East Karelia, in Finnish Itä-Karjala, also "Eastern Karelia" or "Russian Karelia", is a name for the part of
Kareliathat since the Treaty of Stolbovain 1617 has remained Christian Orthodoxunder Russian supremacy. It is separated from the western part of Karelia, called " Finnish Karelia" or historically "Swedish Karelia" (before 1808). Most of the East Karelia is now part of the Republic of Kareliawithin the Russian Federation.
19th century ethnic nationalist
Fennomans saw East Karelia as the ancient home of Finnic culture, "un-contaminated" by both Scandinavians and Slavs. In the sparsely populated East Karelian backwoods, mainly in Vienan Karelia, Elias Lönnrotcollected the folk tales that ultimately would become Finland's national epic, the Kalevala.
The idea of annexing East Karelia to Finland ("
Greater Finland") was widely supported in newly independent Finland. It was especially popular during the Continuation Warwhen it seemed possible through German assistance. Most of East Karelia was occupied by Finnish forces 1941–1944. The war was accompanied by hardship for the local ethnic Russian civilians, including forced labour and internment in prison camps as enemy aliens. After the Continuation War, calls for annexation of East Karelia have virtually disappeared.
After Karelia was divided between Finland and Russia in 1918, the Finnic peoples that made up most of the population of East Karelia were promised far-reaching cultural rights. However, these rights were never realised and under Stalin ethnic Finns were persecuted and an intensive Russification began. After the fall of
communism, there has been a revival in Finnish culture in East Karelia.
* [http://virtual.finland.fi/finfo/english/karjala.html The Many Karelias] at the web-site of Finland's government
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