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The population of Finland

At the same time Finland is a wonderful but strict mother to her children. It’s a country of swamps and lakes: it doesn’t give anything for free, every piece of bread is earned at the cost of hard work. These living conditions along with a harsh climate are the main factors that are reflected not only in household but also in a nature and physical type of the population. A man’s dependence on climate and soil conditions is well illustrated in Finland — a wild and gloomy country of labor, though not without its own particular charm. A man here completely reflects the nature and bears all its bright and bleak colors. While a Tavastia — an actual typical Finn — is naturally morose and gloomy as the upland forests of his homeland, a Karelian — his brother — is alive and mobile as bright waters abundant in his home; yet they are differed not so much by a type, but by a character construct, representing the two different tribes.

Good looking and good-natured figure of a Karelian with kind bright eyes breathes such a life, that a person who knows the Finns only by knowing maamiests and veikks of Petersburg, will not recognize a real Finn in a sprightly and cheerful Karelian. He is not sullen and silent, but cheerful and talkative, he likes to have a good time, dancing and singing. There is no special Finnish diligence and self-absorbing; on the contrary, he is all wide open as a Russian man. He is easy to converge and pleasant in friendship, not evil, and doesn’t believe in a fatal "destiny" as his neighbor Tavastia. With his liveliness of character, a Karelian is smart, quickly starts any business, but soon loses the patience. In relation to otherss, he is extremely gentle, kind and courteous. Among the Karelians you can find very nice and, one must say, even beautiful faces, especially among the women so that they can be called beauties. In general, I would compare a Karelian with a Frenchman as opposed to a Tavastia, which is similar to a profoundly thoughtful German. Generally, a Karelian’s face, as well as any Finn, is not severely beautiful; only a high forehead, blue eyes that shine with a simplicity, kindness and complacence, healthy complexion and a really lovely curly hair can often combine to give if not beautiful then a cute sweet face, that is much more common among the Karelians, rather than among the Finns of central and western Finland.

Although, due to the geographical position of the area, Karelians have been come in contact with the Slavs much more often than, for example, with the Swedes, and even from ancient times they were in touch with Novgorod, however, in Karelia much remains of the antiquity in the form of ancient songs and legends. Some of them remind of the time of the struggle between Finns and Russians, others refer to the time of the immemorial antiquity.

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Alexander V. Eliseev
The European part of Russia – geographical publications, 1906.

Translated by Ilya Kuznetsov, 2013
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