The Republic of Karelia (also known officially as “Karelia”) is located in Russia's northwest.
Karelia covers an area of 69,700 square miles (equal to over twice the area of Austria). The region extends 410 miles from north to south, and 310 miles from west to east. Finland neighbours Karelia to the west; other parts of Russia adjoin to the east. Northeast Karelia lies on the White Sea. The Russo-Finnish border runs along the west. The distance from Karelia's capital, Petrozavodsk, to the capital of all of Russia, Moscow, is 575 miles. But Helsinki, the Finnish capital, is even closer: it is only 435 miles away.
As of 1 January 2009, Karelia's population numbered 684,000, with 76% living in urban areas. The population density is less than ten people per square mile (compare this to Germany, where there are approximately 590 people per square mile).
Russian is the state language of Karelia, but the Republic of Karelia is diverse and multiethnic. Karelia is home to 213 different groups, although Russians, Karelians, and Finns make up the majority.
Karelia contains 13 smaller cities and around 800 villages and settlements.
Karelia is a land of bluffs, boulders, and tens of thousands of lakes and rivers. The area is often dubbed the Land of Stone, Lake, and Forest, in honour of these dominant landscape elements and their unique combination in Karelia.
Karelia is one of the environmentally purest regions in the whole of Russia. Its forests, rivers, and lakes play a critical part in maintaining the biodiversity of Northern Europe. Over 49% of Karelia is forested, predominantly by pine and fir. The animal inhabitants include reindeer, moose, rabbits, and fish — salmon and trout.
Water accounts for 25% of Karelia's surface area, and swamps for another 20%. Over 61,000 lakes and 27,000 rivers blanket its landscape. The largest lakes are Ladozhskoe (6,800 square miles) and Onezhskoye (3,800 square miles) — the largest lakes in Europe.
The winters here are long, the summers short and cool. Average February temperatures range between -9 and 13?C, picking up in the summer to 14 and 16?C. Annual precipitation is approximately 500 mm.
Karelia's climate and nature are virtually identical to neighbouring Finland.
Two linchpins underlie the economy of the Republic of Karelia: processing of local natural resources (timber and minerals) and an advantageous economic and geographical position next to Finland. These factors determine the core activities and regional peculiarities of the Karelian economy.
The main industries include timber, timber processing, and pulp/papermaking (41.2%) and hydroelectric energy (14.8%).
As of 1 January 2010, the total surface area of forests in Karelia was 55,000 square miles. The region's total timber reserves make up 34.3 million cubic feet. These timber reserves are still increasing, at a rate of approximately 500,000 cubic feet per year.
Owing to Karelia's position on the international border, much of the economy is still oriented towards export: one third of Karelia's external trade is with Finland.
Agriculture is poorly developed because of the cold climate. Nonetheless, trout farming in Karelian ponds and lakes is of a notable scale.
Karelia hosts around 4,000 cultural, historical, and natural sites. Some of the most famous ones include:
- Kizhi Museum Park
- Valaam Archipelago, which comprises 50 small islands around the northern part of Ladozhskoye Lake and Valaam Spaso-Preobrazhensky Men’s Monastery
- Kivach Waterfall
- Paanaj?rvi and Vodlozersky National Parks
Wooden homes are an integral, generations-old part of life for those in the Russian North. Hundreds of old wooden homes and churches dot the whole of Karelia. Particular fame, however, has gone to the small island of Kizhi. On Kizhi, more than ten wooden churches and homes date back over 300 years. The island is a historical and cultural monument of world significance, earning it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. So it's no exaggeration to say that northern timber makes high-quality dwellings that last, quite literally, for centuries.
The centre of Karelian cultural and artistic activity is found in the city of Petrozavodsk, with its concentration of libraries, museums, theatres, concert halls, places of learning, and research organisations.
Karelia today is enjoying rapid economic growth, with modern people who are aware of their history and culture.
To learn about our wooden houses, read About Our Products.