North Frisian Islands

North Frisian Islands
North Frisian Islands
Location North Sea
Total islands 13
Major islands Sylt, Föhr, Amrum, Pellworm
State  Schleswig-Holstein
District Nordfriesland
Ethnic groups Germans, Frisians, Danes

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.


After the Frisian and Danish colonization of the islands in the 8th century, the Frisian-populated hundreds (between Eiderstedt and Sylt) became the Uthlande. The North Frisians in the Uthlande were ruled directly by the Danish king and were known as Königsfriesen or "King's Frisians". Only later did the Uthlande transfer to the Duchy of Schleswig, with the exception of small Danish royal enclaves. Part of Rømø was also ruled by the Schleswig duke. After the German-Danish wars, the islands from Nordstrand to Rømø became Prussian in 1866. After the referendum in 1920, the current border between the islands of Sylt and Rømø was fixed.

A good and thorough overview of the life, work, languages, costumes and customs of the island Friesians is portrayed by the Carl Haeberlin Frisian Museum in Wyk auf Föhr.


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' ; Danish: 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; Danish: 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.

See also

Coordinates: 54°55′N 8°20′E / 54.917°N 8.333°E / 54.917; 8.333

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • North Frisian Islands — ▪ islands, Europe German  Nordfriesische Inseln,  Danish  Nordfrisiske Øer        part of the Frisian Islands, lying in the North Sea just off the coast of northern Europe. They are divided between Germany and Denmark. * * * …   Universalium

  • North Frisian Islands. — See under Frisian Islands. * * * …   Universalium

  • North Frisian Islands. — See under Frisian Islands …   Useful english dictionary

  • North Frisian Islands — noun A group of islands in the Wadden Sea, a part of the North Sea, off the western coast of Schleswig Holstein, Germany …   Wiktionary

  • North Frisian Islands — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Frisian Islands — island chain in the North Sea, extending along the coast of NW Europe: it is divided into three groups, one belonging to the Netherlands (West Frisian Islands), one belonging to Germany (East Frisian Islands), & one divided between Germany &… …   English World dictionary

  • Frisian Islands — a chain of islands in the North Sea, extending along the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark: includes groups belonging to the Netherlands (West Frisians) and to Germany (East Frisians) and a group divided between Germany and Denmark… …   Universalium

  • Frisian Islands — geographical name islands NW Europe in North Sea including West Frisian Islands (off N Netherlands), East Frisian Islands (off NW Germany), & North Frisian Islands (off NW Germany & Denmark, including Helgoland & Sylt) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • North Frisian language — North Frisian Frasch / Fresk / Freesk / Friisk Bilingual sig …   Wikipedia

  • Frisian Islands — | | | | | | | | | | |The Frisian Islands, also known as the Wadden Islands or Wadden Sea Islands, form an archipelago at the eastern edge of the North Sea in northwestern Europe, stretching from the north west of the Netherlands through Germany… …   Wikipedia

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