The Inkeri are the minority Finno-Ugric people of Ingria, an area near St. Petersburg, Russia. The area (about 15,000 km2) in which they live is bounded by the Gulf of Finland, Estonia, Lake Ladoga and the river Neva. They compose less than one percent of the population of Ingria (about 90,000 people) the remainder being Russian.
The area was originally inhabited by Baltic Finns towards the end of the first millenium. The Vote and Izhorian people arrived during this time. They were never particularly numerous and the last time someone counted there were 62 Votic people and a few hundred Izhorian. The languages they speak is quite distinct from Suomi Finnish but is bound for extinction.
During the seventeenth century Sweden and Russia were at war. The Peace Treaty of Stolbova of 1617 handed Ingria to the Swedes. Finnish immigrants settled in the area, bringing their Lutheran faith with them (or perhaps the religon was forced on to the natives by the Swedes thanks Gordian). These descendents of these immigrants are today known as Ingrian Finns and they speak yet another dialect related to Karelian Finnish.
In 1702, Peter the Great annexed the area to afford access to the Baltic Sea. He founded St. Petersburg and moved the capital there. However, the Russification of Ingria didn't begin in earnest until the twentieth century. Ingria was recognised as being part of Soviet Russia after a peace treaty signed in 1920. During the 1930s, and throughout the reign of Stalin, thousands of Inkeri were deported to Siberia, Central Asia, or the Kola Peninsula. Most were never to return.
During the war, part of Ingria was occupied by the Germans who lay siege to St. Petersburg. Many Inkeri were evacuated to Finland.
Ingrian Finnish was not taught until 1995 when a school in St. Petersburg opened. Many Inkeri converted to the Orthodox Church which accelerated the adoption of the Russian language and culture. Inkeri Liitto is an organisation that represent the Inkeri Finns.