The Finnic peoples[a] or Baltic Finns consist of the peoples inhabiting the region around the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe who speak Finnic languages, including the Finns proper, Estonians (including Võros and Setos), Karelians (including Ludes and Olonets), Veps, Izhorians, Votes, and Livonians as well as their descendants worldwide. In some cases the Kvens, Ingrians, Tornedalians and speakers of Meänkieli are also included separately rather than being a part of Finns proper.
Finnic peoples are also significant minority groups in neighbouring countries of Sweden, Norway and Russia.
|c. 7.4–8.2 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Finns[a]||c. 6.2–7 million|
|Estonians||c. 1.1 million|
|Predominantly Christianity (either Lutheranism or Eastern Orthodoxy); minority Uralic Neopaganism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Other Finno-Ugric peoples|
a Tornedalians, Ingrians, Kvens and Forest Finns are subsumed under Finns, as they are most commonly described as being subgroups of Finns proper rather than separate ethnic groups altogether.
According to the Migration Theory that was based primarily on comparative linguistics, the proto-Finns migrated from an ancient homeland somewhere in northwestern Siberia or western Russia to the shores of the Baltic Sea around 1000 BC, at which time Finns and Estonians separated. The Migration Theory has been called into question since 1980, based on genealogy, craniometry and archaeology. Recently, a modified form of the Migration Theory has gained new support among the younger generation of linguists, who consider that archaeology, genes or craniometric data cannot supply evidence of prehistoric languages.
During the last 30 years, scientific research in physical anthropology, craniometric analyses, and the mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal DNA frequencies have reduced the likelihood of the Migration Theory - a major westward migration as recently as 3,000 years ago. The Settlement Continuity Theory asserts that at least the genetic ancestors of the Finno-Ugric peoples were among the earliest indigenous peoples of Europe.
The origin of the people who lived in the Baltic Sea area during the Mesolithic Era continues to be debated by scientists. From the middle of the Neolithic onwards, there is agreement to a certain extent among scholars: it has been suggested that Finno-Ugric tribes arrived in the Baltic region from the east or southeast approximately 4000–3000 BC by merging with the original inhabitants, who then adopted the proto-Finno-Ugric language and the Pit–Comb Ware culture of the newcomers. The members of this new Finno-Ugric-speaking ethnic group are regarded as the ancestors of modern Estonians. The Y-chromosomal data has also revealed a common Finno-Ugric ancestry for the males of the neighboring Balts, speakers of the Indo-European Baltic languages. According to the studies, Baltic males are most closely related to the Finno-Ugric-speaking Volga Finns such as the Mari, rather than to Baltic Finns. The results suggest that the territories of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been settled by Finno-Ugric-speaking tribes since the early Mesolithic period.
On the other hand, some linguists do not consider it likely that a Baltic-Finnic language form could have existed at such an early date. According to these views, the Finno-Ugric languages appeared in Finland and Baltic only during the Early Bronze Age (ca. 1,800 BC), if not later.
The Finnic peoples share a common cultural heritage: the art of ancient "rune" (poem) singing in the Kalevala meter, estimated to be 2,500–3,000 years old. The Finnish and Estonian national epics, Kalevala and Kalevipoeg, are both written in this meter. The Veps are the only Baltic Finnish people with no significant corpus of Kalevala meter oral poetry. The poetic tradition has included epic poems (known mostly in Karelia and Ingria, perhaps as survivals from an earlier, wider distribution), lyric poems and magic chants.
The ancient rune singing has inspired the creation of the national epic of Finland, Kalevala compiled by Elias Lönnrot, and the music of Arvo Pärt, the best known Estonian composer in the classical field.
The region has been populated since the end of the last glacial era, about 10,000 BC. The earliest traces of human settlement are connected with Suomusjärvi culture and Kunda culture. The Early Mesolithic Pulli settlement is located by the Pärnu River. It has been dated to the beginning of the 9th millennium BC. The Kunda Culture received its name from the Lammasmäe settlement site in northern Estonia, which dates from earlier than 8500. Bone and stone artefacts similar to those found at Kunda have been discovered elsewhere in Estonia, as well as in Latvia, northern Lithuania and southern Finland.
Around 5300 BCE pottery and agriculture entered Finland. The earliest representatives belong to the Pit–Comb Ware culture, known for their distinctive decorating patterns. This marks the beginning of the Neolithic,
Until the early 1980s, the arrival of Finnic peoples, the ancestors of the Estonians, Finns, and Livonians on the shores of the Baltic Sea around 3000 BC, was associated with the Pit–Comb Ware culture However, such a linking of archaeologically defined cultural entities with linguistic ones cannot be proven and it has been suggested that the increase of settlement finds in the period is more likely to have been associated with an economic boom related to the warming of climate. Some researchers have even argued that a form of Uralic languages may have been spoken in Estonia and Finland since the end of the last glaciation.
The beginning of the Bronze Age in Estonia is dated to approximately 1800 BC, in present-day Finland some time after 1500 BCE. The coastal regions of Finland were a part of the Nordic Bronze Culture, whereas in the inland regions the influences came from the bronze-using cultures of Northern Russia. The development of the borders between the Finnic peoples and the Balts was under way. The first fortified settlements, Asva and Ridala on the island of Saaremaa and Iru in the Northern Estonia, began to be built. The development of shipbuilding facilitated the spread of bronze. Changes took place in burial customs, a new type of burial ground spread from Germanic to Estonian areas, stone cist graves and cremation burials became increasingly common aside small number of boat-shaped stone graves.
The Pre-Roman Iron Age began in about 500 BC and lasted until the middle of the 1st century. The oldest iron items were imported, although since the 1st century iron was smelted from local marsh and lake ore. Settlement sites were located mostly in places that offered natural protection. Fortresses were built, although used temporarily. The appearance of square Celtic fields surrounded by enclosures in Estonia date from the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The majority of stones with man-made indents, which presumably were connected with magic designed to increase crop fertility, date from this period. A new type of grave, quadrangular burial mounds, began to develop. Burial traditions show the clear beginning of social stratification.
The Roman Iron Age is roughly dated to between AD 50 and 450, the era that was affected by the influence of the Roman Empire. In material culture this is reflected by few Roman coins, some jewellery and artifacts. The abundance of iron artifacts in Southern Estonia speaks of closer mainland ties with southern areas while coastal Finland and the islands of western and northern Estonia communicated with their neighbors mainly by sea.
By the end of the period, clearly defined tribal dialectical areas - Finns, Tavastians, Karelians, Northern Estonians, Southern Estonians, and Western Estonians including the islanders - had emerged, the population of each having formed its own understanding of identity.
The word Finn is first mentioned in the form fenni in the 1st century AD by Tacitus, the Roman historian. However it is possible that he was referring to the people of northern Europe in general, particularly the Lappic or Sami people. After that the name finni is used by Claudius Ptolemaeus (around 150) and the Eastern Roman writer Jordanes in his Getica (551). References to Finnic tribes become much more numerous from the Viking era (800-1050). It was not until about 1171 that the word Finni was employed to mean the Finns.
The term Eesti, the name of the Estonians, occurs first again in Tacitus; however, it might have indicated Balts. In Northern Sagas (13th century) the term started to be used to indicate the Estonians.
In a Norwegian text (11-12th century) the name Kiriali referring to Karelians, and the term cornuti Finni, interpreted as referring to the Lapps or Sami people, first appear.
The Russian Primary Chronicle's opening chapter lists the following peoples living "in the share of Japheth" among others: Chud, Merya, Muroma, Ves, Mordvin (Moksha and Erzya), Chud beyond the portages, Perm, Pechera, Yam, Ugra, Liv.
The name Sum, possibly meaning Suomi (Finland in Finnish), is found in Nestor's Chronicle (1000–1100). The names of other Finnic tribes are also listed including Veps, Cheremis, Mordvin (Moksha and Erzya), Permian.
The Chudes as mentioned by a monk Nestor in the earliest Russian chronicles, are in 11th century context usually considered as Estonians, although it sometimes referred to all Finnic peoples in north-western Rus. According to the Russian Primary Chronicle Chuds bordered on the Varangian Sea (Baltic sea). In 1030 Yaroslav I the Wise invaded the country of the Chuds and laid the foundations of Yuriev, (the historical Russian name of Tartu, Estonia). They remained until 1061 when, according to chronicles, Yuryev was burned down by the Chudes. According to Old East Slavic chronicles the Chudes were one of the founders of the Rus' state.
The Northern (or eastern) Chudes were also a mythical people in folklore among Northern Russians and their neighbours. In Komi mythology, the Northern Chudes represent the mythic ancestors of the Komi people
In the 13th century the east Baltic world was transformed by military conquest: first the Livs and Estonians, then the Finns underwent defeat, baptism, military occupation and sometimes extermination by groups of Germans, Danes and Swedes. Finland was governed as a part of Sweden, while Estonia was under a Baltic German knightly brotherhood. Finland and Estonia became independent at the beginning of the modern age at 1917-1918; see history of Finland and history of Estonia. The Karelians remained under Russian and then Soviet rule, and their absolute and relative numbers dwindled. With urbanization, smaller peoples were often easily assimilated to the mainstream society, since they could no longer easily maintain their village-based culture.
Chud or Chude (Old East Slavic: чудь, in Finnic languages: tshuudi, tšuudi, čuđit) is a term historically applied in the early Russian annals to several Finnic peoples in the area of what is now Estonia, Karelia and Northwestern Russia.Perhaps the earliest written use of the term "Chudes" to describe proto-Estonians was c. 1100, by the monk Nestor, in the earliest Russian chronicles. According to Nestor, Yaroslav I the Wise invaded the country of the Chuds in 1030 and laid the foundations of Yuryev, (the historical Russian name of Tartu, Estonia). Later sources used Chud to describe other Baltic Finns called volok which is thought to refer to the Karelians.
According to Old East Slavic chronicles the Chudes were one of the founders of the Rus' state.Chukhna
Chukhna, Chukhnas, Chukhontsy (singular: Chukhonets (male), Chukhonka (female)) is an obsolete Russian term for some Finnic peoples: Finns, Estonians, Karelians, Ingrian Finns.
It is thought to be a derivative from the ethnonym Chud.The 18th century Linguarum totius orbis vocabularia comparativa of Peter Simon Pallas has a vocabulary of the "Chukhna language".
Vladimir Dahl, in his "Explanatory Dictionary of the Live Great Russian language", records a reference to Finns in the vicinity of St. Petersburg.In modern usage, the words are considered ethnic slurs for Finns and Estonians.Deportations of the Ingrian Finns
Deportations of the Ingrian Finns were a series of mass deportations of the Ingrian Finnish population by Soviet authorities. Deportations took place from the late 1920s to the end of World War II.Estonians
Estonians (Estonian: eestlased) are a Finnic ethnic group native to Estonia who speak the Estonian language.Finnic
Finnic or Fennic may refer to:
Finnic languages (Baltic Finnic), a branch of the Uralic language family spoken by the Finnic peoples
Finnic peoples (Baltic Finns), the peoples inhabiting the region around the Baltic Sea
Finnic mythologies, the various mythologies of the Finnic peoplesFinnic mythologies
Finnic mythologies are the various mythologies of the Finnic peoples.
The term in Finnish historiography heimosodat (German: Kriege verwandter Völker) has been translated literally into English as "Kindred Nations Wars", "Wars for kindred peoples" or "Kinship Wars," specifically Finnic kinship. It is sometimes erroneously translated as "Tribal Wars". It refers to conflicts in territories inhabited by other Finnic peoples, often in Russia or in borders of Russia. Finnish volunteers took part in these conflicts either to assert Finnish control over the areas inhabited by related Finnic peoples or to help them to gain their independence. Many of the volunteer soldiers were inspired by the idea of Greater Finland. Some of the conflicts were incursions from Finland and some were local uprisings, where volunteers wanted either to help the people in their fight for independence or to annex the areas to Finland. According to Roselius, about 10,000 volunteers from Finland took part in the armed conflicts mentioned below.
Estonian War of Independence (1918–1920)
Pohjan pojat ("Sons of the North") and I Suomalainen Vapaajoukko (I Finnish volunteer corps) helped Estonian troops.
Viena expedition (1918)
Aunus expedition (1919)
Petsamo expeditions (1918 and 1920)
East Karelian Uprising (1921–1922)
National revolt of Ingrian Finns (1918–1920)The phenomenon is closely linked to nationalism and irredentism, as Finland had just won its national independence, and a part of the population felt that they had obligations to help other Finnic peoples to attain the same. Estonia, the closest and numerically largest "kindred nation", had gained its independence at the same time, but had fewer resources, fewer institutions ready to support its attained position, and more Russian troops within its borders. Other Finnic peoples were at a less organized level of cultural, economic and political capability. The Finnish Civil War had awakened strong nationalistic feelings in Finnish citizens and other Finnic peoples, and they sought tangible ways to put these feelings into action. For the two next decades, Finns participated at a relatively high rate in nationalistic activities (e.g. Karelianism and Finnicization of the country and its institutions). This development was related to the trauma and divisiveness of the Civil War. Many White sympathizers in the Civil War became radically nationalistic as a result of the war. The strenuous five-year period 1939–45 of total war—which also mostly unified the nation—reduced this enthusiasm.Karelians
Karelians (Karelian: karjalaižet) are a Baltic-Finnic ethnic group who are native to the Northern European historical region of Karelia, which is today split between Finland and Russia.
In Russia, Karelians mostly live in the Republic of Karelia where there are the designated ethnic group and in other adjacent north-western parts of the country. There are also significant Karelian enclaves in the Tver and Novgorod oblasts, as some Karelians migrated to those areas after the Russo-Swedish War of 1656-1658.
In Finland, Karelians traditionally live in the regions of Savonia and Northern and Southern Karelia. The historic homeland of the Karelians is the Karelian Isthmus, Ladoga Karelia, Olonets Karelia in Russia and the regions of North and Southern Karelia and Savonia in Finland.Kreevins
Kreevins (Latvian: Krieviņi) were Votes who lived in the proximity of Latvian town of Bauska and spoke a dialect of Votic. In the middle of the 19th century they merged with the surrounding Latvians, although many traditional aspects of Votic culture are still preserved. The name krieviņi means "little Russians" (diminutive form) in the Latvian language.Savakot
Savakot (plural; singular: Savakko) is one of the two main ethnic groups of Ingrian Finns, the other being Äyrämöiset. Savakot are the descendants of the Savonian people migrated to Swedish Ingria (which now part of Russia) from Savonia.According to Peter Köppen, in the middle of the 19th century there were 43,000 Savakot on the Karelian Isthmus. In 1929 in Leningrad Oblast there were about 115,000 "Leningrad Finns", which counted both Savakot and Äyrämöiset and excluded "Finland Finns" (which numbers were 13,000). At that time (1929) their urban population was insignificant. At the same time, their literacy level was among the highest (72%), which was given as a reason for the higher level of their agriculture. Agriculture was their major occupation, with shoreside population engaged in fishing, and small part engaged in logging. Later the self-identification of Savakot disappeared.Setos
Setos (Seto: setokõsõq, setoq, Estonian: setukesed, setud, Finnish: setukaiset, setut or setot) are an indigenous ethnic and linguistic minority in south-eastern Estonia and north-western Russia. Setos are mostly Seto-speaking Orthodox Christians of Estonian nationality. The Seto language (like Finnish and Estonian) belongs to the Finnic group of the Uralic languages. The Setos seek greater recognition, rather than having their language considered a dialect of Estonian. Along with Orthodox Christianity, vernacular traditional folk religion is widely practiced and supported by Setos.
There are approximately 15,000 Setos around the world. The bulk of Setos, however, are found in the Setomaa region, which is divided between south-eastern Estonia (Põlva and Võro counties) and north-western Russian Federation (Pechorsky District of Pskov Oblast). Setos are an officially protected ethnic minority of Pskov Oblast.
The culture of Setos blossomed in the early 20th century when many national societies of Setos were organized. In 1905 the number of Setos reached its maximum. After the proclamation of independence of Estonia its authorities adopted a policy of Estonification of its population, which eventually led to virtual disappearance of Setos as a distinctive linguistic entity of Estonia. In Russia, due to the influence of Estonian language schools, high rates of mixed marriages, and emigration to Estonia, the number of Setos drastically decreased as well.Tornedalians
The Tornedalians are descendants of Finns who, at some point, settled to the areas of today's Northern Sweden near the Torne Valley district and west from there.Tver Karelians
Tver Karelians are a people who inhabit regions of Tver, Saint Petersburg, and Moscow. Their dialect is remarkable in that it does not borrow from other Baltic-Finnish languages due to centuries of geographical isolation. Although the number of Tver Karelian people is about 14,633, very few (about 25 in one census) name the dialect as their primary language.Ungannians
Ugaunians or Ugannians (Estonian: ugalased) (Latvian: ugauņi), referred to as Chudes by the earliest Russian chronicles were historical Finnic people inhabiting the ancient southern Estonian Ugandi County (Latin:Ungannia) (also Ugania, Ugaunia) that is now Tartu, Põlva, Võru and Valga counties of Estonia.Vends (Livonia)
The Vends (Latin: wendi, Latvian: vendi) were a small tribe that lived in the 12th to 16th centuries in the area around the town of Wenden (now Cēsis) in present-day north-central Latvia.
According to Livonian Chronicle of Henry prior to their arrival in the area of Wenden in the 12th century, the Vends were settled in Ventava county (Latin: Wynda) by the Venta River near the present city of Ventspils in western Latvia. Their proximity to more numerous Finnic and Baltic tribes inclined the Vends to ally with the German crusaders, who began building a stone castle near the older Vendian wooden fortress in 1207. The castle of Wenden later became the residence of the Master of the Livonian Order. The last known record of the Vends' existence as a distinct entity dates from the sixteenth century.Vepsians
Veps, or Vepsians (Veps: vepsläižed), are a Finnic people who speak the Veps language, which belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. The self-designations of these people in various dialects are vepslaine, bepslaane and (in northern dialects, southwest of Lake Onega) lüdinik and lüdilaine. According to the 2002 census, there were 8,240 Veps in Russia. Of the 281 Veps in Ukraine, 11 spoke Vepsian (Ukr. Census 2001). The most prominent researcher of the Veps in Finland is Eugene Holman. Western Vepsians have kept their language and culture. Nowadays, almost all Vepsians are fluent in Russian. The young generation in general does not speak their native language.Votes
Votes, sometimes also Vods (Votic: vađđalaizõd) are a Finnic ethnic group native to Votia in Ingria, the part of modern-day northwestern Russia that is roughly southwest of Saint Petersburg and east of the Estonian border-town of Narva. The Finnic Votic language spoken by Votes is close to extinction. Nonetheless, the Votic language is still spoken in three villages of historical Votia and by an unknown number of fluent Votic speakers in the countryside. The villages are Jõgõperä (Krakolye), Liivcülä (Peski), and Luuditsa (Luzhitsy).Votians were one of the founding people of Veliky Novgorod.Võros
Võros (Võro: võrokõsõq, pronounced [vɤrokɤsəʔ], Estonian: võrukesed, Finnish: võrolaiset) are inhabitants of historical Võrumaa (Vana Võromaa), a region in Southeastern Estonia (Võru and Põlva Counties with parts extending into Valga and Tartu Counties). The term is particularly used by proponents of a regional identity.
About 70,000 people live in historical Võrumaa and many more identify as Võros although they live outside the territory, mostly in Tartu and Tallinn.Äyrämöiset
The Äyrämöiset or, as the Russians call them, Evrimeiset, are a Finnish language-speaking people who lived in the Saint Petersburg Oblast and earlier also on the Finnish part of the Karelian Isthmus. Äyrämöiset are one of the two main Finnish groups in St. Petersburg Oblast, the other being the Savakot. Most of the Äyrämöiset are Lutherans. The name äyrämöiset (äkrämöiset) comes from the ancient county of Äyräpää (Äkräpää) in the Western part of the Karelian Isthmus - which was a part of the kingdom of Sweden after 1323 AD. In earlier times existed as well an agricultural deity called Äkräs (Ägräs), the god of beans, peas and hemp and the mythological forefather of the äyrämöiset.