Viipuri Province

Viipurin lääni
Viborgs län

Province of Viipuri
Province of Finland


1743 – 1947


Coat of arms

Capital Viipuri¹
 - 1918-1920 Antti Verner Hackzell
 - 1925-1944 Arvo Manner
 - Established December 6 1743
 - Moscow Peace Treaty March 21, 1940
 - Moscow Armistice September 19, 1944
 - Paris Peace Treaty February 10 1947
 - 1939¹ 32,134 km² (12,407 sq mi)
 - 1939¹ 620,838 
     Density 19.3 /km²  (50 /sq mi)
¹ About 43 thousand km² with the surface of the Finnish part of Lake Ladoga.

The Viipuri Province (Finnish: Viipurin lääni, commonly abbreviated Vpl, Swedish: Viborgs län or Wiborgs län) was a province of independent Finland from 1917 to 1947 but had already been founded in 1743.


The province was established in 1743 by separating the city of Viipuri and territories ceded from the Swedish Empire to Russia by the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, from the Saint Petersburg Governorate, and including the new territorial gains by the Treaty of Åbo. At that time it was known as the Vyborg Governorate (Russian: Выборгская губерния, Vyborgskaya guberniya). The territory consisted of parts from the Viborg and Nyslott County and Kexholm County in 1721, and the Savolax and Kymmenegård County in 1743. It was also known as Old Finland, and between 1802 and 1812 it was named the "Governorate of Finland".

Vyborg Governorate

During the Napoleonic Wars, the Kingdom of Sweden had allied itself with the Russian Empire, United Kingdom and other parties against Napoleonic France. However, following the treaty of Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, Russia made peace with France. In 1808, and supported by France, Russia successfully challenged the Swedish control over Finland in the Finnish War. In the Treaty of Fredrikshamn on September 17, 1809 Sweden was obliged to cede all its territory in Finland, east of the Torne River, to Russia. The ceded territories became a part of the Russian Empire and was reconstituted into the Grand Duchy of Finland, with the Russian Tsar as Grand Duke.

In 1812 the governorate (Swedish: län, Finnish: lääni) was transferred from Russia proper to the Grand Duchy of Finland, however in Finland the language of the administrators was still Swedish and the old terminology during the Swedish time continued in local use. The transfer announced Tsar Alexander I just before Christmas, on December 23, 1811 O.S. (January 4, 1812 N.S.), can be seen as a symbolic gesture and an attempt to appease the sentiment of the Finnish population, which had just experienced Russian conquest of their country by force. Siestarjoki was transferred to Saint Petersburg Governorate in 1864.

Following the declaration of independence of Finland on December 6, 1917 it became the Province of Viipuri.

The capital of the governorate was the city of Vyborg (Swedish: Viborg, Finnish: Viipuri), which at the time was second largest city in Finland.

World War II

On 1 September 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland and started World War II. 17 September USSR, in accordance with the secret protocols of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact invaded Poland from the east. Within months, the Soviet Union launched a war against Finland, forcing it to cede territory, including parts of the province of Viipuri to the Soviet Union in the Moscow Peace Treaty in early 1940. Finland lost its natural border along the Kymi River (Swedish: Kymmene älv) in the west, and Rajajoki (Swedish: Systerbäck) in the south. 22,973 km², or 71.5 percent of the province on the Karelian Isthmus, with the cities of Viipuri and Sortavala, became part of the newly established Karelo-Finnish SSR in the Soviet Union. Following the peace treaty the entire population of the ceded territories of more than four hundred thousand people was evacuated to central Finland.

In 1941 the Continuation War broke out and Finland recaptured the territories, but in 1944 its forces were pushed back and by the Moscow Armistice on September 19, 1944 and the Paris Peace Treaty in 1947 the territorial losses were confirmed again.

Winter war evacuees had returned following the Finnish offensive in 1941 and were evacuated again in 1944 after the Soviet counterattack, and the territories were repopulated by people from other parts of the Soviet Union. This time, the Karelian Isthmus became part of the Vyborgsky and Priozersky districts of the Leningrad Oblast, and only Ladoga Karelia and Border Karelia became part of the Karelo-Finnish SSR.

While Ladoga Karelia retained most of its original toponyms, the vast majority of toponyms in the Karelian Isthmus were renamed by the Soviet government around 1948. In 1945 the parts of the province which remained in Finnish hands were renamed Kymi Province with its center at Kouvola. The Kymi Province was in turn merged with other provinces into the larger Southern Finland Province in 1997.

Administrative divisions

Cities, towns and municipalities as of 1939:

Kuolemajärvi Lutheran Church. Built in 1903, destroyed in 1939
The Petäjärvi railway station, Sakkola municipality, in the 1930s
Muolaa Lutheran church. Built in 1849, destroyed during the Second World War
Evacuees from Muolaa municipality on their way to West-Finland, December 1939
The old railway station in Elisenvaara, constructed around 1893, was destroyed in the Winter War
Lutheran Church in Koivisto designed by Josef Stenbäck
Finnish military parade in Viipuri on August 31, 1941, after its recapture

Cities, towns and municipalities ceded to the Soviet Union during WWII are given in italics.



Rural municipalities

Finnish/Swedish name. Main village with the same name unless otherwise noted

Electoral districts

Western electoral district

Antrea, Haapasaari, Hamina, Johannes, Kanneljärvi, Koivisto, Koiviston maalaiskunta, Kotka, Kouvola, Kuolemajärvi, Kymi, Lappee, Lappeenranta, Lauritsala, Lavansaari, Lemi, Luumäki, Miehikkälä, Nuijamaa, Pyhtää (Pyttis), Savitaipale, Seiskari, Simpele, Sippola, Suomenniemi, Suursaari, Säkkijärvi, Taipalsaari, Tytärsaari, Uusikirkko, Vahviala, Valkeala, Vehkalahti, Viipuri, Viipurin maalaiskunta, Virolahti, Ylämaa

Eastern electoral district

Antrea, Harlu, Heinjoki, Hiitola, Impilahti, Jaakkima, Joutseno, Jääski, Kaukola, Kirvu, Kivennapa, Korpiselkä, Kurkijoki, Käkisalmen maalaiskunta, Käkisalmi, Lahdenpohja, Lumivaara, Metsäpirtti, Muolaa, Parikkala, Pyhäjärvi, Rautjärvi, Rautu, Ruokolahti, Ruskeala, Räisälä, Sakkola, Salmi, Simpele, Soanlahti, Sortavala, Sortavalan maalaiskunta, Suistamo, Suojärvi, Terijoki, Uukuniemi, Valkjärvi, Vuoksela, Vuoksenranta, Äyräpää

Dam of the old private Finnish hydroelectric plant on Saijanjoki


Governors of the Viipuri Province:

In 1918 Jalmari Kirjarinta (1881-1938) was appointed provincial commissar by the rebel Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic.

Notable people

Both the second President of Finland Lauri Kristian Relander and Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, grandfather of the sixth President, Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, were governors of Viipuri province.

See also

External links

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