The landscape of the Karelian Isthmus and its imagery since 1944

  • Gregory A. Isachenko University of St. Petersburg


This paper traces the correlation between the functions of landscape, its dynamics under its human influences and the dominant images of its terrain. A great deal of attention is given to Vyborg Karelia – the part of the Karelian Isthmus ceded by Finland to the Soviet Union in 1940. The author considers the consequences on the landscape of population exchange and settlement after 1944, alterations in landscape due to increased recreation, forest protection, the abandonment of agricultural lands, bog drainage and open-cut mining. The conclusions reached concerning the landscape imagery of the region are based chiefly on an analysis of texts and pictures from between the 1950s and the 1980s, and the author’s observations and research data. Predominantly examined is the perception of the residents of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) as being the widest human cross-section vis-à-vis Vyborg Karelia at the period under examination. The radical changes in its imagery during the postwar period were wrought by: 1) great alterations in landscape functions and land use; 2) the loss of historical recollection of past landscapes in the present population; and 3) the strong ideologization of landscape perception during the Soviet period. An integral image, dominating up to now, embodies the principally “recreational model” of landscape development, one which is not completely adequate to the present state of the landscape. During the post-Soviet period, regional imagery becomes more complex and contradictory in regard to the increased transitional function of the Isthmus as a bridge between Russia and the European Union.
Research Papers
Jan 1, 2004
How to Cite
Isachenko, G. A. (2004). The landscape of the Karelian Isthmus and its imagery since 1944. Fennia - International Journal of Geography, 182(1), 47-59. Retrieved from