North Karelia

North Karelia is Finland's easternmost province, bordering on Russia for nearly 300km. Virmajärvi, in Ilomantsi, lies further east than Istanbul, in Turkey.
Total area of the province is 21,585 about half the size of the Netherlands - of which 3803 are water. About 70% of this area is covered by forest.
The population of the province is approx.170,000. The biggest town and economic heart of the province is Joensuu, pop. 57,000.
The biggest draw for visitors is undoubtedly Koli National Park, with Koli Fell (347m) the highest point in south and central Finland. The National Park is bounded to the east by Lake Pielinen, fifth biggest lake in Finland, stretching some 90km north to south.
Besides the Koli National Park there are two other National Parks, plus huge areas suitable for walking, canoeing, cycling, skiing and other outdoor pursuits.

North Karelia has a fairly continental climate, with a difference between average summer and average winter temperatures of 26-27 degrees Celsius. The average annual temperature is only +2,5 C in Joensuu, though in summer the thermometer can climb above 30C. The warmest summer month is July, the coldest months are December-February. Total annual precipitation is approx 20 inches (50 cms) of which about half falls as snow, giving snow cover of about 2 ft (60 cms). The northern parts of the province usually get permanent snow cover around mid-November, the southern parts later that month. The ski season starts in October on artificial snow, and the longest lighted cross-country ski trail is 22 kilometres, starting from Koli. The snow melts from open areas around the end of April, and from shady forests about 10 days later.


Diagram showing weather conditions at Joensuu airport over the last 40 years.

In the diagram above the broken horizontal line indicates the average annual temperature. The curve shows average monthly temperatures, starting with January.

The diagram above shows average monthly precipitation and depth of snow cover over the last 40 years.
Long walking season
The best periods for walkers are early summer and early autumn. In late May and early June the snows have melted away and the frozen lakes have thawed, but there are few troublesome insects about. The countryside is full of !birdsong, and there is daylight practically round the clock, though night temperatures can be cool. Light nights continue right through July, and shooting stars can't be seen until well into August.

Autumn colours
Early autumn, from September to around mid-October, is also a good time for walkers: the mosquitoes and most other pests have disappeared, the temperature is (usually) still well above zero and the countryside is bright with autumn colours, at their best in early October.


©2004 PK Media Service Oy