Frisian Islands

Frisian Islands

Frisian Islands, chain of low-lying islands, off the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, in the North Sea. The West Frisian Islands, belonging to the Netherlands, are off the shores of North Holland, Friesland, and Groningen provs. and include the islands of Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, and Ameland. The East Frisian Islands, belonging to Germany, are east of the mouth of the Ems and include Norderney and Borkum. The North Frisian Islands, off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, and S Jutland, Denmark, include Sylt, Föhr, and Rømø. Fishing and stock raising are pursued on most of the Frisian Islands. Many bathing resorts are also there.

The North Frisian Islands are a group of islands in the Wadden Sea, a part of the North Sea, off the western coast of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The German islands are in the traditional region of North Frisia and are part of the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park and the Kreis (district) of Nordfriesland. Occasionally Heligoland is also included in this group.

Sometimes the North Frisian Islands include also the Danish Wadden Sea Islands on the western coast of Jutland, Denmark. They belong to Tønder municipality and Esbjerg municipality. The ethnic group of Frisians lives only on the German-ruled islands.


There are four larger islands and ten tiny islets. The names of the large islands are Sylt, Föhr, Amrum, and Pellworm. The islets are called Halligen. In medieval times the present-day peninsula Nordstrand and Pellworm as well as the Halligen were part of the large island of Strand. This island was torn to pieces in a disastrous storm tide in 1634.

Sylt (Söl'ring North Frisian: Söl' ; Sild) is the largest of the North Frisian Islands, consisting of about 100 km². It is accessible by a causeway called the Hindenburgdamm; this causeway is only accessible to trains. In the summer months the island is crowded with tourists, including those who have a preference for nudism. Sylt's image is that of a meeting point for the jet-set. The main town on the island is Westerland. The northern end of Sylt, the Ellenbogen ("elbow"), is Germany's northernmost point. Lager Sylt, the Nazi concentration camp on Alderney was named after the island.

Compared with Sylt, Föhr (Fering North Frisian: Feer; Før) is a relatively silent island. Its area is 82 km². Sixteen old hamlets are scattered over the island, some of which already existed in the 13th century. The main town is Wyk on the south eastern shore. Wyk is a popular German seaside resort. There is no bridge or causeway connecting Föhr and the mainland; so ferries are the only connection. The ferry port, the harbour and Föhr marina are in Wyk.

Amrum (Öömrang North Frisian: Oomram) is only 20 km², but it is popular with tourists, though less crowded than Sylt. The western half of the island features a beach 12 km in length and 1 km in width. The villages are situated on the eastern shore, with Wittdün being the most important of them.

Pellworm (Mooring North Frisian: Pälweerm) and the peninsula of Nordstrand (Mooring: Nordströön) are the remains of the submerged island of Strand. The main town of this sunken island was Rungholt, thought to be the largest town in the surrounding area, but it was totally destroyed and submerged by a storm in 1362, 272 years before another storm destroyed Strand itself. Nordstrand has an area of 49 km², Pellworm 37 km².

Smaller remains of Strand are the ten islets called Halligen. The houses on these tiny islets are built on artificial hills. In a storm tide only these hills rise above the sea, while the remainder of the islet is flooded. The names of the Halligen are Nordmarsch-Langeness, Norderoog, Süderoog, Nordstrandischmoor, Oland, Südfall, Gröde-Appelland, Hooge, Habel and the Hamburger Hallig.

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