Disputes concerning the roles of the Finnish and Swedish languages turned, with the help of the local press, into party disputes concerning social issues. Following the Manifesto of February 1899 Russification measures became stricter and the first period of oppression began. The events of the general strike of 1905 were centred on Jyväskylä. The country's first parliamentary election took place in 1907.

The issue of making Central Finland a separate administrative district was mainly kept alive by the inhabitants of the province and by the press. In spite of political differences, the parties in the province were in favour of a separate district. By the beginning of the century the concept of Central Finland became rooted in the country's tourist and cultural circles. Natural beauty and the boat traffic on Lake Päijänne added to the province's popularity as a travel destination. In the early years of the century Akseli Gallén-Kallela produced numerous paintings in northern Central Finland. Gallén and his students popularised the nature of Central Finland in particular.