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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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).


Ocherki 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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
'For all the assimilation that many have undergone in Slavic Russia, the Karelians are still a Finnic tribe at heart,' says Marina Tsherbak, head of public relations at the Karelian State Museum of Local History in the city of Petrozavodsk, capital of the Republic of Karelia.
At the end of the Continuation War, the Finns were made to sign away over ten per cent of their territory, a large chunk of which was Karelian. Most Finns and Finnish Karelians living in the ceded areas chose to leave rather than live under Soviet rule, resulting in mass evacuation.
But the key development that has made it possible for scholars to study Karelian fever in depth was the opening of previously closed Soviet archives in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Among them were their expertise and tools for the timber industry, as well as their roles in developing Karelian theatre and music, including the introduction of jazz.
(22) This growth of active and collective nationalism took place only in the Karelian Isthmus, for which Russian plans to move the border westward, combined with the region's growing population, powerful social (educational and ecclesiastic) structures, and claims for equal rights in the Grand Duchy, became an acute threat.
North of the Karelian Isthmus, although in a different setting, the same ideological conflicts emerged from the very beginning of the mutual nationalist awakening of Finns and Russians.
The plan was to recruit three hundred workers from Finland, three thousand workers from Karelians living in the Tver province and ten thousand from North America.
Because of its badge the Karelian Regiment was dubbed by the Commander-in-Chief 'The Irish Karelians'; it was now placed on the pay roll of the British Army and received rations.
In the Suistamo dialect of Karelian, for example, the case of a cow yielding milk with blood admixture is referred to as lehma leppia lypsaa, lit.
Properly trained, Karelians can be important aversive conditioning tools, helping, for example, to convince panhandling bruins to return to the woods.
Work with the Karelian dogs, however, produced fewer black bear altercations at the Tuolumne Meadows campground--the largest in Yosemite--than at any point in the last 40 years.
This is the context for Alexey Golubev and Irina Takala's new book on Karelian Fever.