About Karelia

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Karelia is an amazing and fabulous land, situated in the North-West of Russia. It is included into the Northwestern Federal District of the Russian Federation.

The western border or the republic forms the state border between Russia and Finland where the four points of intersection are located. So after Finland had entered the European Union, Karelia became a symbolic gateway to northern Europe.

Karelia is a northern land. But its climate is relatively mild, it combines features of continental and marine climates due to the large number of lakes and forests.

In spring and summer daytime increases up to 19-20 hours in the south, in the north daytime lasts for 24 hours when the period of “white nights” begins. The further north the this period lasts.

Karelia is called the Land of Thousands of Lakes! Karelians and Russians, Vepsians and Finns, and representatives of nearly a hundred nationalities live here in peace and harmony.

National, cultural and spiritual traditions are still alive here at the Russian North. And it’s the only place where you can see the most ancient examples of fine art (even older than the Egyptian Pyramids) – the rock paintings created by ancestors of contemporary Karelians.

Karelia is the only nature reserve of a kind where the unique and peculiar nature is preserved in its original state. This fabulous region has a unique landscape and natural resources. More than fifty percent of its territory is covered with forests, which are justly called the “lungs of Europe”. In the southern mountainous part of the republic the main species are oak, beech, hornbeam, and many others. The North of the Republic is famous for its pine forests: spruce, pine, fir. Twenty-two percent of the forest belongs to the category of the first group, where the largest areas are occupied by the forbidden forest belts along rivers, lakes, reservoirs and other water bodies and the forbidden forest belts that protect the spawning grounds of valuable food fishes. Thirty percent of forests belong to the second group and forty-eight percent - to the third group.

About twenty-six percent of the territory of Karelia is occupied by water resources. Statistics can impress: there are 63 000 lakes and 27 000 rivers. They say, there is a river or a lake per every three Karelian families.

In Karelia there are the largest lakes in Europe. Lake Onega is situated in the central part of Karelia. It is the second largest lake in Europe. It is twice less deep than Lake Ladoga and contains three times less water. But the quality of Lake Onega’s water is high: it is cleaner than Lake Ladoga’s water and even the water of Baikal. Lake Onega’s area occupies 9900 square kilometers and its depth reaches 127 meters. Lake stretches for 290 kilometers from northwest to southeast with a maximum width of 82 kilometers. Lake Onega and its largest tributary - the river Ilex Vodla form the top element of the water system of the Neva River. The catchment area of Lake Onega, including its face is 66 284 square kilometers. About eighty percent of this area belongs to the Republic of Karelia. Karelian rivers and lakes are famous not only for their clarity but also for the unique therapeutic effect and mineral properties.

Besides nearly all fish species known to inhabit the inland waters of Karelia can be found in Lake Onega. Its fish fauna is represented by the following families, species and varieties: sturgeon, salmon, lake trout, pike, roach etc. Altogether 47 kinds and varieties of fish belonging to 13 families and 34 species can be found in Lake Onega.

Great and small rivers are situated mostly in mountains and taiga, they are rapid and irregular, with many rapids and shoals.

About a dozen waterfalls are famous all over the world. The most famous of them and the largest of European plain waterfalls is Kivach. Its height is 10.7 meters.

Wood, stones and water are the three discreet symbols of the northern nature’s charm. They are intricately connected in Karelia and create amazingly beautiful and varied of landscapes. In any other area you would need to do a multi-day trip to see and experience the natural and climatic contrasts, while in Karelia you will succeed in it in a couple of hours.

The total area of ​​the Republic of Karelia is 172 400 square kilometers. It stretches from north to south for 720 kilometers and from east to west for 424 kilometers. Karelia is a border region. The length of the border between Russia and Finland in Karelia is 790 kilometers.

The population of the Republic of Karelia in 2006 was 746,000 people, while the population of Petrozavodsk, that is the capital of the region, was 280 thousand people, representing 35 percent of the total population of the republic.

Petrozavodsk is the capital of Karelia. It was founded on the southwestern shore of Lake Onega in 1703 by Peter I. Its length is about 21.7 kilometers; its area is 113 square kilometers. It is the administrative, scientific, cultural, tourist and educational centre of the Republic.

In recent years, a tendency of changes in the travel industry appeared. The point is that both Russian and foreign tourists have started to prefer ecologically clean and untouched by civilization territories to go on vacation to.

The territory of the Republic of Karelia in this respect stands out as the most attractive place in terms of neighboring location to the most densely populated regions of the Russian Federation. Karelia is the land of the exceptionally rich cultural and historical sights and picturesque places, where literally no man has been before. It can satisfy the diverse interests of tourists. In this regard, the role of Karelia as a major center of tourism started to increase.

You can come to Karelia by boat, by train, by bus, by car or by air. From the south to the north Karelia is crosses by the federal highway called “Kola”, leading from St. Petersburg to Murmansk (route M-18). The total length of its Karelian section, passing through nine districts of the Republic, is 969 kilometers. The total length of public highways in Karelia is more than 7,600 kilometers, including almost 3,200 kilometers of roads with asphalt-concrete surfacing and about 3300 kilometers of roads with gravel surfacing. An experienced driver can cross the whole of Karelia in meridional direction in 12-14 hours. The most popular way of the republican significance, crossing Karelia from west to east is the route of the international tourist route called “The Blue Highway”. It starts in the Norwegian city of Mo i Rana, crosses Sweden and the Gulf of Bothnia, Finland, Pryazha, Petrozavodsk and Medvezhyegorsk and ends (for now) after the Lake Onega in the ancient merchant town Pudozh.



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