First people moved to South Karelia 10 000 years ago. These first inhabitans were hunters and primitive farmers. Later South Karelia was a part of Sweden and subsequently of Russia. South Karelia has always been in between east and west.
At first, there was only a market place near the historical Fortress; the founding of Lappeenranta started from there. The carefully restored old town is still a source of pride for the local people. The friendly inhabitants, the natural beauty of the area and the cheerfulness of the Karelian people provide the distinctive character of the city. The nationally renowned market place is a popular meeting place in the city.
The Imatra market town was founded in 1948 by joining together three industrial communities. Over the last fifty years, the town has grown from a group of isolated population centres into a pleasant and modern town, which is given it's distinctive character by the greenery of the parks, Lake Saimaa, River Vuoksi, and the closeness of the Fenno-Russian border.