Karelia is a region in northern Europe which straddles the border between Russia and Finland. It extends from the White Sea, on Russia's northwest coast, to the Gulf of Finland.


It is just south of the Arctic Circle and is covered with taiga - evergreen forest..


The land in Karelia is sandy and flat. There are many marshes, streams, lakes and rivers. Lakes Ladoga and Onega, the two largest lakes that are entirely contained within Europe, are here. (The Caspian Sea, which is larger, is partly in Europe and partly in Asia.)


In the winter, the rivers and lakes freeze over.


Kizhi Pogost, a group of wooden buildings on an island on Lake Onega, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kizhi Pogost, which is part of the Russian Federation, contains two wooden churches that were built in the 18th century and a clock tower that was constructed in 1862.


North Karelia, in Finland, has about 2,000 Lakes.


Joensuu is the capital of North Karelia. It has an art museum, an orchestra, a theater and two universities. Czar Nicholas I founded Joensuu in 1848.


Ukko-Koli, the highest mountain in North Karelia's Koli Hills, is 1,139 feet (347 meters) high. The Koli Hills can be found in Koli National Park.


Viena Karelia, or White Karelia, is located in northeastern Karelia.


Kalevala (Uhtua in Finnish) - the administrative center of Viena Karelia - is on Lake Kuittjarvi.


Viena Karelia is known for its ancient villages and the rich cultural histories of their inhabitants.


The village of Paanajärvi, in Viena Karelia, is 3,000 years old.


Most of the houses in this village are made of logs that are held together with notches and slots and sealed together with moss.


Juminkeko, a Finnish organization, is working to preserve the culture of Paanajärvi and other villages in Karelia.


Bears, wolves and other animals can be seen at Paanajärvi National Park.


In 1837, Elias Lönnrot spent the summer traveling through Viena Karelia, asking the villagers to sing runes - ancient Karelian ballads - for him.


Lönnrot collated these runes in a book, The Kalevala, in 1849. The Kalevala had a significant influence on JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.