North Karelia has always been a place where east and west meet
. Now the region offers good connections to Russia, Ladoga Karelia and beyond. The Niirala border crossing point in Tohmajärvi is the third busiest in Finland with 1.6 million crossings a year. The big Russian markets are close by and Russian tourists contribute to the growth of the region's tourism, trade and services.
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 performed at the University of Eastern Finland located in Joensuu. The region's traditional strong fields of business include the forest, metal, extractive and food industries.
North Karelia invests in the welfare of people and the environment. The carbon footprint of North Karelians is up to 36% smaller than that of the average Finn. The region is a frontrunner in the use of renewable and, in particular, bioenergy: renewable energy accounts for 63 percent of the total energy consumption, which is a high percentage even on an international scale. North Karelia is also a model area in energy self-sufficiency: approximately 70% of the energy used is produced in the region.
Hilly landscapes covered with trees and dotted with meandering rivers and many 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 Pielinen lake. In North Karelia, the four seasons have a clear rhythm and a snowy winter is guaranteed every year.