222km (138 miles) NE of Helsinki, 16km (10 miles) W of the Russian border

Lappeenranta is a lake town, the heart of Lake Saimaa and the eastern lake district. Both passenger ships and private boats sail from the harbor of Lappeenranta to the lake and down the Saimaa Canal to the Gulf of Finland.

This border town of 60,000 people between two different cultures was founded in 1649 by Queen Christina of Sweden. It was fortified first by Sweden, which governed Finland as a province, and then by Russia. Since World War II, Lappeenranta has assumed increasing importance following the loss of large parts of Karelia. For more than a century and a half, the town had been a spa, and today Lappeenranta is the best summer resort and excursion center in eastern Finland. A bright, modern town, it nestles at the southern edge of the large Lake Saimaa.