international: Baltic Sea
Darßer Weststrand in Western Pomerania
(steep coast near Ahrenshoop )
|location||Northeast Europe, between Scandinavia and the Baltic States|
|Tributaries||Or , Vistula , Pregel , Memel , Düna , Narva , Neva , Torne älv , Lule älv , Motala ström and many more|
|Affiliated seas||via Kattegat to the Atlantic|
|Important islands||Rügen , Funen , Zealand , Lolland , Falster , Gotland , Bornholm , Öland , Usedom , Wolin , Saaremaa , Hiiumaa , Åland Archipelago and many more|
|Cities on the shore||Rostock , Kiel , Lübeck , Danzig , Gdynia , Kaliningrad , Klaipėda , Riga , Tallinn , Saint Petersburg , Helsinki , Oulu , Stockholm , Malmö , Copenhagen , Flensburg and many more|
|area||412,500 km² (with Kattegat)|
|volume||21,630 km³ (with Kattegat)|
|Maximum depth||459 m|
|Middle deep||52 m|
strongly dissected form
|Stockholm's southern archipelago in the municipality of Nynäshamn|
The Baltic Sea (international: Baltic Sea , from Latin Mare Balticum , or also called Baltic Sea ) is an inland sea of the Atlantic in Europe and, in contrast to the North Sea, not a marginal sea of this ocean. It is a brackish sea, even if a higher salt and oxygen content can be observed in the western Baltic Sea due to the water exchange with the Atlantic and North Sea.
If the Kattegat is included, the Baltic Sea has an area of around 412,500 km² (excluding the Kattegat around 390,000 km²) and a volume of around 21,600 km³. The maximum depth is 459 m with an average depth of 52 m. Depending on how far you delimit this region, between 50 and 85 million people live in the Baltic Sea region.
Naming and interpretation
The term "Baltic Sea" is primarily used in the Germanic languages (except English), and an antonym to the former name West Sea for the part of the North Sea west of the Cimbrian Peninsula : Danish Østersøen , Icelandic / Faroe Eystrasalt , Dutch Oostzee , Norwegian Østersjøen , Swedish Ostersjön . The geographical perspective from the location of these countries may be essential for this. In Finland , the term (Finnish Itämeri , Swedish Östersjön ) is based on the sovereignty of Sweden from the 12th to the 18th century over today's Finland.
In English and most other languages, the northern European inland sea is referred to as the “Baltic Sea” or “Baltic Sea”.
In Roman sources, the Baltic Sea was usually referred to as Mare Suebicum after the Suebi living on its south coast .
Another name is Aestenmeer - named after the Aesti people , probably an exonym used by the Germanic peoples ("East People") for the Baltic , whom Tacitus described in Germania as the people living furthest east on the Mare Suebicum .
- With reference to the first mention of mare Balticum by Adam von Bremen , it is argued that it could be a transfer of the name Belt , Beltessund (related to the English belt 'belt', among other things - as the name of a narrow, elongated body of water) to the entire sea.
- Another interpretation sees a connection with the island of Baltia mentioned by Pliny .
- There could be a connection with Lithuanian baltas 'white' - this term is used in toponomy to denote bodies of water, especially moors.
(For more details see literature (PU Dini) )
Position and extent
The westernmost point of the Baltic Sea is at the western end of the Flensburg Fjord near the city of Flensburg , the northernmost point is on the Gulf of Bothnia near Töre in the municipality of Kalix in Sweden, where the Törehamn post bin is located . The easternmost point of the Baltic Sea is near the Russian Saint Petersburg , its southernmost point at the southern end of the Szczecin Lagoon near Szczecin .
Both historically and in modern science, the western demarcation of the Baltic Sea has been and is defined differently.
In politics and bureaucracy:
The Helsinki Convention of 1992 describes the Kattegat only as the entrance to the Baltic Sea: "For the purposes of this Convention the" Baltic Sea Area "shall be the Baltic Sea and the Entrance to the Baltic Sea, bounded by the parallel of the Skaw (ie Latitude of Skagen) in the Skagerrak at 57 ° 44.43 'N. “Due to this agreement, the Kattegat is often included in the Baltic Sea.
Trade and History:
Historically, the border ran through the Belt Sea, because the Kingdom of Denmark levied the sound tariff at the entrances to the Baltic Sea . The toll station in Öresund was Kronborg Castle near Helsingør . In the Great Belt he was cashed at Nyborg . For the Little Belt , the Sundzoll was called Stromzoll ( strømtold ) or Beltzoll ( bælttold) and has been levied there since the founding of Fredericia Fortress in 1650, previously elsewhere. The narrowest point (Middelfartsund), however, is at Middelfart .
Modern natural sciences:
The Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research writes: “From a physical point of view, there are arguments to put the separation between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea in the Great Belt near Langeland and in the Öresund on the drug threshold.” The Sveriges meteorologiska och hydrologiska institut (SMHI) also pulls them The border between the Baltic Sea and the Kattegat through the drug threshold at the southern end of the Øresund, in the Great Belt between Korsør and Nyborg and in the Little Belt near Middelfart. The maximum 7 m deep drug sill extends north of the Køgebucht between Dragør in the south of Copenhagen and Malmö . The Øresund crossing with the Drogden tunnel was built here. Accordingly, the Danish Baltic Sea islands in the Belt Sea would mark the approximate border of the Baltic Sea.
An investigation by the Swedish chemical supervisory authority Kemikalieinspätze, on the other hand, takes the 18 m deep Darßer Schwelle west of the drug sill as the limit. This limits the inflow of salt water from the Kattegat and the Belt Sea, as it flows below the low-salt water of the Baltic Sea.
When comparing the different definitions, their consequences should not be overlooked: Since the Kattegat, Beltsee and Öresund are rich in oxygen and species, the ecology of the Baltic Sea is statistically healthier when it is included, but seriously threatened if it is not included in the Baltic Sea.
The Baltic Sea was formed at the end of the last ice age, the Vistula glaciation, around 12,000 years ago after the huge glacier masses melted. Its current shape and character was formed over several stages through an interplay of land elevation and sea level rise:
12,000 to 10,200 years ago, the glaciers thawed back in the direction of Scandinavia as a result of the climate change at the time. When the ice edge was at the height of today's Åland Islands, north-east of Stockholm, after the inland ice had melted, the Baltic ice reservoir formed in its foreland .
About 10,200 to 8,900 years ago the sea level rose so strongly that at least in the area of today's central Swedish lake district, according to other sources also to the White Sea, a connection to the ocean was formed. The so-called (salty) Yoldia Sea was formed by the resulting freshwater outflow and saltwater inflow .
About 8,900 to 7,000 years ago the Scandinavian glaciers thawed further, the pressure on the Scandinavian land mass decreased, so that it began to lift and thereby blocked the sea connections. The (sweet) Ancylussee was created .
About 7000 to 2000 years ago, the sea level rose due to the so-called Littorina transgression so that the mainland bridge between southern Sweden and Denmark was flooded and the east of Denmark was divided into today's islands. The access opened up near the Darßer Schwelle off the German coast, and the coarse forms of today's coasts also developed in the southern area of the Baltic Sea.
The glaciers were now almost completely gone. The mainland of Scandinavia continued to rise, so that the coastline continued to change. The southern part of the Baltic Sea sank, the advancing sea flooded the young glacial landscape and transformed it in the process. As a result, three forms of coast can be found in the southern area : the fjord coast (example: Kieler Förde ), bay coast (example: Lübeck Bay ) and the lagoon or lagoon compensation coast (example: Fischland-Darß-Zingst peninsula ) z. Sometimes with the formation of harbors (example: Stettiner Haff ).
Tabular overview of the development stages
|description||Time in years||water||eponymous display organisms|
|End of the Vistula Ice Age||before about 12000||-||-|
|Baltic ice reservoir||before 12500-10000||Sweet||-|
|Yoldia Sea||before 10000-9250||salty - brackish||Saltwater mussel Yoldia arctica
(now Portlandia arctica )
|Ancylussee||before9250-7100||Sweet||Freshwater snail, Ancylus fluviatilis|
|Littorina Sea||before7100-4000||salty - brackish||Periwinkle Littorina littorea|
|Limnea Sea||before4000-1500||salty - brackish, but light sweetness||Brackish water snail Limnea ovata|
|Myameer||before1500 – today||salty - brackish||Sand Gap Clam Mya arenaria|
The southern part of the Baltic Sea is in the temperate climatic zone , which in Denmark still has distinct maritime features, but to the east is in the area of the continental climate . The northern part, especially the Gulf of Bothnia, is characterized by the cold climate of the boreal coniferous forests . In Finland, they extend to around 200 km north of the Arctic Circle . Because the Baltic Sea is decoupled from the climate-influencing Gulf Stream and its area is quite small, and because the salt content is very low due to low evaporation and rich freshwater supply , it can only make a very small contribution to climatic compensation; it does not develop its own maritime climate.
After hard winters, the sea acts as a cold store. Port cities like Oulu in Finland count up to six icy months per year. In cold winters, ice layers on the German coast can be so thick that people can walk on them. Only a few islands like Bornholm benefit from an unusually mild microclimate .
The Baltic Sea region is warmer than average: in the last century it was 0.85 K warmer in the Baltic Sea , but only 0.75 K worldwide. Since 1990, the air has been on average almost 1 K warmer than in previous decades. The air in the Baltic Sea region could warm up by a further 3 to 6 K by the end of the century. The mean water temperature in the German part of the Baltic Sea increased from 1980 to 2015 by 1.6 ° C on the surface and by up to 1.9 ° C at a depth of 20 meters.
Water level & tide
The mean water level in the Baltic Sea ( mean water ) is around normal height zero (NHN). In Kiel , for example, it is 1 cm below sea level, the mean high water (MHW) and mean low water are about 1.22 m above or below. With a probability of 80%, the water level will remain below 1.45 m above mean water over the course of a year and will be exceeded every five years on average. There is a 99% probability that the water level will remain below 2.26 m above mean water level and will be exceeded every 100 years on average.
Tides / tides
Especially the western Baltic Sea is subject to the influence of a regular but weak tide with a period of 12.4 hours and the amplitudes vary from 30 cm in Flensburg to 15 cm in Rostock. From there the tidal effect decreases steadily until it shows a value of around 0.0 cm at the “Darßer Ort lighthouse”. Tides of around 20-30 cm are easily perceptible with careful observation. However, in stronger winds or storms, the pure water level changes of the tides can quickly no longer be noticed.
- Extension: with Kattegat 412 500 km², without Kattegat about 390,000 km²
- Water volume: with Kattegat 21,630 km³
- 456 m Landsorttief (western Gotland basin)
- 301 m Åland Deep ( Åland Sea )
- 301 m Ulvötief ( Bottensee )
- 248 m Gotland depth (eastern Gotland pelvis)
- Average depth: 52 m
see also: List of sea lows
The salinity (the salinity ) of the Baltic decreases from west to east. In the Belt Sea in the west it fluctuates between 30 (3%) and 19 PSU (1.9%), in the northeastern part ( Bottenwiek and Gulf of Finland ), however, it only fluctuates between 5 and 3 PSU (0.5% to 0.3%) ). The salt content on the east coast of Schleswig-Holstein is around 1.5 to 1.9%. (In comparison, the salinity of the Atlantic and the northern North Sea reaches 35 PSU.) The decline in salinity is not continuous, but rather gradual. This is attributed to the fact that, due to the Ice Age, the bottom profile of the Baltic Sea consists of basins and thresholds . The greatest gradient in salt concentration can be found in the area of the Darßer Schwelle north of Rostock , which forms the border between the Beltsee and the Arkona Basin. To the west of it the salinity is around 1.7%, to the east it is only 0.8%. East of the Darßer Schwelle, the Baltic Sea is therefore a pure brackish sea .
Because of the high freshwater input and the low level of evaporation in the Baltic Sea, its salinity is largely due to the exchange of water with the ocean . Since salt water is heavier than fresh water , there is also a stratification of the lake water. There is a particularly large amount of salt in deep water below 60–70 meters. In the Belten and Sunden there is a surface current with low salinity from the Baltic Sea to the Kattegat and a deep current of salty water from the Kattegat into the Baltic Sea. Over three quarters of the water exchange takes place through the Great Belt and around 9% through the Little Belt. Through the emerging and pelvic structure of the Baltic soil but a significant proportion remains of the salt water in the basin of the Belt Sea and do not penetrate further in front to the east.
Temporal fluctuations in salinity are caused by stormy periods that accelerate the exchange of water through the straits, and by large amounts of precipitation that increase freshwater input (on average 500 km³ / year). In a strong south-westerly wind, for example, a lot of water is pushed into the northeastern Baltic Sea and the water level in the western Baltic Sea sinks; at the same time a storm flood occurs in the Skagerrak , and North Sea water runs over the Belt Sea into the Baltic Sea. This means that both salt and oxygen get into the deep waters of the Baltic Sea. If there is no new influx over a longer period of time, the oxygen is used up by the organisms. Toxic hydrogen sulfide is formed , which kills fish eggs or larvae, for example.
The oxygen supply of an additional North Sea water influence during stormy periods lasts for about one to three years. The penultimate such slump was in 2003, the previous one in 1993. Even in the 1970s, such events took place much more frequently than they do today. In the winter of 2014/2015, the third largest saltwater ingress since 1880 was observed when around 4 gigatons of salt entered the western Baltic Sea, the largest amount in six decades.
For the size of the rivers that flow into the Baltic Sea, a different picture emerges, whether one considers them according to the mean discharge , according to the nominal length or the hydrological length, i.e. the length of the water from the most distant source to the mouth:
in m³ / s
|States||Longest river route
74 (nominal) |
|281,000||Russia, Finland (Ladoga tributary Vuoksi )||
Suna (280) → Lake Onega (160) →
Swir (224) → Lake Ladoga (122) → Neva
|Vistula||1080||1047||194.424||Poland, tributaries: Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia|
|Daugava||678||1020||87,900||Russia (source), Belarus, Latvia|
|Memel||678||937||98,200||Belarus (source), Lithuania, Russia|
550 (main stream) |
600 (river system)
|51,127.3||Finland, Norway (source of the Ounasjoki )||longer tributary Kitinen|
|or||540||866||118,861||Czech Republic (source), Poland, Germany|
77 (nominal) |
|56,200||Russia (source of Velikaya), Estonia||Velikaya (430) → Lake Peipus (145) → Narva|
520 (nominal) |
|40,131.4||Norway (sources above Torneträsk),
|Válfojohka → Kamajåkka → Abiskojåkka ( add . 45)
→ Torneträsk (55.5) → Torne älv
Outline taking into account the relief of the ground
A breakdown published by Sweden in 2004 is based heavily on the relief of the sea. The Baltic Sea consists of various basins and bays that are connected by straits and separated by islands . In addition, there are special coastal waters such as the fjords , the fjärde , the Haffe and the Bodden . There are overlaps in the transition areas at the entrance and between the larger parts of the sea:
The Kattegat , which is 22,000 km² in size , is mostly viewed by the residents as an independent sea body. In contrast to the Baltic Sea, it is oceanographically, biologically, traffic-technically and historically not an inland sea. Because it is the access to the Baltic Sea , it is dealt with together with the Baltic Sea in some contexts. In other contexts it is one of the marginal waters of the North Sea .
The Beltsee is also included in the south of the Kattegat.
Straits of the sea:
also included the Beltsee:
Smaller bays, fjords:
(Since the Danish straits have a freshwater flow towards the Kattegat at the top and a saltwater flow towards the Baltic Sea below, hardly any water from these rivers reaches the Baltic Sea.)
Southern Kattegat / Northern Beltsee
Straits of the sea:
Smaller bays, fjords:
The approximately 8000 square kilometers Belt Sea , and Western Baltic mentioned, which includes marine waters west of Zeeland , Falster and between this island and the German coast near Rostock extending Darss Sill . This is where the narrowest parts of the entrance to the Baltic Sea are located. The sea is divided here by islands into a network of straits and bays, which are hardly more closely connected with the rest of the Baltic Sea than with the Kattegat. The mean salt concentration in the water of the Beltsee is more than twice as high as in the basins adjacent to the east. There are also considerable differences between the northern and southern parts of this transition area between the Kattegat and the Baltic Sea. Therefore, the northern parts are at the same time assigned to the Kattegat, the southern parts at the same time to the "actual" Baltic Sea.
Southern Belt Sea / western Baltic Sea proper
Sea bays, fjords:
Actual Baltic Sea
The actual Baltic Sea extends in a broader sense from the German Baltic Sea coast, in the narrower sense from the Falster – Darß line in the west ( Darßer Schwelle ) to the Stockholm – Åland line –northwestern Estonia in the northeast. In addition to the Bothnian and Finnish , the Gulf of Riga also belongs to the sea bays not enclosed in the east . After the relief of the sea bed, the actual Baltic Sea is divided into several basins. The westernmost of these also belong to the Beltsee: Southern Little Belt, Kiel Bay, Southern Great Belt and Mecklenburg Bay. To the east of the Darßer Schwelle, the Arkona Sea extends around Rügen to the line Sandhammaren ( Schonen ) - Bornholm - Wolin , which also includes the western part of the Pomeranian Bay . Between Bornholm in the West, the trip-free threshold to the east and the coast of Blekinge in the north, which extends the Bornholm Basin . Around Gotland a distinction is made between the North Gotland Basin north of the small island of Gotska Sandön , the West Gotland Basin with the Landsorttief between Gotska Sandö, Gotland and the Swedish coast, and the East Gotland Basin with the Gotlandtief between the large island, Saaremaa (Ösel), Kurland and Pomerania . The Gdansk Bay adjoins it to the south-east ; defined as a sea basin much larger than on the basis of the coastline, it extends to the line between Rozewie (Rixhöft) and the south of the Latvian coast.
Sea bays, fjords:
Islands and archipelagos:
Gulf of Riga
Gulf of Finland
The Gulf of Finland between Estonia, Finland and Russia can also be referred to as the Northeastern Baltic Sea .
Islands and archipelagos:
Northern Baltic Sea
Sea parts and straits:
Islands and archipelagos:
Nautical Agreement 2014
At the 19th conference of the BSHC (Baltic Sea Hydrographic Commission) from 10. – 12. June 2014 a new division of the Baltic Sea was agreed, which includes the Kattegat, but again as an entrance area. According to the German participants in the conference, the agreement is based solely on nautical issues, not ecological ones. Therefore, the ground relief was hardly taken into account in this classification. Which freshwater input from the inland into which sea waters did not play a role at all.
A distinction is made between further levels under the entire area of the Baltic Sea:
- the second stage Subareas (Central Baltic Sea and main Gulfs)
- the third tier Detailed Subareas
- Baltic Entrances (from the latitude of Skagen to the line Als (-en) - Ærø - Fyn ( Fyn ) - Langeland - Lolland - Falster - Møn - Falsterbo in southern Sweden)
- Central Baltic (Central Baltic Sea) (behind the o. G. Line Als Falsterbo except Gulf of Riga, Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Bothnia)
- Western Baltic Sea ( west of the Falsterbo - Cape Arkona line )
- Southern Baltic Sea ( between this line in the west and the longitude of Czołpino (to Smołdzino ) on the Pomeranian coast in the east)
- Southeastern Baltic Sea (between this and the east coast from Samland to Liepāja )
- Gdańsk Bay (south of the line between the root (!?) Of the Hel peninsula in the northwest corner of Samland)
- Middle Baltic Sea ( between the latitude of Kalmar in the south and that of Gotska Sandön in the north)
- Northern Baltic Sea ( north of Gotska Sandö, south and west of the Kapellskär (S) - Hanko (FIN) - Spithami (EST) line and west of the Estonian islands)
- Väinameri (between the Estonian islands Hiiumaa and Saaremaa and the protruding part of the Estonian west coast)
- Gulf of Riga (Gulf of Riga) (south of Väinameri east of the line between the Peninsula Sõrve the island of Saaremaa and Ovīši on the Latvian coast)
- Gulf of Finland (east of the Hanko - Spithami (EST) line)
- Gulf of Bothnia (Gulf of Bothnia) (north of the line Kapellskär (S) - Hanko (FIN))
About 20 percent of the soils of the core Baltic Sea - between Denmark and the Åland Islands - now belong to the so-called “ death zones ”, in which, due to a lack of oxygen, there is no life other than anaerobic organisms. This was the result of measurements by the Swedish Meteorological Institute in 2008. Other reports described a sixth (70,000 km² of the roughly 412,500 km² large Baltic Sea) as hostile areas.
The reason for this is that phosphorus and nitrogen compounds enter the Baltic Sea mainly from agriculture . Phosphorus and nitrogen are fertilizers . They encourage algae growth; the decomposition of dead algae causes the oxygen content to drop. Water with a higher salinity and thus a higher specific weight remains on the seabed, isolated from the surface water and the atmosphere. Only anaerobic bacteria live in the death zones ; they decompose organic matter and release hydrogen sulfide in the process . Enrichment with oxygen takes place mainly through autumn and winter storms from the west, which transport salty and oxygen-rich water from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea.
The Baltic Sea Council deals with the subject.
During investigations in the years 1980/1981 in the western and central Baltic Sea, water samples were taken from different depths on two voyages to examine their content of artificial radionuclides. The results show that the content of the radionuclide 137 Cs in deep water and in the western Baltic Sea was consistently higher (between 19 and 107 mBq / l) than the concentration in surface water or in the central Baltic Sea (15–60 mBq / l) ). The isotope is completely harmless in this concentration, but is suitable for studying the flow behavior of the Baltic Sea in more detail.
See also below: Ammunition disposal in the Baltic Sea
In addition to the lack of oxygen and pollution, the fish stocks also suffer from overfishing . The situation of herring and cod is significantly worse in the Baltic Sea than in the North Sea. That is why the EU agreed in 2008 and 2019 to reduce the fishing quotas. In the Greifswalder Bodden , larval production of herring has been declining continuously since 2004. It is also possible that the phenology changed by climate change is causing a steady decline in herring stocks. For example, the cod spawns at a depth of around 60 meters, where the salt concentration is optimal for the fish eggs. There, however, a significant increase in oxygen deficiency is increasingly being registered, with the result that the fish eggs die. The stock of cod ( cod ), however, has slightly increased in recent years due to a cold water spurt and a better compliance with the quotas in particular by Polish fishermen.
The Baltic Sea is rich in islands , archipelagos and chains, as well as inhabited and uninhabited islets. An exact number is not given because the definitions differ according to which an island and an islet are differentiated. In the following, the islands assigned to the neighboring countries are briefly presented (for details, see the respective lemma).
The large Danish islands of Zealand and Funen separate the Baltic Sea from the Kattegat. Zealand bears the Danish capital Copenhagen (København), is the largest island in the kingdom and now through the Öresund Bridge and the Drogden Tunnel with southern Sweden's Skåne (which belonged to Denmark until 1658) and through the Great Belt crossing with the third largest Danish island of Funen tied together. The Danish island of Bornholm is about 150 kilometers southeast of Copenhagen .
The Danish islands of Zealand and Funen are much more densely populated than the Jutland peninsula, which borders the Belt Sea and Kattegat to the west. Most of the islands are in the sailing area of the Danish South Pacific . There are larger islands such as Lolland, Falster, Møn , Langeland, Ærø and Alsen . North-east of Bornholm, the country has its easternmost outpost, Christiansø .
Fehmarn lies in front of the Wagrien peninsula on the Bay of Lübeck and is connected to the mainland via the Fehmarnsund Bridge as part of the Vogelfluglinie . At the moment (2020) a fixed Fehmarnbelt crossing is being planned as an alternative to the Jutland line , so that the bridge and tunnel network on the way from Central Europe to Scandinavia would be completed.
Rügen, the largest German island, is connected to the mainland via the Rügen dam and the Rügen bridge (second Strelasund crossing ) near Stralsund . Rügen has some offshore islands, of which Hiddensee is the best known.
Usedom, whose eastern part belongs to Poland, has, like Rügen, a rich division into peninsulas, and there are also many lakes there .
Estonia's largest island, and at the same time the largest Baltic island in the Baltic region, is Saaremaa ( Ösel ). The second largest Estonian island is Hiiumaa ( Dagö ). There are also the islands of Vormsi , Muhu , Naissaar , Vilsandi , Kihnu , Ruhnu and about 1500 other, smaller islands.
The number of Finnish islands and islets is given as around 80,000. This figure includes the approximately 6,500 islands of Åland as well as its archipelago . The rest are mostly archipelagos that do not belong to Åland. Finland therefore has an important island world in the Baltic Sea.
The Swedish-speaking archipelago of Åland , which belongs to Finland but has autonomy rights and consists of over 6,500 islands, lies between Sweden and Finland . 65 of these islands are inhabited and accommodate 26,530 inhabitants (end of 2004).
About five kilometers from Cape Kolka is the only island in the Latvian Baltic Sea with an artificial lighthouse island.
Lithuania has no islands in the open Baltic Sea, but in the Curonian Lagoon : Kiaulės Nugara ( English : "pork loin") near Klaipėda as well as Rusnė and a few others in the Memel Delta . The Lithuanian part of the Curonian Spit has no direct land connection to the rest of the country. From Klaipėda you have to take the ferry across. Plans for a bridge conflict with the status of the headland as a national park and world heritage site and have therefore been discarded so far. The spit can only be reached by land from the Russian Oblast of Kaliningrad .
The second largest island in the Baltic Sea is Gotland in Sweden . A quite independent dialect, Gotlandic , is spoken here. The second largest Swedish island, Öland, is also important . There are thousands of small archipelagos on Sweden's coast , some of which are inhabited.
The coastal forms of the Baltic Sea are a result of ice age glacier movements and post-glacial elevation in the northern and lowering in the southern area of the Baltic Sea, which continue to this day. The coasts are also influenced by their location in the west wind zone , which means that sediments are continually washed ashore from the west . A distinction is made between the following manifestations:
The Swedish-Finnish coast in the central , northern and eastern Baltic Sea is almost exclusively an archipelago; now and then you can still find isolated fjords (fjord-archipelago coast). Archipelagos are small and tiny rocky islands off the coast that have a characteristic dome shape due to the abrasion effect of the glaciers. Because the Baltic Sea has only low tides , they have remained practically unchanged over the past millennia. The gently sloping terrain was the melting flooded the ice sheet and the peaks jutted out from then on as islands. Over time, the elevation of the terrain has created additional archipelagos.
In some places, for example on Gotland , Bornholm , Møn and Rügen , cliff coasts have formed. These protrude steeply and ruggedly and mark terrain breaks in the geological subsurface. Cliff edges are also found below sea level . The north coast of Estonia towards the Gulf of Finland is also characterized by such a fault line. From west to east this cliff moves closer and closer to the current coastline and at Sillamäe reaches a height of almost 60 m.
A well-known cliff is located on the island of Rügen. The white chalk cliffs of the Königsstuhl in the Jasmund National Park there can be described as a dead cliff, as the surf does not constantly reach it. In contrast, the neighboring Wissower Klinken fell victim to the surf in 2005.
The east coast of Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland is characterized by fjords , which in Denmark are called fjords . When the Baltic Sea was formed, these narrow, long bays were former glacier tongue basins that were completely filled with water when the sea level rose . It differs from fjords in that the glaciers did not move from land to sea, but, conversely, the ice sheet drove over the present-day Baltic Sea glaciers, which after melting left a channel that was filled with seawater. The Schleswig-Holstein fjords are separated from the landscapes of fishing , swansen and Danish Wohld . The Probstei and the Wagrien peninsula with the island of Fehmarn lie between the Kiel Fjord and the Bay of Kiel in front of it on the one hand and the Bay of Lübeck as part of the Mecklenburg Bay on the other . The Hemmelsdorfer See near Timmendorfer Strand is also an old fjord. It is much deeper than the Lübeck Bay in front of it, cut off by an Ice Age land barrier.
The Western Pomerania coast is characterized by bay landscapes. Bodden were created by the fact that former islands were connected to one another by means of narrow bridges through constant supply of material, mainly sand . The rear waters , the Bodden, have been largely separated from the Baltic Sea and are only connected to it by channels.
The compensation coast mainly defines the coastline of Poland from Szczecin to shortly before Gdansk and the Latvian coast. Here the typical, richly structured glacial coastal forms have been balanced out by the inflow and the sediment transport from the west, so that the course is almost straight. This has become possible because the surf, which is mostly shaped by westerly winds, hits a coastline that runs from southwest to northeast and thereby accumulates transport material. On the coast of Western Pomerania , too, headlands and spits have emerged as a result of such equalization processes . B. the peninsula Fischland-Darß-Zingst and the Schaabe , the Schmale Heide and the Bug on Rügen.
The lagoon or spit coast was created in the stretch of coast between Gdansk and Klaipėda . In addition, the Szczecin Lagoon is also included. Haffe arise in front of the estuaries as brackish water reservoirs , which are largely separated from the rest of the Baltic Sea by narrow headlands, the spits. Due to the constant supply of river water, the spits do not close, but remain as elongated peninsulas that leave a channel open to the sea.
The first evidence of planned coastal protection on the German Baltic Sea coast is available for the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania . Coastal protection with the help of dunes has played an important role here since the early 13th century. In Schleswig-Holstein there are first records of coastal protection in the form of dykes since 1581. In addition to coastal protection through dunes and dykes, groynes were also widely used from the 19th century.
The flood of the Baltic Sea storm in 1872 destroyed many coastal protection works and resulted in increased construction work on the German Baltic Sea coast. Mostly it was about the construction of tough coastal protection measures. Nowadays, when it comes to coastal protection, more attention is paid to soft coastal protection measures. Due to climate change , a necessary adaptation of the coastal protection measures on the German Baltic Sea coast is to be expected.
Widespread trade routes through which the coveted amber , which was often found on the Baltic coast, reached all parts of the Roman Empire , are documented from that time . The export goods continued to be hides and furs . Conversely, Roman products such as ceramics , wine and oil made their way north.
In the High Middle Ages, the Baltic Sea played an immense role as a transport and trade route in Europe. The cities in the vicinity of the Baltic Sea joined together to form the Hanseatic League , which made them very rich. The most important Hanseatic cities on the Baltic Sea and in its catchment area were Lübeck , Wismar , Rostock , Stralsund , Greifswald , Stettin , Danzig , Koenigsberg , Memel , Riga , Reval and Novgorod .
In the Thirty Years War Sweden tried to implement great power plans across the Baltic Sea. As a result, many areas south of the Baltic Sea later belonged to Sweden for a long time (see also Swedish Pomerania ). In the Northern Wars , Russia succeeded in gaining a connection to the Baltic Sea from the east. Tsar Peter the Great had the new imperial capital Saint Petersburg built in the delta of the Neva , which was supposed to be a “gateway to the world” for the country.
In 1872 there was the largest storm disaster in the entire Baltic Sea. On November 11, 1872, a total of 654 ships are said to have sunk in the Baltic Sea.
In the 20th century, the Baltic Sea was the scene of many moving incidents during the world wars . Towards the end of the First World War , the Baltic ports were places where history was made: the fortress island of Kronstadt off St. Petersburg was the scene of a sailors' uprising against the Russian revolutionary government. The revolt was ended bloody with the use of warships. In the very last days of the war, the German naval units mutinied in the ports of Kiel and Flensburg against a senseless order from the Supreme Army Command to have the fleet deployed to a battle that was no longer militarily decisive . The Kiel sailors' uprising of 1918 spread throughout Germany to the November Revolution and led to the overthrow of the monarchy .
During the Second World War , some battles were fought between German and Soviet naval and submarine formations in the Baltic Sea . At the end of the war, almost the entire navigable area was mined, so that passenger shipping was discontinued. In 1945 attempts were nevertheless made to evacuate the German troops trapped in Courland , East Prussia and Pomerania , but also the fleeing civilian population, across the Baltic Sea. Especially tragic was the sinking of the former KdF -Schiffes Wilhelm Gustloff , which had almost exclusively civilians on board. The ship sank after several hits from Soviet missiles, killing an estimated 9,000 people who either drowned or soon froze to death in the freezing water. In terms of human life, it was the greatest shipping disaster of all time.
On May 2, 1945, five days before the German surrender, British planes attacked the former luxury steamer Cap Arcona and the Thielbek in the Bay of Lübeck . Over 7,500 people were killed in the process; Most of them were prisoners from German concentration camps.
The Cold War also claimed victims in the Baltic Sea: around 5,000 GDR citizens tried to flee to the West via the Baltic Sea. Only about 600 refugees reached their destination, some even on surfboards . Most of the escape attempts failed and often enough ended fatally. The lighthouse Dahmeshöved (Ostseeheilbad Dahme ) served many refugees on the Mecklenburg coast as a realistic goal of a successful escape.
Ammunition disposal in the Baltic Sea
After the Second World War, large quantities of ammunition , including poison gas ammunition, were disposed of in the Baltic Sea . Ammunition containing phosphorus in particular continues to pose a major risk. Amber- colored lumps of phosphorus ignite after drying at 34 ° C, then burn at a temperature of 1300 ° C and are difficult to extinguish. According to official records, 168 people have died from ammunition residues in the Baltic Sea since the end of the Second World War, and 250 were injured. Denmark published a study with far higher numbers of injuries. Every year 20 people are said to suffer accidents with leftover ammunition, most of them are fishermen. In 2009, the Swedish broadcaster Sveriges Television published reports on the dumping of chemical warfare agents and radioactive waste by the Soviet Navy off Gotland between 1989 and 1992. These came from the Karosta naval base in what is now Latvia. According to studies from Germany (as of 2020) there are still around 300,000 tons of ordnance (35,000 tons of which in the Bay of Kiel ) and around 40,000 tons of chemical weapons from the Third Reich sunk in the Baltic Sea. In addition, up to 50,000 sea mines from both world wars are said to be in the Baltic Sea.
Economy and Transport
The Baltic Sea region is an economic and growth area. While established economies with a high GDP per capita and high productivity predominate in the northern and western parts of the Baltic Sea (e.g. Germany or Sweden ), there are still relatively economically weak countries in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea, but with above-average GDP growth . As a result of the financial crisis from 2007 onwards , this growth collapsed again. The Baltic states in particular suffered growth losses of over 10%. Only Poland made only minor losses and kept its economy most stable in the entire Baltic Sea region .
The growth of the Baltic Sea region is based on good location factors . Particularly noteworthy are the advantageous location of the Baltic Sea within the world and the mobility within the Baltic Sea area. On the one hand, the Baltic Sea region offers highly developed economic regions for the settlement of new companies. These form extensive clusters and invest heavily in research and technology . The good, soft location factors are also decisive. The Öresund region , which according to The Economist magazine had the most business-friendly conditions in the world in 2007, developed excellently. On the other hand, the economic situation in the Baltic states is very lucrative for the economy. The business environment here is comparatively liberal . A business-friendly tax policy and an extensive telecommunications structure also benefit .
According to the Convention on the Law of the Sea , the states bordering the Baltic Sea are entitled to an exclusive economic zone . On January 1, 1995, the Federal Republic of Germany also declared this for its territorial sea on the Baltic Sea.
Ports and shipping routes
Important ports are Copenhagen , Malmö , Stockholm , Turku , Helsinki , Saint Petersburg , Tallinn , Riga , Liepāja , Klaipėda (formerly Memel), Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg ), Danzig , Gdynia , Stettin , Świnoujście (Swinoujscie), Trelleborg , Sassnitz , Rostock , Wismar , Lübeck , Kiel and Flensburg (see Flensburg harbor ).
One of the most important shipping routes in the world, the Kadetrinne, runs in the middle of the southern Baltic Sea . It is very busy and has occasionally made headlines in the past in connection with accidents .
The most frequented artificial sea shipping route in the world is the Kiel Canal , which connects the Baltic Sea with the North Sea , shortening the sea route via Kattegat (Baltic Sea) and Skagerrak (North Sea). It leads in Schleswig-Holstein from Kiel to Brunsbüttel on the Elbe .
Shipping and Air Pollution
With the growing shipping traffic of cargo ships and cruise ships on the Baltic Sea, the emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide are also increasing . The ports and their residents are polluted while the port is idle and the open sea is polluted while the boat is in motion. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that ships use heavy fuel oil with an otherwise unacceptable high sulfur content of 1.5% (= 15,000 ppm ) as fuel. Street diesel contains only 10 ppm sulfur. From 2010, the sulfur limit values are to drop to 0.1% across the EU, which would then be 1000 ppm.
The states bordering the Baltic Sea have started numerous initiatives in this regard to promote environmental protection in maritime shipping . In order to reduce emissions while the port is in port, there are initial attempts to connect cruise ships to the port's power supply in a mandatory manner (Hamburg example).
The Kiel Canal only shortens the detour around the Cimbrian Peninsula , but due to the often difficult weather conditions in the Skagerrak it has historical forerunners, the Eider Canal and the medieval passage via Schlei, Rheider Au and Treene , where seaworthy boats are at least temporarily open Rolls were dragged across the country.
The Göta Canal from the Baltic Sea to the Kattegat in Sweden was built in the 18th century in order to circumnavigate the Danish Sundzoll with what were then - smaller - seagoing vessels.
The numerous straits of the Beltsee have been crossed by an increasing number of fixed road and rail connections since the early 20th century. The most important traffic axes in the Baltic Sea region are, on the one hand, the Vogelfluglinie with the associated fixed Fehmarnbelt crossing . On the other hand, traffic axes such as the Via Hanseatica - part of which is the Federal Motorway 20 - and the Via Baltica are important pillars for the northern and eastern parts of Europe. It is planned to open up a large part of southern Sweden with high-speed trains. The European Corridor forms the framework for the implementation of this project.
Since 2011, the Nord Stream, also known as the “Baltic Sea Pipeline”, has been transporting Russian natural gas through the Baltic Sea to Germany with its two strands , two further strands of the second gas pipeline (Nord Stream 2) are under construction in parallel (2019/2020).
The coasts and islands of the Baltic Sea region are heavily influenced by tourism , which is the most important economic sector alongside the shipbuilding industry and trade . An important area of tourism is the beach holiday in seaside resorts . It is characterized by the strong seasonality typical of the Baltic Sea region , with the months of July and August as the focus. Other forms of offer such as wellness , cycling or cultural tourism are developing and weakening the seasonality somewhat.
Other factors in Baltic tourism are cruise ships that dock in Kiel, Rostock-Warnemünde, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Riga, Gdansk, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Mariehamn and Stockholm, as well as major maritime events such as the Kiel Week or the Hanse Sail , the each attracting millions of visitors.
Schleswig-Holstein Baltic coast
More than 13 million overnight stays and more than 3.7 million guest arrivals were counted on the Schleswig-Holstein Baltic Sea in 2017. Beach vacations and water sports, but also cycling and wellness are popular activities. The Baltic Sea Cycle Route ( Ostseeküstenroute (D2) ) leads along the coast from the Danish border near Flensburg to Lübeck and on towards Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The culinary specialties of the Baltic Sea coast include fish and fish rolls .
The Baltic Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein is divided into bays and fjords, for example Lübeck Bay, Hohwacht Bay, Kiel Fjord, Eckernförde Bay and the Flensburg Fjord. Fehmarn is the only Baltic Sea island in Schleswig-Holstein and is connected to the mainland via the Fehmarnsund Bridge.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Baltic coast
- Baltic Sail
- Royal line
- Union of the Baltic Cities
- Warnemünde – Gedser route
- Baltic storm flood 1872
- Baltic Sea Network
- Parliamentary Forum Southern Baltic Sea
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