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The city of Jõhvi is located on the north-eastern edge of the subsoil highland of the same name (this is the so-called "smaller brother" of Pandivere) where the limestone terrace running to the east from Kohtla-Järve turns abruptly to the south (so-called Kukruse layer terrace).

The base above Jõhvi on the mentioned terrace falls by about 5 meters. The marshy and water-full zone of low marsh soils is located in the north of the terrace where the floody marsh forests are located instead of which the birchwoods and floody marshy meadows have appeared. The slowly increasing area of fertile surface-carbonate soils start to the south of the terrace which offers favourable opportunities for farming.

Prior to the beginning of the draining impact of the mines a number of springs fell out of the terrace. The most watery of them was located only twenty metres from the north western corner of the current Ida-Viru county government and was the starting point of one of the tributaries of Pühajõe. Just above this spring Jõhvi village was set up on the edge of the terrace, the presumable time of incurrence should be the second half of I millennium a.c. Drinking water was received from the spring, fields were located in the south of the village.

The development of the village was favoured by the location on the ancient crossroad. The numerous ancient treasure findings originating from Jõhvi highland indicate the active trading.

The name of Jõhvi has been explained in several ways. The oldest written notice on Jõhvi originates from so-called Danish valuation book, the preparation time of which is considered to be the year 1241.

Jõhvi has been mentioned there under the name of Gevi (vocal "j" was written with the letter "g" in Lower German). The village is covered by 20 ploughlands, owned by the Danish king.

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