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Saimaa (sĪˈmä) [key], 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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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