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The self-designations are inkeriläinen and inkerin suomalainen 'the Ingrian, the Ingrian Finn' and they call their language (inkerin) suomen kieli. The self-designation inkerin suomalaiset began to spread in the 19th century when under the influence of Lutheranism and scoolteaching in Finnish, a feeling of unity developed with the Finns of Finland.

As the Ingrian may signify an inhabitant of Ingermanland in general the more precise distinction is made between the peoples. Inkeroinen and inkerikko signify the Izhorians in Finnish and inkeriläinen first of all the Ingrians. The equivalent of the Izhorian in Russian is ижорец and ижора and the Ingrian -- ингерманландский финн or, according to the region, ленинградский финн. The designation originates from the River Inkere (Izhora) that has probably given its name to the whole country. Other inhabitants of historic Ingermanland are the Votes.

Habitat. Ingermanland is the descendant of ancient Ingria in the area of the Gulf of Finland, the river basin of Neva and Lake Ladoga that became a Swedish province (in Swedish: Ingermanland) after the battles during the years 1570--1595 and 1610--1617. It included Jaanilinna (Ивангород), Jaama (Ямбург), Kaprio (Копорье) and Pähkinälinna (Орешек) county -- all together roughly 15,000 square kilometres. The area of Ingermanland extended 200 kilometres from the River Narva in the west to the River Lava in the east and from north to south 130 kilometres. From 1710 on, Ingermanland was part of St. Petersburg, from 1914 of Petrograd and from 1927 of the province of Leningrad.

Population. Initially the number of Ingrians depended on immigration but less so later. After the peace treaties of Stolbovo and Kärde (1617, 1661), Finnish peasants, mainly from the regions of Savo and Vyborg (Viipuri), moved to North- and Central-Ingermanland. They caused quite a rapid increase in population: in 1656 the percentage of Finns in the population of Ingermanlandia was 41.1 %, in 1671 it was 56.9 % and in 1695, 73.8 %. The newly arrived Finns for the most part assembled in 11 parishes of an existing 24.

Statistics concerning the Ingrians exist from the middle of the 19th century:

184876,069 (P. von Koeppen)
186572,273 from parish registers(+ 13,480 in St. Petersburg)
1897130,413 census
1917126,240 from parish registers(+ 15,502 in St. Petersburg)
1926114,831 census (also the following)
197916,239native language speakers 51.9 %

In 1848, P. von Koeppen distinguished between three groups of the Ingrians: savakot from Savo (43,080), äyrämöiset from Äyräpää in the Vyborg region (29,243) and suomenmaakkoiset from elsewhere in Finland (3,746). Later these groups came under the common heading of Ingrians. Records for 1917 show that they lived in 761 Finnish villages and in 235 mixed villages. From 1939 the censuses ceased to consider the Ingrians separately. Ingrians also live in Archangel, Estonia, Komi, Siberia and elsewhere.

Out of 77,079 Finns living in the Soviet Union in 1919, 20,099 lived in Karelia (native language speakers 49.8 %), 16,239 in the Leningrad region (native language speakers 37.1 %). According to the preliminary statistics of the census of 1989, about 67,000 Finns lived in the Soviet Union, 34.6 % of whom have command of their mother tongue.

The Finns of the Leningrad Region live mainly in the Gatshina (Hatshina), Lomonossov (Oranienbaum) and Vsevolozhk (Keltto) districts. The number of Finns in the area of St. Petersburg and its outskirts has been estimated as 7000--8000.

Anthropologically, the Ingrians belong to the Eas Baltic race. They have dominant European characterictics. The Ingrians have generally fair hair and blue eyes. They are somewhat shorter and more stocky in comparison with their neighbours, the Estonians.

The language of the Ingrians is not a separate language but consists of eastern Finnish dialects (the vernaculars of the Savo and southeastern dialects of Ingermanland). Izhorian and Karelian are the closest kindred languages to the Eastern Finnish dialects.

History. The name Ingria, denoting the territory of the Izhorians situated next to Votic Watlandia, originates from the 12th century. The more recent Ingermanland was larger, stretching from the River Narva to the shores of Lake Ladoga. Throughout the centuries numerous wars have been fought on this territory. Fierce battles were fought between Sweden and Russia over Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox missionary work, which only ceased after the Pähkinäsaari (Oreshek) and Tartu peace treaties of 1323 and 1351. The border on the Karelia isthmus left the Votes and the Izhorians to the Russian Orthodox side of Novgorod. After the peace treaty of Stolbovo in 1617, Ingermanland was considered a domain of Sweden. Only noblemen, monks and burghers were allowed to travel into Russia according to the peace treaty, but the departees had influence on the peasants.

Swedish laws were introduced in Ingermanland in order to bind the new province more securely to its mother country. The Orthodox were obliged to attend Lutheran services, and converts were promised money and reductions of taxes. These offers were not very successful. The Lutheran congregations continued to grow, mainly on account of a stream of fresh arrivals from Finland. Ingermanland was enfeoffed to nobles and high state officials. Their servants and workers were recruited from Finland and a great number of peasants voluntarily resettled themselves. Ingermanland was also used by Sweden as a place to deport people to. A record exists of a Vyborg landlord complaining to the government that too many people leave for Ingermanland to settle there. A separate Ingrian diocese was formed in 1641 which already had in 1655, 58 Lutheran congregations, 36 churches and 42 parsons. A further perspective aimed to make the Votes and the Izhorians both Finnish and Lutheran.

In 1703 Peter the Great connected Ingermanland with the Russian Empire. St. Petersburg, the new capital of Russia, was now founded at the place of earlier Nyen (Nevanlinna) amid the territories of the Baltic Finns. Ingermanland became a province to St. Petersburg and its name was used only in ecclesiastical contexts. The Russians arrived in St. Petersburg and its surroundings. In 1712 a decree was adopted that land should be provided for the new Russian settlers and so Russian villages appeared. The border on the Karelia isthmus dating back to the Pähkinäsaari peace treaty marked the boundary between political power, religion and language territories. At first the border between Sweden and Novgorod separated the Izhorians from the eastern Finns and the Karelians, but the border of Sweden and Russia after the Great Northern War separated the Ingrians from other eastern Finns.

By the middle of the 19th century the Votes and the Izhorians had already firmly shifted into the cultural sphere of the Russians, however, this was not the case with the Ingrians. The oppression of the Russian language and milieu was neutralized by Lutheranism and the proximity of their mother country, Finland (as a grand duchy under the dominion of Russia from 1809--1917). It took the Soviet Communist regime to exterminate the Ingrians morally as well as physically. Initially substantial rights were promised to the Finns of the Petrograd province, and new hopes were kindled. Educational conditions improved, and Finnish became more widely used in cultural life; in 1928 the Kuivaisi (Toksova) national district was formed in the Northern Ingeria and the Leningrad region had 54 national village councils by the year 1936.

The violence began in 1928 with compulsory collectivization. Around 18,000 people were deported from Northern Ingria to East Karelia, Central Asia and elsewhere in order to frighten others into accepting collective farms. A further 7,000 were deported to the Urals and to the coast of the Caspian Sea in 1935, and 20,000 to Siberia and Central Asia in 1936. Four parishes of Northern Ingria were totally emptied of Finns, which was a probable factor in the tension that led to the Finnish-Russian war. All churches and religious societies were closed by 1932 and all Ingrian cultural and social activities were brought to a halt by 1937. The national district of Kuivaisi (Toksova) was liquidated in 1939. By 1929, at least 13,000 Finns had been killed and 37,000 were suffering in Russia.

Ingermanland also suffered during World War II. In 1942, during the blockade of Leningrad, 25,000--30,000 Finns were deported to Siberia. Their resettlement to Finland was allowed by German authorities to the basis of applications. 63,227 Ingrian refugees, including the Votes and the Izhorians, had left for Finland by October 31, 1944. Finland had to return them to the Soviet Union after the armistice. 55,773 Ingrians arrived and were scattered to the regions of Novgorod, Kalinin, Vologda, Sverdlovsk, etc. Some years after the war even those children of Ingrian descent that had been adopted by Finnish families were reclaimed by the Soviet Union.

By the year 1943, only 4,000 Finns remained in Ingermanland. All the others had either been resettled, deported, dispersed or had fled. Only in 1956 were the Ingrians finally allowed to return to their native country. Some 25,000 Ingrians live in St. Petersburg and its administrative districts at present. The Finnish church has functioned in Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) since 1977, and the Ingrian Culture Society in Estonia was permitted to operate in 1989.

Culture. Due to Lutheranism the Ingrians' education has been good. There are records of a school in Nyen (Nevanlinna) founded by Baron J. Skytte, in 1632, and from 1643 every county town (Jaama, Jaanilinna, Kaprio, Pähkinälinna) had its own school. Tests in reading skills and Sunday schools for children already existed during the Swedish period and continued later throughout the Russian dominion.

In 1785 the first primary school was opened in the village of Kolppana but cultural life only gained momentum in the 19th century. The Russian annexation of Finland (1809) and abolition of serfdom (1861) were of special importance for Ingermanland as the liberation of peasants brought with it radical changes. Choirs and societies were founded. To improve the educational standards a theological seminary was opened in Kolppana in 1863 where parish clerks and schoolmasters were trained. A newspaper Pietarin Sanomat (short-lived, as were the several following) was begun in 1870, and calendar Pietarin suomalainen kalenteri was published in 1871. But, as elsewhere, the last decades of the century were also a period of russification in Ingermanland. Regardless, the first Ingrian singing festival took place in Skuoritsa in 1899 and by 1913 the sixth was occuring in Kolppana. In addition to Christian education the parsons were also able to support a spirit of national identity. Even more favourable opportunities for cultural activities, supported by the Finnish mother country, were gained after the revolution in 1905.

In 1920 the Ingrians were promised more propitious conditions for promoting their national culture. Vernacular education at schools continued (314 schools in 1918), and the Finnish language was used in offices, radio programmes and elsewhere. Two daily and eight other newspapers appeared. The publishing house Kirja managed to publish 768 books -- textbooks, disctionaries, fiction -- in Leningrad and in Petroskoi during the period 1927--37. These activities were kept strictly separate, however, from Finland and even aimed to counterpoise. In 1937, just preceding the total dispersion of the Ingrians, all Finnish schools were russified, most of the intellectuals killed and the Ingrian cultural life completely extinguished.

As a result of the revival of national activities an information leaflet, Inkeri, published by the Ingrian Society, began to appear in Estonia in 1989.


  1. Entisen Inkerin luterilaisen kirkon 350-vuotismuistojulkaisu anoin ja kuvan. Toim. A. Metiäinen ja K. Kurko. Helsinki, 1960
  2. S. Haltsonen, Entistä Inkeriä. Inkerin suomalaisasutuksen vaiheita ja kulttuurihistorian piirteitä. Tietolipas 36. Helsinki, 1965
  3. Inkerin bibliografia. Luettelo vatjalaisia, inkeroisia ja Inkerin suomalaisia käsittelevästa kirjallisuudesta. Toim. J. Elomaa. Castrenianumin toimitteita 22. Helsinki, 1981
  4. Inkerinmaalla. Musistoja Inkerin maasta ja kansasta sanoin ja kuvin. Koonnut H. Sihvo. Hämeenlinna, 1989
  5. Inkerin suomalaisten historia. Toim. S. Haltsonen, Jyväskylä, 1969
  6. A. Krjukov, Inkerinmaa ja inkeriläiset. -- Punalippu 8, 1987
  7. O. Kurs, Ingeri põliselanike saatus. -- Akadeemia 7, 1990
  8. M. Leppik, Ingerisoome kurgola murde fonoloogilise süsteemi kujunemine. Tallinn, 1975
  9. I. Matley, The Dispersal of the Ingrians. -- Slavic Review 1, 1979, vol. 38
  10. V. Uibopuu, Meie ja meie hõimud. Peatükke soomeugrilaste minevikust ja olevikust. Lund, 1984


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