Viipuri Province

The Viipuri Province (Finnish: Viipurin lääni, commonly abbreviated Vpl, Swedish: Viborgs län or Wiborgs län) was a historical province of Finland from 1812 to 1945.

Viipuri Province
Viipurin lääni
Viborgs län
Province of Finland
Coat of arms of Viipuri
Coat of arms
• 19391
32,134 km2 (12,407 sq mi)
• 19391
• Established
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Vyborg Governorate
Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic
Leningrad Oblast
Province of Kymi
1 About 43 thousand km2 with the surface of the Finnish part of Lake Ladoga.
Viipuri Province in 1897


The predecessor of the province was Vyborg Governorate, which was established in 1744 from territories ceded by the Swedish Empire to Russia in 1721 (Treaty of Nystad) and in 1743 (Treaty of Åbo). These territories originated as parts of the Viborg and Nyslott County and Kexholm County in 1721, and parts of the Savolax and Kymmenegård County in 1743. The governorate was also known as Old Finland.

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 Tilsit in 1807, Russia made peace with France. In 1808, supported by France, Russia successfully challenged 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 were reconstituted into the autonomic Grand Duchy of Finland, with the Russian Tsar as Grand Duke.

In 1812, the territories of the Vyborg Governorate were transferred from Russia proper to the Grand Duchy of Finland and established as Viipuri Province. The transfer announced by Tsar Alexander I just before Christmas, on December 23, 1811 O.S. (January 4, 1812 N.S.), can be seen[vague] 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.

When Finland became independent from Russia in 1917, the status of Viipuri Province remained unchanged. The provincial capital, Vyborg (Swedish: Viborg, Finnish: Viipuri), was at this time the fourth largest city in Finland.

The Viipuri Province had sided with the Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic during the Finnish Civil War. And the Province was important to Red Finland for the reason that it was a border with the Russian SFSR which intern could send in Troops and Supplies to Red Finland

World War IIEdit

On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland and started World War II. On September 17, 1939, the 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. As a result of this war, Finland was forced to cede territory, including parts of Viipuri Province, to the Soviet Union in the Moscow Peace Treaty in early 1940. Finland lost its natural border along the Rajajoki River (Swedish: Systerbäck) in the south. 22,973 km2, or 71.5 percent of the province on the Karelian Isthmus, including 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, 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 that 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.


Provinces of Finland 1634: 1: Turku and Pori, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 18: Ostrobothnia, 20: Viborg and Nyslott, 21: Kexholm
Provinces of Finland 1721: 1: Turku and Pori, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 18: Ostrobothnia, 19: Kymmenegård and Nyslott
Provinces of Finland 1812:1: Turku and Pori, 4: Vaasa, 10: Oulu, 13: Viipuri, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 15: Kymmenegård, 16: Savolax and Karelia
Provinces of Finland 1831: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 13: Viipuri
Provinces of Finland 1945: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 5: Kymi, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Åland


The area had a well-developed economy due to its proximity to Saint Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire. In 1856 Saimaa Canal (Russian: Сайменский канал, Saymensky kanal) was opened, linking Lake Saimaa and Finnish Lakeland to the Vyborg Bay.

The development of the province was bolstered further by the construction of the Saint Petersburg–Riihimäki railroad in 1870, the Viborg–Joensuu railroad in 1894 and the Petrograd–Hiitola railroad in 1917.

Granite, marble (in Ruskeala) and bog iron mining as well as logging were important branches of industry. Starting from the beginning of the 20th century, a number of hydroelectric power plants were built by Enso in the higher reaches of the River Vuoksi to supply its pulp and paper mills.

Administrative divisionsEdit

Local districtsEdit

In Finnish kihlakunta, in Swedish härad.

Cities, towns and municipalities in 1939Edit

Those which were ceded to the Soviet Union during World War II are given in italics.



Rural municipalities

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

Electoral districtsEdit

Following the electoral reform to the new Parliament of Finland in 1906, the province was divided into an Eastern and a Western electoral district.

Western electoral district

Haapasaari, Hamina, Johannes, Kanneljärvi, Koivisto, Koiviston maalaiskunta, Kotka, Kouvola, Kuolemajärvi, Kymi, Lappee, Lappeenranta, Lauritsala, Lavansaari, Lemi, Luumäki, Miehikkälä, Nuijamaa, Pyhtää, Savitaipale, Seiskari, 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


Kuolemajärvi Lutheran Church. Built in 1903, destroyed in 1939
Lutheran Church in Koivisto designed by Josef Stenbäck
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
Parikkala old Lutheran Church.
Finnish military parade in Viipuri on August 31, 1941, after its recapture
The Petäjärvi railway station, Sakkola municipality, in the 1930s
Dam of the old private Finnish hydroelectric plant on Saijanjoki


Governors of the Viipuri Province 1812-1945:

Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, Governor 1834-1839.

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.

Notable peopleEdit

Ernst Löfström
Lydia Sesemann
Väinö Kunnas Self-portrait, 1926
Ester Toivonen, 1930s

People born in Viipuri Province between 1812 and 1917, when it was part of the Grand Duchy of Finland

For people born after 1917 in Vyborg

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Sergey Plescheef [ru] (1792). "Northern Region: Government of Vyborg". Survey of the Russian Empire. Translated by James Smirnove (3rd ed.). London: J. Debrett. OCLC 4029300 – via Hathi Trust.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • William Henry Beable (1919), "Governments or Provinces of the Former Russian Empire: Viborg", Russian Gazetteer and Guide, London: Russian Outlook

External linksEdit