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Ilomantsi

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Ilomantsi (Karelian: Il'manči or Ilomančči, Swedish: Ilomants) is municipality and a village of Finland. It is located in the North Karelia region. The municipality has a population of 4,744 (31 March 2021) and covers an area of 3,172.69 square kilometres (1,224.98 sq mi) of which 409.01 km2 (157.92 sq mi) is water. The population density is 1.72 inhabitants per square kilometre (4.5/sq mi). The most eastern point of Finland and of the continental part of the European Union is located in Ilomantsi near the village of Hattuvaara. (In the EU, only Cyprus is located further to the east.)

The nearest town is Joensuu, 72 kilometres (45 mi) away; the distance to Helsinki is 511 km (318 mi). Neighbouring municipalities are Lieksa and Joensuu. In the east, Ilomantsi shares 100 km (60 mi) long border with the Russian Republic of Karelia. The municipality is sparsely populated and is mostly characterized by forests and boglands. About 250 km2 (97 sq mi) of the area is designated as natural reserves, among them the national parks Petkeljärvi and Patvinsuo. The most important bodies of water in Ilomantsi are the lakes Koitere and Nuorajärvi and the river Koitajoki.

The municipality is unilingually Finnish. Local words of Karelian or Russian extraction might be used in Ilomantsi. For example, the central village of the municipality is not called kirkonkylä as is usual in Finland, but pogosta (a Russian loan-word, originally pogost). Even the local newspaper is called Pogostan Sanomat, i.e. "The Pogosta News".

Ilomantsi has 17.4% Orthodox minority, which is the largest percentage among Finnish municipalities. The wooden Orthodox church of Ilomantsi is the largest in Finland and is dedicated to the prophet Elijah. There are also five Orthodox chapels (tsasouna) in the municipality. The Orthodox community of Ilomantsi is more than 500 years old and counts 1,100 members.

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