: [sɑ͡imɑː]), or Saimen
, 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
, 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
, 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.