Saimaa Geopark What is a geopark?

The rising trend in tourism

Geology is an emerging trend in nature tourism. Geoparks are internationally very popular tourism activities that aim at sustainable economic development of regions through nature tourism. In terms of tourism attractiveness, UNESCO Global Geoparks are comparable to national parks and UNESCO World Heritage sites. UNESCO Global Geopark status does not bring any new protection regulations to the area.

The geological content also opens up new business opportunities for companies in the region. UNESCO Global Geopark status tells tourists about the quality of local products around the world.

Geopark means appreciating locality

One of the goals of a geopark is to support local residents to get to know and appreciate their local area by revealing the geological heritage of the area and by making it a part of life for the local community. Schools and other educational establishments and communities can use the contents of a geopark in various ways for education. The goal is to increase the appreciation of the geopark area both locally and internationally.

Geopark means international co-operation

Every UNESCO Global Geopark is part of the international Geopark Network. Through the network, the geological heritage and local services in the geopark area gain international coverage and visibility. New development ideas spread through the network and international co-operation is possible.

Geopark supports tourism, business, internationality, education and research in the area by highlighting unique geological and cultural features and by caring about sustainable operations in order to protect the environment.

The geopark will create a sustainable framework for developing nature tourism in south saimaa

Developing sustainable tourism and local entrepreneurship is more important than ever, as interest in nature tourism in Saimaa is growing. Increasing public recognition of southern Saimaa is also needed to boost the economy of the entire region. It is hoped that geological tourism will help, and a lasting framework for devolving nature tourism in southern Saimaa can be created with the help of the international Geopark operations model. The aim is to establish Saimaa Geopark in the regions of South Karelia and South Savo.

Applying for Unesco Global Geopark status

Geopark membership can be applied for from the UNESCO. Every year UNESCO decide on accepting a new Geopark. The application process takes approximately two years. Following acceptance to the Geopark Network, developing the area is continuous, long-term work. The Geopark Network evaluates the operations of every Geopark every four years. If there has not been any development, the UGGp status can be lost. In this way the network ensures the functionality of geoparks and the quality of the geopark brand.

European Geoparks network

The European Geopark Network EGN was founded in 2000. Its main goal is to help its members create sustainable local development with geotourism that utilises the geological heritage of the area. European geoparks also belong to the global Global Geoparks cooperation network. This network also operates under UNESCO. 

Unesco Global Geopark

The UNESCO Global Geopark Network is a worldwide cooperation organization established in 2004. UNESCO Global Geoparks include 213 sites from 48 countries. In Finland, Saimaa Geopark, Rokua Geopark, Lauhanvuori-Hämeenkangas Geopark and Salpauselkä Geopark have received UGGp status. The fifth Geopark area in Finland is preparing to apply for status: Kraatterijärvi Geopark.

 List of UNESCO Global Geoparks and Regional Networks


other geoparks in finland


Finland's first UNESCO Global Geopark, Rokua, received Geopark status in 2010. The Geopark's theme is traces of the Ice Age. Rokua Geopark consists of three landscape areas: Oulujokilaakso, Oulujärvi and Rokua ridge and dune area. Rokua Geopark offers unique nature experiences and versatile services all year round! The Rokua Geopark, made up of the landscape areas of Oulujokilaakso, Rokua and Oulujärvi.

The legacy of the ice age and the development history of the area can be seen in the nature of Rokua Geopark, for example, in high dunes, deep kettles, extensive swamp areas, wonderful sandy beaches and dense forests covered with white lichen.





Salpauselkä Geopark received UNESCO Global Geopark status on April 13, 2022. Salpauselkä Geopark covers the territory of six municipalities, which are: Lahti, Hollola, Heinola, Asikkala, Sysmä and Padasjoki. 

Salpauselkä Geopark's theme is the Salpauselkä formation, which was created at the end of the ice age, which is the world's most famous edge formation of the ice age. The massive formation was created during the cold Dryas phase of the end of the last ice age, when the retreat of the continental glacier stopped and a huge amount of soil was piled up in front of it.



Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the southern part of Suomenselkä, on the borders of three provinces. The Geopark area connects Kauhajoki, Isojoki and Karijoki from southern Pohja, Kankaanpää, Karvia, Jämijärvi and Siikainen from Satakunta and Parkano and Kihniö from Pirkanmaa into a unified nature tourism area.

The story of Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark tells how the folded mountain range in the area almost two billion years ago has worn away over time and the landscape has changed into the current, flat plain. Memories of the rise and destruction of the ancient mountain are written on the stones, rocks and soil of the area. In the area, you can find large natural marsh areas that are rare in the conditions of southern Finland. Different swamps and the related cultural history are an important part of the Geopark's story. 




Crater Lake Lappajärvi was born 78 million years ago when an asteroid orbiting the Sun for about 4.5 billion years collided with another similar asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. As a result of the collision, a meteorite with a diameter of more than one kilometer hit Earth at a cosmic velocity (approximately 10-40 km/s) near what is now Lappajärvi. The collision caused enormous destruction, destroying everything alive within a few hundred kilometers and creating a crater whose elevation was 750 meters and a diameter of 22 kilometers.


Tectonic plates have moved millions of years and ice ages have flattened the crater. To this day the crater is surrounded by elevated edge that can still be seen from Lakeaharju (in Vimpeli) and Pyhävuori (in Alajärvi) offering spectacular views of the Crater Lake. Additionally, you can see the largest island of Lappajärvi called Kärnäsaari, which is the original uplift caused by the collision.

The meteorite that gave birth to the crater was destroyed in the explosion. As a result of the crush, several new rock types were formed, of which the most important are kärnäite and suevite. Kärnäite, as very hard rock, has been protecting Kärnäsaari island from further erosion. Kärnäite contains a lot of rock fragments and minerals in a completely melted groundmass. Based mainly on the visual observations, Lake Lappajärvi was still considered to be a volcanic crater until 1970s. In 1976, Martti Lehtinen in his doctoral dissertation proved the celestial origin of the crater. Kärnäite can still be seen as unique out crops.

Suevite consists of material that was floating in the air from the crater. It consists of rock and mineral fragments, crushed rock, which has mixed with molten rock. Suevite is a fragile mixture of crushed and melted pieces. There are rare diamonds found in Suevite and can be found only in three craters in the world. Suevite can only be found in the deep drillhole samples and gravel deposites south and southeast from the crater lake.