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(self-designation, Karjalaiset), a people living mainly in the Karelian ASSR, as well as in certain parts of the RSFSR, including Kalinin (the “Tver,” or “Upper Volga,” Karelians, who migrated from the Lake Ladoga area in the 16th and 17th centuries), Novgorod, Leningrad, and Yaroslavl oblasts. The total number of Karelians in the USSR is 146, 000 (1970 census), of whom 84, 000 live in the Karelian ASSR. Some Karelians also live in Finland.
Karelians speak the Karelian language; a considerable number also speak Russian and some speak Finnish as well. Those who profess a religion are Orthodox. The original stage of the Karelians’ ethnogenesis has not yet been definitively ascertained. By the ninth century a.d. the Korela tribes (the forebears of the Karelians) had settled on the northwestern shore of Lake Ladoga. In the 11th and 12th centuries they took over the western part of what is now the territory of the Karelian ASSR; later they began to advance north toward the White Sea and east to the area between Lakes Ladoga and Onega, where they merged with part of the native Veps (Ves’). The neighboring Russian population, with whom the Karelians were closely associated, had an important influence on the formation of the culture of the Karelians. The first mention of the Karelians in a Russian chronicle dates from 1143. The consolidation of the Karelians between the 12th and 15th centuries occurred within the Russian state. The principal occupation of the Karelians for ages has been farming; livestock raising, lumbering, fishing, and hunting have been of secondary importance. Among the trades, smithcraft has been particularly developed.
After the October Socialist Revolution the Karelians received national autonomy: the Karelian Labor Commune was formed in June 1920 and reorganized in 1923 as the Karelian ASSR.
Large-scale industry has been created in the republic during the years of socialist construction, and national workers’ and engineering and technical cadres have been developed. The main trend in agriculture has been a high level of mechanization in dairy farming. Fishing and fur farming have been developed extensively. Great progress has been achieved in science, literature, and art (including popular applied art).
REFERENCESOcherki istorii Karelii, vols. 1–2. Petrozavodsk, 1957–64.
Taroeva, R. F. MateriaVnaia kuVtura karel (KareVskaia ASSR). Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Bubrikh, D. V. Proiskhozhdenie karelskogo naroda. Petrozavodsk, 1947.
Istoriia, arkheologiia, etnografiia Karelii: Bibliogrofich. ukazateV sovetskoi literatury za 1917–1965 gg. Petrozavodsk, 1967.
R. F. TAROEVA