What is Finno-Ugric Culture?

What unites Finno-Ugric culture is linguistic affinity. Already in the 17th century, scholars found that Finnic languages were related to Hungarian and some national languages in Russia. The term Finno-Ugric was established already in the 19th century. Then the general understanding was that Samoyedic languages (for instance Nenets, Nganasan, Selkup) form their own language family, but already in the early 20th century it was proved that the connection is closer, and it is more reasonable to count them as the same, Uralic language family. This is why nowadays Uralic and Finno-Ugric quite often, in common use, mean the same thing.

Linguistic affinity is very important culturally. As a matter of fact, language (and the practises intertwined or based on it, especially singing) very much constitutes culture. Worldview, the meanings of things and their relations to each other, and the understanding evolving from these, is very much bound together with language. Diversity of language is in fact, diversity of worldview and mindset, and the disappearance or absorption of small languages into dominating languages means cultures and ways of thinking are getting poorer. That is why preservation, for instance of small Finno-Ugric languages is important. This is the reason why the motto of Kuhmo’s Capital of Culture 2023 -program is “see, hear and experience the richness and versatility of Finno-Ugric languages and cultures”.

In the Uralic language family, about 30 languages have been counted, and slightly more than 20 million speakers have been identified. The largest group is Hungarian, about 14-15 million speakers. There are slightly less than 5 million speakers of Finnish as a native language, and there are about 1 million Estonian speakers. These three languages are the only Uralic languages, which are spoken as official state languages in their respective countries. On Russian territory, relatively big language groups (compared to most of the Finno-Ugric languages) are Mari, Udmurt, Komi, Erzya and Moksha, which are spoken by a few hundred thousand speakers. There are tens of thousands of speakers of Karelian, and the others are much smaller. In immediate danger of extinction are for instance Baltic-Finnic Livonian, Votic and Izhorian languages. More information can be found here:

About Finno-Ugric Capitals of Culture

Established in 2013, the programme of Finno-Ugric Capitals of Culture is a flagship initiative of the Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples (MAFUN) and the URALIC Centre, that aims to raise awareness of Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic people as well as Uralic languages, to strengthen collective Finno-Ugric identity and to stimulate sustainable local development in different corners of the Finno-Ugric world.

To date, the title of Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture has been awarded to nine villages or cities: Udmurtian village Bygy (2014), Seto village Obinitsa (2015), Hungarian village Iszkaszentgyörgy and the City of Veszprém (2016), Karelian village Vuokkiniemi (2017), Mari village Shorunzha (2019), Mari-speaking village Mishkan in Bashkortostan (2020), town of Abja-Paluoja in Estonia (2021) and Bayterek village in Udmurtia 2022).

Kuhmo already applied to be the Finno-Ugric Capital of Culture in 2017. Back then the nomination went to our close vienakarelian neighbour, Vuokkiniemi. In 2021 there was an opportunity to apply again, and in January 2022 Kuhmo was selected. The program in Kuhmo is very versatile, throughout the whole year. During the selection process, Kuhmo had the advantage of an exceptionally active cultural sector and previous history of Finno-Ugric cooperation spanning several decades.

Mitä on suomalais-urgrilaisuus?

In the photogaph, sisters Lidija Ahmadyshina and Bädrždian Badamshina, from an Udmurtian village Viazovka, in Bashkordostan. Photo Pekka Huttu-Hiltunen 2019.

Pekka Huttu-Hiltunen

Suomalais-ugrilainen kulttuuripääkaupunki Kuhmo

Program of the year of celebration 2023



Movies in August − Finno-Ugric Films 18.−24.8. in Pajakkakino