5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Karelia

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The Republic of Karelia is situated in the northwest of Russia. Thousands of tourists spend their vacations here every year because of the great variety of stunning landscapes. It is an amazing picturesque land full of forests, lakes and rivers which make this place one of the main destinations for ecotourism in Russia.

Karelia is not only a beautiful location with overwhelming views and tons of fresh air, but also a region with a rich history and culture. There are several things that show Karelia is without a doubt a unique place both in Russia and in Europe. Here are five interesting facts about Karelia that you didn’t know.

1.    Petrozavodsk is the only city in Russia which was named after the emperor Peter I

The name of Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Karelian Republic, consists of two words, “Petro” (Peter) and “zavod” (rus. factory). This refers to the history of the first settlement which appeared in 1703 during the construction of a weapons factory which was decreed by Peter’s I, so the armory was soon named after him. Petrozavodskaya Sloboda, the settlement itself, was founded by another decree as a place of residence for all the factory workers. The weapons manufactured at this factory were used by soldiers during the Great Northern War (1700-1721) between the Tsardom of Russia and the Swedish Empire.

2.    Karelian Ladoga is the largest lake in Europe

Ladozhskoye lake or Ladoga is a freshwater lake which is 136 miles in length and 86 miles wide. At least 40 rivers flow into Ladoga. It also drains into the Gulf of Finland via the Neva River. It is the largest lake in Europe and the 15th largest freshwater lake on the planet. The famous trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks, which connected Scandinavia, Kiev’ Rus and the Eastern Roman Empire in the 9th century included Ladoga as a part of the waterway.

3.    Karelia is a region of lakes

Karelia has a huge number of lakes (about 18% of all waterbodies) on its territory. It outstrips countries like Finland, Sweden and Canada which only have 8 to 15%. There are more than 60,000 lakes in Karelia, and most of them are more than a hectare in size. The sum of their areas across the region is 145 kms3. That makes Karelia an absolute leader with the biggest coefficient of lakes in the world.

4.    Thousands of petroglyphs are the natural monument of Karelia

Several thousand petroglyphs, the cave paintings left by the ancient Sami people, can be found around Karelia today. The drawings on cave walls and ceilings, mostly of birds, wild animals, humans and boats, are 2,000 years older than the Egyptian pyramids and 4,000 years older than The Coliseum in Rome. The Sami are indigenous people of Scandinavia which today inhabit such countries as Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia.

5.    Native Karelian people didn’t use the word “fried”

That’s correct, you won’t find the word “fried” in the Karelian language, because every single dish in the regional Karelian kitchen was either boiled or steamed. For example, Karelians usually baked fish in milk instead of frying. Even the fried pies which were actually fried in hot oil are named “kietinpiiroa” in Karelian which literally means “pies boiled in oil”.


Elizaveta Niazyan 2017


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