Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland, covering an area of about 4,400 square kilometres. It is located in the southeastern part of the country and is a popular tourist destination, known for its breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife. Lake Saimaa is actually a complex system of lakes, islands, and canals that are interconnected by various waterways. The lake system has been shaped by the last Ice Age, and the retreating ice left behind numerous hollows and basins that eventually filled with water, creating the beautiful lakes that are found in the region today.
One of the most notable features of Lake Saimaa is the presence of numerous islands, over 13 000! These islands range in size from tiny rocky outcroppings to large, forested islands with their own lakes and communities. Many of the islands are protected as part of the Lake Saimaa National Park, which covers an area of about 130 square kilometres.
The islands of Lake Saimaa are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including several species that are rare or endangered.
The region around Lake Saimaa has a rich history, dating back thousands of years. The area was inhabited by various indigenous peoples for millennia before the arrival of the Finns in the 12th century. The region was an important centre of trade and commerce during the Middle Ages, and many towns and villages were established along the shores of the lake. One of the most important historical sites in the Lake Saimaa region is Olavinlinna Castle, which was built in the 15th century by the Swedes to protect their eastern borders. The castle has played a key role in the history of Finland and is now a popular tourist attraction.
Lake Saimaa is also known for its traditional wooden houses, which can be found in many of the towns and villages that dot the shores of the lake. These houses are typically painted in bright colors and feature intricate carvings and decorations. Many of these houses have been preserved and are now used as museums, showcasing the traditional way of life in the region.
In addition to its natural beauty and rich history, Lake Saimaa is also a popular destination for outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, boating, and swimming. One of the most unique attractions in the Lake Saimaa region is the Saimaa Ringed Seal, which is a rare species of seal that is found only in Lake Saimaa. The seal has been classified as endangered, with a population of only a few hundred seals remaining. Efforts are being made to protect the seal and its habitat, and visitors to the lake are encouraged to support these efforts by following responsible tourism practices.
Overall, Lake Saimaa is a stunning natural wonder that offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor adventure. With its crystal-clear waters, forested islands, and rich wildlife, the lake is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Finland. Whether you are interested in fishing, hiking, or simply taking in the stunning scenery, Lake Saimaa is a destination that won't leave you disappointed.