Republic of Karelia

Senators by region

Alexander Rakitin Alexander Rakitin
First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security
Igor Zubarev Igor Zubarev
Member of the Federation Council Committee on Agriculture and Food Policy and Environmental Management

Information

Regional flags and emblems

Republic of Karelia Republic of Karelia

PROFILE

Established 8 June 1920

Capital Petrozavodsk

The Republic of Karelia is part of the Northwestern Federal District

Area 180,500 sq km

Population 602,5 (2022 г.)

Ethnic groups

(2010 National Census, %)

Russian – 82.19

Karelian – 7.38

Belarusian – 3.78

Ukrainian – 2.05

Finnish – 1.39

Other – 3.21

 

Administrative divisions (2022)

Municipal districts – 16

City districts – 2

Rural towns – 21

Rural districts – 85

 

Geography and climate

The Republic of Karelia is located in the northwestern part of Russia. It is washed by the White Sea in the east and Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega in the south. The terrain is a hilly plain with clear indications of glacier activity with an average absolute elevation marks ranging from 5 to 250 m above sea level. The region also has extensive swamps and rock formations.

The republic’s territory stretches 660 km north to south and 424 km east to west.

The Republic of Karelia borders on the Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Vologda and Leningrad regions, and has a state border with Finland.

There are about 27,000 rivers in the region, over 61,000 lakes (the largest of them being Lake Onega and Lake Ladoga), and about 6,500 swamps. The available capacity of local water reservoirs is 18.5 cu km. A total of 23% of the republic’s territory is covered with water. The biggest rivers are the Kem, the Vyg and the Shuya.

Karelia’s climate is temperate continental with maritime features. January temperatures average –8.3°C, July temperatures average 13.3°C. Average precipitation in January is 48 mm; in July – 80 mm. The frost-free season lasts between 80 and 90 days in the northwest, and between 120 and 130 days in the Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega region.

Over one million ha of land, or 5.6% of the total area of the republic, are specially protected natural areas: Paanajarvi, Vodlozersky, Kalevalsky national parks, Valaam Archipelago Nature Park, Kivach and Kostomuksha nature reserves, 46 wildlife sanctuaries and 108 natural landmarks. The republic is well known for its incredibly beautiful landscapes.

Government

The legislative branch is represented by the Legislative Assembly of the Republic of Karelia, which is the permanent, supreme and only body of legislative authority in the republic.

The Legislative Assembly of the Republic of Karelia has 36 deputies elected for five years, with 18 of them running in single-mandate constituencies and the other 18 in the single electoral district, where winners are identified in proportion to the number of votes cast for lists of candidates nominated by electoral associations.

The current Legislative Assembly was elected in September 2016. Its term expires in September 2021.

The executive branch is the Government of the Republic of Karelia led by the Head of the republic; there are also some other executive authorities.

The Head of the Republic of Karelia is the region’s highest-ranking official, elected for five years by Russian citizens who permanently reside in the region. The term of office of the current incumbent expires in September 2022.

The Government of the Republic of Karelia is the top permanent executive authority in the republic.

Economy and natural resources

The republic’s economy is based on processing local natural resources (forestry and mining) and on using its tourist and recreational potential and favourable economic and geographic position of a border region. These factors largely determine the specialisation and regional features of the regional economy.

Karelia’s economy is based on the manufacturing industry, which accounts for over 40% of the regional GDP. Timber, wood processing, pulp-and-paper, mining, ferrous metals and construction materials industries use the republic’s natural resources, while machine building and non-ferrous metals industries use imported raw materials.

The republic’s major companies are: the Onego Shipyard, the Vyartsilya Metal Products Plant, Karelsky Okatysh, Kondopoga, Petrozavodskmash, the Onega Tractor Plant, and Karelsky Kombinat.

Karelia’s timber industry is represented by three pulp and paper companies, 10 major specialised sawmills and over 30 timber companies. This industry accounts for about 28% of industrial products manufactured in the republic.

In Karelia, companies mine iron ore, shungite, raw materials for manufacturing mineral fibre boards and stonecast products, building stone for manufacturing gravel and blocks, and explore deposits of fresh and mineral groundwater. A number of companies are exploring deposits of sands and sand-and-gravel materials for road construction and construction in general.

Agriculture is represented by livestock breeding (mainly dairy or beef cattle breeding), pig breeding, trout and poultry farming, fur farming, and crop production. The republic also produces forage crops and has developed fur farming and fishing industries.

The transport network of the republic is represented by road, railroad, inland water, sea and air transport. The operational length of railway lines is over 2,500 km; the total length of paved public roads is over 8,500 km. The republic has railways running in the direction of Moscow, Murmansk, St Petersburg and Helsinki.

Culture and tourism

The Republic of Karelia has a favourable geopolitical position (the longest border with the European Union, the proximity and transport accessibility to the largest Russian cities), unique landscape and natural resources and rich recreational resources, as well as centuries-old cultural and historical heritage. Karelia is a highly popular tourist destination among both Russians and foreigners.

Over 50% of the republic’s territory of 180,500 sq km are covered with forests (Karelia is often referred to as “the lungs of Europe”), and about 26% – with water; it has a great number of lakes (63,000) and rivers (27,000). Due to its system of lakes and rivers, water tourism and lake recreation are very popular in Karelia.

A hundred kilometres from Petrozavodsk, on the Suna River, there is a cascade waterfall: the Kivach Waterfall, which is the largest in Europe. All these places contribute to the development of ecological tourism and recreation in Karelia. The first Russian resort called the Marcial Waters is located 50 kilometres from Petrozavodsk. This resort was founded by the Peter the Great. It is famous for its unique healing mineral waters that are rich in iron and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Forests, lakes and rivers provide tourists with great opportunities to enjoy either relaxing camping holidays or active tourism, such as hunting, fishing, safaris on snowmobiles, jeeps and quad bikes, river rafting on kayaks and boats, and ecotours.

There are thousands of unique cultural landmarks, natural monuments, and historical sites of global and national importance located in the Republic of Karelia, such as the Kizhi architectural ensemble, the Valaam Monastery, Karelian petroglyphs (White Sea and Onega petroglyphs), the Saami stone labyrinths and seida. Karelia is the best starting point for a trip to the Solovetsky Islands and the architectural complex of the Solovetsky Monastery.