Baltic Sea

Baltic Sea

Overview
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea
Mediterranean sea (oceanography)
In oceanography, a mediterranean sea is a mostly enclosed sea that has limited exchange of water with outer oceans and where the water circulation is dominated by salinity and temperature differences rather than winds....

 located in Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

, from 53°N
53rd parallel north
The 53rd parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 53 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 to 66°N
66th parallel north
The 66th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 66 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane, about 61km south of the Arctic Circle. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Asia and North America....

 latitude
Latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

 and from 20°E
20th meridian east
The meridian 20° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Atlantic and Indian oceans, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 to 26°E
26th meridian east
The meridian 26° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 longitude
Longitude
Longitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds, and denoted by the Greek letter lambda ....

. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula
Scandinavian Peninsula
The Scandinavian Peninsula is a peninsula in Northern Europe, which today covers Norway, Sweden, and most of northern Finland. Prior to the 17th and 18th centuries, large parts of the southern peninsula—including the core region of Scania from which the peninsula takes its name—were part of...

, the mainland of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and the Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 islands. It drains into the Kattegat
Kattegat
The Kattegat , or Kattegatt is a sea area bounded by the Jutland peninsula and the Straits islands of Denmark on the west and south, and the provinces of Västergötland, Scania, Halland and Bohuslän in Sweden on the east. The Baltic Sea drains into the Kattegat through the Øresund and the Danish...

 by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt
Great Belt
The Great Belt is a strait between the main Danish islands of Zealand and Funen . Effectively dividing Denmark in two, the Belt was served by the Great Belt ferries from the late 19th century until the islands were connected by the Great Belt Fixed Link in 1997–98.-Geography:The Great Belt is the...

 and the Little Belt
Little Belt
The Little Belt is a strait between the Danish island of Funen and the Jutland Peninsula.The belt is about 50 km long and 800m to 28 km wide, the maximum depth is approximately 75 m, and contains numerous small Danish islands....

. The Kattegat continues through Skagerrak
Skagerrak
The Skagerrak is a strait running between Norway and the southwest coast of Sweden and the Jutland peninsula of Denmark, connecting the North Sea and the Kattegat sea area, which leads to the Baltic Sea.-Name:...

 into the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 and the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. The Baltic Sea is connected by man-made waterways to the White Sea
White Sea
The White Sea is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola Peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast. The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be part of...

 via the White Sea Canal, and to the North Sea via the Kiel Canal
Kiel Canal
The Kiel Canal , known as the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal until 1948, is a long canal in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.The canal links the North Sea at Brunsbüttel to the Baltic Sea at Kiel-Holtenau. An average of is saved by using the Kiel Canal instead of going around the Jutland Peninsula....

.
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea
Mediterranean sea (oceanography)
In oceanography, a mediterranean sea is a mostly enclosed sea that has limited exchange of water with outer oceans and where the water circulation is dominated by salinity and temperature differences rather than winds....

 located in Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

, from 53°N
53rd parallel north
The 53rd parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 53 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 to 66°N
66th parallel north
The 66th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 66 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane, about 61km south of the Arctic Circle. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Asia and North America....

 latitude
Latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

 and from 20°E
20th meridian east
The meridian 20° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Atlantic and Indian oceans, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 to 26°E
26th meridian east
The meridian 26° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 longitude
Longitude
Longitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds, and denoted by the Greek letter lambda ....

. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula
Scandinavian Peninsula
The Scandinavian Peninsula is a peninsula in Northern Europe, which today covers Norway, Sweden, and most of northern Finland. Prior to the 17th and 18th centuries, large parts of the southern peninsula—including the core region of Scania from which the peninsula takes its name—were part of...

, the mainland of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and the Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 islands. It drains into the Kattegat
Kattegat
The Kattegat , or Kattegatt is a sea area bounded by the Jutland peninsula and the Straits islands of Denmark on the west and south, and the provinces of Västergötland, Scania, Halland and Bohuslän in Sweden on the east. The Baltic Sea drains into the Kattegat through the Øresund and the Danish...

 by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt
Great Belt
The Great Belt is a strait between the main Danish islands of Zealand and Funen . Effectively dividing Denmark in two, the Belt was served by the Great Belt ferries from the late 19th century until the islands were connected by the Great Belt Fixed Link in 1997–98.-Geography:The Great Belt is the...

 and the Little Belt
Little Belt
The Little Belt is a strait between the Danish island of Funen and the Jutland Peninsula.The belt is about 50 km long and 800m to 28 km wide, the maximum depth is approximately 75 m, and contains numerous small Danish islands....

. The Kattegat continues through Skagerrak
Skagerrak
The Skagerrak is a strait running between Norway and the southwest coast of Sweden and the Jutland peninsula of Denmark, connecting the North Sea and the Kattegat sea area, which leads to the Baltic Sea.-Name:...

 into the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 and the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. The Baltic Sea is connected by man-made waterways to the White Sea
White Sea
The White Sea is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola Peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast. The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be part of...

 via the White Sea Canal, and to the North Sea via the Kiel Canal
Kiel Canal
The Kiel Canal , known as the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal until 1948, is a long canal in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.The canal links the North Sea at Brunsbüttel to the Baltic Sea at Kiel-Holtenau. An average of is saved by using the Kiel Canal instead of going around the Jutland Peninsula....

. The Baltic Sea might be considered to be bordered on its northern edge by the Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Bothnia
The Gulf of Bothnia is the northernmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It is situated between Finland's west coast and Sweden's east coast. In the south of the gulf lie the Åland Islands, between the Sea of Åland and the Archipelago Sea.-Name:...

, on its northeastern edge by the Gulf of Finland
Gulf of Finland
The Gulf of Finland is the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It extends between Finland and Estonia all the way to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the river Neva drains into it. Other major cities around the gulf include Helsinki and Tallinn...

, and on its eastern edge by the Gulf of Riga
Gulf of Riga
The Gulf of Riga, or Bay of Riga, is a bay of the Baltic Sea between Latvia and Estonia. According to C.Michael Hogan, a saline stratification layer is found at a depth of approximately seventy metres....

. These various gulfs can also be considered part of the Baltic Sea.

Geophysical data



The Baltic Sea is a brackish
Brackish water
Brackish water is water that has more salinity than fresh water, but not as much as seawater. It may result from mixing of seawater with fresh water, as in estuaries, or it may occur in brackish fossil aquifers. The word comes from the Middle Dutch root "brak," meaning "salty"...

 inland sea, perhaps the largest body of brackish water in the world (other possibilities include the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

, Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay , sometimes called Hudson's Bay, is a large body of saltwater in northeastern Canada. It drains a very large area, about , that includes parts of Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, most of Manitoba, southeastern Nunavut, as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota,...

 and the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

). The Baltic Sea occupies a basin formed by glacial erosion during the last few Ice Age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

s.

Dimensions


The Baltic sea is about 1600 km (1000 mi) long, an average of 193 km (120 mi) wide, and an average of 55 m (180 ft, 30 fathom
Fathom
A fathom is a unit of length in the imperial and the U.S. customary systems, used especially for measuring the depth of water.There are 2 yards in an imperial or U.S. fathom...

s) deep. The maximum depth is 459 m (1506 ft), on the Swedish side of the center. The surface area is about 377,000 km² (145,522 sq mi) and the volume is about 20,000 km³ (5040 cubic miles). The periphery amounts to about 8000 km (4968 mi) of coastline. 

Etymology


While Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 called it Mare Suebicum after the Germanic people of the Suebi
Suebi
The Suebi or Suevi were a group of Germanic peoples who were first mentioned by Julius Caesar in connection with Ariovistus' campaign, c...

, the first to name it also as the Baltic Sea (Mare Balticum) was eleventh century German chronicler Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen was a German medieval chronicler. He lived and worked in the second half of the eleventh century. He is most famous for his chronicle Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum .-Background:Little is known of his life other than hints from his own chronicles...

. The origin of the latter name is speculative. It might be connected to the Germanic word belt, a name used for two of the Danish straits, the Belts
The Belts
The Belts are two straits in the Danish archipelago, Little Belt and Great Belt.See also the march across the Belts.See also danish straits....

, while others claim it to be derived from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 balteus (belt). However it should be noted that the name of the Belts might be connected to Danish bælte, which also means belt. Furthermore Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen was a German medieval chronicler. He lived and worked in the second half of the eleventh century. He is most famous for his chronicle Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum .-Background:Little is known of his life other than hints from his own chronicles...

 himself compared the Sea with a belt stating that the Sea is named so because it stretches through the land as a belt (Balticus, eo quod in modum baltei longo tractu per Scithicas regiones tendatur usque in Greciam). He might also have been influenced by name of legendary island mentioned in The Natural History by Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

. Pliny mentions an island named Baltia
Baltia
Baltia or Basilia is a legendary island in Roman mythology, said to be in northern Europe.-Sources:Pliny the Elder :Diodorus Siculus :...

 (or Balcia) with reference to accounts of Pytheas
Pytheas
Pytheas of Massalia or Massilia , was a Greek geographer and explorer from the Greek colony, Massalia . He made a voyage of exploration to northwestern Europe at about 325 BC. He travelled around and visited a considerable part of Great Britain...

 and Xenophon
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

. It is possible that Pliny refers to island named Basilia ("kingdom" or "royal") in On the Ocean by Pytheas. Baltia also might be derived from "belt" and means "near belt of sea (strait)". Meanwhile others have concluded that the name of the island originates from the Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 root *bhel meaning white, fair. Yet another explanation is that, while derived from the afore mentioned root, the name of the sea is related to naming for various forms of water and related substances in several European languages, that might have been originally associated with colors found in swamps. In Albanian, the oldest Indo-European language still alive, the name Baltic may derive by the word baltë, meaning mud, due to its muddy water colors. Another explanation is that the name was related to swamp and originally meant "enclosed sea, bay" as opposed to open sea.
Other possible origin of name Balticum is the Gaelic language, as "bel" means gulf. It a historical reality that Cymr people (Galitzians and Walshes) lived around Balticum for more than 2500 years ago, which it witnessed by numerous toponimia as Simrisham in Southern Sweden, Fyn en Denmark, NybØl in Northern Germany.
Swedish historians believe the name is for Nordic mytologin’s name, the cripple secondary god Balder.

In the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 the sea was known by variety of names, the name Baltic Sea started to dominate only after 16th century. Usage of Baltic and similar terms to denote the region east from the sea started only in 19th century.

Name in other languages


The Baltic Sea, in ancient sources known as Mare Suebicum (also known as Mare Germanicum), is also known by the equivalents of "East Sea", "West Sea", or "Baltic Sea" in different languages:
  • In Germanic languages
    Germanic languages
    The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

    , except English, East Sea is used: Afrikaans
    Afrikaans
    Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

     (Oossee), Danish
    Danish language
    Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

     (Østersøen), Dutch
    Dutch language
    Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

     (Oostzee), German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

     (Ostsee), Icelandic
    Icelandic language
    Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

     and Faroese
    Faroese language
    Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

     (Eystrasalt), Norwegian
    Norwegian language
    Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

     (Østersjøen), and Swedish
    Swedish language
    Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

     (Östersjön). In Old English it was known as Ostsæ.
  • In addition, Finnish
    Finnish language
    Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

    , a Baltic-Finnic language
    Baltic-Finnic languages
    The Finnic or Baltic Finnic languages are a branch of the Uralic language family spoken around the Baltic Sea by about 7 million people....

    , has calque
    Calque
    In linguistics, a calque or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal, word-for-word or root-for-root translation.-Calque:...

    d the Swedish term as Itämeri "East Sea", disregarding the geography (the sea is west of Finland), though understandably since Finland was a part of Sweden from Middle Ages until 1809.
  • In another Baltic-Finnic language, Estonian
    Estonian language
    Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities...

    , it is called the West Sea (Läänemeri), with the correct geography (the sea is west of Estonia).
  • Baltic Sea is used in English
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

    ; in the Baltic languages
    Baltic languages
    The Baltic languages are a group of related languages belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family and spoken mainly in areas extending east and southeast of the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe...

    Latvian
    Latvian language
    Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.4 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language...

     (Baltijas jūra) and Lithuanian
    Lithuanian language
    Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

     (Baltijos jūra); in Latin
    Latin
    Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

    (Mare Balticum) and the Romance languages
    Romance languages
    The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

    French
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

     (Mer Baltique), Italian
    Italian language
    Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

     (Mar Baltico), Portuguese
    Portuguese language
    Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

     (Mar Báltico), Romanian
    Romanian language
    Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

     (Marea Baltică) and Spanish
    Spanish language
    Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

     (Mar Báltico); in Greek
    Greek language
    Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

     (Βαλτική Θάλασσα); in Albanian
    Albanian language
    Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

     (Deti Balltik); in the Slavic languages
    Slavic languages
    The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

    Polish
    Polish language
    Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

     (Morze Bałtyckie or Bałtyk), Czech
    Czech language
    Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers; it is the majority language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide. The language was known as Bohemian in English until the late 19th century...

     (Baltské moře or Balt), Croatian
    Croatian language
    Croatian is the collective name for the standard language and dialects spoken by Croats, principally in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serbian province of Vojvodina and other neighbouring countries...

     (Baltičko more), Slovenian
    Slovenian language
    Slovene or Slovenian is a South Slavic language spoken by approximately 2.5 million speakers worldwide, the majority of whom live in Slovenia. It is the first language of about 1.85 million people and is one of the 23 official and working languages of the European Union...

     (Baltsko morje), Bulgarian
    Bulgarian language
    Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

     (Baltijsko More (Балтийско море), Kashubian
    Kashubian language
    Kashubian or Cassubian is one of the Lechitic languages, a subgroup of the Slavic languages....

     (Bôłt), Macedonian
    Macedonian language
    Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

     (Балтичко Море / Baltičko More), Ukrainian
    Ukrainian language
    Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

     (Балтійське море ("Baltijs'ke More"), Belarusian
    Belarusian language
    The Belarusian language , sometimes referred to as White Russian or White Ruthenian, is the language of the Belarusian people...

     (Балтыйскае мора ("Baltyjskaje Mora"), Russian (Балтийское море ("Baltiyskoye Morye") and Serbian
    Serbian language
    Serbian is a form of Serbo-Croatian, a South Slavic language, spoken by Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and neighbouring countries....

     (Балтичко море / Baltičko more); in the Hungarian language
    Hungarian language
    Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

     (Balti-tenger); and also in Basque
    Basque language
    Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...

     (Itsaso Baltikoa).

Sea ice


On the long-term average, the Baltic Sea is ice-covered for about 45% of its surface area at the maximum annually. The ice-covered area during such a typical winter includes the Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Bothnia
The Gulf of Bothnia is the northernmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It is situated between Finland's west coast and Sweden's east coast. In the south of the gulf lie the Åland Islands, between the Sea of Åland and the Archipelago Sea.-Name:...

, the Gulf of Finland
Gulf of Finland
The Gulf of Finland is the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It extends between Finland and Estonia all the way to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the river Neva drains into it. Other major cities around the gulf include Helsinki and Tallinn...

, Gulf of Riga
Gulf of Riga
The Gulf of Riga, or Bay of Riga, is a bay of the Baltic Sea between Latvia and Estonia. According to C.Michael Hogan, a saline stratification layer is found at a depth of approximately seventy metres....

, Väinameri in the Estonian archipelago, the Stockholm archipelago
Stockholm archipelago
The Stockholm archipelago is the largest archipelago of Sweden, and one of the largest archipelagos of the Baltic Sea.-Geography:The archipelago extends from Stockholm roughly 60 kilometers to the east...

 and the Archipelago Sea
Archipelago Sea
Archipelago Sea is a part of the Baltic Sea between the Gulf of Bothnia, the Gulf of Finland and the Sea of Åland, within Finnish territorial waters...

. The remainder of the Baltic itself does not freeze during a normal winter, with the exception of sheltered bays and shallow lagoons such as the Curonian Lagoon
Curonian Lagoon
The Curonian Lagoon is separated from the Baltic Sea by the Curonian Spit. Its surface area is . The Neman River supplies about 90% of its inflows; its watershed consists of about 100,450 square kilometers in Lithuania and the Kaliningrad Oblast.-Human history:In the 13th century, the area around...

. The ice reaches its maximum extent in February or March; typical ice thickness in the northernmost areas in the Bothnian Bay
Bothnian Bay
The Bothnian Bay or Bay of Bothnia is the most northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, the northern part of the Baltic Sea. Its northernmost point is situated in Töre...

, the northern basin of the Gulf of Bothnia, is about 70 cm (28 in) for landfast sea ice. The thickness decreases farther south.

Freezing begins in the northern extremities of Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Bothnia
The Gulf of Bothnia is the northernmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It is situated between Finland's west coast and Sweden's east coast. In the south of the gulf lie the Åland Islands, between the Sea of Åland and the Archipelago Sea.-Name:...

 typically in middle of November, reaching the open waters of Bothnian Bay
Bothnian Bay
The Bothnian Bay or Bay of Bothnia is the most northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, the northern part of the Baltic Sea. Its northernmost point is situated in Töre...

 in early January. The Bothnian Sea
Bothnian Sea
The Bothnian Sea links the Bothnian Bay with the Baltic proper. Kvarken is situated between the two. Together, the Bothnian Sea and Bay make up a larger geographical entity, the Gulf of Bothnia...

, the basin south Kvarken
Kvarken
Kvarken is the narrow region in the Gulf of Bothnia separating the Bothnian Bay from the Bothnian Sea...

, freezes on average in late February. The Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Riga freeze typically in late January. In 2011, the Gulf of Finland was completely frozen on 15 February.

The ice extent depends on whether the winter is mild, moderate or severe. Severe winters can lead to ice formation around southern Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and even in the Danish straits
Danish straits
The Danish straits are the three channels connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea through the Kattegat and Skagerrak. They transect Denmark, and are not to be confused with the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland...

. According to William Derham, during the severe winters of 1703 and 1708 the ice cover permeated as far as the Danish straits, parts of the Gulf of Bothnia and Gulf of Finland, in addition to coastal fringes in more southerly locations such as the Gulf of Riga . This description would actually have meant that the whole of the Baltic Sea had been covered with ice.

It is known that since 1720, the Baltic Sea has frozen over entirely only 20 times. The most recent case was in early 1987, which was the most severe winter in Scandinavia since that date. The ice then covered 400 000 km2. During the winter of 2010/11, which was quite severe compared to those of the last decades, the maximum ice cover was 315 000 km2, which was reached on 25 February 2011. The ice then extended from the north down to the northern tip of Gotland
Gotland
Gotland is a county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden; it is Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. At 3,140 square kilometers in area, the region makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area...

, with small ice free areas on its either side, and the east coast of the Baltic Sea was covered by an ice sheet ca. 25–100 km (15.5–62.1 ) wide all the way down to Gdańsk
Gdansk
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

. This was brought about by a stagnant high-pressure area that lingered over central and northern Scandinavia from ca. 10 February to 24 February. After this, strong southern winds pushed the ice further into the north, and much of the waters north of Gotland were again free of ice, which had then packed against the shores of southern Finland. The effects of the afore-mentioned high-pressure area did not reach the southern parts of the Baltic Sea, and thus the entire sea did not freeze over. However, floating ice was additionally observed near Świnoujście
Swinoujscie
Świnoujście is a city and seaport on the Baltic Sea and Szczecin Lagoon, located in the extreme north-west of Poland. It is situated mainly on the islands of Uznam and Wolin, but also occupies smaller islands, of which the largest is Karsibór island, once part of Usedom, now separated by a Piast...

 harbour in January 2010.

In the recent years prior to 2011, Bothnian Bay
Bothnian Bay
The Bothnian Bay or Bay of Bothnia is the most northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, the northern part of the Baltic Sea. Its northernmost point is situated in Töre...

 and the Bothnian Sea
Bothnian Sea
The Bothnian Sea links the Bothnian Bay with the Baltic proper. Kvarken is situated between the two. Together, the Bothnian Sea and Bay make up a larger geographical entity, the Gulf of Bothnia...

 were frozen with solid ice near the Baltic coast and dense floating ice far from it. In 2007 there was almost no ice formation except for a short period in March.
During winter, fast ice
Fast ice
Fast ice is sea ice that has frozen along coasts along the shoals, or to the sea floor over shallow parts of the continental shelf, and extends out from land into sea. In Antarctica, fast ice may also extend between grounded icebergs...

, which is attached to the shoreline, develops first, rendering the ports unusable without the services of icebreaker
Icebreaker
An icebreaker is a special-purpose ship or boat designed to move and navigate through ice-covered waters. Although the term usually refers to ice-breaking ships, it may also refer to smaller vessels .For a ship to be considered an icebreaker, it requires three traits most...

s. Level ice, ice sludge, pancake ice
Pancake ice
Pancake ice is a form of ice that consists of round pieces of ice with diameters ranging from a few inches to many feet, depending on the local conditions that affect ice formation. It may have a thickness of several inches....

 or rafter ice form in the more open regions. The gleaming expanse of ice is similar to the Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

, with wind-driven pack ice and ridges up to 15 m. Offshore of the landfast ice, the ice remains very dynamic all year, and it is relatively easily moved around by winds and therefore forms pack ice, made up of large piles and ridges pushed against the landfast ice and shores.

In spring, the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Bothnia normally thaw during in late April, with some ice ridges persisting until May in the eastern extremities of the Gulf of Finland. In the northernmost reaches of the Bothnian Bay, ice usually stays until late May; by early June it is practically always gone.

The ice cover is the main habitat for two larger animal species. They are the grey seal
Grey Seal
The grey seal is found on both shores of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is a large seal of the family Phocidae or "true seals". It is the only species classified in the genus Halichoerus...

 (Halichoerus grypus) and the Baltic ringed seal (Pusa hispida botnica) that both feed underneath and breed on the ice. Of these two seals, only the Baltic ringed seal suffers when there is not an adequate ice in the Baltic Sea, as it feeds its young only on ice. The grey seal is adapted to reproducing also with no ice in the sea. The sea ice also harbours several species of algae that live in the bottom and inside brine pockets in the ice.

Hydrography


The Baltic Sea flows out through the Danish straits
Danish straits
The Danish straits are the three channels connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea through the Kattegat and Skagerrak. They transect Denmark, and are not to be confused with the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland...

; however, the flow is complex. A surface layer of brackish water discharges 940 km³ per year into the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

. Due to the difference in salinity
Salinity
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...

, a sub-surface layer of more saline water moving in the opposite direction brings in 475 km³ per year. It mixes very slowly with the upper waters, resulting in a salinity gradient from top to bottom, with most of the salt water remaining below 40 to 70 m deep. The general circulation is counter-clockwise: northwards along its eastern boundary, and south along the western one (Alhonen 88).

The difference between the outflow and the inflow comes entirely from fresh water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

. More than 250 streams drain a basin of about 1.6 million km², contributing a volume of 660 km³ per year to the Baltic. They include the major rivers of north Europe, such as the Oder
Oder
The Oder is a river in Central Europe. It rises in the Czech Republic and flows through western Poland, later forming of the border between Poland and Germany, part of the Oder-Neisse line...

, the Vistula
Vistula
The Vistula is the longest and the most important river in Poland, at 1,047 km in length. The watershed area of the Vistula is , of which lies within Poland ....

, the Neman
Neman River
Neman or Niemen or Nemunas, is a major Eastern European river rising in Belarus and flowing through Lithuania before draining into the Curonian Lagoon and then into the Baltic Sea at Klaipėda. It is the northern border between Lithuania and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast in its lower reaches...

, the Daugava and the Neva. Additional fresh water comes from the difference of precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 less evaporation, which is positive.

An important source of salty water are infrequent inflows of North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 water into the Baltic. Such inflows, important to the Baltic ecosystem because of the oxygen they transport into the Baltic deeps, used to happen on average every four to five years until the 1980s. In recent decades they have become less frequent. The latest three occurred in 1983, 1993 and 2003 suggesting a new inter-inflow period of about ten years.

The water level is generally far more dependent on the regional wind situation than on tidal effects. However, tidal currents occur in narrow passages in the western parts of the Baltic Sea.

The significant wave height
Significant wave height
In physical oceanography, the significant wave height is defined traditionally as the mean wave height of the highest third of the waves , but now usually defined as four times the standard deviation of the surface elevation...

 is generally much lower than that of the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

. Violent and sudden storms often sweep the surface, due to large transient temperature differences and a long reach of wind. Seasonal winds also cause small changes in sea level, of the order of 0.5 m (Alhonen 88).

Salinity


The Baltic Sea's salinity
Salinity
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...

 is much lower than that of ocean water (which averages 35‰), as a result of abundant freshwater runoff from the surrounding land, combined with the shallowness of the sea itself; indeed, runoff contributes roughly one-fortieth its total volume per year, as the volume of the basin is about 21,000 km³ and yearly runoff is about 500 km³. The open surface waters of the central basin have salinity of 6 to 8 ‰. At the semi-enclosed bays with major freshwater inflows, such as head of Finnish Gulf with Neva mouth and head of Bothnian gulf with close mouths of Lule, Tornio and Kemi, the salinity is considerably lower. Below 40 to 70 m, the salinity is between 10 and 15 ‰ in the open Baltic Sea, and more than this near Danish Straits.

The flow of fresh water into the sea from approximately two-hundred rivers and the introduction of salt from the South builds up a gradient of salinity in the Baltic Sea. Near the Danish straits
Danish straits
The Danish straits are the three channels connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea through the Kattegat and Skagerrak. They transect Denmark, and are not to be confused with the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland...

 the salinity is close to that of the Kattegat, but still not fully oceanic, because the saltiest water that passes the straits is still already mixed with considerable amounts of outflow water. The salinity steadily decreases towards North and East. At the northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Bothnia
The Gulf of Bothnia is the northernmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It is situated between Finland's west coast and Sweden's east coast. In the south of the gulf lie the Åland Islands, between the Sea of Åland and the Archipelago Sea.-Name:...

 the water is no longer salty and many fresh water species live in the sea. The salinity gradient is paralleled by a temperature gradient. These two factors limit many species of animals and plants to a relatively narrow region of Baltic Sea.

The most saline water is vertically stratified in the water column to the north
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

, creating a barrier to the exchange of oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 and nutrients, and fostering completely separate maritime environments.

Regional emergence



The land is still emerging isostatically
Isostasy
Isostasy is a term used in geology to refer to the state of gravitational equilibrium between the earth's lithosphere and asthenosphere such that the tectonic plates "float" at an elevation which depends on their thickness and density. This concept is invoked to explain how different topographic...

 from its subsident state, which was caused by the weight of the last glaciation. The phenomenon is known as post-glacial rebound
Post-glacial rebound
Post-glacial rebound is the rise of land masses that were depressed by the huge weight of ice sheets during the last glacial period, through a process known as isostasy...

. Consequently, the surface area and the depth of the sea are diminishing. The uplift is about eight millimetres per year on the Finnish coast of the northernmost Gulf of Bothnia. In the area, the former seabed is only gently sloped, leading to large areas of land being reclaimed in, geologically speaking, relatively short periods (decades and centuries).

Extent


The International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
The International Hydrographic Organization is the inter-governmental organisation representing the hydrographic community. It enjoys observer status at the UN and is the recognised competent authority on hydrographic surveying and nautical charting...

 defines the limits of the Baltic Sea as follows:

Bordered by the coasts of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany extends north-eastward of the following limits:

In the Little Belt

Little Belt
The Little Belt is a strait between the Danish island of Funen and the Jutland Peninsula.The belt is about 50 km long and 800m to 28 km wide, the maximum depth is approximately 75 m, and contains numerous small Danish islands....

.
A line joining Falshöft (54°47′N 9°57.5′E) and Vejsnæs Nakke (Ærö: 54°49′N 10°26′E).

In the Great Belt

Great Belt
The Great Belt is a strait between the main Danish islands of Zealand and Funen . Effectively dividing Denmark in two, the Belt was served by the Great Belt ferries from the late 19th century until the islands were connected by the Great Belt Fixed Link in 1997–98.-Geography:The Great Belt is the...

.
A line joining Gulstav (South extreme of Langeland
Langeland
Langeland is a Danish island located between the Great Belt and Bay of Kiel. The island measures 285 km² and, as of 1 January 2010, has a population of 13,277. The island produces grain and is known as a recreational area. A bridge connects it to Tåsinge via Siø - a small island with a...

 Island) and Kappel Kirke (54°46′N 11°01′E) on Island of Laaland
Lolland
Lolland is the fourth largest island of Denmark, with an area of 1,243 square kilometers . Located in the Baltic sea, it is part of Region Sjælland...

.

In Guldborg Sound

Guldborgsund
Guldborgsund is the strait between the Danish islands of Lolland and Falster that connects Smålandsfarvandet in the north with Bay of Mecklenburg in the south. It is navigable for craft of up to 6 metres draught in its northern part and is used for commercial traffic to Nykøbing Falster...

.
A line joining Flinthorne-Rev and Skjelby (54°38′N 11°53′E).

In the Sound. A line joining Stevns

Stevns Peninsula
Stevns Peninsula is a peninsula on Sjælland in Denmark. It is separated from Sjælland by the three streams Stevns Å, Tryggevælde Å and Kildeå.The main town of the peninsula is Store Heddinge, and most of the peninsula is covered by the Stevns Municipality....

 Lighthouse (55°17′N 12°27′E) and Falsterbo Point
Falsterbo
Falsterbo is a town located at the south-western tip of Sweden in Vellinge Municipality in Skåne County. Falsterbo is situated in the southern part of the Falsterbo peninsula. It is part of Skanör med Falsterbo, one of Sweden's historical cities.-History:...

 (55°23′N 12°49′E).

Subdivisions



The northern part of the Baltic Sea is known as the Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Bothnia
The Gulf of Bothnia is the northernmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It is situated between Finland's west coast and Sweden's east coast. In the south of the gulf lie the Åland Islands, between the Sea of Åland and the Archipelago Sea.-Name:...

, of which the northernmost part is the Bay of Bothnia or Bothnian Bay
Bothnian Bay
The Bothnian Bay or Bay of Bothnia is the most northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, the northern part of the Baltic Sea. Its northernmost point is situated in Töre...

. The more rounded southern basin of the gulf is called Bothnian Sea
Bothnian Sea
The Bothnian Sea links the Bothnian Bay with the Baltic proper. Kvarken is situated between the two. Together, the Bothnian Sea and Bay make up a larger geographical entity, the Gulf of Bothnia...

 and immediately to the south of it lies the Sea of Åland
Sea of Åland
The Sea of Åland is the waters located in the southern Gulf of Bothnia, between the Åland islands and the Swedish mainland. The sea connects Kvarken and the Bothnian Sea with the Baltic Sea proper. The seas are often choppy here. The narrowest part is named Södra Kvarken or South Kvarken....

. The Gulf of Finland
Gulf of Finland
The Gulf of Finland is the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It extends between Finland and Estonia all the way to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the river Neva drains into it. Other major cities around the gulf include Helsinki and Tallinn...

 connects the Baltic Sea with Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

. The Gulf of Riga
Gulf of Riga
The Gulf of Riga, or Bay of Riga, is a bay of the Baltic Sea between Latvia and Estonia. According to C.Michael Hogan, a saline stratification layer is found at a depth of approximately seventy metres....

 lies between the Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

n capital city of Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

 and the Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

n island of Saaremaa
Saaremaa
Saaremaa is the largest island in Estonia, measuring 2,673 km². The main island of Saare County, it is located in the Baltic Sea, south of Hiiumaa island, and belongs to the West Estonian Archipelago...

.

The Northern Baltic Sea lies between the Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 area, southwestern Finland and Estonia. The Western and Eastern Gotland Basins
Gotland Basin
The Gotland Basin is the large central basin in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and the Baltic countries. It is subdivided into the Gdansk Deep , the Western Gotland Basin and the Eastern Gotland Basin. Within the Eastern Gotland Basin is the Gotland Deep which is an anoxic basin...

 form the major parts of the Central Baltic Sea or Baltic proper. The Bornholm Basin is the area east of Bornholm
Bornholm
Bornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea located to the east of the rest of Denmark, the south of Sweden, and the north of Poland. The main industries on the island include fishing, arts and crafts like glass making and pottery using locally worked clay, and dairy farming. Tourism is...

, and the shallower Arkona Basin extends from Bornholm to the Danish isles of Falster
Falster
Falster is an island in south-eastern Denmark with an area of 514 km² and 43,398 inhabitants as of 1 January 2010. Located in the Baltic sea, it is part of Region Sjælland and is administered by Guldborgsund Municipality...

 and Zealand.

In the south, the Bay of Gdańsk lies east of the Hel peninsula
Hel Peninsula
Hel Peninsula |Nehrung]]) is a 35-km-long sand bar peninsula in northern Poland separating the Bay of Puck from the open Baltic Sea. It is located in Puck County of the Pomeranian Voivodeship.- Geography :...

 on the Polish coast and west of Sambia
Sambia
Sambia or Samland is a peninsula in the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia, on the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea. The Curonian Lagoon and the Vistula Lagoon demarcate the peninsula. Prior to 1945 it formed an important part of East Prussia.-Names:Sambia is named after the Sambians, an extinct...

 in Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia situated on the Baltic coast. It has a population of The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since its creation it has been an exclave of the Russian SFSR and then the...

. The Bay of Pomerania
Bay of Pomerania
The Bay of Pomerania or Pomeranian Bay is a basin in the southwestern Baltic Sea, off the shores of Poland and Germany....

 lies north of the islands of Usedom
Usedom
Usedom is a Baltic Sea island on the border between Germany and Poland. It is situated north of the Szczecin Lagoon estuary of the River Oder in Pomerania...

 and Wolin
Wolin
Wolin is the name both of an island in the Baltic Sea, just off the Polish coast, and a town on that island. It is separated from the island of Usedom by the Świna river, and from mainland Pomerania by the Dziwna river...

, east of Rügen
Rügen
Rügen is Germany's largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of the Vorpommern-Rügen district of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.- Geography :Rügen is located off the north-eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea...

. Between Falster and the German coast lie the Bay of Mecklenburg
Bay of Mecklenburg
The Bay of Mecklenburg , also known as the Mecklenburg Bay or Mecklenburg Bight, is a long narrow basin making up the southwestern finger-like arm of the Baltic Sea, between the shores of Germany to the south and the Danish islands of Lolland, Falster, and Møn to the north, the shores of Jutland to...

 and Bay of Lübeck
Bay of Lübeck
The Bay of Lübeck is a basin in the southwestern Baltic Sea, off the shores of German lands of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein. It forms the southwestern part of the Bay of Mecklenburg....

. The westernmost part of the Baltic Sea is the Bay of Kiel
Bay of Kiel
The Bay of Kiel is a bay in the southwestern Baltic Sea, off the shores of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany and the islands of Denmark. It is connected with the Bay of Mecklenburg in the east, the Little Belt in the northwest, and the Great Belt in the North....

. The three Danish straits
Danish straits
The Danish straits are the three channels connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea through the Kattegat and Skagerrak. They transect Denmark, and are not to be confused with the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland...

, the Great Belt
Great Belt
The Great Belt is a strait between the main Danish islands of Zealand and Funen . Effectively dividing Denmark in two, the Belt was served by the Great Belt ferries from the late 19th century until the islands were connected by the Great Belt Fixed Link in 1997–98.-Geography:The Great Belt is the...

, the Little Belt
Little Belt
The Little Belt is a strait between the Danish island of Funen and the Jutland Peninsula.The belt is about 50 km long and 800m to 28 km wide, the maximum depth is approximately 75 m, and contains numerous small Danish islands....

 and The Sound
Oresund
The Sound , is the strait that separates the Danish island Zealand from the southern Swedish province of Scania. Its width is just at the narrowest point between Helsingør, Denmark, and Helsingborg, Sweden...

 (Ö/Øresund), connect the Baltic Sea with the Kattegat
Kattegat
The Kattegat , or Kattegatt is a sea area bounded by the Jutland peninsula and the Straits islands of Denmark on the west and south, and the provinces of Västergötland, Scania, Halland and Bohuslän in Sweden on the east. The Baltic Sea drains into the Kattegat through the Øresund and the Danish...

 bay and Skagerrak
Skagerrak
The Skagerrak is a strait running between Norway and the southwest coast of Sweden and the Jutland peninsula of Denmark, connecting the North Sea and the Kattegat sea area, which leads to the Baltic Sea.-Name:...

 strait in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

.

Land use



The Baltic sea drainage basin is roughly four times the surface area of the sea itself. About 48% of the region is forested, with Sweden and Finland containing the majority of the forest, especially around the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland.

About 20% of the land is used for agriculture and pasture, mainly in Poland and around the edge of the Baltic Proper, in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. About 17% of the basin is unused open land with another 8% of wetlands. Most of the latter are in the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland.

The rest of the land is heavily populated.

Demographics


About 85 million people live in the Baltic drainage basin, 15 million within 10 km (6 mi) of the coast and 29 million within 50 km (31 mi) of the coast. Around 22 million live in population centers of over 250,000. 90% of these are concentrated in the 10 km (6 mi) band around the coast. Of the nations containing all or part of the basin, Poland includes 45% of the 85 million, Russia 12%, Sweden 10% and the others (see below) less than 6% each.

Geologic history


The Baltic Sea somewhat resembles a river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

bed, with two tributaries, the Gulf of Finland
Gulf of Finland
The Gulf of Finland is the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It extends between Finland and Estonia all the way to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the river Neva drains into it. Other major cities around the gulf include Helsinki and Tallinn...

 and Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Bothnia
The Gulf of Bothnia is the northernmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It is situated between Finland's west coast and Sweden's east coast. In the south of the gulf lie the Åland Islands, between the Sea of Åland and the Archipelago Sea.-Name:...

. Geological
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 surveys show that before the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 instead of the Baltic Sea, there was a wide plain around a big river called the Eridanos. Several glaciation episodes during the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 scooped out the river bed into the sea basin. By the time of the last, or Eemian Stage (MIS
Marine isotopic stage
Marine isotope stages , marine oxygen-isotope stages, or oxygen isotope stages , are alternating warm and cool periods in the Earth's paleoclimate, deduced from oxygen isotope data reflecting changes in temperature derived from data from deep sea core samples...

 5e), the Eemian sea was in place. Instead of a true sea, the Baltic can even today also be understood as the common estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 of all rivers flowing into it.

From that time the waters underwent a geologic history summarized under the names listed below. Many of the stages are named after marine animals (e.g. the Littorina
Littorina
Littorina is a genus of small sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Littorinidae, the winkles or periwinkles. These small snails live in the tidal zone of rocky shores.-Overview:...

 mollusk) that are clear markers of changing water temperatures and salinity.

The factors that determined the sea's characteristics were the submergence or emergence of the region due to the weight of ice and subsequent isostatic readjustment, and the connecting channels it found to the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

-Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, either through the straits of Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 or at what are now the large lakes of Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, and the White Sea
White Sea
The White Sea is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola Peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast. The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be part of...

-Arctic Sea.
  • Eemian Sea
    Eemian sea
    The Eemian sea was a body of water located approximately where the Baltic sea is now during the last or Eemian Stage, MIS 5e, roughly 130,000 to 115,000 BP. Sea level was 5 to 7 metres higher globally than it is today, due to the prior release of glacial water...

    , 130,000–115,000 (years ago)
  • Baltic ice lake
    Baltic ice lake
    The Baltic ice lake is a name given by geologists to a freshwater lake that gradually formed in the Baltic Sea basin as glaciation retreated from that region at the end of the Pleistocene. The lake, dated to 12,600-10,300 BP, is roughly contemporaneous with the three Pleistocene Blytt-Sernander...

    , 12,600–10,300
  • Yoldia Sea
    Yoldia Sea
    Yoldia Sea is a name given by geologists to a variable brackish-water stage in the Baltic Sea basin that prevailed after the Baltic ice lake was drained to sea level during the Weichsel glaciation...

    , 10,300–9500
  • Ancylus Lake
    Ancylus Lake
    Ancylus lake is a name given by geologists to the body of fresh water that replaced the Yoldia Sea after the latter had been severed from its saline intake across central Sweden by the isostatic rise of south Scandinavian landforms. The dates are approximately 9500-8000 BP calibrated, during the...

    , 9,500–8,000
  • Mastogloia Sea
    Mastogloia Sea
    The Mastogloia Sea is one of the prehistoric stages of the Baltic Sea in its development after the last ice age. This took place ca. 8000 years ago following the Ancylus Lake stage and preceding the Littorina Sea stage....

     8,000–7,500
  • Littorina Sea
    Littorina Sea
    Littorina Sea is a geological brackish-water stage of the Baltic Sea, which existed around 7500–4000 BP and followed the Mastogloia Sea, transitional stage of the Ancylus Lake...

    , 7,500–4,000
  • Post-littorina Sea 4,000–present

History


At the time of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, the Baltic Sea was known as the Mare Suebicum or Mare Sarmaticum. Tacitus in his AD 98 Agricola and Germania described the Mare Suebicum, named for the Suebi
Suebi
The Suebi or Suevi were a group of Germanic peoples who were first mentioned by Julius Caesar in connection with Ariovistus' campaign, c...

 tribe, during the spring months, as a brackish
Brackish water
Brackish water is water that has more salinity than fresh water, but not as much as seawater. It may result from mixing of seawater with fresh water, as in estuaries, or it may occur in brackish fossil aquifers. The word comes from the Middle Dutch root "brak," meaning "salty"...

 sea
Sea
A sea generally refers to a large body of salt water, but the term is used in other contexts as well. Most commonly, it means a large expanse of saline water connected with an ocean, and is commonly used as a synonym for ocean...

 when the ice on the Baltic Sea broke apart and chunks floated about. The Suebi eventually migrated south west to reside for a while in the Rhineland area of modern Germany, where their name survives in the historic region known as Swabia
Swabia
Swabia is a cultural, historic and linguistic region in southwestern Germany.-Geography:Like many cultural regions of Europe, Swabia's borders are not clearly defined...

. The Sarmatian tribes inhabited Eastern Europe and southern Russia. Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

 called it the Germanic Sea in his work the Getica.

Since the Viking age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

, the Scandinavians have called it "the Eastern Lake" (Austmarr, "Eastern Sea", appears in the Heimskringla
Heimskringla
Heimskringla is the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas. It was written in Old Norse in Iceland by the poet and historian Snorri Sturluson ca. 1230...

 and Eystra salt appears in Sörla þáttr
Sörla þáttr
Sörla þáttr is a short narrative from a later and extended version of the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason found in the Flateyjarbók manuscript, which was written and compiled by two Christian priests, Jon Thordson and Magnus Thorhalson, in the late 14th century.The narrative begins 24 years after the death...

), but Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus also known as Saxo cognomine Longus was a Danish historian, thought to have been a secular clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, foremost advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the first full history of Denmark.- Life :The Jutland Chronicle gives...

 recorded in Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum is a patriotic work of Danish history, by the 12th century author Saxo Grammaticus . It is the most ambitious literary undertaking of medieval Denmark and is an essential source for the nation's early history...

 an older name Gandvik
Gandvik
In Norse mythology, Gandvik is a dangerous sea, known as 'Bay of Serpents' because of its tortuous shape. Saxo Grammaticus stated that Gandvik was an old name for the Baltic Sea . The legend presumably refers to Gulf of Bothnia...

, "-vik" being Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 for "bay", which implies that the Vikings correctly regarded it as an inlet of the sea. (Another form of the name, "Grandvik", attested in at least one English translation of Gesta Danorum, is likely to be a misspelling.)

In addition to fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 the sea also provides amber
Amber
Amber is fossilized tree resin , which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Amber is used as an ingredient in perfumes, as a healing agent in folk medicine, and as jewelry. There are five classes of amber, defined on the basis of their chemical constituents...

, especially from its southern shores. The bordering countries have traditionally provided lumber
Lumber
Lumber or timber is wood in any of its stages from felling through readiness for use as structural material for construction, or wood pulp for paper production....

, wood tar
Tar
Tar is modified pitch produced primarily from the wood and roots of pine by destructive distillation under pyrolysis. Production and trade in tar was a major contributor in the economies of Northern Europe and Colonial America. Its main use was in preserving wooden vessels against rot. The largest...

, flax
Flax
Flax is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent...

, hemp
Hemp
Hemp is mostly used as a name for low tetrahydrocannabinol strains of the plant Cannabis sativa, of fiber and/or oilseed varieties. In modern times, hemp has been used for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food and fuel with modest...

, and fur
Fur
Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensives body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage". Fur is also used to refer to animal...

s. Sweden had from early medieval times also a flourishing mining
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 industry, especially on iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 ore and silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

. Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 had and still has extensive salt
Salt
In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

 mines. All this has provided for rich trading since the Roman times.

In the early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

, Vikings of Scandinavia built their trade empire all around the Baltic. Later, there were fights for control over the sea with Wendish tribes
Wends
Wends is a historic name for West Slavs living near Germanic settlement areas. It does not refer to a homogeneous people, but to various peoples, tribes or groups depending on where and when it is used...

 dwelling on the southern shore. The Vikings also used the rivers of Russia for trade routes, finding their way eventually to the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 and southern Russia. This Viking-dominated period is also referred to as Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

.

Lands next to the sea's eastern shore were among the last in Europe to be converted into Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 in the Northern Crusades
Northern Crusades
The Northern Crusades or Baltic Crusades were crusades undertaken by the Christian kings of Denmark and Sweden, the German Livonian and Teutonic military orders, and their allies against the pagan peoples of Northern Europe around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea...

: Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 in the twelfth century by the Swedes, and what are now Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

 and Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 in the early thirteenth century by the Danes and the Germans (Livonian Brothers of the Sword
Livonian Brothers of the Sword
The Livonian Brothers of the Sword were a military order founded by Bishop Albert of Riga in 1202. Pope Innocent III sanctioned the establishment in 1204. The membership of the order comprised German "warrior monks"...

). The Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem , commonly the Teutonic Order , is a German medieval military order, in modern times a purely religious Catholic order...

 gained control over parts of the southern and eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, where they set up their monastic state
Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights
The State of the Teutonic Order, , also Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights or Ordensstaat , was formed in 1224 during the Northern Crusades, the Teutonic Knights' conquest of the pagan West-Baltic Old Prussians in the 13th century....

 while fighting the Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

, the Danes, the Swedes
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, the Russians
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 of ancient Novgorod
Novgorod Republic
The Novgorod Republic was a large medieval Russian state which stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Ural Mountains between the 12th and 15th centuries, centred on the city of Novgorod...

, and the Lithuanians
Lithuanians
Lithuanians are the Baltic ethnic group native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,765,600 people. Another million or more make up the Lithuanian diaspora, largely found in countries such as the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Russia, United Kingdom and Ireland. Their native language...

 (the last Europeans to convert to Christianity
Christianization of Lithuania
The Christianization of Lithuania – Christianization of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that took place in 1387, initiated by the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila and his cousin Vytautas, that signified the official adoption of Christianity by Lithuanians, one of the last pagan...

).

In the 12th century, there was intensification of Baltic Slavic piracy. Starting in the 11th century, the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic were settled by Germans
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 (and to a lesser extent by Dutch, Danes and Scots
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

) in the course of the Ostsiedlung
Ostsiedlung
Ostsiedlung , also called German eastward expansion, was the medieval eastward migration and settlement of Germans from modern day western and central Germany into less-populated regions and countries of eastern Central Europe and Eastern Europe. The affected area roughly stretched from Slovenia...

. The Polabian Slavs
Polabian Slavs
Polabian Slavs - is a collective term applied to a number of Lechites tribes who lived along the Elbe river, between the Baltic Sea to the north, the Saale and the Limes Saxoniae to the west, the Ore Mountains and the Western Sudetes to the south, and Poland to the east. They have also been known...

 were gradually assimilated by the Germans. Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 gradually gained control over most of the Baltic coast, until she lost much of her possessions after being defeated in the 1227 Battle of Bornhöved
Battle of Bornhöved (1227)
The Battle of Bornhöved took place on 22 July 1227 near Bornhöved in Holstein. Count Adolf IV of Schauenburg and Holstein — leading an army consisting of troops from the cities of Lübeck and Hamburg, about 1000 Dithmarsians and combined troops of Holstein next to various north German nobles —...

.

In the 13th to 17th centuries, the strongest economic force in Northern Europe became the Hanseatic league
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

, which used the Baltic Sea to establish trade routes between its member cities. In the seventeenth century the Dutch
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 became the dominant traders. In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 fought wars for Dominium Maris Baltici ("Ruling over the Baltic Sea"). Eventually, it was the Swedish Empire
Swedish Empire
The Swedish Empire refers to the Kingdom of Sweden between 1561 and 1721 . During this time, Sweden was one of the great European powers. In Swedish, the period is called Stormaktstiden, literally meaning "the Great Power Era"...

 that virtually encompassed the Baltic Sea. In Sweden the sea was then referred to as Mare Nostrum Balticum ("Our Baltic Sea").

In the eighteenth century, Russia and Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 became the leading powers over the sea. The Great Northern War
Great Northern War
The Great Northern War was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in northern Central Europe and Eastern Europe. The initial leaders of the anti-Swedish alliance were Peter I the Great of Russia, Frederick IV of...

, ending with Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

's defeat, brought Russia to the eastern coast. Since then, Russia was a dominating power in the Baltic. Russia's Peter the Great
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

 saw the strategic importance of the Baltic and decided to found his new capital, Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 at the mouth of the Neva river at the east end of the Gulf of Finland
Gulf of Finland
The Gulf of Finland is the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It extends between Finland and Estonia all the way to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the river Neva drains into it. Other major cities around the gulf include Helsinki and Tallinn...

. There was much trading not just within the Baltic region but also with the North Sea region, especially eastern England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

: their fleets needed the Baltic timber, tar, flax and hemp.

During the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, a joint British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 fleet attacked the Russian fortresses by bombarding Sveaborg, which guards Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

; Kronstadt, which guards Saint Petersburg; and by destroying Bomarsund
Bomarsund, Åland
The Battle of Bomarsund was fought by an Anglo-French task force against Russian defenses at Bomarsund during the Crimean War.-Background:Bomarsund is a 19th century fortress which had started to built in 1832 by Russia in Sund on the Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea...

 in the Åland Islands
Åland Islands
The Åland Islands form an archipelago in the Baltic Sea. They are situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia and form an autonomous, demilitarised, monolingually Swedish-speaking region of Finland...

. After the unification of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 in 1871, the whole southern coast became German. The First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 was partly fought in the Baltic Sea. After 1920 Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 was connected to the Baltic Sea by the Polish Corridor
Polish Corridor
The Polish Corridor , also known as Danzig Corridor, Corridor to the Sea or Gdańsk Corridor, was a territory located in the region of Pomerelia , which provided the Second Republic of Poland with access to the Baltic Sea, thus dividing the bulk of Germany from the province of East...

 and enlarged the port of Gdynia
Gdynia
Gdynia is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland and an important seaport of Gdańsk Bay on the south coast of the Baltic Sea.Located in Kashubia in Eastern Pomerania, Gdynia is part of a conurbation with the spa town of Sopot, the city of Gdańsk and suburban communities, which together...

 in rivalry with the port of the Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas....

.

During the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Germany reclaimed all of the southern shore and much of the eastern by occupying Poland and the Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

. In 1945, the Baltic Sea became a mass grave for retreating soldiers and refugees on torpedoed troop transports
Operation Hannibal
Operation Hannibal was a German military operation involving the evacuation by sea of German troops and civilians from Courland, East Prussia, and the Polish Corridor from mid-January to May, 1945 as the Red Army advanced during the East Prussian and East Pomeranian Offensives and subsidiary...

. The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff
Wilhelm Gustloff (ship)
The MV Wilhelm Gustloff was a German KdF flagship during 1937-1945, constructed by the Blohm & Voss shipyards. It sank after being torpedoed by the Soviet submarine on 30 January 1945....

 remains the worst maritime disaster, killing (very roughly) 9,000 people. In 2005, a Russian group of scientists found over five thousand airplane wrecks, sunken warships, and other material
Material
Material is anything made of matter, constituted of one or more substances. Wood, cement, hydrogen, air and water are all examples of materials. Sometimes the term "material" is used more narrowly to refer to substances or components with certain physical properties that are used as inputs to...

 mainly from the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, lying at the bottom of the sea.

Since the end of World War II, various nations, including the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, have disposed of chemical weapons in the Baltic Sea, raising concerns of environmental contamination. Even now fishermen accidentally retrieve some of these materials: the most recent available report from the Helsinki Commission notes that four small scale catches of CW
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 munitions representing approximately 105 kilograms (231 lbs) of material were reported in 2005. This is a reduction from the 25 incidents representing 1,110 kilograms (2,447 lbs) of material in 2003. Until now, the U.S. government refuses to disclose the exact coordinates of the wreck sites. Rotting bottles leak Lost and other substances, thus slowly poisoning a substantial part of the Baltic Sea.

After 1945, the German population was expelled
German exodus from Eastern Europe
The German exodus from Eastern Europe describes the dramatic reduction of ethnic German populations in lands to the east of present-day Germany and Austria. The exodus began in the aftermath of World War I and was implicated in the rise of Nazism. It culminated in expulsions of Germans from...

 from all areas east of the Oder-Neisse line
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

, making room for Polish and Russian settlers. Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 gained a vast stretch of the southern shore, Russia gained another access to the Baltic with the Kaliningrad oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia situated on the Baltic coast. It has a population of The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since its creation it has been an exclave of the Russian SFSR and then the...

. The Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 on the eastern shore were occupied by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, Poland and East Germany became communist states. The sea then was a border between opposing military blocs: in the case of military conflict, in parallel with a Soviet offensive towards the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, communist Poland's fleet was prepared to invade the Danish isles. This border status also impacted trade and travel, and came to an end only after the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern and Central Europe in the late 1980s.

Since May 2004, on the accession of the Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 and Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, the Baltic Sea has been almost entirely surrounded by countries of the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 (EU). The only remaining non-EU areas are the Russian metropolis
Metropolitan area
The term metropolitan area refers to a region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories, sharing industry, infrastructure, and housing. A metropolitan area usually encompasses multiple jurisdictions and municipalities: neighborhoods, townships,...

 of Saint Petersburg and the Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia situated on the Baltic coast. It has a population of The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since its creation it has been an exclave of the Russian SFSR and then the...

 exclave.

Winter storms begin arriving in the region during October. These have caused numerous shipwrecks, and contributed to the extreme difficulties of rescuing passengers of the ferry M/S Estonia
M/S Estonia
MS Estonia, previously MS Viking Sally , MS Silja Star , and MS Wasa King , was a cruise ferry built in 1979/80 at the German shipyard Meyer Werft in Papenburg. The ship sank in the Baltic Sea in one of the worst maritime disasters of the 20th century...

en route from Tallinn
Tallinn
Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

, Estonia, to Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, Sweden, in September 1994, which claimed the lives of 852 people. Older, wood-based shipwrecks such as the Vasa tend to remain well-preserved, as the Baltic's cold and brackish water does not suit the shipworm
Shipworm
Shipworms are not worms at all, but rather a group of unusual saltwater clams with very small shells, notorious for boring into wooden structures that are immersed in sea water, such as piers, docks and wooden ships...

.

Biology



Approximately 100000 km² (38,610 sq mi) of the Baltic's seafloor (a quarter of its total area) is a variable dead zone
Dead zone (ecology)
Dead zones are hypoxic areas in the world's oceans, the observed incidences of which have been increasing since oceanographers began noting them in the 1970s. These occur near inhabited coastlines, where aquatic life is most concentrated...

. The more saline (and therefore denser) water remains on the bottom, isolating it from surface waters and the atmosphere. This leads to decreased oxygen concentrations within the zone. It is mainly bacteria that grow in it, digesting organic material and releasing hydrogen sulfide. Because of this large anaerobic zone, the seafloor ecology differs from that of the neighbouring Atlantic.

Plans to artificially oxygenate areas of the Baltic that have experienced eutrophication have been proposed by the University of Gothenburg and Inocean AB. The proposal intends to use wind-driven pumps to inject oxygen (air) into waters at, or around, 130m below sea level

Since the Baltic Sea is so young there are only a few endemic
Endemic
Endemic may refer to:* Endemism, the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location* Endemic , the state when in which an infection is maintained in a population without the need for external inputs...

 species, such as the small cockle Parvicardium hauniense and the asexually reproducing alga Fucus radicans. However, several marine species have populations in the Baltic Sea adapted to the low salinity, such as the Baltic Sea herring
Herring
Herring is an oily fish of the genus Clupea, found in the shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans, including the Baltic Sea. Three species of Clupea are recognized. The main taxa, the Atlantic herring and the Pacific herring may each be divided into subspecies...

 which is smaller than the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 herring. The benthic fauna
Benthos
Benthos is the community of organisms which live on, in, or near the seabed, also known as the benthic zone. This community lives in or near marine sedimentary environments, from tidal pools along the foreshore, out to the continental shelf, and then down to the abyssal depths.Many organisms...

 consists mainly of Monoporeia affinis
Monoporeia affinis
Monoporeia affinis, formerly referred to as Pontoporeia affinis , is a small, yellowish benthic amphipod living in the Baltic Sea, the Arctic Sea and the lakes of the Nordic Countries.-Description:...

, which is originally a freshwater species. The lack of tides has affected the marine species as compared with the Atlantic.

The fish fauna of the Baltic sea is a mixture of marine species such as cod
Cod
Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of...

, herring, hake
Hake
The term hake refers to fish in either of:* family Phycidae of the northern oceans* family Merlucciidae of the southern oceans-Hake fish:...

, plaice
Plaice
Plaice is the common name of four species of flatfishes.Plaice or PLAICE may also refer to:* USS Plaice , a Balao-class submarine* PLAICE, an open source hardware FLASH programmer, memory emulator, and logic analyzer...

, flounder
Flounder
The flounder is an ocean-dwelling flatfish species that is found in coastal lagoons and estuaries of the Northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.-Taxonomy:There are a number of geographical and taxonomical species to which flounder belong.*Western Atlantic...

, shorthorn sculpin and turbot
Turbot
The turbot is a species of flatfish in the family Scophthalmidae. It is native to marine or brackish waters of the North Atlantic, Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.-Etymology:...

, and freshwater species such as perch
Perch
Perch is a common name for fish of the genus Perca, freshwater gamefish belonging to the family Percidae. The perch, of which there are three species in different geographical areas, lend their name to a large order of vertebrates: the Perciformes, from the Greek perke meaning spotted, and the...

, pike
Pike
-Transit:*Pike or toll road, a course in which fees are collected. Sometimes a historical name of what once was a toll road.-Fish:*Esox, genus of pikes**Northern pike, common north hemisphere pike*Blue pike or blue walleye, an extinct freshwater fish...

, whitefish
Whitefish
Whitefish or white fish may refer to:In fishing terminology:* Whitefish , a fisheries term referring to the flesh of many types of fishIn fish species:...

 and roach
Roach
-Animals:* Cockroaches* Roach , including** Certain members of family Cyprinidae** the genus Rutilus*** Common Roach ** the California Roach of the monotypic genus Hesperoleucus-Other:...

.

A peculiar feature of the fauna is that it contains a number of glacial relict species, isolated populations of arctic species which have remained in the Baltic Sea since the last glaciation, such as the large isopod Saduria entomon
Saduria entomon
Saduria entomon is a benthic isopod crustacean of the family Chaetiliidae. It is distributed along the coasts of the Arctic Ocean and of the northern Pacific Ocean. It is also found in the brackish Baltic Sea, where it is considered a glacial relict. Moreover it is present in a number of North...

, the Baltic subspecies of ringed seal
Ringed Seal
The ringed seal , also known as the jar seal and as netsik or nattiq by the Inuit, is an earless seal inhabiting the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions...

, and the fourhorn sculpin
Fourhorn sculpin
The fourhorn sculpin is a species of fish in the Cottidae family. It is a demersal fish distributed mainly in brackish arctic coastal waters in Canada, Greenland, Russia, and Alaska, and also as a relict in the boreal Baltic Sea...

.

Satellite images taken in July 2010 revealed a massive algal bloom
Algal bloom
An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in an aquatic system. Algal blooms may occur in freshwater as well as marine environments. Typically, only one or a small number of phytoplankton species are involved, and some blooms may be recognized by discoloration...

 covering 377000 sqkm in the Baltic Sea. The area of the bloom extends from Germany and Poland to Finland. Researchers of the phenomenon have indicated that algal blooms have occurred every summer for decades. Fertilizer runoff from surrounding agricultural land has exacerbated the problem and led to increased eutrophication
Eutrophication
Eutrophication or more precisely hypertrophication, is the movement of a body of water′s trophic status in the direction of increasing plant biomass, by the addition of artificial or natural substances, such as nitrates and phosphates, through fertilizers or sewage, to an aquatic system...

.

Economy



Construction of the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark (completed 1997) and the Øresund Bridge-Tunnel (completed 1999), linking Denmark with Sweden, provided a highway and railroad connection between Sweden and the Danish mainland (the Jutland Peninsula
Jutland Peninsula
The Jutland Peninsula or more historically the Cimbrian Peninsula is a peninsula in Europe, divided between Denmark and Germany. The names are derived from the Jutes and the Cimbri....

). The undersea tunnel of the Øresund Bridge-Tunnel provides for navigation of large ships into and out of the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea is the main trade route for export of Russian petroleum. Many of the countries neighboring the Baltic Sea have been concerned about this, since a major oil leak in a seagoing tanker would be disastrous for the Baltic—given the slow exchange of water. The tourism industry surrounding the Baltic Sea is naturally concerned about oil pollution.

Much shipbuilding is carried out in the shipyards around the Baltic Sea. The largest shipyards are at Gdańsk
Gdansk
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

, Gdynia
Gdynia
Gdynia is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland and an important seaport of Gdańsk Bay on the south coast of the Baltic Sea.Located in Kashubia in Eastern Pomerania, Gdynia is part of a conurbation with the spa town of Sopot, the city of Gdańsk and suburban communities, which together...

, and Szczecin
Szczecin
Szczecin , is the capital city of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the country's seventh-largest city and the largest seaport in Poland on the Baltic Sea. As of June 2009 the population was 406,427....

, Poland; Kiel
Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

, Germany; Karlskrona
Karlskrona
Karlskrona is a locality and the seat of Karlskrona Municipality, Blekinge County, Sweden with 35,212 inhabitants in 2010. It is also the capital of Blekinge County. Karlskrona is known as Sweden's only baroque city and is host to Sweden's only remaining naval base and the headquarters of the...

, Sweden; Malmö
Malmö
Malmö , in the southernmost province of Scania, is the third most populous city in Sweden, after Stockholm and Gothenburg.Malmö is the seat of Malmö Municipality and the capital of Skåne County...

, Sweden; Rauma
Rauma, Finland
Rauma is a town and municipality of ca. inhabitants on the west coast of Finland, north of Turku, and south of Pori. Granted town privileges on May 17, 1442 , Rauma is known of its high quality lace , and of the old wooden architecture of its centre , which is a Unesco world heritage...

, Turku
Turku
Turku is a city situated on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River. It is located in the region of Finland Proper. It is believed that Turku came into existence during the end of the 13th century which makes it the oldest city in Finland...

, and Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

, Finland; Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

, Ventspils
Ventspils
Ventspils is a city in northwestern Latvia in the Courland historical region of Latvia, the sixth largest city in the country. As of 2006, Ventspils had a population of 43,806. Ventspils is situated on the Venta River and the Baltic Sea, and has an ice-free port...

, and Liepāja
Liepaja
Liepāja ; ), is a republican city in western Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea directly at 21°E. It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region of Latvia, the third largest city in Latvia after Riga and Daugavpils and an important ice-free port...

 (Latvia); Klaipėda
Klaipeda
Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

 (Lithuania); and St. Petersburg, Russia.

There are several cargo and passenger ferries that operate on the Baltic Sea, such as Scandlines
Scandlines
Scandlines is a major German-Danish ferry operator.It consists of a parent company, Scandlines AG, and under this parent company a German subsidiary named Scandlines Deutschland GmbH and a Danish subsidiary named Scandlines Danmark A/S...

, Silja Line
Silja Line
Silja Line is a Finnish cruiseferry brand operated by the Estonian ferry company AS Tallink Grupp, for car and passenger traffic between Finland and Sweden. The former company Silja Oy – today Tallink Silja Oy – is a subsidiary of Tallink Grupp, handling marketing and sales for Tallink and Silja...

, Polferries
Polferries
Polferries is the largest Polish ferry operator.The Polish Baltic Shipping Company was established on 31 January 1976 as a state-owned shipping company. Under the operating name Polferries, the company runs ferry routes across the Baltic Sea between Poland and Scandinavia.In 1996 Polferries...

, the Viking Line
Viking Line
Viking Line is a Finnish shipping company that operates a fleet of ferries and cruiseferries between Finland, the Åland Islands, Sweden and Estonia. Viking Line shares are quoted on the Helsinki Stock Exchange...

, Tallink
Tallink
Tallink is an Estonian shipping company currently operating Baltic Sea cruiseferries and ropax ships from Estonia to Finland, Estonia to Sweden, Latvia to Sweden and Finland to Germany. They also own Silja Line and a part of SeaRail...

, and Superfast Ferries
Superfast Ferries
Superfast Ferries is a Greece-based ferry company founded in 1993 by Pericles Panagopulos and Alexander Panagopulos. Superfast Ferries is a member of Attica Group and operates 5 ultra-modern car-passenger ferries, offering daily connections between Ancona and Bari and Patras and Igoumenitsa...

.

European Route of Brick Gothic


European Route of Brick Gothic
European Route of Brick Gothic
The European Route of Brick Gothic is a tourist route connecting 31 cities with Brick Gothic architecture in seven countries along the Baltic Sea, from Sweden through Denmark, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia....

 is a touristic route connecting cities with Brick Gothic architecture in seven countries along the Baltic Sea: Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 and Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

.

Piers

  • Liepaja
    Liepaja
    Liepāja ; ), is a republican city in western Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea directly at 21°E. It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region of Latvia, the third largest city in Latvia after Riga and Daugavpils and an important ice-free port...

    , Latvia
    Latvia
    Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

  • Sopot
    Sopot
    Sopot is a seaside town in Eastern Pomerania on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea in northern Poland, with a population of approximately 40,000....

    , Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

  • Międzyzdroje
    Miedzyzdroje
    Międzyzdroje is a town and a seaside resort in northwestern Poland on the island of Wolin on the Baltic coast. Previously in the Szczecin Voivodeship , Międzyzdroje has been in Kamień Pomorski County in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999. Międzyzdroje has a population of 6000 .It is...

    , Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

  • Kołobrzeg, Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

  • Klaipeda
    Klaipeda
    Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

    , Lithuania
    Lithuania
    Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

  • Heiligendamm
    Heiligendamm
    Heiligendamm is a German seaside resort, founded in 1793. The small cluster of structures which still survive are reminders of the glory days of days gone by when this part of the Baltic Sea was one of the playgrounds of Europe's aristocracy. It is the oldest seaside spa in Germany...

    , Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...


Resort towns


Examples:
  • Świnoujście
    Swinoujscie
    Świnoujście is a city and seaport on the Baltic Sea and Szczecin Lagoon, located in the extreme north-west of Poland. It is situated mainly on the islands of Uznam and Wolin, but also occupies smaller islands, of which the largest is Karsibór island, once part of Usedom, now separated by a Piast...

    , Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

  • Kamień Pomorski
    Kamien Pomorski
    Kamień Pomorski is a town in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship of northwestern Poland. The capital of Kamień County, the town had 9,129 inhabitants as of June 30, 2008.- History :...

    , Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

  • Kołobrzeg, Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

  • Pärnu
    Pärnu
    Pärnu is a city in southwestern Estonia on the coast of Pärnu Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Riga in the Baltic Sea. It is a popular summer vacation resort with many hotels, restaurants, and large beaches. The Pärnu River flows through the city and drains into the Gulf of Riga...

    , Estonia
    Estonia
    Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

  • Jūrmala
    Jurmala
    Jūrmala is a city in Latvia, about 25 kilometers west of Riga. Jūrmala is a resort town stretching and sandwiched between the Gulf of Riga and the Lielupe River...

    , Latvia
    Latvia
    Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

  • Palanga
    Palanga
    Palanga and beautiful sand dunes. Officially Palanga has the status of a city municipality and includes Šventoji, Nemirseta, Būtingė and other settlements, which are considered as part of the city of Palanga.-Legend:...

    , Lithuania
    Lithuania
    Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

  • Nida
    Nida
    Nida may refer to:* Nida, Lithuania* Nida in Poland* Nida , an ancient roman town in the northwestern suburbs of today's Frankfurt am Main, Germany* Nida, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Poland...

    , Lithuania
    Lithuania
    Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

  • Sopot
    Sopot
    Sopot is a seaside town in Eastern Pomerania on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea in northern Poland, with a population of approximately 40,000....

    , Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

  • Ueckermünde
    Ueckermünde
    Ueckermünde is a seaport town in northeast Germany, located in the district of Vorpommern-Greifswald, Western Pomerania, near Germany's border with Poland . Ueckermünde has a long and varied history, going back to its founding by Slavs, known as the Uchri and mentioned in 934 by Widukind of Corvey...

    , Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

  • Ustka
    Ustka
    Ustka is a town in the Middle Pomerania region of northwestern Poland with 17,100 inhabitants . It is also part of Słupsk County in Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, and was previously in Słupsk Voivodeship .- History :...

    , Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

  • Svetlogorsk
    Svetlogorsk
    Svetlogorsk may refer to one of the following:*Śvietłahorsk, a city in Belarus*Svetlogorsk, Kaliningrad Oblast, a town in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia*Svetlogorsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai, an urban-type settlement in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia...

    , Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...


1974 Convention


For the first time ever, all the sources of pollution around an entire sea were made subject to a single convention, signed in 1974 by the then seven Baltic coastal states. The 1974 Convention entered into force on 3 May 1980.

1992 Convention


In the light of political changes and developments in international environmental and maritime law, a new convention was signed in 1992 by all the states bordering on the Baltic Sea, and the European Community. After ratification the Convention entered into force on 17 January 2000. The Convention covers the whole of the Baltic Sea area, including inland waters and the water of the sea itself, as well as the seabed. Measures are also taken in the whole catchment area of the Baltic Sea to reduce land-based pollution. The Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, 1992, entered into force on 17 January 2000.

The governing body of the Convention is the Helsinki Commission, also known as HELCOM, or Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission. The present contracting parties are Denmark, Estonia, the European Community, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

The ratification instruments were deposited by the European Community, Germany, Latvia and Sweden in 1994, by Estonia and Finland in 1995, by Denmark in 1996, by Lithuania in 1997 and by Poland and Russia in November 1999.

Countries


Countries that border on the sea:


Countries that are in the drainage basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 but do not border on the sea:

Islands and archipelagoes



  • Åland Islands
    Åland Islands
    The Åland Islands form an archipelago in the Baltic Sea. They are situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia and form an autonomous, demilitarised, monolingually Swedish-speaking region of Finland...

     (Finland
    Finland
    Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

    , autonomous)
  • Archipelago Sea
    Archipelago Sea
    Archipelago Sea is a part of the Baltic Sea between the Gulf of Bothnia, the Gulf of Finland and the Sea of Åland, within Finnish territorial waters...

     (Finland
    Finland
    Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

    )
    • Pargas
      Pargas
      Pargas is a former town and municipality in south-western Finland. On 1 January 2009, it was consolidated with Houtskär, Iniö, Korpo and Nagu to form the new town of Väståboland....

    • Nagu
      Nagu
      Nagu is a former municipality of Finland. On 1 January 2009, it was consolidated with Houtskär, Iniö, Korpo and Pargas to form the new town of Väståboland....

    • Korpo
      Korpo
      Korpo is a former municipality of Finland. On 1 January 2009, it was consolidated with Houtskär, Iniö, Nagu and Pargas to form the new town of Väståboland.It is located in the province of Western Finland and is part of the Finland Proper region...

    • Houtskär
      Houtskär
      Houtskär is a former municipality of Finland. On 1 January 2009, it was consolidated with Iniö, Korpo, Nagu and Pargas to form the new town of Väståboland....

    • Kustavi
      Kustavi
      Kustavi is a municipality of Finland.It is located in the province of Western Finland and is part of the Finland Proper region. The municipality has a population of and covers an area of of which is water. The population density is ....

    • Kimito
      Kimito
      Kimito is a former municipality of Finland. On January 1, 2009, it was consolidated with Dragsfjärd and Västanfjärd to form the new municipality of Kimitoön...

  • Bornholm
    Bornholm
    Bornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea located to the east of the rest of Denmark, the south of Sweden, and the north of Poland. The main industries on the island include fishing, arts and crafts like glass making and pottery using locally worked clay, and dairy farming. Tourism is...

     (Denmark
    Denmark
    Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

    )
  • Gotland
    Gotland
    Gotland is a county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden; it is Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. At 3,140 square kilometers in area, the region makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area...

     (Sweden
    Sweden
    Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

    )
  • Hailuoto
    Hailuoto
    Hailuoto is an island and a municipality in the province of Oulu, Finland. The population of Hailuoto is and the municipality covers an area of of which is inland water . The population density is ....

     (Finland
    Finland
    Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

    )
  • Hiiumaa
    Hiiumaa
    Hiiumaa is the second largest island belonging to Estonia. It is located in the Baltic Sea, north of the island of Saaremaa, a part of the West Estonian archipelago. Its largest town is Kärdla.-Name:...

     (Estonia
    Estonia
    Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

    )
  • Kotlin (Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    )
  • Muhu
    Muhu
    Muhu , is an island in the Baltic Sea. With an area of 198 km² it is the third largest island belonging to Estonia, after Saaremaa and Hiiumaa....

     (Estonia
    Estonia
    Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

    )
  • Öland
    Öland
    ' is the second largest Swedish island and the smallest of the traditional provinces of Sweden. Öland has an area of 1,342 km² and is located in the Baltic Sea just off the coast of Småland. The island has 25,000 inhabitants, but during Swedish Midsummer it is visited by up to 500,000 people...

     (Sweden
    Sweden
    Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

    )
  • Rügen
    Rügen
    Rügen is Germany's largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of the Vorpommern-Rügen district of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.- Geography :Rügen is located off the north-eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea...

     (Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

    )
  • Saaremaa
    Saaremaa
    Saaremaa is the largest island in Estonia, measuring 2,673 km². The main island of Saare County, it is located in the Baltic Sea, south of Hiiumaa island, and belongs to the West Estonian Archipelago...

     (Estonia
    Estonia
    Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

    )
  • Stockholm archipelago
    Stockholm archipelago
    The Stockholm archipelago is the largest archipelago of Sweden, and one of the largest archipelagos of the Baltic Sea.-Geography:The archipelago extends from Stockholm roughly 60 kilometers to the east...

     (Sweden
    Sweden
    Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

    )
    • Värmdön
      Värmdön
      Värmdö is an island in the innermost region of the Stockholm archipelago and covers an area of 180 km², making it the largest island in the archipelago. Värmdö is after Gotland and Öland the third largest island on the eastern coast of Sweden....

       (Sweden
      Sweden
      Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

      )
  • Usedom
    Usedom
    Usedom is a Baltic Sea island on the border between Germany and Poland. It is situated north of the Szczecin Lagoon estuary of the River Oder in Pomerania...

     or Uznam (split between Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     and Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    )
  • Kvarken
    Kvarken
    Kvarken is the narrow region in the Gulf of Bothnia separating the Bothnian Bay from the Bothnian Sea...

     archipelago, including Valsörarna
    Valsörarna
    Valsörarna or Valassaaret is a small archipelago located in the Kvarken region of the Gulf of Bothnia. The islands are situated in the territorial waters of Finland and are the last you see when going by boat or ferry from Vaasa, Finland to Umeå, Sweden. They are a part of Korsholm municipality...

     (Finland
    Finland
    Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

    )
  • Wolin
    Wolin
    Wolin is the name both of an island in the Baltic Sea, just off the Polish coast, and a town on that island. It is separated from the island of Usedom by the Świna river, and from mainland Pomerania by the Dziwna river...

     (Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    )

Cities


The biggest coastal cities (by population):
  • Saint Petersburg
    Saint Petersburg
    Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

     (Russia) 4,700,000 (metropolitan area 6,000,000)
  • Stockholm
    Stockholm
    Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

     (Sweden) 843,139 (metropolitan area 2,046,103)
  • Riga
    Riga
    Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

     (Latvia) 709,000 (metropolitan area 842,000)
  • Helsinki
    Helsinki
    Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

     (Finland) 579,016 (metropolitan area 1,303,126)
  • Copenhagen
    Copenhagen
    Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

     (Denmark) 502,204 (metropolitan area 1,823,109) (facing the Sound
    Oresund
    The Sound , is the strait that separates the Danish island Zealand from the southern Swedish province of Scania. Its width is just at the narrowest point between Helsingør, Denmark, and Helsingborg, Sweden...

    )
  • Gdańsk
    Gdansk
    Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

     (Poland) 462,700 (metropolitan area 1,041,000)
  • Szczecin
    Szczecin
    Szczecin , is the capital city of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the country's seventh-largest city and the largest seaport in Poland on the Baltic Sea. As of June 2009 the population was 406,427....

     (Poland) 413,600 (metropolitan area 778,000)
  • Tallinn
    Tallinn
    Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

     (Estonia) 401,774
  • Kaliningrad
    Kaliningrad
    Kaliningrad is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea...

     (Russia) 400,000
  • Malmö
    Malmö
    Malmö , in the southernmost province of Scania, is the third most populous city in Sweden, after Stockholm and Gothenburg.Malmö is the seat of Malmö Municipality and the capital of Skåne County...

     (Sweden) 290,078 (facing the Sound
    Oresund
    The Sound , is the strait that separates the Danish island Zealand from the southern Swedish province of Scania. Its width is just at the narrowest point between Helsingør, Denmark, and Helsingborg, Sweden...

    )
  • Gdynia
    Gdynia
    Gdynia is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland and an important seaport of Gdańsk Bay on the south coast of the Baltic Sea.Located in Kashubia in Eastern Pomerania, Gdynia is part of a conurbation with the spa town of Sopot, the city of Gdańsk and suburban communities, which together...

     (Poland) 255,600 (metropolitan area 1,041,000)
  • Kiel
    Kiel
    Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

     (Germany) 250,000
  • Espoo
    Espoo
    Espoo is the second largest city and municipality in Finland. The population of the city of Espoo is . It is part of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area along with the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa, and Kauniainen. Espoo shares its eastern border with Helsinki and Vantaa, while enclosing Kauniainen....

     (Finland) 234,400 (part of Helsinki metropolitan area)
  • Lübeck
    Lübeck
    The Hanseatic City of Lübeck is the second-largest city in Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany, and one of the major ports of Germany. It was for several centuries the "capital" of the Hanseatic League and, because of its Brick Gothic architectural heritage, is listed by UNESCO as a World...

     (Germany) 216,100
  • Rostock
    Rostock
    Rostock -Early history:In the 11th century Polabian Slavs founded a settlement at the Warnow river called Roztoc ; the name Rostock is derived from that designation. The Danish king Valdemar I set the town aflame in 1161.Afterwards the place was settled by German traders...

     (Germany) 212,700
  • Klaipėda
    Klaipeda
    Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

     (Lithuania) 194,400
  • Turku
    Turku
    Turku is a city situated on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River. It is located in the region of Finland Proper. It is believed that Turku came into existence during the end of the 13th century which makes it the oldest city in Finland...

     (Finland) 175,000
  • Oulu
    Oulu
    Oulu is a city and municipality of inhabitants in the region of Northern Ostrobothnia, in Finland. It is the most populous city in Northern Finland and the sixth most populous city in the country. It is one of the northernmost larger cities in the world....

     (Finland) 130,000


Important ports (though not big cities):
  • Liepāja
    Liepaja
    Liepāja ; ), is a republican city in western Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea directly at 21°E. It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region of Latvia, the third largest city in Latvia after Riga and Daugavpils and an important ice-free port...

     (Latvia) 85,000
  • Norrköping
    Norrköping
    Norrköping is a city in the province of Östergötland in eastern Sweden and the seat of Norrköping Municipality, Östergötland County. The city has a population of 87,247 inhabitants in 2010, out of a municipal total of 130,050, making it Sweden's tenth largest city and eighth largest...

     (Sweden) 84,000
  • Pori
    Pori
    Pori is a city and municipality on the west coast of Finland. The city is located some from the Gulf of Bothnia, on the estuary of the Kokemäenjoki river, which is the largest in Finland. Pori is the most important town in the Satakunta region....

     (Finland) 83,000
  • Gävle
    Gävle
    Gävle is a city in Sweden, the seat of Gävle Municipality and the capital of Gävleborg County. It had 71,033 inhabitants in 12/31 2010. It is the oldest city in the historical Norrland , having received its charter in 1446 from Christopher of Bavaria.-History:It is believed that the name Gävle...

     (Sweden) 69,000
  • Kotka
    Kotka
    Kotka is a town and municipality of Finland. Its former name is Rochensalm.Kotka is located on the coast of the Gulf of Finland at the mouth of Kymi River and it is part of the Kymenlaakso region in southern Finland. The municipality has a population of and covers an area of of which is water....

     (Finland) 55,000
  • Świnoujście
    Swinoujscie
    Świnoujście is a city and seaport on the Baltic Sea and Szczecin Lagoon, located in the extreme north-west of Poland. It is situated mainly on the islands of Uznam and Wolin, but also occupies smaller islands, of which the largest is Karsibór island, once part of Usedom, now separated by a Piast...

     (Poland) 50,000
  • Kołobrzeg (Poland) 46,000
  • Pärnu
    Pärnu
    Pärnu is a city in southwestern Estonia on the coast of Pärnu Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Riga in the Baltic Sea. It is a popular summer vacation resort with many hotels, restaurants, and large beaches. The Pärnu River flows through the city and drains into the Gulf of Riga...

     (Estonia) 44,568
  • Ventspils
    Ventspils
    Ventspils is a city in northwestern Latvia in the Courland historical region of Latvia, the sixth largest city in the country. As of 2006, Ventspils had a population of 43,806. Ventspils is situated on the Venta River and the Baltic Sea, and has an ice-free port...

     (Latvia) 44,000
  • Port of Police
    Port of Police
    The Port of Police is a Polish seaport and deep water harbour in Police, Poland located at west side of Oder River, off the Szczecin Lagoon....

     (The Seaport on The Oder
    Oder
    The Oder is a river in Central Europe. It rises in the Czech Republic and flows through western Poland, later forming of the border between Poland and Germany, part of the Oder-Neisse line...

     River) in Police, Poland
    Police, Poland
    Police is a town in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship, northwestern Poland. It is the capital of Police County. As of 2006, the town had 34,284 inhabitants. The name comes from Polish pole, which means "field"....

     (34,319)
  • Trelleborg
    Trelleborg
    Trelleborg is a locality and the seat of Trelleborg Municipality, Skåne County, Sweden with 25,643 inhabitants in 2005. It is the southernmost town in Sweden.-History:...

     (Sweden) 26,000
  • Baltiysk
    Baltiysk
    Baltiysk , prior to 1945 known by its German name Pillau , is a seaport town and the administrative center of Baltiysky District of Kaliningrad Oblast, located on the northern part of the Vistula Spit, on the shore of the Strait of Baltiysk separating the Vistula Bay from the Gdańsk Bay. Baltiysk...

     (Russia) 20,000
  • Karlshamn
    Karlshamn
    Karlshamn is a locality and the seat of Karlshamn Municipality in Blekinge County, Sweden with 12,957 inhabitants of the city core and 30 918 in the municipality ....

     (Sweden) 19,000
  • Maardu
    Maardu
    Maardu is a town and a municipality in Harju County, Estonia. It is part of Tallinn metropolitan area. The town covers an area of 22.76 km² and has a population of 16,529 ....

     (Estonia) 16,570
  • Sillamäe
    Sillamäe
    Sillamäe is a town in Ida-Viru County in the northern part of Estonia, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland. It has a population of 16,183 and covers an area of 10.54 km²...

     (Estonia) 16,567
  • Władysławowo
    Władysławowo
    Władysławowo is a town on the south coast of the Baltic Sea in the Kashubia in Eastern Pomerania region, northern Poland, with 15,015 inhabitants.-Overview:...

     (Poland) 15,000
  • Darłowo (Poland) 14,000
  • Oxelösund
    Oxelösund
    Oxelösund is a locality and the seat of Oxelösund Municipality in Södermanland County, Sweden with 10,843 inhabitants in 2005.- History :The harbour at Oxelösund has been used for at least 500 years. In the 19th century, an increased extraction from the Mining district of Central Sweden , made...

     (Sweden) 11,000
  • Mariehamn
    Mariehamn
    Mariehamn is the capital of Åland, an autonomous territory under Finnish sovereignty. Mariehamn is the seat of the Government and Parliament of Åland, and 40% of the population of Åland live in the city...

     (Finland) 11,000
  • Hanko (Finland) 10,000
  • Sassnitz
    Sassnitz
    Sassnitz is a town on the Jasmund peninsula, Rügen Island, in the Federal State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. The population as of 2007 was 10,747....

     (Germany) 11,000


See also



  • Baltic
  • Baltic region
    Baltic region
    The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

  • Baltic Sea Action Group
    Baltic Sea Action Group
    Baltic Sea Action Group operates throughout the entire Baltic Sea area. BSAG is an independent foundation that does concrete work on behalf of the Baltic Sea, the most polluted sea in the world...

     (BSAG)
  • Baltic states
    Baltic states
    The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

  • Council of the Baltic Sea States
    Council of the Baltic Sea States
    The Council of the Baltic Sea States is an overall political forum for regional intergovernmental cooperation which addresses the five priority areas of the environment, economic development, energy, education and culture, civil security and human dimension, including trafficking in human...

  • List of cities and towns around the Baltic Sea
  • List of rivers of the Baltic Sea
  • M/V Estonia
  • Nord Stream
  • Northern Europe
    Northern Europe
    Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

  • Ports of the Baltic Sea
    Ports of the Baltic Sea
    There are over 200 ports in the Baltic Sea. When only those ports that handle minimum of 50,000 tonnes of cargo annually, and where at least part of this cargo is international, are taken into account the number of ports reaches approximately 190. In 2008, the total amount of cargo handled in the...

  • Scandinavia
    Scandinavia
    Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...


Further reading

  • Ojaveer H., Jaanus A., MacKenzie B. R., Martin G., Olenin S., et al. (2010). "Status of Biodiversity in the Baltic Sea". PLoS ONE
    PLoS ONE
    PLoS ONE is an open access peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science since 2006. It covers primary research from any discipline within science and medicine. All submissions go through an internal and external pre-publication peer review but are not excluded on the...

    5(9): e12467. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012467

External links