk Airport

Petrozavodsk Airport is the only working airport in Karelia as of 2022.[95]

There are other airports, such as Kalevala or Kostomuksha, but they are not used or used by firefighters.[96]


See also: Finnish mythology, Runic song, and Kalevala

Karelia is very culturally diverse region that was influenced by Finno-Ugric, Slavic and Scandinavian cultures. The main unifying factor in the formation of the culture of the region was the Orthodox religion.[97]

A lot is being done in the Republic of Karelia today to support the interests of more than 100 nationalities inhabiting it, including Karelians, Veps and Finns. More than 60 national public associations have been registered: unions, congresses, popular movements, autonomies, friendship societies, cultural societies.[98] There is a regional target program «Karelia — the Territory of Consent», a republican target program «State support of Karelian, Vepsian and Finnish languages», a public council has been established to coordinate the implementation of these programs.[99]


Kalevala rune singers

Karelia is sometimes called "the songlands", as Karelian poems constitute most of the Karelo-Finnish epic Kalevala and many of Russian Bylinas were documented in Pudozh.[100]

The written literature of Karelia was formed at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1930s Karelian and Veps languages gained a writing system, but during the Stalinist repressions many books in veps and Karelian were burned and cultural figures were deported.[101]

After the creation of the Karelian Labour Commune many American and Canadian finns moved to Karelia and began creating new literature. Many Karelians could understand Finnish so some authors, such as one of the most famous Karelian writers Antti Timonen, started to write in Finnish.[102]

Writers of the Republic of Karelia are united in public organizations:


Karelian art history begun with Petroglyphs, which were created around 6,500 years ago.[103] They became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed in 2021.[104]

Icon painters were the first professional artists of Karelia.[105]

Karelia has become a source of inspiration for many famous artists of the 19th–20th century such as: Ivan Shishkin, Arkhip Kuindzhi, and N. K. Roerich.

The formation of professional painting in Karelia is associated with the name of the People's Artist of the KFSSR V. N. Popov (1869-1945). In 1934, the Union of Artists of the Autonomous Karelian SSR was established, the first chairman of which was elected Yu. O. Rautanen, since 2010 — the Karelian branch of the «Union of Artists of Russia». As part of the Karelian department, there is an «Association of Young artists and Art historians».

The most important contribution to the development of painting and plastic arts in general was made by the works of: A. I. Morozov, A. I. Katseblin, A. Starodubtsev, S. Terentyev, K. L. Butorov, A.V. Semyashkin, S. H. Yuntunen, B. N. Pomortsev, G. A. Stronk, L. F. Lankinen, F. E. Nieminen, E. K. Pekhova, T. G. Yufa, M. S. Yufa, V. S. Chekmasova, M. M. Mecheva, A. P. Kharitonov, K. A. Gogoleva, O. P. Borodkin, K. L. Butorova, A. I. Avdysheva, E. A. Akulova, L. G. Davidyan, V. M. Ivanenko, O. S. Yuntunen, photojournalists G. A. Ankudinov, S. A. Maisterman, V. V. Troshev, bone carvers V. M. Balandin and Yu . E . Pyatakov, set designers V. O. Polyakov, H. G. Skaldina, V. A. Skorik, goldsmith G. V. Grigorieva.


Church of the Transfiguration, Kizhi

Karelia is famous for its wooden architecture. Karelian architecture developed under the strong influence of Novgorod architecture.[106] Examples of Karelian architecture are collected in the Kizhi Pogost Museum.

Later Karelian architecture was influenced by Finns, especially after the creation of the Karelian Labour Commune.


Kantele is the most famous traditional Karelian musical instrument. In Kalevala the mage Väinämöinen makes the first kantele from the jawbone of a giant pike and a few hairs from Hiisi's stallion.

In 1933, the Karelian State Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra was founded. In different years, the orchestra belonged to the Karelian Radio and Television, the Ministry of Culture of Karelia. Since 1997, the orchestra has been working as part of the Karelian State Philharmonic.

In 1935, the Karelian Folk Segozer Choir (Padans), the Karelian Folk Olonets Choir «Karjalan koivu» («Karelian birch») was founded.

In 1936, the National Song and Dance Ensemble of Karelia «Kantele», the Veps Folk Choir, the Karelian Folk Petrovsky Choir were founded.

The Pomeranian Folk Choir (Medvezhyegorsk) was founded in 1937, and the Karelian Folk Vedlozersky Choir (Vedlozero) was founded in 1938.

In 1937, the Union of Karelian Composers was founded.

In 1938, the Petrozavodsk Music College (now the Petrozavodsk Music College named after K. E. Rautio) was opened.[107]

In 1939, the Symphony Orchestra of the Karelo-Finnish State Philharmonic was founded.[108]

Karelian Rune singers

In 1967, the Petrozavodsk branch of the Leningrad State Conservatory (now the Petrozavodsk Glazunov State Conservatory) was opened.

In 1973, Honored Artist of the Republic of Karelia L. P. Budanov founded the Karelia-Brass ensemble.

Throughout the years, many Karelian, Russian, Veps, Finnish and Pomor choirs were created, such as the Karelian choir "Oma pajo" in 1990, which is still active.[109]

There are more than twenty children's music schools in the republic, including:

Musical groups: Sattuma family ensemble, Leo Sevets, Santtu Karhu & Talvisovat, Myllärit, Drolls Early Music Ensemble, WaTaGa.




District and city

Private, departmental, enterprise museums


Theater companies

Mass media

In 1957, the Karelian branch of the Union of Journalists of the USSR (now the Karelian branch of the Union of Journalists of Russia) was organized. In different years, the union was headed by F. A. Trofimov, A. I. Shtykov, K. V. Gnetnev, V. N. Kiryasov, V. A. Tolsky, N. N. Meshkova, A.M. Tsygankov. In 1960-1990, the creative work of the best republican journalists was awarded the annual prize named after K. S. Eremeev. Currently, every year on the eve of the Day of the Russian Journalist, the Union of Journalists of Karelia awards two special prizes: «For skill and dignity» and «For openness to the press».[130]


The Legislative Assembly, the Government and the «Periodika» publishing house produce four newspapers in national languages:

together with the regional organization Union of Karelian People:

Newspapers are published in the districts of Karelia:[133] «Kostomuksha News», «Prionezhye», «Olonia», «Novaya Kondopoga», «Belomorskaya Tribune», «Ladoga-Sortavala», «Kalevala News», «Pudozhsky Vestnik», «Suoyarvsky Vestnik», «Circumpolar», «Soviet White Sea», «Novaya Ladoga», «MuezerskLes», «Call», «Our life», «Trust», «Dialogue».



Nine radio stations are located in Petrozavodsk:

Three radio stations broadcast in Kostomuksha:


On April 29, 1959, the television center and the Petrozavodsk Television Studio came into operation.

Regional TV companies:[140]

The TV channel GTRK Karelia has daily news releases «Viestit — Karjala» in Finnish.


According to a sociological study of the regional media market conducted in October 2013, the largest share of the media of the Republic of Karelia in terms of the number of published materials belongs to online publications — 77.3%.[141]

and others.


Along with Russian holidays, Karelia has its official public holidays as well as unofficial holidays.

Republic Day, 2022


Date Name Russian name Remarks
April 18 Day of firefighters of the Republic of Karelia День пожарной охраны Республики Карелия Holiday celebrating Karelian fire defense became official in 1998.[148]
May 31 Day of cultural workers of the Republic of Karelia День работника культуры Республики Карелия Holiday celebrating Karelian workers in the culture industry, became official in 2000[149]
Summer[150] (Official June 8) Republic of Karelia day (Republic Day) День Республики Карелия Holiday celebrating creation of the Karelian Labour commune, became official in 1999[151]
September 16 Day of formation of the trade union movement in Karelia День образования профсоюзного движения в Карелии Holiday celebrating Karelian trade unions and worker's rights, became official in 2011[152]
September 30 Day of the liberation of Karelia from fascist invaders День освобождения Карелии от фашистских захватчиков Holiday celebrating liberation from Finnish occupation during WW2[153]


Date Name Karelian name Russian name Remarks
January 7 to January 18 Winter religious Holidays Vierissänkesk, Sv’atkat, Sunduma Зимние святки Celebrations after Christmas
January 19 Baptism Vieristä, Vieristy, Vederis Крещение Prelude to Maslenitsa
May 6 Saint George's Day Jyrin päivä, Jyrrinpäivy, Kevät Jyrgi Егорьев день
May 22 Nikola Veshny Pyhä Miikkula, Miikkulan päivä, Miikkulanpäivy, Mikula Никола Вешний Day celebrating Saint Nicholas
End of July Bowl of Ukko Ukon vakka Чаша Укко Ancient pre-Christian agricultural holiday
July 7 Ivan's Day Iivnanpäivä, Iivananpäivy, Ivananpäivä Иванов день Holiday celebrating summer solstice
From the end of Ivan's day before Saint Peter's day Summer religious holidays Kezäsv’atkat, Kesäsvätkat Летние святки Prelude to Saint-Peter's day
July 12 Saint Peter's day Petrunpäivä, Pedrunpäivy, Pedrunpäivä Петров день Celebrations before harvest
August 2 Elijah's day Il’l’anpäivä, Il’l’anpäiväy Ильин день
August 31 Frol's Day Frolan päivä Фролов день Local holidas of livestock protection
End of October Kekri Kekri, Kegri Кегри Ancient autumn festival
December 25 Christmas Rostuo Католическое Рождество Western Christmas is celebrated by Karelian Finns
Hyperborea Festival in Petrozavodsk
Region Date Name Russian name Remarks
All of Karelia April Day of Karelian and Vepsian writing День карельской и вепсской письменности Cultural holiday of karelians and vepsians[155]
February Kalevala Day День Калевалы Day celebrating national epic Kalevala[156]
February International Mother Language Day Международный день родного языка
Autumn Kegri Кегри Gained government support in 2022[157]
Belomorskyi November Holiday of Pomors of the Karelian coast "Nikola Zimniy" Праздник поморов Карельского берега «Никола Зимний» Pomor holiday
Kalevalskyi June International holiday of Ukhta Karelians Международный праздник Ухтинских карел North Karelian holiday
Kemskyi August Indian Summer in the Kem Pomorye Бабье лето в Кемском поморье Pomor holiday
Day of the Dead Poduzhemsky villages День погибших подужемских деревень Day remembering abandoned villages of North Karelia
May Holiday of men's craft "Oars on the water" Праздник мужских ремесле «Весла на воду»
Louhskyi June Interregional holiday "Hello, Kestenga!" Межрегиональный праздник «Здравствуй, Кестеньга!» North Karelian holiday
August Holiday "Fairytale ship Korguev" Праздник «Сказочный корабль Коргуева» Holiyday in Chupa
August Holiday "Old Woman Louhi's Day" Праздник «День старухи Лоухи» Holiday celebrating Kalevala
August Kanšallenen puku ompelos Каншалленен пуку омпелуш Holiday in Sofporog
Muyezerskyi March Interdistrict cultural and sports festival "Winter fun" Межрайонный культурно-спортивный праздник «Зимние забавы» Holiday in Muyezersky
Karelian-Finnish friendship holiday of the village of Ondozero and the village of Yolyolä (Finland) Карело-финский праздник дружбы села Ондозеро и деревни Ёлёля (Финляндия)
Olonetskyi May Ecological festival "Olonets – goose capital" Экологический фестиваль «Олония-гусиная столица» Holiday in Olonets
December Olonets Father Frost Games Олонецкие Игры Дедов Морозов Holiyday challening people pretending to be Ded Moroz or Talviukko
Petrozavodsk February Международный зимний фестиваль «Гиперборея» International winter festival "Hyperborea" Ice sculpture festival[158]
Prionezhskyi Prionezhsky song wreath Прионежский песенный венок
Elonpuu (Tree of life) Древо жизни Veps holiday[159]
Pryazhinskyi March "Kulyan kižat" «Кюлян кижат» Holiday in Vedlozero
Holiday of Karelian culture Праздник карельской культуры Holiday in Kinerma
Pudozhskyi June Interregional holiday "Dawns of Pudozh" Межрегиональный праздник «Зори Пудожья» Holiday in Pudozh
June Holiday of Russian epic culture "In the land of the epic" Праздник русской эпической культуры «В краю былинной» Holiday in Semenovo
Segezshky June Ethnocultural holiday "Voitsk festivities" Этнокультурный праздник «Воицкие гуляния» Holiday in Nadvoitsy

See also


  1. ^ Russian: Респу́блика Каре́лия, romanizedRespublika Kareliya; Russian pronunciation: [rʲɪˈspublʲɪkə kɐˈrʲelʲɪ(j)ə]; Karelian: Karjalan tašavalta; Finnish: Karjalan tasavalta; Veps: Karjalan Tazovaldkund; Livvi: Karjalan tazavaldu; Ludic: Kard’alan tazavald


  1. ^ Президент Российской Федерации. Указ №849 от 13 мая 2000 г. «О полномочном представителе Президента Российской Федерации в федеральном округе». Вступил в силу 13 мая 2000 г. Опубликован: "Собрание законодательства РФ", No. 20, ст. 2112, 15 мая 2000 г. (President of the Russian Federation. Decree #849 of May 13, 2000 On the Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in a Federal District. Effective as of May 13, 2000.).
  2. ^ Госстандарт Российской Федерации. №ОК 024-95 27 декабря 1995 г. «Общероссийский классификатор экономических регионов. 2. Экономические районы», в ред. Изменения №5/2001 ОКЭР. (Gosstandart of the Russian Federation. #OK 024-95 December 27, 1995 Russian Classification of Economic Regions. 2. Economic Regions, as amended by the Amendment #5/2001 OKER. ).
  3. ^ Constitution, Article 32
  4. ^ Official website of the Republic of Karelia. Artur Olegovich Parfenchikov
  5. ^ Constitution, Article 46.
  6. ^ "Сведения о наличии и распределении земель в Российской Федерации на 01.01.2019 (в разрезе субъектов Российской Федерации)". Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography. Archived from the original on 9 February 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  7. ^ a b "Оценка численности постоянного населения по субъектам Российской Федерации". Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  8. ^ "26. Численность постоянного населения Российской Федерации по муниципальным образованиям на 1 января 2018 года". Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Об исчислении времени". Официальный интернет-портал правовой информации (in Russian). 3 June 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  10. ^ Official throughout the Russian Federation according to Article 68.1 of the Constitution of Russia.
  11. ^ a b c Karelian, Vepps, and Finnish languages have got the state support in the Republic of Karelia The Official Web Portal of the Republic of Karelia (2004)
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  31. ^ "<sc>Toivo Nygård</sc>. <italic>Suomen paluelusväki 1600-luvulla: Palkollisten määrä, työ, palkkaus ja suhteet isäntäväkeen</italic>. (Historiallisia Tutkimuksia, number 150.) Helsinki: Suomen Historiallinen Seura. 1989. Pp. 184". The American Historical Review. June 1992. doi:10.1086/ahr/97.3.870-a. ISSN 1937-5239.
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