The Sauerland is a rural, hilly area spreading across most of the south-eastern part of North Rhine-Westphalia, in parts heavily forested and, apart from the major valleys, sparsely inhabited. It has been chosen as the first place in Germany where the Wisent or European bison will be reintroduced mainly because of its large forests, and to help boost the tourism industry by attracting visitors to the region.


The name "Sauerland" originates from the word "sur" from medieval Low German, meaning "sour/difficult", and not from the German word "sauer" meaning "sour". This indicates that in older times this area was difficult to live in and to travel through because of the hills and valleys. Another attribution is to the Germanic tribe Sicambri (German "Sugambrer").facts|date=January 2008


To the west the hills continue into the Bergisches Land, to the south into the Siegerland, and to the north-east into the Teutoburg Forest. The major rivers of the Sauerland are the Ruhr and the Lenne. Several artificial lakes were created on the smaller rivers by building dams to store water for the nearby Ruhr area, the biggest reservoirs being the Möhne and Bigge. Although the highest elevation of the Sauerland is the "Langenberg" (843 m) near Olsberg, the much more renowned summit, which is well-known for the nearby skiing facilities, its weather station and observation tower, is the slightly lower "Kahler Asten" (842 m) near Winterberg. Both Langenberg and Kahler Asten are parts of the Rothaargebirge.

Lakes (Dams)



The Sauerland is part of the "Rheinisches Schiefergebirge" ('Rhenish slate mountains') including 'Bergisches Land', Westerwald, Siegerland, and, separated by the Rhine valley, the Eifel, Hohes Venn and Hunsrück. The Rheinisches Schiefergebirge was subjected to folding and faulting in the Variscan orogeny in Carboniferous times and eroded to a peneplain in the Permian. The tectonic uplift to the present-day low mountain range began approximately 500,000 years ago and is still going on. [Walter, Roland et al.: Geologie von Mitteleuropa. 5. Auflage, Schweizerbarth’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart 1992. ISBN 3-510-65149-9] Most of the Sauerland rock originates from a Middle and Upper Devonian marginal shallow sea; thus slates, sandstones and greywackes are the most abundant rock types. In some areas limestones from an ancient reef fringe prevail and are karstified. The Sauerland has several caves, especially in the northern part, the biggest caves being in Attendorn and Balve. In some areas of the Sauerland the occurrence of lead-zinc-silver-ores lead to the development of a considerable mining industry, the center of which was the town of Meggen. Mining in this area lasted until the late second half of the 20th century, today there is no active mining in the Sauerland. The sandstones, greywackes and quartzites of the Sauerland as well as, to a minor extent, the limestones are still exploited in numerous quarries.


Before 1800 the western part of the Sauerland was part of the County of the Mark based in Altena; the eastern part adhered to the County of Arnsberg, later owned by the bishops of Cologne. The Duchy of Limburg covered a very small area in the lower Lenne river valley. After the Napoleonic Wars the area became part of Prussia and was integrated into the new province Westphalia. After World War II Westphalia was incorporated into the new federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.facts|date=January 2008 Today the Sauerland belongs to the districts Märkischer Kreis, Olpe and Hochsauerland. The western part of the Hessian district Waldeck-Frankenberg is also attributed to the Sauerland because of its geomorphological as well as sociocultural similarity and the stark contrast to the rest of the adjoining Hessian landscape.


The largest town of the Sauerland is Iserlohn followed by Lüdenscheid and Arnsberg. One of the biggest prehistorical caves of Europe is situated in Balve; the largest accessible limestone cave ouside the Alps is in Attendorn.

Meschede is the home of an abbey. Another abbey is placed at Bestwig.


Parts of the Sauerland, especially the major valleys in the northwest, represent an old industrial region. The availability of iron ore and the abundance of wood and water allowed iron production long before the Ruhr area industrialisation and the mining of its coal took place. Today there are only a few remains of this early heavy industry; wire production is still important in Altena and a number of small factories still occupy the old industrial areas.

Today the Sauerland is a very popular tourist area, also attracting visitors from the relatively close Netherlands, a country which largely lacks significant mountains. The forests and picturesque small towns are attractive for hikers and outdoor sports. Some of the towns have the title "Bad" ("Spa") because of their good air quality and stimulating climate. Winter sports are popular in the Sauerland. The bob sleigh track in Winterberg is widely known in Germany, as well as the ski jumping in Willingen.


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  • Sauerland — Sauerland: Felsenmeer Hemer Le Sauerland est une région montagneuse au sud est de la Rhénanie du Nord Westphalie en Allemagne. Les montagnes moyennes du Sauerland qui sont largement boisées atteignent une altitude de 843 m. Le sommet le plus… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sauerland — (Süderland), der südliche Teil der Provinz Westfalen, zwischen Sieg, Möhne und Ruhr, ist von einzelnen zusammenhängenden Gebirgskomplexen durchzogen, die sich unter dem Gesamtnamen Sauerländisches Gebirge durch einzelne stark hervortretende… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Sauerland — (eigentlich Süderland), Landschaft in Westfalen, zwischen Sieg und Ruhr, vom Sauerländischen Gebirge erfüllt, welches in das Rothaargebirge, das Plateau von Winterberg (im Kahlen Astenberg 827 m hoch), das Lennegebirge, das Ebbegebirge und den… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Sauerland — Sauerland, eigentlich Süderland, Theil Westfalens, zwischen Ruhr und Sieg, von dem mittleren Kamm des sauerländischen Gebirgs erfüllt; dasselbe breitet sich auch in den Reg. Bez. Köln u. Düsseldorf aus, bedeckt den Reg. Bez. Arnsberg (Rothlager… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Sauerland — Basisdaten Sauerland Bundesländer: Nordrhein Westfalen, Hessen Regierungsbezirke: Arnsberg, Kassel Höchster Punkt: 843,2 m ü.  …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sauerland — Sau|er|land, das; [e]s: westfälische Landschaft. * * * Sauerland,   Süderland, Süderbergland, nördlicher Teil des Rheinischen Schiefergebirges, Nordrhein Westfalen (kleine Teile in Hessen), im Süden durch die Sieg, im Osten durch das Hessische… …   Universal-Lexikon

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  • Sauerland — Herkunftsname zu dem gleich lautenden Landschaftsnamen zwischen Sieg und Ruhr …   Wörterbuch der deutschen familiennamen

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