The Spreewald (German for 'Spree Forest'; in Lower Sorbian: Błota, i.e. 'the Swamps') is a picturesque section of the German state of Brandenburg located about 100 km south-east of Berlin. It was the center of the Battle of Halbe at the end of World War II, which included the last major land conflicts between German and Soviet forces. Spreewald was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1991. It is known for its traditional irrigation system, consisting of more than 200 small canals (called Fließe; total length: 1,300 km) within the 484-square-kilometre (187 sq mi) area. The landscape was shaped during the ice-age. Alder forests on wetlands and pine forests on sandy dry areas are characteristic for the region. Grasslands and fields can be found as well.
About 50,000 people live in the biosphere reserve (1998). Many of them are descendants of the first settlers in the Spreewald region, the Slavic tribes of the Sorbs/Wends. They have preserved their traditional language, customs and clothing to this day.
People mostly depend on tourism. Many tourists enjoy the exploration of the Spreewald in punts. Agriculture, forestry and fishery are other important sources of income. The principal town of the area is Lübbenau.
Spreewald gave its name to the following German districts:
About 18,000 species of flora and fauna have been counted. In 1991, the Spreewald was designated a UNESCO "Biosphärenreservat" (Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme).
The Spreewald is known as a tourist destination and is known throughout Germany for the production of natural organic products. The tourism and economic demarcation of the Spreewald is thus much more difficult than its geographical extension. Due to its popularity and the associated advantage, the borders of the Spreewald tourism and business area have increasingly extended from the actual natural space of the Spreewald. Especially for the regional food industry the economic area Spreewald was created, which is much larger than the real Spreewald. This economic area is protected as a geographical indication within the EU. Before the legal protection of the space there were several court disputes over the designation Spreewald on food labels.
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- "Spreewald". Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). 1911.
- Official website
- The Spreewald Guide - your Guide for the Spreewald area
- Information about country, people and tourism in the Spreewald in English
- Cycling-trip through the Spreewald – with many Pictures