Vyborg gubernia

The Vyborg gubernia (Wiborgs län, Wiipurin lääni) forms the south-east part of Finland, laying between the latitudes 60°7' and 62°42'8" North (not counting the islands in the Gulf of Finland – they go to the south up to 59°45' North) and between the longitudes 26°26' and 32°47' East (from Greenwich). It includes the bigger part of the Old Finland (Gamla Finland) – the southern Karelia, the southmost part of Savolax and some parts of Nyland and Tavastland. The main part of the western border of the Vyborg gubernia goes along the Kymmene river. On the north it borders Saint Michels gubernia and Kuopio gubernia. The eastern border of the Vyborg gubernia (with adjoining Olonets gubernia) makes the part of the Eastern Finnish border. It goes first along one of the mountain ridges of the Maanselkä mountain system, then across the Unus-järvi lake and the Irstaan-joki river, tributary of the Suo-joki river. Then the border goes southward, making random curves, up to the Ladoga Lake. The south-west border of the gubernia goes southwestward along the Ladoga Lake shore to its west shore, then turns to south along the Rajajoki river going to the Gulf of Finland, separating the Vyborg gubernia from the St.-Petersburg one. The southern border of the Vyborb gubernia is formed by the Culf of Finland. The islands in the gulf, far from the northern coast, and even those, lying close enough to the southern shore, including Hogland (Suursaari), Tyttärensaari, Sayvi (Vähä Tyttärensaari), Lavansaari, Peninsaari and Seskär (Seitskaarto) belongs to the Vyborg gubernia. Their inhabitants are of the Finnish origin and live by fishing, seals hunting and piloting. The latter is quite necessary here, as the islands are surrounded by numerous dangerous rocks, banks and underwater stones that cause shipwrecks every year. That is why there is a lot of buoys and lighthouses. There are three lighthouses on the Hogland isle, one on the Seitskaarto isle, two on the cliffs north of Lavansaari and two on the rocks south-west of Hogland. All these lighthouses are kept by Russia and belong to St.-Petersburg Admiralty. As to the coastal line of the Gulf of Finland along the Vyborg gubernia, its eastern part is low and sandy and without any islands up to the Styrsudd cape, then the shore goes a bit to the north-west and becomes almost typically Finnish (more indented) and soon one meets a sizeable group of islands – four big (Björkö or Koivusaari), Biskopsö or Piissaari, Tuorsaari and Soukansaari) and a lot of small ones. This group of islans is sepereted from the mainland by quite narrow (1-2 miles), but long (about 15 miles) Björkösund strait, well-known since the 1790 war. Going on to the west one meets the Vyborg bay (Wiborgska viken) – the biggest one in Finland. Its entrance is for ¾ blocked by the long and narrow Björkö cape. On the other side of the cape the bay widen to the south-east and scattered with a lot of islands. The strait between islands Uuransaari and Suoniosaari, called Trångsund (narrow strait) is used for the anchorage of big ships, that are loaded and unloaded here. The smaller ships go up to Vyborg and even into the mouth of the Saimen Channel. To the west of the Vyborg bay there begin the real skerries. The nearest to the Vyborg bay is a group of Pitkäpaasi isles with a good anchorage. Father to the west there is a Vederlaks (Virolahti) bay. A lot of single isles and groups of islands covering this part of the gulf. Thanks to that sail ships find here more or less safe refuge from the storms, but sailing here is quite dangerous due to lots of pitfalls. Nobody goes here without a pilot. Between Pitkäpaasi and Hogland there is a well-known to all sailors a group of isles Aspögaddar (Perkel-skär), surrounded by the dangerous reefs. There is a lighthouse on one of the islands. To the north of this group there is an open space, leading to the Vekkelaks (Vehkalahti) bay, close to which there are Fredrikshamn isles. Further to the west there are three big islands – Kirkkomaa, Kuutsalo and Kotka. In the strate between the latter two there is a historically remarkable Svensksund (Ruotsinsalmi) isle.

As it was already said, the bigger part of the south-east border of the Vyborg Gubernia goes along the shore of the Ladoga lake. Almost from the beginning of the border with St-Petersburg gubernia the coast begins to change it southern look. Already at the mouth of the Suvanto river we can see high forest-overgrown hills and oses, made of a mess of boulders and pebbles and gaunt crosswise to the shoreline (from north-east to south-west). To the north of the Vuoksa river, just after the mouth of the Hiitola brook the coast is made from the bare granites and the country gets typical Finnish look, presenting the same indented coastline and lot of skerries as along the northern shore of the Gulf of Finland. The biggest islands along the western coast are Konevets (Kononsaari) and Keksholm (Käkisalmi), blocking the mouth of the Vuoksa river, with the town and fortress of the same name. The biggest skerries are at the north-west shore of the Ladoga lake. Here one meet islands Touna or Kilpolansaari-Riekkalansaari (near Serdobol), and lot of other islands. At the north-easten coast the most remarkable are Uuksulahti, Mansinsaari and Lunkulansaari. Of the islands that lay further from the shore the most remarkable is Valamo group, steeply rising from the deepest part of the lake.

The surface of the Vyborg gubernia is quite uneven. The main heights are the Salpausselkä ridge, Maly (small) Salpausselkä ridge and Ayräpäänselkä ridge. The first begins in the north-east part of the Vyborg gubernia, giving the spur that goes to the south-east into Olonets gubernia, goes to Kuopio gubernia and returns to Vyborg gubernia near the eastern shore of the Pyhäjärvi lake in Sordavala uezd. From here it turns to south-west and then to the west to Nyland Gubernia. Salpausselkä ridge is a watershed between the Ladoga and Saimaa lakes and on the west – between the Saimaa Lake and the Gulf of Finland. In the eastern part it mainly covered by alluviums and only somewhere there are open granites. Further to the west granites and gneiss lay opened. Some way to the west the Salpausselkä ridge is broken by Vuoksa river, forming here a will-known Imatra waterfall. Still further to the west the ridge is cut by Saimaa channel. From here on the ridge is hidden by sands sown with rapakivi1 stones and covered by sparse trees. Here it is quite convenient for building a road over it and for more than 200 verts the road is going over it. The Finnish railroad is also going atop of the ridge for several tens of versts (the part to the east of Riihimäki station). The height of the ridge in the Vyborg gubernia reaches 100 meters. Parallel to the said ridge some 20-40 versts to the north there goes the Maly Salpausselkä ridge, that begins at the western coast of the Pyhäjärvi lake and goes to the south-west, crossing the Saimaa Lake. This ridge mai be regarded as a spur of the main Salpausselkä ridge. Another important spur is the Ayräpäänselkä ridge, that parts with the main ridge at the north of the Saimaa channel and goes south-east along the western shore of the Vuoksa river. At the source of the Rajajoki river it goes into St-Peterburg gubernia. The area between Salpausselkä ridge and the Ladoga Lake shores is the most important part of all the Finland in its mineral resources. Here in the Sordavala uezd there is a marble mount Ruskeala, about 2 versts long, half of verst wide and up to 150 feet high. The eastern part of the Gulf of Finland coast is more or less plane, to the west it is covered with numerous hill made of rapakivi. The same kind of granite, but more solid, is mined in Pyterlahti quarries. The islands in the Gulf of Finland are usually not high, except for the Hogland isle with its three peaks reaching 180 meters and seen far from the sea. The main rock here is porphyry. The main rock in the Vyborg gubernia are gneiss-granite compounds, sometimes met rapakivi; thee true gneiss is found only on a limited area near the nerth=east coast of the Ladoga Lake. On the small area near the northern coast and further to the north there are also met slates and greenstones.

As to the water supply, the Vyborg gubernia lays partly in the Gulf of Finland basin and partly in the Ladoga Lake basin. Of the rivers the most remarkable is the Kymmene river with the lakes Pyhäjärvi (which it goes through) and Vuohijärvi, on the border with the Nyland gubernia. From the east the Kymmene river takes up waters from the system of the large Kivijärvi lake, lying between the main Salpausselkä and Maly Salpausselkä ridges. Further to the east several small rivers are entering the Gulf of Finland, including Siester-joki (Systerbäck) – the border-line with Russia. Of the rivers of the Ladoga Lake basin the most remarkable is Vuoksa, entering the lake near Keksholm. The bigger part of the Saimaa Lake, heavily covered with the islands, also belongs to the Vyborg gubernia. Some 30 versts to the west of the source of the Vuoksa river there begins the Saimaa Channel, going nearly to south-west and connecting the Saimaa Lake with the Vyborg bay. Also a part of the Suo-joki (Shuya) river, beginning in the Suo-järvi lake, runs by the territory of the Vyborg gubernia.

According to Strelbitsky, the territory of the Vyborg gubernia is about 43056 sq. kilometers (37833 sq. versts). The mainland with the inner waters is about 42716.7 sq. km, the lakes (including part of the Ladoga Lake belonging to the gubernia) occupies 12587.2 sq. km. According to Ignatsius, the territory covered by swamps and peat-bogs is 8626.76 sq. km, giving about 24.1% of the mainland (excluding the Ladoga Lake). Internal waters makes up 10.5% of the mainland. So, with exception of the Ladoga Lake, the lakes, rivers and swamps encounter 34.5% of the territory of the Vyborg gubernia. Only Kuopio, Vaasa and St.-Michel gubernias has bigger water surface.

The population of the Vyborg gubernia in 1887 was 330823 (162858 men, 167965 women), of them 26518 lived in towns, 304305 in villages. Population density is 10.5 per sq. km. Most of the inhabitants of the Finnish origin. By the 1880 data of 301975 people 291490 considered Finnish as their mother tongue and 7382 – Swedish. Somewhere among native Finnish inhabitants there are met Russian families. In the Moula parish there are several Russian villages (Kyyrölä, Kangaspelta, Suvenoja and Parkina). In the towns except for Russian there live some Germans. The Swedish population (except for the towns) lives in the most western part of the gubernia. The biggest part of Finns belong to the eastern Savolax-Karelian group and speaks on the corresponding dialect. The western part of gubernia is populated by the western (Tavastland) speakers. There are 6 towns, 1 township, 49 rural regions, 1819 villages in the Vyborg gubernia. The average population of the village is 171 (the sixth in Finland).

The agriculture and handicraft industry are at very low level here. Because of big areas covered by waters, swamps and quagmires and prevalence of the sandy and rocky lands, the agriculture is quite limited. In 1885 the arable lands took only 3.38% of all the lands in the Vyborg gubernia. The annual yield in the Vyborg and St.-Michel gubernias is the lowest in Finland, the quality of the land cultivation is the worst in the country. In 1887 the harvest was (in hectoliters): wheat – 3766 (7.69-fold), rye – 597885 (7.07-fold), barley – 179345 (5.93-fold), oats – 781665 (5.76-fold), mix of oats and barley – 11326 (5.78-fold), buckwheat 6833 (8.33-fold), pea – 13870 (5.64-fold), potato – 626163 (5.95-fold). Except for that, turnip and the like harvest was 55710 kilograms, flax – 302709 kilograms, hemp – 115246 kilograms. The per capita crop was 1.83 hectoliters of the wheat and rye, 0.55 hectoliters of the barley, 2.41 hectoliters of the oats and oats/barley mix, 0.06 hectoliters of the pea and buckwheat, 1.96 hectoliters of potato and 0.17 hectoliters of turnip and the like. By the per capita quantity of the wheat, rye, oats, oats/barley mix, pea and buckwheat the Vyborg gubernia is fifth in Finland, barley and potato – seventh, turnip and the like – third. The growing of the buckwheat is relatively big here, only St.-Michel gubernia exceeds Vyborg gubernia in that. In the Vyborg gubernia the small farms are predominant (as in all Finland, but to mach greater extent that in other gubernias). According to 1887 data of 29387 land owners only 87 had more than 100 hectares of arable land, 1940 had from 25 to 100 hectares, 10718 – from 5 to 25 hectares and 16642 – less than 5 hectares. The number of cattle in the Vyborg gubernia is relatively big. In the 1887 winter there were 41433 horses and foals, 167028 cows, bulls and calfs, 125455 sheep, 44903 pigs, 298 goats and 48578 poultry. The big damage for the cattle is brought by predators. In 1887 in Vyborg gubernia there were paid 4036 Finnish marks as a premiums for the killed predators.

The Vyborg gubernia is quite reach with the forests. The total forests area is 2191521 hectares, of them in private use are 2070820 hectares and in the state ownership 120701 hectares. By the amount of the privately-owned forests the Vyborg gubernia is the second in Finland. The best forests are at the north-east from the Ladoga lake. And here there is well developed forest industry (in 1887 there were 34 wood mills, of them 26 with the steam engines, with 1343 workers that cut up 1141634 logs). Cabinet-worth and fruit trees are met only in the southern part of gubernia. In the Nykyrka (New kirk) parish there is a planted larch wood. In the woods of the eastern part of gubernia there can be met wild and feral reindeers; sometimes there also can be met elks. The number of predators (including bears), as it was noted earlier, is rather big.

In the Gulf of Finland they catch a big take of the sprat, in the winter (from under the ice) they catch a lot of smelt (about 400 metric tons a year). There is a big catch of the whitefish (Coregonus albula), called here "muikko", in the lakes. There are many salmons in the Kymmene used and in the river Vuoksa.

Quite important for the Vyborg gubernia are its mineral treasures. The most rich with the minerals are the regions adjoining the northern coast of the Ladoga Lake. The Vyborg gubernia supplies a big volume of the different building stones. The most important are rapakivi quarries in Pytärlahti and Vederlaks (Virolahti) – the latter supplied the block for Alexander's column, granite quarries in Tuppuransaari near Vyborg, marble quarries in Ruskeala (in Sordavala uezd; cloudy bluish-gray Ruskeala marble was used in the building of the St-Isaak Cathedral, the Marble Palace and other buildings in St-Petersburg). Also, there are big syenite-granite quarries near Serdobol. Every year big block of this stone are exported to Russia (the stone was used for the monument in Novgorod, the monument to the Nickolay I and for the Nikolaevsky bridge in St.-Petersburg. In Impilahti and other places there are feldspar and quartz quarries that is exported to St.-Petersburg china works at about 2400 metric tons a year. The stone export through Serdobol amounts to about 100000 marks. In Pitkäranta, at the shore of the Ladoga Lake, there is the only working copper mine with the annual ore output to the amount around 300000 marks. Here they also mine the tin. In 1884-87 there had been mined tin for about 163000 marks. In some lakes (in 1887 – in six) there is a lake iron ore lifting, in some places there is also bog iron ore extraction. In 1886 there was extracted 3060 metric tons of Iron ore which was used for production of 1192 metric tons of the sheet iron, 4.6 metric tons of the blacksmith's iron and 123.3 metric tons of nails.

The total number of factories and manufactures in 1886 was 835. The number of workforce was 6143 and the annual output – 16325724 marks. Of them 368 with 2126 workers and output of 6907855 marks were in towns and townships and the rest 467 with 4017 workers and output of 9417859 marks were in villages. Distillation is not much spread, The most important works and factories are the following: in Vyborg – soap works and machine-shop, In Nurmes (near Vyborg) – metalwork factory, in Pero – nails works, in Rokkola -glass works, in Pitkäranta – ochre oil pant factory, in Raivola – iron works, in Suotniemi (near Keksholm) – delftware shops, in Kuusankoski – paper mills, in Turppa (near Fredrikshamn) – gunpowder works, in Ingerois – paper mills. The mercantile marine of the Vyborg gubernia on January 1st 1888 consisted of 625 sail vessels with total tonnage of 43713 register tons and 64 steam vessels with the tonnage of 1685 tons. The Vyborg gubernia has big trading turnover, especially in timber. In timber export the most important port is Kotka, that compete in timber trade with Bjerneborg, Vyborg and Fredrikshamn. The othe export goods are butter, livestock, meat, fish, sheet iron, metalwork and stone. The main import goods are flour and handicrafts from Russia. Apart from Vyborg, Kotka and Fredrikshamn the other important trading towns are Keksholm, Serdobol, Vilmanstrand, Kronoborg. There is a St.-Petersburg-Helsingfors railway, going along the Vyborg gubernia. It has branches to Kotka (at Kouvola station) and Vilmanstrand (at Simola station). Under construction is the railroad from Vyborg to Serdobol and further to Joensuu. Very important for Vyborg gubernia is the Saimaa channel, connecting the Saimaa lake with the Vyborg bay. The ground roads in gubernia in 1880 were 7905 kilometers (25 km per 100 sq. km).

In 1887-1888 there were 155 schools (118 in villages and 37 in towns), of them 71 mixed schools, 43 boys schools and 41 girls schools with total number of pupis 9509. By the language there were 142 Finnish, 6 Swedish, 2 Finnish/Swedish, 1 Finnish/German, 1 Finnish/Russian and 3 Russian schools. Secondary and high schools are in Vyborg, Vilmanstrand, Fredrikshamn, Serdobol and Keksholm. Administrativly the Vyborg gubernia is divided into 9 uezds: 1) Stranda (Ranta), 2) Ayräpää, 3) Keksholm (Käkisalmi), 4) Kronborg (Kurkijoki), 5) Kymmi, 6) Lappvesi, 7) Salmi, 8) Sordavala and 9) Jääski. The courts in gybernia are under supervising of Judicial Chamber (Hofrätt), The Lutheran church is under the rule of the bishop of Borgå, Orthodox church is under the Vyborg clerical board, which reports to the metropolitan of Novgorod and St.-Petersburg. The biggest part of the inhabitants are of the Lutheran church, only Russians and some Finns in the eastern part of the gubernia (parishis Salmi, Suistamo, Suo-järvi and village Kitilä in the Impilahti parish) are of the Orthodox church. The territory of the present Vyborg gubernia was the battlefield between Swedes and Russian from the ancient times. The bigger part of it (including Vyborg) was rejoined to Russia by the Nishtadt peace, the western part – during the reign of Elizaveta Petrovna. It was included into the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1811.

Nickolay Knipovitch


In 1903 the were 438060 inhabitants in the Vyborg gubernia. The native language in 1901 was Finnish for 407817, Swedish for 8821, Russian for 3960, other languages for 1012. In the towns there lived 49184, of them 33210 – in Vyborg. There were 402 of all kind of schools in 1901 with 20895 pupils. The were 8 high schools (lycees) with 1080 pupils, 383 elementary and secondary schools with 19172 pupils, 11 professional secondary schools with 643 pupils, including 1 mixed teachers school with 277 pupils.

Article from the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron

  1. kind of very soft granite, the world "rapakivi" means "rotten stone" in Finnish.