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    Republic of Karelia

The Republic of Karelia is a country, where many nationalities live together in peace. Karelians, Russians, Finns, Ukranians, Belorussians and dozens of other nationalities live in Karelia. At different times Karelia was a part of Finland, Sweden and Russia. It is a republic within Russia. Due to a close location to Finland, the locals are very accustomed to the Finnish language and culture. This fact finds its reflection in the nationhood and the national idea, which are characteristic only of the Karelia Region.

Karelia is a wonderful country of blue lakes, waterfalls, hillocks and barren rock. Karelia is a unique museum of peasant culture, where epical poetry and traditional ceremony are cherished. The natural beauty, historical and cultural monuments, as well as, peaceful and friendly people have long lured visitors to Karelia.

The best known tourist attractions are Kizhi Island on the Onega Lake and the monastery archipelago in Ladoga. Kizhi is famous for its many churches and old wooden architecture. In 1990, the entire Kizhi museum was added to Unesco's universal catalog of cultural heritage. The archipelago of Valaam with its monasteries is part of the living history of the Byzantine culture.

You may also be interested in the national parks in Paanajarvi and Vodlozero, as well as, the preserve for the Karelian birch, Kivach waterfall and the healing spring with its iron bearing water.

Population

Karelia has a population of about 766,400 people (2000 estimate), among which there are 73,6% Russians, 10% Karelians, 7% Belorussians. Urban population accounts for some 71% of the total figure. About 40% of the population live in Petrozavodsk, the republics capital. Other major towns include Kostomuksha - 32,500 people, Sortavala - 20,200 people. The population density is 4,2 persons per sq km (while average figures for Russia is 8,7 persons per sq km).

Souvenirs

Karelia has rich cultural heritage and it is reflected in diversified local souvenirs. One of the most famous symbols of the region is Karelian birch tree. It grows in the southern part of the republic and reaches some 5-7 m in height. Its inner layers form curious patterns, which allows to create unusual and fascinating souvenirs, furniture, and encrustation works. Other local souvenirs are made from porcelain or stone, but one of the brightest representations of Karelias folk culture is an embroidery masterpiece that consists of vegetative or geometrical ornaments, made with traditional red stitches on the white background.

Tags: Russian tourism Russian regions Republic of Karelia Russian history  


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