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Capital: Kiel
Area: ca 15,776 km²
Inhabitants: 2,777,000 (1999)
pop. density: 176 inh./km²
ISO 3166-2: DE-SH
Minister-President: Heide Simonis (SPD)
Ruling party: SPD/Green coalition

Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the 16 Bundesländer in Germany. The Danish language name is Slesvig-Holsten, the Low Saxon language name is Sleswig-Holsteen. Historically the name refers to a larger region, containing present day Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish county of South Jutland (Sønderjyllands Amt in Danish).



Schleswig-Holstein lies on the base of the peninsula of Jutland between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea.

The former Duchy of Holstein constitutes the southern part of Schleswig-Holstein, whereas Southern Schleswig constitutes the northern part. The former Duchy of Schleswig, (Sønderjylland in Danish), has been divided between Denmark and Germany since 1920. Northern Schleswig, today the Danish county of South Jutland, was ceded to Denmark after a referendum following Germany's defeat in World War I.

Schleswig-Holstein borders on Denmark in the North, the North Sea in the West, the Baltic Sea and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the East, and Lower Saxony and Hamburg in the South. Kiel is the capital of this Bundesland.

The countryside is lowlands with virtually no mountains, the highest elevation being the Bungsberg at only 168 meters. There are many lakes, especially in the eastern part of Holstein called the Holsteinische Schweiz ("Switzerland of Holstein"). A group of islands called the North Frisian Islands is situated off the western coast, and another small islet called Heligoland further out. Just one island lies off the eastern coast: Fehmarn. The longest river - besides of the Elbe is the Eider.

See also List of places in Schleswig-Holstein.

Schleswig-Holstein is divided into eleven Kreise (districts):


  1. Dithmarschen
  2. Lauenburg
  3. Nordfriesland
  4. Ostholstein
  5. Pinneberg
  6. Plön

  1. Rendsburg-Eckernförde
  2. Schleswig-Flensburg
  3. Segeberg
  4. Steinburg
  5. Stormarn

Furthermore there are four independent towns, which do not belong to any district:

  1. Kiel
  2. Lübeck
  3. Neumünster
  4. Flensburg


The official languages are High German, Low Saxon, Danish and Frisian. Low Saxon - the classic language of the country - is spoken in most parts of the Country, Danish by the Danish minority, Frisian by the North Frisians at the North Sea Coast and the Northern Frisian Islands and a special Frisian Dialect called Hallun at the Island Heligoland. High German had been introduced since the 16th century, mainly for official purposes, but it is today the most used language, since it had been forced by the Prussian government after 1864.


Main article: History of Schleswig-Holstein

The Duchy of Schleswig was in early medieval times split off from the Danish kingdom, also Holstein was later united in a duchy. Through their history they've variably retained independence, belonging to the Danish Crown and to the German Reich. For extended periods the King of Denmark was also German Duke of Schleswig and/or Holstein.

National awakening after the Napoleonic Wars led to a strong popular movement for re-unification with (Prussia-dominated) Germany, and after a failed rebellion in 1848 and the unsuccessful First war of Schleswig (1848-1851), Otto von Bismarck succeeded in the Second war of Schleswig (1864).

After World War I, Denmark reacquired part of that territory (Northern Schleswig) after a referendum in the region.

As a matter of trivia, the term "Holstein" derives from the Old Norse and Old Saxon, Holseta Land, meaning simply "Woodland". Originally, it referred to the central of the three saxon tribes north of the Elbe river, Tedmarsgoi, Holcetae, and Sturmarii. The area of the Holcetae was between the Stör river and Hamburg, after christianization their main church was in Schenefeld .

The term Schleswig takes its name from the city of Schleswig. The name derives from the Schlei inlet in the east and vik meaning inlet or settlement in Old Saxon and Old Norse.

The Kiel Canal crosses Schleswig-Holstein and allows German shipping to cross from the Baltic to the North Sea without leaving German territory. It had a vital role in assisting German commerce and war efforts during the last century.

List of Minister-Presidents of Schleswig-Holstein

  1. 1945 - 1947: Theodor Steltzer
  2. 1947 - 1949: Hermann Lüdemann
  3. 1949 - 1950: Bruno Diekmann
  4. 1950 - 1951: Walter Bartram
  5. 1951 - 1954: Friedrich-Wilhelm Lübke
  6. 1954 - 1963: Kai-Uwe von Hassel (CDU)
  7. 1963 - 1971: Helmut Lemke
  8. 1971 - 1982: Gerhard Stoltenberg (CDU), see List of Honorary Citizens of Schleswig-Holstein
  9. 1982 - 1987: Uwe Barschel (CDU)
  10. 1987 - 1988: Henning Schwarz (CDU)
  11. 1988 - 1993: Björn Engholm (SPD)
  12. since 1993: Heide Simonis (SPD)

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Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45