Facts for Visitors
Karelia is exceptionally diverse in the landscapes, flora and fauna in its area. There are extensive wilderness reaches where no trace of human activity can be found and where with luck one might instead find tracks left by bears or wolves.
There are approximately 2000 lakes in North Karelia, the biggest of which is Lake Pielinen, the 4th largest in Finland. Waters cover almost 4000 sq. kms of the area. Forests cover approx. 70 % of the region; The headquarters of the European Forest Institute is situated in Joensuu.
» Read more about Karelian nature
Koli is one of the Finland’s best-known national landscapes. The Koli hills are remains of the Karelids, a mountain chain formed two billion years ago. The highest peak of the Koli hills, Ukko-Koli, stands 347 meters above the sea level. It is also the highest point in Southern Finland.
» Read more about Koli National Park
Finland became independent in 1917, but before this time Karelia was ruled both Russia and Sweden, turn by turn. The Karelia border has been re-drawn again and again over the past few centuries – the last time being just over sixty years ago.
Nowadays Karelia has been split between Russia (where it is the Republic of Karelia) and Finland (where it is officially known as the province of North Karelia). In Finland North Karelia is known as the easternmost province of Finland and of the continental European Union. Guided excursions are organized to the very easternmost point on Lake Virmajärvi in Ilomantsi. The history of Karelia has seen several phases and you can familiarize yourself with them in places such as the North Karelian Museum at the cultural & tourist centre Carelicum in Joensuu.
» Find out more about the history
PEOPLE IN NORTH KARELIA
Karelians are known for being a cheerful and hospitable people. Musical traditions still run strong in Karelia in the form of song, dance and playing the kantele, a Karelian zither which is smaller with fewer strings than its Chinese counterpart.
» More information about the Finnish people
Finland is a bilingual country with Finnish and Swedish as the official languages. English and German are also widely spoken and in the eastern parts of Finland, such as North Karelia, many also speak Russian.
Foreign nationals in the Schengen area can enter Finland with a valid passport or another travel document accepted by Finland. If you are from a country outside the Schengen area, you must always have a visa with you when coming to Finland.
» More information about arriving in Finland from the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland
REGIONAL TOURIST INFORMATION OFFICES
» See the contact information
There is a common legal concept in Finland called ‘jokamiehen oikeudet’ (lit. the rights of everyman) that gives everyone the chance to enjoy the outdoors and its offerings quite freely. You can pick berries and mushrooms and roam freely in the peace and quiet of the vast forest areas, lakes and rivers in Finland. The basis of this concept is, though, that the areas are treated with mutual respect. Both for the convenience of other travelers and for keeping the outdoors clean.
Learn more about the everyman’s rights concerning the great outdoors.
Finland has four seasons that give contrast to the nature in a unique way. Karelia has most continental climate in Finland and as such the difference between the seasons is very clear. In summer the sun shines as bright as a new penny and heatwaves can last up to many weeks. The temperature can rise up to 30 degrees Celsius. Autumn is a time of auburn colors and a shorter duration of daylight. Winter brings with it snowfall, often arriving as early as November, forming a white bed of snow on the ground. Karelia is one of the areas in Finland that has the deepest snow cover in winter; average snow depth is from 75 to 100cm. The coldest temperatures in winter can go down to -40 degrees Celsius. With the arrival of spring in March and April, the sunshine melts the glittering snowdrifts forming murmuring rivulets of crystal-clear water.
» Read more about seasons in Finland
» What’s the weather like in Joensuu right now?
There is only one emergency number in use in Finland, 112. The same number works in all EU countries. You can call the emergency number 112 free of charge from any phone with no need for an area code. You can also call 112 from a foreign mobile phone connection – without an area code. Just dial 112. The American emergency number 911 is automatically directed to 112 in Finland, so when in doubt, you can also dial 911.
If travelling from other EU countries you can receive free or reduced medical care if you have a European Health Insurance card.
» Read more of the European Health Incurance Card and see how you can apply for it
For nationals of countries outside the EU a comprehensive insurance plan is advised. Remember to check with your country’s health department if a reciprocal cover agreement is in place with Finland.
First aid, North Karelia Central Hospital, Tikkamäentie 16, Joensuu, tel. +358 (0)13 171 6161.
PHONES AND INTERNET
Public telephones are only available at airports and major train or bus stations in Finland. It is best to bring along a mobile phone – GSM & 3G networks operate almost everywhere. If it is necessary to obtain a phone in Finland, the simplest models may cost less than EUR 40. A start-up kit for a prepaid subscription costs about EUR 17.
» Read more about the International Calls, Telephone Services and Networks in Finland.
MONEY AND CURRENCY
The currency in use in Finland is the Euro.
» Convert from another currency
During public holidays most shops and offices are closed. Hotels, some restaurants and service stations are usually always open, even on public holidays.
» Here is a list of Finnish public holidays.
Voltage from outlets is 220-240 Volts. If your device does not accept this voltage, you will need a voltage converter. Electrical outlets are European standard types that accept two round pins: either ungrounded Europlug (Type C) or grounded Schukoplug (Type E/F).
GMT +2 hours.
Finland uses Daylight Saving Time (DST) as do most European countries. On the last Sunday of March clocks are put one hour forward and on the last Sunday of October they are put one hour backward.