Kuusamo is a Finnish city located in the province of Northern Ostrobothnia, in the Northeast, bordering the Finnish-Russian border in the east. The municipality of Kuusamo was founded in 1868, and the city of Kuusamo has been since the beginning of 2000. Kuusamo is the center of the Northeast Finland economic area. Kuusamo is both the northernmost and easternmost municipality in the present-day province of Northern Ostrobothnia. Kuusamo's neighboring municipalities are Posio, Salla, Suomussalmi and Taivalkoski, and on the Russian side Kiestinki and Luusalmi. Ruka Ski Resort is located in Kuusamo. Kuusamo also has an airport, which is six kilometers from the center of Kuusamo.
Kuusamo has been inhabited since the Stone Age. There are many signs from 2000-3000 BC. Stone Age artefacts have been found on the shores of Ahvensalmi and Poussunjärvi and Verkkosalmi, among others. Copper buckles and pieces of a silver necklace found on the shores of Lake Suolijärvi represent objects from the Iron Age.
From the Middle Ages to the 19th century
Initially, Kuusamo was read in Lapland, Kemi. The two southernmost Sámi villages in Lapland, Kemi, were located in the region, the village of Kitka on the northern shore of Lake Kitkajärvi in the area of the present municipality of Posio and the village of Maanselä on the northern shore of Lake Kuusamo. The other villages in Kemi, Lapland, were Kemijärvi, Sodankylä, Sompio, Kittilä, Kuolajärvi and Inari. The Sámi people of Lapland in Kemi were usually hunting and fishing semi-nomads, who also owned some reindeer herds. However, the Sámi who lived in the Kuusamo area made their living mainly by catching and fishing wild deer.
In the 1670s, people came to Kuusamo from Kainuu, from the parishes of Sotkamo, Paltamo and Pudasjärvi and Ii, and from the west by the Tornio and Kemijoki rivers. The Sámi sued the settlers for unauthorized intrusion into their districts, but the exceptionally large number of settlers - almost 200 by 1685 - meant that the judiciary had little practical means of intervening. The migration of settlers to the Kuusamo area led to the rapid destruction of Sámi culture. According to the information provided by Pastor Lagus, in 1713 79 settlers and 10 Sámi families lived in Kuusamo, but in the 1760s there were no Sámi in the entire Kuusamo area. There are still reports of Sámi settlement, e.g. burial sites, the remains of dwellings with fireplaces and witch drums, and the rich Sámi-language place name that has survived to this day. With the settlers, agriculture gradually became the most important occupation. In addition to agriculture, reindeer husbandry and tar burning were carried out. Dwellings often had to be erected behind unknown paths and the only means of transport was a long melting boat and a reindeer in the woods.
Kuusamo was separated from Kemi Lapland as its own parish in 1675 and received its first church five years later. The first pastor of Kuusamo was Gabriel Tuderus. At that time, the Kuusamo parish extended from the tops of the Iijoki River to Inari Lapland. In 1747 Sodankylä was separated into its own parish, and in the same year Inari resigned and in 1776 Kuolajärvi parish. The municipality of Posio, formed mainly from the western part of Kuusamo, began operating at the beginning of 1926.
The parish had a population of only 615 in 1718, but a couple of decades later it was already over a thousand. However, high mortality taxed the population in the early 1780s. The depopulation was due to four consecutive years of extinction and the subsequent smallpox epidemic. However, due to the high birth rate, the population increased to over 3,000 at the turn of the century. 1800 and 1802 were bad years of death and the mortality rate was 40% at that time. In 1880, the population had risen to 6,750 and there were already 9,813 in 1,900. The population decreased in the 1920s, when the regional unions in Posio were realized. Kuusamo's development has been particularly affected by its position as Russia's border neighbor. The neighborhood has been both beneficial and detrimental to the keeper's residents. There was often a brawl between the reindeer herders of Kuusamo and the borderless boys of Viena Karelia who shot the reindeer of Kuusamo who had crossed the border. However, the benefits of the border neighborhood were greater, as the Kuusamo area was the crossroads of trade between the White Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia. In the 18th and 19th centuries, there were several notable merchant peasants in Kuusamo, who bought reindeer, furs, birds and fish from the White Sea marketplaces, Viena Kemi, Kieret and Knäsö and sold them to the Gulf of Bothnia marketplaces in Rovaniemi, Tornio, Ii and Oulu. Important trade items were also grain, hemp and flax. The trade routes ran from Kuusamo all the way to the coast of Ruija. Some finds of money and silver also show that Kuusamo was already one of the stages of Novgorod's long-distance trade in the 12th and 14th centuries.
The First World War was a serious blow to business, as the keeper lost his status as a broker after the border closed. Similarly, logs and other job opportunities behind the border were lost. World War II was also devastating for the keeper, as more than 500 Kuusamo people were killed in the war. Most of the parish was destroyed as the Germans retreated north. The population of Kuusamo grew steadily until the end of the 1960s, when it began to decline. The population began to grow again in the 1980s.
The eastern part of Kuusamo (about 1,700 km²) was ceded to the
Soviet Union in 1940, recaptured in 1941 and ceded again in 1944. In
the autumn of 1944, German troops withdrawing from East Karelia in
the direction of Kiesting mainly destroyed the settlement of
Kuusamo. In the case of the church village, the destruction was
almost complete: only a few buildings remained upright, even these
badly damaged. Russian troops, who occupied Kuusamo after the German
withdrawal in violation of the peace treaty, built a “dugout city”
for their forces in the Kirkkokedo area. Later, when withdrawing
from the area, the Red Army completed the destruction of Kuusamo by
breaking and stealing the private property of Finns and blowing up
all the reinforced concrete bunkers on the Salpa line. When the time
of peacemaking came, the most fertile, prosperous and
tourist-valuable villages of the municipality, Paanajärvi and
Tavajärvi, were annexed to the Soviet Union.
The area was called Kuusamo in the early 1690s after Lake Kuusamo. It is not certain where the lake got its name, but Elias Lagus (1741–1819), the former deputy priest of Kuusamo, considered it to be of Sámi origin and to mean spruce. The name could also be based on honeysuckle, which is presumably grown on the shores of Lake Kuusamo.