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Karelians

Karelians

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The Karelians are a Baltic-Finnic
Baltic Finns
The Baltic Finns are a historical linguistic group of peoples of northern Europe whose modern descendants include the Finns proper, Karelians , Izhorians, Veps, Votes, Livonians and Estonians who speak Baltic-Finnic languages and have inhabited the Baltic Sea region for 3,000 years according to...

 ethnic group living mostly in the Republic of Karelia
Republic of Karelia
The Republic of Karelia is a federal subject of Russia .-Geography:The republic is located in the northwestern part of Russia, taking intervening position between the basins of White and Baltic seas...

 and in other north-western parts of the Russian Federation. The historic homeland of Karelians includes also parts of present-day Eastern Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 (North Karelia
North Karelia
North Karelia is a region in eastern Finland. It borders to the regions of Kainuu, Northern Savonia, Southern Savonia, South Karelia and to Russia.The city of Joensuu is the centre of the North Karelia region.- Municipalities :...

) and the formerly Finnish territory of Ladoga Karelia. In a process starting during the 17th century and culminating after the Second World War, the ethnic Karelians in Finland have been linguistically and ethnically assimilated with the closely related Finnish people and are included in the wider group of Finnish Karelians, who are considered to form a sub-group of the ethnic Finns.

The separation between the Finnish Karelians and the Russian or East Karelians has been created and maintained by different religions, dialects and historical experiences. The Karelians in Russia have lived for centuries under the Slavic cultural influence, adopted the Russian Orthodox religion and have been to some extent assimilated by Russians.

Over the centuries the Karelians living in Russia have become dispersed in several distinct subgroups. The largest groups are North Karelians living in Republic of Karelia
Republic of Karelia
The Republic of Karelia is a federal subject of Russia .-Geography:The republic is located in the northwestern part of Russia, taking intervening position between the basins of White and Baltic seas...

 and the South Karelians in the Tver
Tver Oblast
Tver Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Tver. From 1935 to 1990, it was named Kalinin Oblast after Mikhail Kalinin. Population: Tver Oblast is an area of lakes, such as Seliger and Brosno...

, Novgorod
Novgorod Oblast
Novgorod Oblast is a federal subject of Russia , located between Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Its administrative center is the city of Veliky Novgorod. Some of the oldest Russian cities, including Veliky Novgorod and Staraya Russa, are located there...

 and in the Leningrad Oblast
Leningrad Oblast
Leningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . It was established on August 1, 1927, although it was not until 1946 that the oblast's borders had been mostly settled in their present position...

 of Russian federation. The subgroups of South Karelians, the Tikhvin Karels and Valdai Karels numbered between 90,000-100,000 are considered assimilated and speak Russian as their first language. The North Karelians include the Olonets and the Ludes, speakers of Olonets Karelian language and Ludic language
Ludic language
Ludic or Ludian or Ludic Karelian is a Finnic language in the Uralic language family. Some consider it a transitional language between Olonets Karelian language and Veps language. It is spoken by 3,000 people in the Republic of Karelia in Russia, near the northwestern shore of Lake Onega,...

 live in the Russian Republic of Karelia
Republic of Karelia
The Republic of Karelia is a federal subject of Russia .-Geography:The republic is located in the northwestern part of Russia, taking intervening position between the basins of White and Baltic seas...

.

History


Since the 13th century the Karelians have lived in the tension between the East and the West, between Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

, later Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

. Some Karelians were Christianized and subdued by Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, others by Novgorod or Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. Thus Karelia was divided between two different and often hostile realms, and the Karelian population was split politically and religiously, after a while also linguistically and culturally.

The Kingdom of Sweden held Western Karelia and Karelian Isthmus but the so-called East Karelia
East Karelia
East Karelia , also rendered as Eastern Karelia or Russian Karelia, is a name for the part of Karelia that since the Treaty of Stolbova in 1617 has remained Christian Orthodox under Russian supremacy. It is separated from the western part of Karelia, called Finnish Karelia or historically Swedish...

 was under the Russian rule. In 1617, the regions of Ladoga Karelia and North Karelia
North Karelia
North Karelia is a region in eastern Finland. It borders to the regions of Kainuu, Northern Savonia, Southern Savonia, South Karelia and to Russia.The city of Joensuu is the centre of the North Karelia region.- Municipalities :...

 were annexed by Sweden. In the 17th century the tension between the Lutheran Swedish government and Orthodox Karelians triggered a mass migration from these areas into the region of Tver
Tver
Tver is a city and the administrative center of Tver Oblast, Russia. Population: 403,726 ; 408,903 ;...

 in Russia, forming the Tver Karelians
Tver Karelians
Tver Karelians - subethnos Karelian people living in the Tver, Leningrad and Moscow regions. They speak the dialect of the Tver Karelian language, which is due to centuries of isolation was the least prone to borrowing from other Baltic-Finnish languages...

 minority. People from Savonia
Savonia (historical province)
Savonia is a historical province in the east of Finland. It borders to Uusimaa, Tavastia, Ostrobothnia, and Karelia. Largest cities in Savo by population are Kuopio, Mikkeli, Savonlinna and Varkaus.-Administration:...

 moved to Karelia in large numbers, and the present-day Finnish Karelians are largely their descendants. In 1721, Russia reconquered Ladoga Karelia, joining it to the new Grand Duchy of Finland
Grand Duchy of Finland
The Grand Duchy of Finland was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed 1809–1917 as part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by the Russian czar as Grand Prince.- History :...

 in 1812.

During the 19th century Finnish folklorists including Elias Lönnrot
Elias Lönnrot
Elias Lönnrot was a Finnish philologist and collector of traditional Finnish oral poetry. He is best known for compiling the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic compiled from national folklore.-Education and early life:...

 traveled to North, Central and Eastern Karelia to gather archaic folklore and epic poetry. The Orthodox Karelians in North Karelia and Russia were now seen as close brethren or even a sub-group of the Finns. The ideology of Karelianism
Karelianism
Karelianism was a late 19th century cultural phenomenon in the Grand Duchy of Finland and involved writers, painters, poets and sculptors. Since the publishing of the Finnish national epic Kalevala in 1835, compiled from Karelian folk lore, culture spheres in Finland became increasingly curious...

inspired Finnish artists and researchers, who believed that the Orthodox Karelians had retained elements of an archaic, original Finnish culture which had disappeared from Finland.

When Finland gained its independence in 1917 only a small fraction of the Orthodox Karelians lived in the Finnish Karelia
Finnish Karelia
Karelia is a historical province of Finland. It refers to the Western Karelia that during the second millennium has been under western dominance, religiously and politically. Western, i.e. Finnish Karelia is separate from Eastern, i.e...

, and in three villages of Oulu province. This region was mainly populated by Finnish Karelians of Lutheran background. Finland lost most of this area to the Soviet Union in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, when over 400,000 people were evacuated
Evacuation of Finnish Karelia
As a result of the 1940 Moscow Peace Treaty that concluded the Winter War, Finland ceded the area of Finnish Karelia and other territories to the Soviet Union...

 over Finland's new border from the Karelian Isthmus
Karelian Isthmus
The Karelian Isthmus is the approximately 45–110 km wide stretch of land, situated between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga in northwestern Russia, to the north of the River Neva . Its northwestern boundary is the relatively narrow area between the Bay of Vyborg and Lake Ladoga...

, Ladoga Karelia and, to a lesser degree, from the main part of East Karelia
East Karelia
East Karelia , also rendered as Eastern Karelia or Russian Karelia, is a name for the part of Karelia that since the Treaty of Stolbova in 1617 has remained Christian Orthodox under Russian supremacy. It is separated from the western part of Karelia, called Finnish Karelia or historically Swedish...

 that had been held by Finland 1941–1944. 55 000 Orthodox Karelians were included among the people Finland evacuated from Ladoga Karelia. These were mainly Karelian-speaking, but they and their descendants soon adopted the Finnish language after the war. Many of the evacuees have emigrated
Emigration
Emigration is the act of leaving one's country or region to settle in another. It is the same as immigration but from the perspective of the country of origin. Human movement before the establishment of political boundaries or within one state is termed migration. There are many reasons why people...

, mainly to Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, to Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and to North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

.

The Russian Karelians, living in the Republic of Karelia, are nowadays rapidly being absorbed into the Russian population. This process began several decades ago. For example, it has been estimated that even between the 1959 and 1970 Soviet censuses, nearly 30 percent of those who were enumerated as Karelian by self-identification in 1959 changed their self-identification to Russian 11 years later.

Language


The Karelian language
Karelian language
Karelian language is a Finnic language spoken mainly in the Russian Republic of Karelia. Linguistically Karelian is closely related to the Finnish dialects spoken in eastern Finland and some Finnish linguists even classified Karelian as a dialect of Finnish...

 is closely related to the Finnish language
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

, and particularly by Finnish linguists seen as a dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

 of Finnish, although the variety spoken in East Karelia is usually seen as a proper language. http://www.kotus.fi/verkkojulkaisut/julk129/karjalat_kartta1.shtml

The dialect spoken in the South Karelia
South Karelia
South Karelia is a region of Finland. It borders to the regions of Kymenlaakso, Southern Savonia, North Karelia and to Russia. The term "South Karelia" might also be used to refer to the southern parts of the entire Karelia — the Region of South Karelia is termed "South" because it is the...

n region of Finland belongs to the South Eastern dialects of the Finnish language. The dialect spoken in the Karelian Isthmus
Karelian Isthmus
The Karelian Isthmus is the approximately 45–110 km wide stretch of land, situated between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga in northwestern Russia, to the north of the River Neva . Its northwestern boundary is the relatively narrow area between the Bay of Vyborg and Lake Ladoga...

 before World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and the Ingria
Ingria
Ingria is a historical region in the eastern Baltic, now part of Russia, comprising the southern bank of the river Neva, between the Gulf of Finland, the Narva River, Lake Peipus in the west, and Lake Ladoga and the western bank of the Volkhov river in the east...

n dialect were also part of this dialect group. http://www.internetix.ofw.fi/opinnot/opintojaksot/8kieletkirjallisuus/aidinkieli/murteet/kaakkois.html The dialect that is spoken in North Karelia
North Karelia
North Karelia is a region in eastern Finland. It borders to the regions of Kainuu, Northern Savonia, Southern Savonia, South Karelia and to Russia.The city of Joensuu is the centre of the North Karelia region.- Municipalities :...

 is considered to be one of the Savonian dialects. http://www.internetix.ofw.fi/opinnot/opintojaksot/8kieletkirjallisuus/aidinkieli/murteet/savolais.html

Religion


The Russian Karelians are Eastern Orthodox Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s. Most Finnish Karelians are Lutherans.

Demographics



Significant enclaves of Karelians exist in the Tver oblast
Tver Oblast
Tver Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . Its administrative center is the city of Tver. From 1935 to 1990, it was named Kalinin Oblast after Mikhail Kalinin. Population: Tver Oblast is an area of lakes, such as Seliger and Brosno...

 of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, resettled
Population transfer
Population transfer is the movement of a large group of people from one region to another by state policy or international authority, most frequently on the basis of ethnicity or religion...

 after Russia's defeat in 1617 against Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 — in order to escape the peril of forced conversion
Religious conversion
Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religion that differs from the convert's previous religion. Changing from one denomination to another within the same religion is usually described as reaffiliation rather than conversion.People convert to a different religion for various reasons,...

 to Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 in Swedish Karelia
Karelia
Karelia , the land of the Karelian peoples, is an area in Northern Europe of historical significance for Finland, Russia, and Sweden...

 and because the Russians promised tax deductions the Orthodox Karelians mass migrated there. Olonets (Aunus)
Olonets
Olonets is a town and the administrative center of Olonetsky District of the Republic of Karelia, Russia, situated on the Olonka River, to the east from Lake Ladoga. Population: -History:...

 is the only city in Russia where the Karelians form a majority (60% of the population).

Karelians have been declining in numbers in modern times significantly due to a number of factors. These include the low birthrates (characteristic of the region in general) and especially Russification
Russification
Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

, due to the predominance of Russian language and culture. In 1926, according to the census, Karelians only counted for 37.4% of the population in the Soviet Karelian Republic (which at that time did not yet include territories that would later be taken from Finland and added, most of which had mostly Karelian inhabitants), or 0.1 million Karelians. Russians, meanwhile, numbered 153,967 in Karelia, or 57.2% of the population. By 2002, there were only 65651 Karelians in the Republic of Karelia (65.1% of the number in 1926, including the Karelian regions taken from Finland which were not counted in 1926), and Karelians made up only 9.2% of the population in their homeland. Russians, meanwhile, were 76.6% of the population in Karelia. This trend continues to this day, and may cause the disappearance of Karelians as a distinct group.

Culture


The Karelian culture and language was a major inspiration for the Fennoman
Fennoman
The Fennomans were the most important political movement in the 19th century Grand Principality of Finland. They succeeded the fennophile interests of the 18th and early 19th century.-History:...

 movement, and the unification of East Karelia
East Karelia
East Karelia , also rendered as Eastern Karelia or Russian Karelia, is a name for the part of Karelia that since the Treaty of Stolbova in 1617 has remained Christian Orthodox under Russian supremacy. It is separated from the western part of Karelia, called Finnish Karelia or historically Swedish...

 with independent Finland (Greater Finland
Greater Finland
Greater Finland was an idea which was born in some irredentist movements emphasizing pan-Finnicism and expressed a Finnish version of pre-World War II European nationalism. It was imagined to include Finland as well as territories inhabited by ethnically-related Finnic peoples: Finns, Karelians,...

) was a major political issue in 20th century Finland.

See also

  • List of Karelians
  • Sami
    Sami people
    The Sami people, also spelled Sámi, or Saami, are the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost...

  • Kola Norwegians
    Kola Norwegians
    The Kola Norwegians were Norwegian settlers along the coastline of the Kola Peninsula in Russia.-History:In 1860 the Russian Tsar Alexander II granted permission for Norwegian settlements on the Kola. Around 1870, scores of families from Finnmark in northern Norway departed for the Kola coast,...

  • Tornedalians
    Tornedalians
    The Tornedalians are descendants of Finns who in some point in history settled to the areas of today's Northern Sweden near the Torne Valley district and west from there.-History:...

  • Ingrians
    Ingrians
    The term Ingrians may refer to one of the following.*Inhabitants of Ingria in general.*Izhorians, Finnic indigenous people of Ingria.*Ingrian Finns, the descendants of Lutheran emigrants from present-day Finland in the 17th century....

  • Skogfinner
  • Sweden Finns
    Sweden Finns
    Sweden Finns are a Finnish speaking minority in Sweden. The Finnish-speaking Swedes are not to be confused with the Swedish speaking Finland-Swedes in Finland . In 2008 there were over 675 000 people in Sweden who were either born in Finland or have at least one parent or grandparent who was born...

  • Finland-Swedes
    Finland-Swedes
    Swedish-speaking Finns constitute a linguistic minority in Finland. They maintain a strong identity and are alternatively seen either as a distinct subgroup of the Finnish people or as a separate ethnic group or even as a distinct nationality...

  • Kvens
  • Kalevala
    Kalevala
    The Kalevala is a 19th century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology.It is regarded as the national epic of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature...


External links