Petrozavodsk (29.09.1998 - Juhani Artto) The Republic of Karelia is part of north-western Russia. For many Finns Karelia is a highly emotional issue because a large part of the region belonged to Finland until 1944. At that time 400,000 Finns lost their homes and their property in Karelia and were resettled in various provinces of post-war Finland.
Another natural reason for the considerable interest shown by Finland in Karelia is the long common border. The Fenno-Russian border is 1269 kilometres long. In the north, Finland borders the Murmansk region and in the south, the Leningrad region surrounding St. Petersburg. The Republic of Karelia lies between these two regions and has a 700 kilometre border with Finland.
780.000 people currently live in the Republic of Karelia. The principal ethnic groups are Russians (74 %), Karelians (11 %), Belorussians (7 %), Ukrainians (3 %) and Finns (3 %). The ethnic Karelians are linguistically and ethnically closely related to the Finns.