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Reference on historical and cultural features of Louhi region

Louhi region is the Northmost region of the Republic of Karelia. This is a unique region of the republic reaching from the frontier of the Russian Federation in the West to the White Sea in the East, North of the region adjoins the Polar Circle. Most of the region is located in the flat district and only its northwest sector is typically mountainous, being the most elevated part of the republic. There surrounded by many hills is the highest top of Karelia - the mountain of Nuorunen (577 meters above sea level) and the second deep (after Ladoga) Paanajärvi lake (131 meters). Characteristic feature of the region is its extremely developed hydrographic network including thousands of lakes, among which there are the largest in Karelia lakes of Topozero, Päozero, Tikshozero, hundreds of rivers and streams, many of rapids and falls. Lakes and the rivers are rich with fish, including its such delicious kinds, as salmon, bulltrout, pollan, grayling, etc. Coast of the White sea, the so-called Karelian coast abounding islands, gulfs, capes, rock outcrops is very picturesque. There is a reaching Chupa gulf, the Southmost fiord of the Barents – White Sea district. The region is rich in forest which intensively used, and deposits of various minerals that are at the initial stage of economic use.

In the region there are four types of especially protected natural territories: Paanajärvi national park located on the area of 104,3 thousand of hectares in the north of the region, Polar Circle complex reserve (28,3 thousand hectares) on the coast and islands of the White Sea, Keretsky hunting ground (21,0 thousand hectares), as well as a group of small islands comprising a part of Kandalaksha reserve.

Main Tourist Centers:

Paanajärvi National Park. Uniqueness of natural complexes and affinity to the Finnish commune of Kuusamo, the sister-area of Louhi region, was a general precondition for development of tourist activity in this most removed and poorly populated region of Karelia where tourism makes a basis of economy.

The settlement of Chupa, the gulf of Chupa and the adjoining White Sea coast. In the settlement of Chupa there is the Northern explorative expedition offering specialized tours on deposits of minerals and geological formations. The gulf of Chupa is a convenient harbour for boats shipping out to the White Sea and Solovetsky islands. In this zone there are four scientific biological stations that belon to universities of Moscow, St.Petersburg, and Kazan and to the institute of zoology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, as well as the Polar Circle complex preserve and Kem-Ludy preserved islands related to Kandalaksha reserve. A number of miners' settlements and ancient Pomor the village of Keret located in the mouth of river of the same name, rich in salmon and other kinds of fish adjoin the settlement of Chupa and the gulf of Chupa. During rather recent times in this river was rich in pearls famous both in all Pomorye, and far beyond.

Historical and Cultural Potential

From the historical point of view it is necessary to note, that in the XVI and XVII centuries there passed a trading way between the Swedish area of Osterbothnia in the Upper Gulf of Bothnia, and Russian Pomorye. Karelian settlements of the region are relared to rune-singing villages where the epos of Kalevala, the monument of world culture arose. In the village of Keret there is a tomb of storyteller M.Korguev, in the settlement of Chupa there is a unique museum of fairy tale based on his literary works. Seids are found in the mountainous part of the region, and on the White Sea coast there are labyrinthes: monuments of culture ancient Laplanders.

The region has very few monuments of architecture, and they are located in 3 remote villages. Places of fights of the second world war are related to objects of modern history near the village of Kestenga where the front line passed there for along time. The region is reasonably interesting for experts in the field of history and folklore studies. The ancient Karelian village of Kestenga is located on the northern bank of Topozero, one of the largest lakes of Karelia. Being one of the rune-singing villages it keeps rich Karelian traditions which have formed a basis for creating the Alto national chorus. To Germans the area near Kestenga is attractive as a memorable place where during the last war the southern flank of Norway group of armies was situated for a long time. The settlement of Louhi located near the Kola road is an administrative centre of the region. In 2005 The Day of Old Woman Louhi project and an ethnographic festival passed there. Organizers of the festival intended to break usual stereotypes and show the new image of old woman Louhi as a hospitable hostess. The central episode of the festival was The Hostess of the North competition among elderly women, and the winner was awarded with the title of The Old Woman Louhi. In the competition program its participants presented the spectators and the competent jury their knowledge of nature and history of the North, competed in accuracy, have shown their creative potential. In Louhi region there live 15% of the total number of the Karelian population, therefore this holiday so is important for preservation of folklore of Northern Karelians, acquaintance to culture, preservation of life, traditions and Karelian language.

Also the Korguev's Ship, and Hello, Kestenga rural holiday became traditional for the region.

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Created: November 14, 2002. Last updated: January 19, 2009.
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