Karelian Isthmus

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Karelian Isthmus,

land bridge, NW European Russia, connecting Russia and Finland. Situated between the Gulf of Finland in the west and Lake Ladoga in the east, it is 25 to 70 mi (40–113 km) wide and 90 mi (145 km) long. Saint PetersburgSaint Petersburg,
formerly Leningrad,
Rus. Sankt-Peterburg, city (1990 est. pop. 5,036,000), capital of the Leningrad region (although not administratively part of it) and the administrative center of the Northwestern federal district, NW European Russia, at
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 and VyborgVyborg
, Finnish Viipuri, Swed. Viborg, city (1989 pop. 81,000), NW European Russia, NW of St. Petersburg and near the Finnish border, on Vyborg Bay and the Gulf of Finland.
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 (Viipuri) are its chief cities. Originally part of the Grand Duchy of Sweden, the isthmus passed to Russia in 1721, and—except for its southernmost section—became part of Finland in 1917. The Mannerheim Line, which crossed the isthmus, was breached in 1940 by the Russians, who occupied the area. It was briefly held (1941–44) by Finnish and German units during World War II. The isthmus was formally ceded to the USSR in 1944, and more than 400,000 of its Finnish residents moved into Finland.

Karelian Isthmus


an isthmus between the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea and Lake Ladoga in Leningrad Oblast, RSFSR.

The Karelian Isthmus borders the Neva Lowland on the south. On the north the isthmus is formed mainly of granites and gneisses; in the center and south it is composed of glacial and glacial-lake deposits (sand and pebbles, loams, clays). It is characterized by jagged relief with predominating altitudes of about 50 m. In its southern portion the topography is of a hilly moraine type, with eskers, kames, and moraine plateaus (the Lembolov-skaia Upland, altitude, to 173 m). The isthmus is crossed by the Vuoksi River, which is abundant in water, and there are numerous glacial lakes. Evergreen forests predominate, with spruce in the north and groves of pine in the south. The cities of Vyborg, Priozersk, and Vsevolzhsk are located on the isthmus, and there are numerous resorts and settlements of summer homes on the shore (Sestroretsk, Zelenogorsk, Repino), part of the Leningrad Resort District. There is a developed tourist industry.

The Karelian Isthmus was part of Rus’ from the ninth century onward. It was seized by Sweden at the beginning of the 17th century. The isthmus was returned to Russia by the Treaty of Nystadt of 1721. Between 1918 and 1940, a large part of the isthmus belonged to Finland, and between 1927 and 1939, with the help of Western European powers, a strongly fortified line (the Mannerheim Line) was constructed. After the Russo-Finnish War of 1939–40 the isthmus was returned to the USSR (by the peace treaty of Mar. 12, 1940). During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 the isthmus was occupied (in July 1941) by German and Finnish forces. As a result of the Vyborg Operation of 1944 the isthmus was liberated by the Soviet Army and, in accordance with the armistice of Sept. 19, 1944, it once more became part of the USSR.

Many places on the Karelian Isthmus have historical impor-tance, such as the Russian fortresses of Korela, Tiversk (13thcentury), and Orekhov (14th century) and the Swedish fortressof Vyborg (14th—18th centuries). The Russian artist I. E. Repinlived in the settlement of Kuokkala (now Repino) from 1902 to1930. V. I. Lenin lived on the isthmus several times between1906 and 1917; there are house-museums of Lenin in Vyborg andIl’ichev, as well as the monument-museums Sarai (the Shed) inthe settlement of Razliv and Shalash (the Hut) in SestroretskiiRazliv. There are memorial complexes at the sites of some of thefierce battles of the Great Patriotic War, such as the Lembolov-skaia Upland, Vsevolzhsk, and Vyborg (Lembolovskaia Strong-hold, Rumbolovskaia Mountain). There are memorial columnsalong the main transport highway that linked Leningrad withthe interior of the country (the “Road of Life”), and a sculpturecomposition entitled The Broken Ring has been erected on theshore of Lake Ladoga.

Karelian Isthmus

a strip of land, now in Russia, between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga: annexed by the former Soviet Union after the Russo-Finnish War (1939--40)