The Republic of Karelia is situated in the Northwest of Russia; it is a part of the Northwestern Federal District of the Russian Federation. It was founded on June 8, 1920 when the Soviet Government signed the Decree on the founding of the Karelian Autonomous District that was named the Karelian Labour Commune. On July 25, 1923 it was transformed into Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, and on March 31, 1940 – into Karelian-Finnish SSR. In 1956-1991 the republic remained as Karelian ASSR, and since November 13, 1991 it has its modern name of the Republic of Karelia.
The area of Karelia is 180,5 thousand square km. (1.0% of the territory of the Russian Federation). Its length from north to south is 660 km., from west to east on the latitude of the town of Kem its length makes 424 km.
Karelia borders on Finland in the West, on Leningrad and Vologda regions in the South, on Murmansk region in the north, and with Archangelsk region in the east. In the North-West the Republic is washed by the White sea. The western border line of Karelia coincides with the state border of the Russian Federation on Finland and is 798 km. long. Distances from the city of Petrozavodsk, the administrative centre of the republic, to Moscow makes 925 km., to St.-Petersburg – 401 km., to Murmansk – 1050 km., and to Helsinki – 703 km.
As of January 1, 2014, population of residents of the Republic of Karelia made 634,400 people. Urban population makes 79.2%. In 2013 the share of the population younger than working-age age has made 16.7%, working-age population has made 59.2%, people older than working-age have made 24.1%. Population density of the republic makes 3.5 people per square km.
As of the end of 2013, the number of unemployed citizens registered with the public employment service makes 7,000 people. Official unemployment rate in 2013 has made 1.9% of the economically active population (2.1% in 2012).
The Republic of Karelia is a multinational constituent entity of the Russian Federation. On the information of the All-Russia population census of 2010, national pattern of the population is the following: Russians make 82.2%, Karelians are 7.4%, Byelorussians are 3.8%, Ukrainians are 2.0%, Finns are 1.4%, Veppsians are 0.5%, other nationalities make 2.7%. Indigenous population – Karelians and Veppsians – have their own language and writing system.
The Republic of Karelia comprises 127 municipal formations, including 16 municipal districts (Byelomorsk, Kalevala, Kem, Kondopoga, Lahdenpohja, Louhi, Medvezhiegorsk, Muezersky, Olonets, Pitkäranta, Prionezhsky, Pryazha, Pudozh, Segezha, Sortavala, Suojärvi), two urban districts (Petrozavodsk and Kostomuksha), 22 urban settlements and 87 rural settlements. 13 towns, 11 urban-type settlements, 776 inhabited localities are located in territory of the republic.
The republic develops according to the Social and Economic Development Strategy of the Republic of Karelia through to 2020, the Land-Use Planning Scheme of the Republic of Karelia, the Concept of Social and Economic Development of the Republic of Karelia through to 2017. The overall objective of long-term social and economic development is improving of living standards in the republic on the basis of steady balanced development of the economy, formation of future development potential and the republic's active participation in the system of international and inter-regional exchanges.
According to the Constitution of Russia the Republic of Karelia is the subject of the Russian Federation. The Republic of Karelia is establishing its system of bodies of the government independently according to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation and general principles of organization of representative and executive public authorities, and established federal laws.
Governing in the Republic of Karelia is carried out by the Legislative Assembly of the Republic of Karelia, Government headed by the Head of the Republic of Karelia, and other enforcement authorities, area bodies of federal authorities, and judicial bodies.
The unicameral Legislative Assembly of the Republic of Karelia is constantly operating representative and unique legislature of the republic.
Head of the Republic of Karelia is the chief executive and the chief executive officer of the Republic of Karelia.
Government of the Republic of Karelia is a constantly operating superior executive public authority which operating procedures are defined by the law of the Republic of Karelia of April 27, 1999 N348-ZRK. The Government is formed of heads of enforcement authorities by the Head of the Republic of Karelia. The Government includes positions of the Prime Minister of the Government and his assistants. Government of the Republic of Karelia provides observance of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, federal laws and other normative legal acts of the Russian Federation, the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Karelia, decrees and orders of the Head of the Republic of Karelia.
Judicial authority in the republic is exercised by federal courts (Supreme court of the Republic of Karelia, town and regional federal courts, Arbitration court of the Republic of Karelia), Constitutional court of the Republic of Karelia, justices of the peace.
Representations of federal enforcement authorities operate in territory of the republic. Their activity is coordinated by the Chief Federal Inspector of the administration of plenipotentiary of the President of the Russian Federation in the Northwest Federal District for the Republic of Karelia.
Local government authorities are not included into the system of bodies of the government. Aming their competence there are municipal property administration, formation, approval and filling of local budgets, establishment of local taxes and duties, maintenance of public order, as well as decision of other local issues.
127 municipal formations are formed in territory of the republic. Institutions of local government in municipal units of the republic are represented by the heads of local self-government, representative body of local self-government (its function is executed by the Council elected according to the Law of the Republic of Karelia On election of deputies of representative bodies and heads of local self-government) and local administration (the municipal unit's executive-administrative body).
Karelia is the country of rocks, boulders and tens of thousands of lakes. Various, and frequently unique relief of Karelia reflects geological history of the region of the last 3,5 billion years. Most of Karelia's territory is a rolling plain with strongly pronounced traces of a glacier. Wavy stone solid earth even now has some traces of ancient mountains. Karelia is often figuratively called a severe land of lakes and woods, emphasizing the leading elements of its landscape, unique combinations created by spaces of fantastic contours of a number of lakes and devided by rocky-subdued interfluves covered with taiga greens.
Karelian woods, rivers and lakes are of a very special role in preservation of biodiversity of the Northern Europe. More than 49% of the area of the republic is covered with forest (basic breeds are pines, furtrees, alders and aspens); fauna comprises brown bears, reindeers, elks, mountain hares, European beavers, Greenland seals (in the White sea); fish species include salmons, trouts, navagas, herrings, cods, flounders.
Quarter the republic's territory is watery surface. There are more than 61 thousand lakes and 27 thousand rivers in Karelia. The largest are the Ladoga lake (its area is 17,7 thousand square km) and the Onega lake (its area is 9,9 thousand square km). The largest rivers are Vodla (400 km), Vyg, Kovda, Kem, Suna, Shuya. The total length of the river net is about 83 thousand km.
Climate is transitive from maritime to continental, notable for long, although rather soft winter and shotr and chilly summer. The average temperature in February is -9-13°C, July – +14+16°C. Precipitation is about 500 mm a year.
More than 50 types of minerals, located in more than 400 deposits and ore occurences were discovered in Karelia. The minerals are: iron ore, titan, vanadium, molybdenum, precious metals, diamonds, mica, construction materials (granites, diabases, marbles), ceramic raw material (pegmatites, spars), appatit-carbonate ores, alkaline amphibole asbestos.
The Republic of Karelia has favorable economic-geographic location thanks to which it is the advanced post of Russia on the western boundaries of the state. Hundreds of kilometers of highways, railways and waterways connecting countries and regions run through Karelia.
Economy of the Republic of Karelia is based on processing of local kinds of natural resources (timber and minerals), use of tourist and recreational potential and favourable economic and geographical frontier location. These factors define specialization and regional features of economy of the republic.
The Republic of Karelia plays a significant role in Russia in a number of sectors of economic activity. At the share of 0.4% in total population of Russia, on production of a number of the most important items Karelia provides strategic contribution to national economy. 65–70% of trout raised in Russia, 26% of iron ore pellets, 20% of paper, 12% of wood pulp and cellulose made of other fiber materials, 9% of pulp and chipable chips, 9% of metalware and unalloyed steel is produces in the republic.
Economy of Karelia which is a frontier region is export-oriented. On the broadness of foreign economic relations, on the volume of export per capita Karelia is among in the leading regions of Russia. Exports now account for more than 50% (and up to 100% on a number of branches) of total production. 95% of commercial cellulose and 84% of newsprint make export supplies. Foreign trade surplus in 2013 has made $854,8 million, volume of exports has made $1088,8 million, volume of imports has made $234 million. Up to 20% of foreign trade of the republic fall to the share of Finland.
Natural resources of the republic form the mainstay of its investment potential. Karelia has significant forest and mineral resources. Currently, the State Register of Mineral Reserves includes 918 deposits of 31 types of solid commercial minerals. Timber resources make 973,7 million cubic metres of wood, 370 million cubic metre of them is coniferous woods. Allowable cut makes about 11 million cubic metre of timber a year.
30 billion roubles of investments was involves in the economy of the republic in 2013. Most of capital investments in concentrated on extraction of mineral resources, manufacturing, generation and distribution of energy, gas and water, transport and communications, which combined share makes 74%.
13 large investment projects were completed in the republic in 2013, 3507 new jobs were created.
At the beginning of 2014 the regional list included 105 investment projects already launched or planned to be implemented in the republic. 12 agreements with investors on extending preferential investment treatment are currently in force, and the issue of their expansion is under consideration. 11 million roubles was assigned from the budget of the republic on partial subsidization of investors' expenses on paying the rate of interest.
The first phase of Kalevala Woodworking Plant producing oriented strand boards (OSB) was commissioned in 2013. This enterprise is the first in Russia producing such products. Output of the new enterprise is widely claimed in the sphere of low-rise housing construction.
By estimate, in 2013 gross regional product of the Republic of Karelia has made 167,5 billion roubles (99% to the level of 2012), in which structure industry account for about 30%.
Industrial specialization of the region is defined by enterprises of timber, woodworking and pulp-and-paper industries, and ferrous metallurgy.
Output of industry 2013 has made 115 billion roubles. In sectoral distribution of industrial complex mineral resources account for 43%, manufacturing account for 38%, generation and distribution of energy, gas and water account for 19%.
Basic industrial centres of the republic are Petrozavodsk, Kondopoga, Segezha, Kostomuksha, Pitkäranta. Three paper and pulp makers operate in territory of the Republic of Karelia: Kondopoga Inc., Segezha Pulp-and-Paper Mill Inc. and Pitkäranta Pulp Mill Inc. Large enterprises forming the basis of the economy and the budget are main employers where about 80% of industrial products of Karelia is produces and 23% consolidated budget revenues of the republic is provided.
Mining is developing at a fast pace in the Republic of Karelia. Every year 3-4 new enterprises producing road metal are commissioned in the republic.
In the structure of gross regional product the share of agriculture, hunting, and forestry makes 4%, fishing and fish-breeding account for 1.3%. The territory of the Republic of Karelia is in the area of risk farming.
Agriculture of the republic is presented by such branches, as dairy cattle husbandry, trout-breeding, poultry farming, fur farming, plant growing. The basic agricultural production is concentrated mainly in southern regions of Karelia – Kondopoga, Prionezhsky, Pryazha, Olonets, Medvezhyegorsk and Sortavala regions.
Fisheries industry of the republic is developing dynamically, bioresources of the White Sea – mussels – are being actively placed under cultivation. On trout breeding Karelia is Russia's top performer.
Average monthly wage paid in 2013 has made 27,800 roubles, that is 10.4% more than the standard of 2012, the inflation rate registered in Karelia is 6.5%.
The Republic of Karelia is a transit territory. Transport complex development in Karelia is, first of all, related to implementation of projects of international transport corridors.
The transport complex of Karelia is presented by almost all types of transport – railways, highways, internal water and sea ways, airline service and pipelines. Railway and motor transport account for most of transport services, smaller part falls to the share of water and air transport. Railway transportation plays an integral role in the structure of transportations.
Tourism is developing actively the Republic of Karelia. The organised tourist flow in 2013 has made, by estimate, 595,000 people, that is 10% more than in 2012.
Abundance and beauty of northern nature, as well as unique cultural environment attract lots of tourists from all over the world. Karelia is one of the most famous regions in international tourism. Unique cultural objects included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage and in the list of Russia's national treasures are located on islands of Kizhi, Valaam and Solovki. They make Karelia's trademark in international tourism.
As of January 1, 2010, education system of the republic includes 682 state and municipal educational institutions of all types and kinds, including: 241 comprehensive schools, 7 licea, 4 grammar schools, 1 cadet boarding school, 106 educational establishments of additional education for children, 9 educational establishments for children with development deviations, 1 teaching and educational establishment for children with deviant behavior, 1 general educational sanatorium boarding school, 23 orphanages, 13 evening (shift) general educational establishments, 2 work training centres, 16 establishments of primary and 15 – of secondary vocational training.
Educational services of these establishments were rendered to 162,800 people, including services of general educational establishments rendered to 63,300 students.
Programs of higher vocational training are implemented in 20 establishments of higher vocational training of the Republic of Karelia, including 17 branches. More than 21% of the consolidated budget expenditures account for education.
With a view of the government support of development of languages and culture of Karelians, Vepsians and Finns the Ethnocultural Education in the Republic of Karelia republican target program is realized. On a competitive basis more than 40 educational establishments have received the status of educational establishments with ethnocultural education component.
In the sphere of education main attention is paid to improvement of quality of education, improvement of material base and maintenance of fire safety of educational establishments of the republic. In 2009 there have been constructed a comprehensive school in the settlement of Sukkozero and a sports and industrial complex for a school in the village of Sheltozero.
The republic is keeping the leading positions in development of additional education in Russia. Information centre at the Karelian fund of education development is created in the republic, complete sets of computer equipment are installed in all schools, all general educational establishments have acess to the Internet, 18 interschool methodical centers providing support of information-computer technologies operate in every school.
In the sphere of public health services the republic is solving tasks of citizens' health preservation and improvement, provision of availability and improvement of quality of rendering the free-of-charge medical aid to the population, introducing healthy way of life.
Health-care expenditures of consolidated budget of the Republic of Karelia in 2009 have made 6,7 billion roubles, or 21,6% of aggregate consumption expenditure.
Basic directions of the Health priority national project are installing modern diagnostic and medical equipment in establishments of public health services of the republic, rendering hi-tech medical aid, first aid fleet replacement, preventive maintenance of diseases.
Vascular centers opened in 2008 in Petrozavodsk and three regions of the republic, cardiosurgery service was created on the basis of V.Baranov Republican hospital. In 2009 the main building of Olonets central regional hospital was commissioned after reconstruction.
The network of treatment-and-preventive establishments of the republic is presented by 332 establishments, of them 55 medical institutions function in the system of obligatory medical insurance.
Physical training and sports
Educating a healthy and physically fit person focused on enjoying healthy way of life is one of the primary goals of the Government of the Republic of Karelia in the sphere of physical training and mass sports.
Positive dynamics of the basic parameters of development in the sphere of physical training and sports is preserved. The year 2008 became the record in the 5 past years on involving population in participation in the mass sports events. In comparison with 2005 the number of participants has made 28,4 thousand people, therefore, Karelia was awarded with the Cup of the Inter-regional Council of physical training and sports organizations of the Northwest and has won the 1st place in The Most Athletic Region in the Northwest nomination. In 2009 the share of citizens of the republic going in for sports regularly was stabilized and makes 15,3% (in 2008 – 14,9%, compared to 10% on the average across Russia).
The Republic of Karelia is fairly regarded as an attractive place to hold international and All-Russia sports events. In 2009 in the republic there had been held 205 mass sports and recreation activitie including 100 competitions of the republic (championships, cups, tournaments of the Republic of Karelia) in 36 kinds of sports. The most popular among the population are the following sporting events: The Ski track of Russia (more than 13,000 people have taken in it), The Russian Azimuth (more than 6,200 participants), Cross-country Race of Nations (10,000 participants), The Orange Ball street basketball competitions, the number of their participants keeps growing.
For the first time in 2009 Youth Open Sports Festival of Finno-Ugric Peoples on Martial Arts (boxing, wu shu, sambo-wrestling, judo, karate, tae kwon do), a lap of marathon research 180-kilometer race across Lake Onego devoted to the three-hundredth anniversary anniversary of Mikhail Lomonosov were held in Karelia.
The brightest sports events of the year were: the Onego-2009 International Sailing Regatta, stages of The White Night and Ladoga autorally championships of Russia, 17 sports championships of the Northwest Federal District, The Running Hope – Karelian Marathon international track and field athletics race in which 207 sportsmen from Petrozavodsk, Kondopoga, Segezha, Kostomuksha, as well as Germany and Finland participated, for the first time in 2009 athletes from France and Italy have taken part in the race.
One of priorities of the Government of the Republic of Karelia is development of physical training and mass sports among children, teenagers and youth. In the republic there are 5 specialized Children's and Juniors' Sports Schools of Olympic Reserve and 24 Children's and Juniors' Sports Schools for more than 20,200 young sportsmen, community-based children's teenage clubs train more than 1,500 children, more than 27,000 people go in for sports in sports groups of educational establishments.
In 2009 there have been held 34 mass sports events of republican and All-Russian level for children and youth, including the Games for Schoolchildren of the Republic of Karelia in five kinds of sports at which stages over 60 thousand people have taken part; Track and Field Athletics Championship of Russia among girls and young men of 1994-1995 years of birth in which 534 sportsmen from 37 constituent entities of the Russian Federation have taken part; the Development of Skiing among Children and Youth project in 60 activities of which there participated over 10,000 young skiers. The most popular among children and teenagers are The Silver Ball volleyball competition, The Silver Basket basketball competition among teams of the North-West Federal District, The Golden Puck hockey tournament and The Leather Ball football tournament, activities within the framework of the Mini-football for schools! All-Russian project.
Karelia represents a unique cultural region (area) which formation was influencedby its borderline position between the east and the west, German and Slavic, Catholic and Orthodox. Orthodoxy was the main uniting factor in populating the territory by the Finno-Ugric peoples (Karelians, Veppsians) and the Slavs that lived in the region since the 13 century.
Traditional crafts for Karelia were birch-bark and straw weaving, pearl beading and embroidery, spinning, weaving, wood- and bone-carving, pottery. Karelia was also famous for skilful jewellers, smiths (even gun-making), carpenters and boatmen, pearl craft had been developed, too. The art crafts developing today are Zaonezhie embroidery and Prionezhie ceramics.
In Karelia there are about 4 thousand cultural, historical and natural objects among the following should be pointe out: the State Historical-Arhitectural and Ethnographical Museum-Reserve Kizhi; Valaam archipelago consisting of 50 small islands in the northern part of Ladoga lake where the Transfiguration of the Saviour Valaam monastery is located; the Dormition Cathedral (the XVIII century) in Kem, the Dormition Church (1774) in Kondopoga; rune-snging villages of the White Seas coast area of Karelia where runes of Kalevala were born; The Ladoga lakeside monuments of architecture; petroglyphs of the White Sea and the East coast of Onego Lake; seidas on Kuzova islands in the White Sea; Kivatch waterfalls; Paanajärvi and Vodlozersky national parks.
Construction of the first Russian Spa resort Marcial Waters in Karelia is associated with the name of Peter I. According to the drawings of Peter I the Curch of Peter the Apostle in West-European style was constructed there in 1721. It is a unique monument of the kind in Karelia. In the interior of the church there remained the two-level iconostasis with 14 icons and carved ornaments of the beginning of the 18th century and two home-produced pig-iron furnaces.
Plural ethnic composition of the population of Karelia, active interethnic communications within economic activities, as well as features of historical development (slow industrialization of the republic) promoted preservation and development of various layers of traditional culture in different languages and dialects: both ancient (yoigi), and rather new (urban culture of the 19-20 centuries).
Petrozavodsk is the center of culture and professional art in Karelia, the largest establishments of culture are concentrated there: libraries, museums, theatres, concert halls, educational institutions, creative unions and scientific organizations.
The main libraries are National Library of the Republic of Karelia, Scientific Library of Petrozavodsk State University and Library of Karelian Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Science. Among museums there should be mentioned the oldest in the republic Karelian State Local History Museum (open in 1873), the Fine Arts Museum of the Republic of Karelia.
State Drama Theatre of the Republic of Karelia, National Theatre of the Republic of Karelia, Puppet Theatre of the Republic of Karelia and State Youth Theater of the Republic of Karelia Trade Master received much attention of the residents and guests of the capital.
Among the leading creative ensembles of the republic there should be also mentioned the Symphonic Orchestra of the Karelian State Philarmonic Society, Russian Folk Music Instruments Orchestra, Kantele State Ensemble of Dance and Song of Karelia.
Goal of the cultural policy pursued in Karelia is steady development of the region through preservation and use of historical and cultural potential of the Republic of Karelia.
Currently in territory of the Republic of Karelia there operate 194 religious organizations representing 18 religions and trends. The church members are basically Christians. The Petrozavodsk diocese is headed by Manuil, Archbishop of Petrozavodsk and Karelia.
Monasteries: the Transfiguration of the Saviour Vazheozersky monastery (founded in approx.1530), the Dormition Murom monastery (founded in the XIVth century), Korniliy Paleostrovsky monastery (founded in the XII century, revived in 2000), the Kem Monastery of the Annunciation, the Hermitage of Mitrofany.
With a view of development a dialogue between the government and society, Concept of partnership between the bodies of the government, local self-government, business community, and non-government organizations on civil society development in the Republic of Karelia was signed in October, 2007. The Concept is focused on extension of forms of public participation in pursuance of the state social policy and strengthening of cooperation between the authorities, civil society institutes, and business community.
Karelia is a developing region where conditions for transition of economy to the innovative way are being created and where primary improtance is assigned to the task of improvement of the quality of life.