Lappeenranta region consists of the western and southern parts of the province of South Karelia. The area is located between the lake Saimaa and the eastern border of Finland. The region is a combination of green, rugged landscape with industrial factories surrounded by forests, increasing traffic and business centres. Agriculture, small-scale metal, wood and stone industries as well as transport, food processing and trade are important occupations in the rural areas. Growing tourism offers new opportunities.
South Karelia is part of the old historic region of Karelia. While the inhabitants adapted to changing rulers in the turmoils of history, they held on to their Karelian identity. The region cherishes its Karelian cultural heritage. Friendly informality, cheerfulness, hospitality and good food are all part of being South Karelian.
The heavily fortified defence line, about 1200 km long, constructed during 1940-1941 and 1944 for the defense of Finland´s eastern border is called Salpa Line (Bolt of Finland line).
The fortification work started immediately after the end of the Winter War due to doubts that the peace would last. At its peak, the amount of labour involved was over 35,000 men and 2,000 members of the women´s auxiliary defence services. In this enormous working site nearly a quarter of all lorries in the country were used for the fortification. Among structures there were 760 concrete dugouts and 225 kms of stone obstacles, consisting of in all 350 000 stones, each of those weighing about 3 tons.
The firmness of the Salpa line was never tested in real action. The line acted as a mental back bone of the repelling fights in the summer of 1944. It is estimated that its existence had the remarkable influence on the enemy´s view of the profitability to continue with its attack operations.
The Salpa Line is crossing Rutola village. More and more people get interested in the recent local history. Recently, bunkers and other constructions have been renovated for touristical purposes. Therefore, a guide course was organised as well. In the area, an old school building is being renovated by a new entrepreneur to offer B&B accommodation.
Last year, the old Sipari school was sold by the city of Lappeenranta to a small company. Now there is work space for several handicraft entrepreneurs. Small market events are organised with different activities and demonstrations as for example presenting old work traditions.
Lemi is a small municipality with ca. 3,000 inhabitants and some special features.
During the summer months, a popular meeting place for local people and visitors is the Lemi Saturday market with local products.
The church is one of the few existing old wooden churches in Europe.
The open air museum is owned and run by the local Lemin Kotiseutuyhdistys – Association, which is renting the museum for meetings, celebrations etc. The Association is famous of preparing ´Särä´, a sheep meat meal prepared in a thousand year old traditional way. Each year, the Association organizes, amongst other things, successful environmental cleaning actions all around the municipality. In Lemi, the communication and coordination between all associations works effectively by regular meetings of the so-called association parliament.
Kotalahti is an old school, which is being rented from the municipality of Lemi, run and renovated by a local village association Uimin seudun kyläyhdistys. It is an important place for local inhabitants for meetings, celebrations, youth camps, sauna evenings, winterswimming and other recreation, but also many organisations and groups from outside the municipality make use of Kotalahti.
Erä-Pirtti in Haapajärvi close to the border is owned by the local hunting club and used next to hunting activities also for other recreation of local people but also rented for others.