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Lappeenranta, Finland

History of Lappeenranta and Imatra region

First people moved to South Karelia province 10 000 years ago. These first inhabitans were hunters and primitive farmers. Later South Karelia was a part of Sweden and subsequently of Russia. South Karelia has always been in between east and west.


At first, there was only a market place near the historical Fortress; the founding of Lappeenranta started from there. The carefully restored old town is still a source of pride for the local people. The friendly inhabitants, the natural beauty of the area and the cheerfulness of the Karelian people provide the distinctive character of the city. The nationally renowned market place is a popular meeting place in the city.


The Imatra market town was founded in 1948 by joining together three industrial communities. Over the last fifty years, the town has grown from a group of isolated population centres into a pleasant and modern town, which is given it's distinctive character by the greenery of the parks, Lake Saimaa, River Vuoksi, and the closeness of the Fenno-Russian border.

History of tourism around Lake Saimaa

As Finland's largest lake basin, Lake Saimaa with its waterway systems has been a popular tourist attraction since the 19th century. The Rauha Sanatorium on the shores of the lake was a renowned recreation and spa resort, particularly favoured by the Russian elite in the not-so-far-away St. Petersburg.

Along the Saimaa Canal travellers could reach Lake Rättijärvi, and continue by horse-drawn carriages to Lake Saimaa and further to another magnificent attraction, the Imatrankoski Rapids. Tourism in Finland is in fact firmly rooted in the waterways and lake scenery of South Karelia.

The famous Karelian lake steamers transported tourists between towns and villages over the entire waterway system of Lake Saimaa. The most important tourist route went from Lappeenranta, via Puumala, to Savonlinna and all the way to Punkaharju.

Lake Saimaa, Purest Finland Regional Council of South Karelia Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment Rural 2020 The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas
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