North Karelia pääkuva

North Karelia - the easternmost region of continental Europe

North Karelia - the easternmost region of continental Europe

North Karelia is the easternmost region of continental Europe that shares a 300 km stretch of frontier with Russia. North Karelia has always been a place where east and west meet. With 1.2 million crossings a year, the Niirala border crossing point in Tohmajärvi is the fourth busiest in Finland. The big Russian markets are close by and Russian tourists contribute to the growth of the region's tourism, commerce and services.

Total population of North Karelia is 163,000. The share of females of the region's population is 50.3 % and that of men 49.7 %. Within the region, the differences among the population structure and migration are great.

The competence-based growth industries of the future, forest bioeconomy and new technologies and materials, have taken off in North Karelia due to the active research carried out at the University of Eastern Finland located in Joensuu. The region's traditionally strong industries include the forest, metal, extractive and food industries. The headquarters of the European Forest Institute is in Joensuu. The region's undisputable strength is forest bioeconomy, and more than 500 companies whose operations involve bioeconomy can be found in the region. The turnover of these companies is 2 billion euros, and they employ more than 6,000 people. In addition, there are more than 600 experts employed in this field in the region: researchers, developers, trainers and administrative employees.

North Karelia invests in the welfare of people and the environment. The carbon footprint of North Karelians is 36 % smaller than that of an average Finn. Renewable energy accounts for 64 percent of the total energy consumption, which is high even on an international scale. North Karelia is also a model area in energy self-sufficiency: approximately 63 % of the energy consumed is produced in the region.

Hilly landscapes covered with trees and dotted with rivers and lakes are characteristic of North Karelia. One of Finland's best-known national landscapes is the Koli area with its many hills located in Lieksa by the Lake Pielinen. In North Karelia, the four seasons have a clear rhythm, and a snowy winter is guaranteed every year.

North Karelia in a nutshell

  • Population 163 000
  • Number of municipalities 13, of which 5 are towns
  • Regional centre Joensuu is a university city
  • Total area 21,585 km2, of which 70% are forests
  • The region has 2,200 lakes of which Pielinen is the fourth largest in Finland (894 km2)
  • Koli is the highest point of Southern and Central Finland (347 m)
  • Lumber, wood, food, plastic, metal, stone, and travel are region's leading industrial fields. Movies and games are new and rising industrial fields. North Karelia's movie production is well-known even internationally.
  • Well-known North Karelian companies: Abloy, John Deere, Kesla Oyj, Stora Enso, Tulikivi, Nunnanlahden Uuni, Autotalo Laakkonen, Tokmanni, Varaosamaailma, Pohjois-Karjalan Osuuskauppa and Mantsinen Group Ltd Oy.
  • North Karelia shares a 300 km stretch of frontier with Russia, 1.2 million people cross the border at the Niirala international border crossing point every year
  • The easternmost point of the continental part of the European Union is located in Ilomantsi
  • Summer events include, Ilosaarirock Festival in Joensuu, Kihaus Folk Music Festival in Rääkkylä, and Lieksa Brass Week
  • Tourist attractions include, e.g., the national landscape at Koli, the Taitokortteli cultural quarter and Carelicum in Joensuu, the Bomba Karelian village in Nurmes, the Outokumpu Mining Museum, the Finnish Stone Centre in Juuka, and Kitee Zoo
  • North Karelian sports associations include Kataja, Kalevan Rasti, Joma, Josba, KiPa, Riento, ViU ja Jippo
  • Local bands include Nightwish, Värttinä, Eläkeläiset, Huojuva lato and Insomnium


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