The Olonets Gubernia
|Population. As of January 1, 1896, there were
In terms of population density (3,2 inhabitants per sq. verst), Olonets is second to last among all Gubernias in European Russia, surpassing only Archangel Gubernia. The Gubernia consists of 7 counties (uyezds): Petrozavodsk - 6,3 inhabitants per sq. verst), Lodeinopolsk - 5,3, Vytegorsk - 5, Olonets - 4,9, Kargopolsk - 4,2, Pudozh - 1,9, Povenets - 0,8 inhabitants per sq. verst.
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The average annual population increase was
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Ethnic characteristics of the population: Great Russians
The Great Russians are descendants of Novgorodian colonists who settled in Obonezhie and along the Onega river already in the 1100s. They occupy the largest and the best part of the region: The shores of the Svir and all its tributary rivers except the upstream of the Ojat, also the Onega lake coast with the exception of a small strip on the western shore, as well as the Zaonezhie Peninsula and the mouths of all rivers of any importance which flow in the Onega, and all lands to the east of the lake Onega.
The Karelians live in the north-western part of Olonets Gubernia: Nearly everywhere in Olonets County (except on the shores on the Svir), in the north-western part of the Petrozavodsk county and in the large, north-western part of the Povenets County.
The Vepsä occupy the upstream of the Ojat in the south-eastern part of the Lodeinoe Pole County, there are a few village groups also in Vytegra County; In addition, there remain clusters of Vepsä, close to russification, on the west coast of lake Onega to the south of Petrozavodsk.
Neither the Olonets Karelians, nor the Vepsä, are pure Finns from the anthropological point of view; Having assimilated some Russian elements (as in the environs of Olonets town for example), they speak a language which has adopted a large amount of Russian words to denote cultural concepts. They have common land ownership and almost the same customs as the neighboring Russian peasants, they sing Russian songs and they consider themselves entirely foreign to the Lutheran Karelians of Finland. The Vepsä and nearly all Karelians are Orthodox; Some Karelians belong to the Raskol.
The Russian population speaks the Novgorodian dialect. A lot of medieval and unique words of Slavic origin remain in their language which has also borrowed from the Finnish languages. The accent of Zaonezhie and Pudozh has a distinct rhythm: The stress is as far as possible from the end of the word (influence of the Karelian language).
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The population lives in large two-storey houses which are mostly more prosperous and more neat than the houses in the Middle Russia.
Translated by Jouni Snellman, 2005