Land of poets and levees

This is the true North. When the people of Schleswig-Holstein want to show their Land to visitors, they like to take them into the mudflats on safari and search at low-tide on the wet seabed for the Small Five: common shore crab, lugworm, brown shrimp, cockle and mudsnail.

The Wadden Sea has been a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site since 2009. It is as much a part of Schleswig-Holstein as the lighthouses, thatched roofs, Viking culture, the famous old town of Lübeck and the world’s biggest sailing festival: the Kieler Woche. In spring, when rapeseed blossoms cover one‑sixth of arable land, the Land is bathed in sunshine yellow.

A tart, happy Land

It can be harsh far up in the north, with its salty winds, stormy seas, endless skies and the ever-appropriate greeting “Moin” (“Good day”).

But the people of Schleswig-Holstein call their region “the land of poets and levees” and describe themselves as the happiest people in Germany. The northernmost part of the country is a narrow stretch of land, no more than 165 kilometres wide, between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Since 1895, the seas have been connected by the world’s most-travelled artificial waterway, the Kiel Canal. It was built at an historic narrow point between the seas.

The cultural landscape around the monuments of Danewerk and Hedeby is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is where the trade routes between Northern and Western Europe once converged, forming the hub between Scandinavia and continental Europe, where exchange and trade between people of different traditions in Europe took place.

Relations with its neighbour Denmark have long been close, though often marked by conflict. In 1920, shortly after the end of the First World War, three quarters of the population in the northern part of Schleswig voted in a referendum in favour of unification with Denmark. In southern Schleswig, 80 per cent voted in favour of remaining in the German Reich. Today, Danes and Germans enjoy close and friendly relations. The minority policies on both sides of the border are considered exemplary.

The people of Schleswig-Holstein keep their traditions alive. Boßeln (ball shooting) is a popular sport. In February you can see the bonfires to ward off evil spirits blazing into the sky from miles away. The soft, velvety marzipan from Lübeck is just as famous as the smoked delicacy Kiel sprats.

A service industry giant

In the coastal region, about 42,000 people earn their living from shipbuilding, shipping, port operations and other sectors of the maritime economy. The largest German shipyard, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, is located in Kiel. The economic structure of Schleswig-Holstein is defined by small and medium‑sized enterprises and the service sector. Almost three quarters of the gross value added is generated by the health sector, tourism, trade, logistics and communications. In 2018, 64.9 billion euro was generated through services. Key industries of the future include medical technologies, renewable energies, IT and the food industry.

From the north into the world

The harsh north is a source of inspiration for artists from various fields. Sculptors like Ernst Barlach and painters such as Emil Nolde settled here, while the Nobel Prize winners for literature Thomas Mann and Günter Grass both hail from Lübeck. Today Schleswig-Holstein has a lively art scene with 250 museums and 1000 artists at the Land’s cultural institutes.

The Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival is one of the biggest classical music festivals in Europe and Wacken Open Air is the world’s largest heavy-metal festival. The film industry is particularly active: the true North hosts five film festivals and engages in intensive film promotion, including the Schleswig-Holstein Cinema Prize, for example.

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