Finnish Regions

Figure 1.--These four Finnish siblings are Aili born in 1918, Hilja 1924, Eelis 1925 and Mauno 1930. The photograph looks to have been taken about 1933. They lived in the Carelian speaking community of Sakkola. It was a community in Finish Karelia on lake Ladoga close to the Soviet border. When the Sovidets seized Karelia, 420,000 Karelians abandones their homes to live in other parts of Finland. Presumably this family was among them.

The topic of Finnish regions is somewhat complicated. The 20 Finnish regions are more culturally based than the provinces which were purly administrative units and imposed by the Sweedes. They did affect the concentration of finnish dialects. . The regions in contrast represent cultural diversity. This includes linguistic, economic, ethnic and other differences. The modern regions are based on nine historical regions: Finland Proper, Karelia, Laponia (Lappland), Ostrobothnia, Satakunta, Savonia, Tavastia, Uusimaa, and Ĺland. The two best known are Karelia and Laponia. Karelia, much of which was lost to the Soviet Union was a World War II battelground. Lappland is of course famed for the destinctive culture of the Lapplanders who inhabit northern Finland and Sweden.


Karelia at the the beginning of the second millenium as an undivided . With the rise of Novgorod and Sweden, Karelia became a contested province. For a time the Karelians allied themselves with Novgorod. Sweeden waged the northern crusades to Christinize and seize much of Finlamd. This included much od western and norhern Karelia. Novgorad seized and held control of southern Karelia. This claim was acquired by Tsarist Russia as a successor state of Novgorad. Karelia became a prize in a series of wars between Russia and Sweden. Western Karelia, as a Province of Swedish Finland devdeloped religiously and politically different from Russian Eastern Karelia. Western Karelia was at first Catholic, but during the Reformsation became Luthern. Russian Karelia becamne Orthodox. The two parts of Karelia had, however, ethnic and linguistic similarities. The populationa spoke Carelian--a Finnish dialect. Russia during these wars acquired wjat became known as "Old Finland". After seizing the Swedish Grand Duch of Finland (1809), Russia joined to the Grand Duchy and Old Finland as a gesture of good will to the Finns. At this time what had been Russian (eastern) Karelia became part of the Grandy Duchy of Finland. Thus when Finland achieved its independence (1918), most of Karelia becae part of the new Finnish republic. The Soviet Union seized most of the Karelia during the World War II. The Soviets after joining the NAZIs in the invasion of Poland, next moved against the Baltic Repunlics. Finland was the first victim. The Soviets launched the Winter War (1939-40). The Soiviets were surprised when the Finns offered stiff resistance. Soviet superiority in men and material eventually prevailed. In the end, Finland lost 10 percent of its territory, including most of Karelia. Most of the population decided to leave their homes and move west into the unoccupied area of Finlznd. The Soviets set up a Provisional Finnish People’s Government in Karelia as a precursor to Soviet rule in all of Finland which would have been converted to a Finnish SSR (March 1940). The Soviets proclaimed a Finn-Karelian SSR, but after the failure to take ober Finland, downgraded it to an Autonomous Republic. Finland joined NAZI German in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, to regain its lost territory. The Finns refer to ythis as the Continuation War (1941-44). The Finns occupied almost all of the lost territory. Soviet vicytories in the East forced the Finns to sign a separate n armistice with the Soviets in which Karelia was teturned to Soviet control (1944).


Lappland in Swedish is the northern-most region of Finland, comprising about a third of the country. It is perhaps the best known of Finland's regions. Lappland is largely located within the Arctic Circle. It stretches across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The northen boundary is the Barents Sea, on the west by the Norwegian Sea, and on the east by the White Sea. Lappland is well known because American, British, and other children see it as the home of Santa Claus. Finnish Lappland claims to be the home of Santa Claus and his reindeers. The nomadic people have been called the Lapps, but in our politically correct world, this term is now considered derogatory and they are now called the Sámi people. As a result of its northerly location, Lappland and the Sámi people have genrally not been involved in wider Europen history. This changed with World War II which includes struggles in the Arctic. The Lappland War was fought at the end of the War. As a result, of the war, the Soviets forced the Finns to cede the Petsamo and Salla areas. Soviet Union. Lappland covers a large area, but accouts for less than 4 percent of the country's population. It is Finland's least densely populated area. The largest towns are Rovaniemi (the capital), Kemi, and Tornio. Only about 5 percent of the population are the Sámi people. They Sámi in northwestern Europe are among the largest indigenous ethnic groups in Europe. Lappland in modern Finland has become a tgourist attraction and offers experiences all year round. They include experience like winter twilight, Northern Lights and the nightless night of summer. The culture of Lappland is a mixture of north and south, east and west.


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Created: 2:22 AM 12/2/2008
Last updated: 9:12 PM 2/3/2013