Geographical Inkeri, and the indigenous people of the Inkeri nation.

Inkeri-land is the geographical area, located at the east end of the Gulf of Finland, and the Lake Ladoga (Karelia Isthmus) along the Neva River, Narva River and Lake Peipus. The area that the Inkeri-ethnic group of the Baltic Finns historically lived from around 2000 BC to 1920's. The name Inkeri is in Finnish. Izora is Russian. Ingria in Latin, and Ingermanland in German language. There are many theories where / how the name originated, and most likely had many applications: It is the derivative of the Baltic Finn tribe (Izora) name, which was probably adopted from an Inkeren (Izora) river that flows from Lake Ladoga to Neva , and to the Gulf of Finland.

The other explanation is that the daughter of the King of Sweden, given to in marriage to the (Inregregardin Kiovan) Prince Jaroslav of Kiova, his gift in return to the King of Sweden was the City of Straja Ladogan with its surrounding land. Most likely if this was true the Manor would have had a name change and official documentation. The former theory of the name after the Izora River is more convincing. (Saressalo 2000)

In the history record, the name Inkeri-land people starts in 859 AD, when the Baltic Sea Finns, especially in the Gulf of Finland and the east side of lake Ladoga, there are people groups of ethnological names. The public record of the Chuds (Tsuudit) appear in the Russian Chronicles, and the Votes (Vatjalaiset), stepped into the history pages for the first time in 1069. The Izora (Izortsy) in 1228, also in the Russian Chronicles. The Ingria-land community once inspected about 55 000 square kilometers, an area of ​​the current day Estonia to Lake Ladoga. The Ingria-land covered the land bridge between Lake Ladoga and the Gulf of Finland, an area of ​​over 200 kilometers long, and extends to the Isthmus into the river up to the border.

Evidently the Baltic Sea Finns did have and kept their Finnish language stock together, speaking their own unique Finnish language. It was sometime during the first 1000 AD the Finnish speaking people groups started to subdivide into Finnic groups and to separate both in the spoken language and politically.

The area was already populated in the first few centuries of AD by the Votes and later colonized by the Karelians, which was designated in Russian chronicles as well as the Karelian Izhorians. Votes and Ingrians were already in the 1300's sphere of influence in the Novgorod and Moscow under the auspices since 1478. At the same time, they were also attached to the Greek Catholic Church. The Orthodox Church services took place in the old Church Orthodox Slavonic, the religion and the Slavonic language did influenced some of the Finnic people over time to become more Russian in the church tradition and customs. The Votes today are essentially extinct Nations, the Ingrians that live on the western Ingria, are only in the few 100's.

The Finnishspeaking community was intact and strong in Ingria until the end of the 1920's. In 1926, according to Census of the Leningrad region there was calculated to be 115 000 Ingrian Finns, and 15 500 Finnish Finns (Suomensuomalaista). The Ingrian Finns lived mainly in the villages, which in the 1920s was about 900 in total, only about, 7 000 Ingrians lived in the cities.

For Ingrians, Finnish language was their mother tongue. Most Ingrian people did not speak Russian at all. Women and children were in the Ingria villages, Finn ethnic communities far into the 1930's. For almost 300 years, the close knit Ingria villages had managed to preserve their mother tongue, national customs and their own identity. With the ever increasing Russian population, that came with trade and commerce. There was also pressure from the government of Russian for minority groups to integrate and be Russified. The menof Ingria, did rely on their Russian language skills, for communication and to ensure their employment and income.

A map of the Inkeri land, with all the Municipalities in the early 1900, can be found on the internet by the following source and author.

(J. Niemenmaa)

There are at least five principal phases to the struggles that affected the Inkeri people, and chipped away at their identity, and community as a minority group. After some 3000 years the increasing migration of foreigners and how they co-exist and grow as a community of people with their own unique language:

The language lived on with new generations and education of the culture / tradition of the Inkeri people, despite the following list of influence, integration and accommodations.

A. Initially one indigenous group of pioneers, when they settled on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, and grown / developed as a peace loving rural community.

B. Followed by the changes that took place when there was integration with the Battle ax tribes that came to the Inkeri-land region along the sea route from the west.

C. And thirdly how the other people from east Slav groups came centuries later, migrating to the Ingria-land from south and east

D. Regional politics and wars between the East and West. 800-1900AD.

E. WW1 and the WW2 had a significant impact on the Inkeri community and culture. The totalitarian regime of the Soviet Union, their objective was to prepare the Soviet Soil for greater Communism and weed out any resistance to their doctrine.

War in the region over the Ingria-land started around 1200 AD, in the west there was Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. In the east, there was the Novgorod and Russian alliance, who wanted to establish their trading and political presence in the region, as well as further north to Karelia and west Finland. There was also fighting for the souls of people between the Byzantine and the Catholic Church.

War and fighting continued on almost endlessly up to 1600 AD. Denmark lost to the German knights, who further had to yield to Sweden. In the west actively fighting over territory also were Poland and Latvia. Two centuries prior in the east the Moscow Russians settled in the Novgorod area in 1400 AD. In the 15th century, Russia's had come to the region of Inkeri.

New Churches were being built in the Ingria region.

The Nava River was also a natural border between the Byzantine and the Roman church. Churches were built in the Ingria region. In the 1500 AD, there were 50 points of church activity, with a population of 70,000. The Ingria stock and the Votes, and later the Russians were initially Orthodox then. It should be pointed out that the Church in the East was more tolerant than the Church in the West. There were the wars and also fight for the souls of people between the Byzantine and the Catholic Church.

War and conflict continued two churches being built.

There was still no peace in Ingria. The Swedish foreign policy of expansion fueled the Russian interests in the Baltic region. Ingria land was often in the way of warring troops. During these regional wars, there was also intimidation and partisan movements, which were being prepared against the Russian occupation policy in the Ingria, as well as the Karelia region. It was during these events that the first register of first evacuation to escape warring troops. They evacuated to Karelia and further north into Finland.


Saressalo, L. (2000). Inkeri, kertomus Inkerin Kansoista ja kulttuurista. Tampere: Tampere Museum. (2006). Who are the Ingrians, where is Ingria? Retrieved November 11, 2011, from

J. Niemenmaa. (Nd). Wiki / File: Inkeri-2.png . Retrieved November 11, 2011, from

Source by Vesa J Leinonen


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