- Not to be confused with
Vyborg (transcription of Russian Выборг) is a town with 70,000 inhabitants at Russia's border to Finland, on the Karelian Isthmus, close to Saint Petersburg. The Saimaa canal enters the Gulf of Finland at Vyborg. After 1944, when the Karelian inhabitants were evacuated to the West, the town was resettled by people from different parts of the Soviet Union. In English texts Vyborg may also be referred to as Viipuri (Finnish spelling), Viborg (Swedish) and Wiburg (German).
Historically the city belonged to:
- Sweden with present-day Finland, as capital of Swedish Karelia, from 1293 until 1721
- Imperial Russia, until 1812 (see Old Finland)
- The Grand Duchy of Finland, under Russian sovereignty, until 1917
- The Republic of Finland, until March 1940 (re-conquered August 1941 – June 1944)
- The Soviet Union
- Russia, since 1991
In pre-historic times the area where Vyborg is located was a trading center on River Vuoksi's western branch, which has now dried up. The area was inhabited by the Karelians, that was a Finnic tribe who came under the domination of Novgorod and Sweden.
The first castle of Viborg was founded during the third Swedish crusade in 1293 by the marsk Torkel Knutsson. The castle was fought over for centuries. In the treaty of Nöteborg in 1323 Viborg was officially made part of the Swedish realm, and soon of Sweden proper. The town's trade privileges were chartered by King Eric of Pomerania in 1403. It remained in Swedish hands until the Great Northern War, when Russia received Viborg (as Vyborg) by the Treaty of Nystad. After Finland was conquered by Russia in 1808, Vyborg was incorporated in the Grand Duchy of Finland (as Viipuri) in 1812 and became again the center of administration for the eastern part of the country.
Viipuri was the second biggest city in Finland, characterized by important minorities of Russians, Germans and Swedes. In 1939 Viipuri had some 80,000 inhabitants. During this time, Viipuri became known for its innovative modern architecture.
During the Winter War some 31,000 people were evacuated from Viipuri to western Finland. The Winter War was concluded in the Peace of Moscow according to which most of Ladoga Karelia and all of the Karelian Isthmus, also those parts still in Finnish hands, including Viipuri, were to be ceded to the Soviet Union. The remaining population had to be evacuated in haste. The evacuees from Finnish Karelia came to be a vociferous political force, and their wish to return to their homes was an important incentive when Finland sought support from Nazi Germany against the Soviet threat; a support that resulted in Finland and Germany ending up on the same side in the Great Patriotic War/the Continuation War.
Viipuri was recaptured by Finnish troops on 29 August 1941, and lost again on 20 June 1944. About 70% of the evacuees from Finnish Karelia returned after the re-conquest to rebuild their looted homes, but were again evacuated after the Red Army's 1944 Karelian offensive , timed with the Allied recapture of France (the Battle of Normandy). The town fell to the Red Army on 20 June 1944.
After the wars the city's name officially reverted to Vyborg and was settled by people from all over the Soviet Union. During the Soviet era, Vyborg became an important industrial producer of paper, but since in more recent times Vyborg has become economically depressed.
- Vyborg's official webpage
- Vyborg's webcam