Facts about Kuhmo

Kuhmo and the eastern border

The area of contemporary Kuhmo became inhabited by hunting culture settlements spreading north soon after the Ice Age. Consequently, many place names in Kuhmo remind us of the Lappish and Karelian settlements of those remote times. Due to active resettlement policies of the Swedish realm, Kuhmo became more tightly connected with the mother country, Sweden. Since the Treaty of Tyavzino of 1595, ending the Russo–Swedish war (1590–95) and consolidating Finland’s status as part of the Sweden–Finland, the Finnish eastern borderline has remained unaltered in Kuhmo. Kuhmo’s location between east and west has played a significant role in its history. Over the course of time, severe wars and famines have repeatedly plagued the life of the dwellers of this border region. The battles of the Winter War of 1939–40 hit Kuhmo fiercely. After the war, Kuhmo was confronted with a massive rebuilding challenge, as it was among the five most heavily air-raided population centres in Finland.

Towards an independent municipality of Kuhmo

At the beginning of the 17th century the dwellers of Kuhmo were counted among inhabitants of the Kajaani and Oulujärvi parish. The first tax collection was carried out in Kuhmo in 1605. That marks the beginning of actual written history of Kuhmo. Most of the people within the ten households, registered on the tax rolls, had originally come from Savo. In 1854, the Sotkamo parish was reorganised, giving Kuhmo the status of an independent parish, and since 1865, Kuhmo has had its own civil administration. The name Kuhmo was officially adopted at the New Year of 1937, thus replacing the original name of the municipality Kuhmoniemi. On 1 January 1986, Kuhmo acquired the status of a town.


While Finland was an autonomous grand duchy under the Russian regime (1809–1917), with slash-and-burn agriculture and tar-burning being important sources of livelihood for this region. In the year 1900, Kuhmo was the biggest tar producer in Finland. Slash-and-burn farming became less important at the end of the 19th century, and also tar-burning also waned in the first decades of the 20th century. Agriculture, as a means of livelihood, allowed the population to grow further. In 1900, there were 3,310 inhabitants in Kuhmo, and by 1928, the number was over 9,000. The Kuhmo Oy sawmill, established in 1955, has long been one of the biggest enterprises in Kuhmo. In the latter part of the 1970s, the building project of Kostomuksha on the Soviet side of the border offered work for many in Kuhmo. In 1977, there were 444 people from Kuhmo working in Kostomuksha. The population of Kuhmo rose to nearly 14,000 inhabitants. Today, the population of the town numbers less than 9,000.