Saimaa, lake system c.1,850 sq mi (4,790 sq km), occupying the heavily glaciated plateau of S central Finland. It comprises more than 120 connecting lakes; the large southern basin of the system constitutes Lake Saimaa proper (c.500 sq mi/1,290 sq km). The system drains SE into Lake Ladoga (Russia) through the Vuoskijoki (c.100 mi/160 km long). There are numerous canals to facilitate steamship and lumber-raft traffic through the Saimaa Canal (c.37 mi/60 km long; completed 1856), which terminates at Vyborg, Russia, on the Gulf of Finland. The cities of Joensuu, Kuopio, Lappeenranta, and Mikkeli are on the lakes.
Saimaa (IPA: [sɑ͡imɑː]), or Saimen in Swedish, is a lake in southeastern Finland. At approximately 4,400 km² square km, it is the largest lake in Finland, and the fourth largest in Europe. It was formed by glacial melting at the end of the Ice Age. Major towns on the lakeshore include Lappeenranta, Imatra, Savonlinna, Mikkeli, Varkaus, and Joensuu. The Vuoksi River flows from Saimaa to Lake Ladoga. Most of the lake is spotted with islands, and narrow canals divide the lake in many parts, each having their own names (major basins include Orivesi, Puruvesi, Haukivesi, Yövesi, Pihlajavesi, and Pyhäselkä).

The Saimaa Canal from Lappeenranta to Vyborg binds Saimaa to the Gulf of Finland. Other canals bind Saimaa to smaller lakes in Eastern Finland and form a network of waterways. These waterways are mainly used to transport wood, minerals, metals, pulp and other cargo, but also tourists use the waterways.

One of the three fresh water seals, the Saimaa Ringed Seal, lives only at Saimaa.

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