Area:ca 15,776 km
Inhabitants:2,777,000 (1999)
pop. density:176 inh./km (
ISO 3166-2:DE-SH
Minister-president:Peter Harry Carstensen (CDU)
Ruling party:CDU/SPD
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Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the 16 Bundeslnder in Germany. The Danish name is Slesvig-Holsten, the Low Saxon name is Sleswig-Holsteen and the Frisian name is Sleeswyk-Holstein. Historically the name refers to a larger region, containing present day Schleswig-Holstein and the county of South Jutland in Denmark.



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, (Slesvig in Danish), has been divided between Denmark and Germany since 1920. Northern Schleswig, today the Danish county of South Jutland (Sønderjylland), 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 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. Pln

  1. Rendsburg-Eckernfrde
  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. Lbeck
  3. Neumnster
  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 on the Island Heligoland. High German was introduced in the 16th century, mainly for official purposes, but is today the most used language, since its use was made compulsory by the Prussian government after 1864.


Main article: History of Schleswig-Holstein

The Duchy of Schleswig was originally an integrated part of Denmark, but was in medieval times established as a fief under the Kingdom of Denmark, with the same relation to the Danish Crown as for example Brandenburg or Bavaria had to the German Emperor. Holstein has always been part of Germany, and was eventually established as a single united province. Schleswig and Holstein have at different times belonged in part or completely to either Denmark, Germany, or been virtually independent of both nations. The exception is that Schleswig had never been part of Germany before the Second War of Schleswig in 1864. For many centuries, the King of Denmark was both a Danish Duke of Schleswig and a German Duke of Holstein. The short version is: Schleswig was either integrated in Denmark or a Danish fief, and Holstein was a German fief. Both were for several centuries ruled by the Kings of Denmark. In 1721 all of Schleswig was united as a single Duchy under the King of Denmark, and the Great Powers of Europe confirmed in an international treaty that all future Kings of Denmark should automatically become Duke of Schleswig and Schleswig would consequently always follow the same line of succession as the one chosen in the Kingdom of Denmark.

The German National awakening following the Napoleonic Wars led to a strong popular movement in Holstein and Southern Schleswig for (re-)unification with a new Prussian-dominated Germany. However, this development sparked an equally strong Danish national awakening in Denmark and Northern Schleswig calling for the complete re-integration of Schleswig into the Kingdom of Denmark and demanding an end to discrimination against Danes in Schleswig. In 1848 King Frederick VII of Denmark declared that he would grant Denmark a Liberal Constitution and the immediate goal for the Danish national movement was to secure that this Constitution would not only give rights to all Danes, i.e. not only to the Kingdom of Denmark, but also to Danes (and Germans) living in Schleswig. Furthermore, they demanded the protection of the Danish language in Schleswig since the dominating language in almost a quarter of Schleswig had changed from Danish to German since the beginning of the nineteenth century.

A Liberal constitution for Holstein was not seriously considered in Copenhagen since it was a well-known fact that the political elite of Holstein was far more Conservative than the one in Copenhagen. This proved to be true, as the politicians of Holstein demanded that the Constitution of Denmark be scrapped - not only in Schleswig but also in Denmark, as well as demanding that Schleswig immediately follow Holstein and become a member of the German Confederation and eventually a part of the new united Germany. These demands were rejected and in 1848 the Germans of Holstein and Southern Schleswig rebelled. This was the beginning of the First War of Schleswig (1848-51) which ended in a Danish victory.

In 1863 conflict broke out again as King Frederick VII of Denmark died leaving no heir. According to the line of succession of Denmark and Schleswig, the crowns of both Denmark and Schleswig would now pass to Duke Christian of Glcksburg (the future King Christian IX), the crown of Holstein was considered to be more problematic. This decision was challenged by a rival pro-German branch of the Danish royal family, the House of Augustenburg (Danish: Augustenborg) who demanded, like in 1848, the crowns of both Schleswig and Holstein. This gave Otto von Bismarck a chance to intervene and Prussia and Austria declared war on Denmark. This was the Second War of Schleswig which ended in a Danish defeat. British attempts to mediate failed, and Denmark lost both Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg to Prussia and Austria.

Following the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, section five of the Peace of Prague stated that the people on Northern Schleswig should be granted the right to a referendum on whether they would remain under Prussian rule or return to Danish rule. This promise was never fulfilled by Germany.

Following the defeat of Germany in World War I, the Allied powers arranged a referendum in Northern and Central Schleswig. In Northern Schleswig (10 February 1920) 75 % voted for re-unification with Denmark and 25 % voted for Germany. In Central Schleswig (14 March 1920) the results were reversed; 80 % voted for Germany and just 20 % for Denmark, primarily in Flensburg. No vote ever took place in the southern third of Schleswig. On 15 June 1920, Northern Schleswig officially returned to Danish rule. The Danish-German border was the only one of the borders imposed on Germany following World War I which was never challenged by Hitler.

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 Str 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 Ldemann
  3. 1949 - 1950: Bruno Diekmann
  4. 1950 - 1951: Walter Bartram
  5. 1951 - 1954: Friedrich-Wilhelm Lbke
  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: Bjrn Engholm (SPD)
  12. 1993 - 2005: Heide Simonis (SPD)
  13. 2005 - : Peter Harry Carstensen (CDU)

External links

Template:Germany statesar:شليسفغ-هولسشتاين da:Schleswig-Holstein de:Schleswig-Holstein es:Schleswig-Holstein eo:Ŝlesvigo-Holstinio fr:Schleswig-Holstein fy:Sleeswyk-Holstein it:Schleswig-Holstein he:שלזוויג-הולשטיין nl:Sleeswijk-Holstein nds:Sleswig-Holsteen ja:シュレスヴィヒ=ホルシュタイン州 no:Schleswig-Holstein pl:Szlezwik-Holsztyn pt:Schleswig-Holstein ro:Schleswig-Holstein ru:Шлезвиг-Гольштейн simple:Schleswig-Holstein sv:Schleswig-Holstein


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