The Baltic Sea Coast
The Baltic Sea (Ostsee) is bounded by Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Poland, and by the German Federal States of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Although in geological terms part of the Atlantic, it is rather enclosed, connected to the North Sea only by a number of narrow waterways.
The Baltic Sea is relatively shallow (average 57 metres, max. 459 metres) and has practically no tides. It receives the drainage from a large part of northern Europe and as a result the salinity of water in the Baltic Sea is low and lies somewhere between freshwater and seawater.
The German Baltic Sea coast differs markedly from the North Sea coast. In the north – at the Schleswig-Holstein coastline – it is indented by several narrow fjords with steep banks, carved by rivers towards the end of the last ice-age. Further to the south – in the Lübecker Bay area – the Baltic shore gets flat and sandy.
The Kiel Canal (Nord-Ostsee-Kanal) is a 98 kilometre long man-made waterway which links the North Sea at Brunsbüttel to the Baltic Sea at Kiel-Holtenau. An average of 280 nautical miles is saved by using the Kiel Canal instead of going around Denmark. The canal is the world’s busiest artificial waterway.
In Mecklenburg Western Pomerania the Baltic coastline stretches to Usedom island and the Fischland-Darss-Zingst Peninsula in the east, where it forms the “Bodden” – an area of shallow waters and lagoons between the peninsula and the mainland which were declared a National Park in 1990. The total length of the state’s coastline, including the islands and the inner and outer Bodden coasts, is approximately 1,500 km.
Off the north-east coast just offshore of Stralsund lies Rügen, Germany’s largest island. With its steep and snow-white chalk cliffs it is strikingly picturesque.