The Spreewald (German for "Spree Woods"; in Lower Sorbian: Błota) is a picturesque section of the German state of Brandenburg located about 100 km south-east of Berlin. 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).
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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