The state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is located in the northeast of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its capital is Schwerin. The Hanseatic City of Rostock is larger and also economically more important. The state is located on the Baltic Sea coast in the Ice Age reshaped North German lowlands. There are numerous islands off the Baltic coast, including Rügen and Usedom. Important branches of the economy are agriculture, the food and shipbuilding industry as well as tourism, the main destination of which, in addition to the seaside resorts on the coast, is the Mecklenburg Lake District.
The federal state Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania borders in the north on the Baltic Sea, in the west on Schleswig-Holstein, in the southwest on Lower Saxony, in the south on Brandenburg and in the east on Poland (Fig. 1).
The country has an area of around 23,000 km² and has only 1.65 million residents. Its capital Schwerin is located in the west of the country on the south-west bank of Lake Schwerin.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania existed in the GDR from 1949 until the dissolution of the states in 1952. On January 3, 1990, it was re-established and on October 3, 1990 it joined the Federal Republic of Germany.
The whole country lies in the North German lowlands and borders the Baltic Sea in the north.
The total length of the Baltic Sea coast of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is 1470 km. Of this, however, only 340 km are the outer coast facing the Baltic Sea. The largest part is accounted for by the inland coast, which is strongly structured by many spits, bay and lagoon.
A total of 794 islands are off the coast . The largest islands from west to east are Poel, Hiddensee, Ummanz, Rügen and Usedom, the eastern part of which already belongs to Poland.
On the coast of Mecklenburg, which stretches from the mouth of the Trave to Fischland, short sections of steep banks alternate with fine sandy flat coasts. The stretch of coast of Western Pomerania, which begins east of the Fischland-Darß-Zingst peninsula, is more varied and structured by numerous bays (Fig. 2) and lagoon. On the outer coasts, cliffs alternate with loamy and chalk cliffs with extensive flat coasts rich in dunes.
The majority of the landscape of the North German lowlands formed in the Ice Age is occupied by slightly undulating ground moraines. The terminal moraine runs from NW to SE, in which the lakes of the Mecklenburg Lake District are embedded, rise up to 179 m and are part of the northern land ridge.
The Müritz is after Lake Constance with 115 square kilometers the largest lake in Germany. It is located in the 319 km² Müritz National Park.
Holiday island Rügen
Germany’s largest island, Rügen, is a small world in itself. The Baltic Sea island of 926 km² is separated from the mainland by the Greifswalder Bodden and the Strelasund, with which there has been a rail and road connection via the Rügen dam near Stralsund since 1936.
Rügen has several island cores from Ice Age moraines. The steep coasts of the higher island cores form numerous peninsulas and are connected by spits. Such island cores include the Wittow with Cape Arkona, the Jasmund and the Mönchgut.
One of the sights is the chalk cliff of Stubbenkammer on the northeast coast of Jasmund, which is 118 m high in Königstuhl and is a national park.
By far the most important branch of the economy on Rügen, in addition to agriculture, fishing and chalk mining near Sassnitz, is tourism, which focuses on the many seaside resorts, especially Binz with its playful spa architecture.
The district of Prora belongs to Binz with a holiday complex built by the National Socialists with formerly 20,000 beds, which stretches for a total of 4.5 km on the sandy beach of the Prorer Wieks and has been a listed building since 1994. Ferries to Sweden and Lithuania run from Sassnitz and Mukran.
Climate / vegetation
The oceanic transitional climate shows clearly continental features with warm summers and relatively cold winters as well as annual precipitation of regionally only 500 mm. About a fifth of the area is covered with forest, in the coastal areas there are sparse pine forests that alternate with beach grass, in the inland there are also mixed deciduous forests. Moors occupy 13%.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the most sparsely populated German state with a population density of 77 residents per km². The only big cities are Rostock and the state capital Schwerin. The emigration trend that existed before the unification in 1990 increased, mainly for economic reasons. Between 1989 and 1998 the number of residents decreased by approx. 175,000 people, due to a sharp fall in the birth rate, but mainly due to emigration to the western federal states. Universities exist in Greifswald and Rostock.
Economy and Transport
the Agriculture and the food industry that builds on it are the dominant industries. Agriculture is mainly practiced in the area of the fertile ground moraines that cross Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in a broad band from northwest to southeast. Mainly wheat, oil fruits, animal feed and sugar beet are grown there and intensive pigs are farmed. Rye and potatoes are predominantly produced in the terminal moraine areas and sand areas with less fertile soil to the south. Cattle breeding predominates on the pastures of the river plains in the north and north-east, the Elbe in the south-west and in the coastal area. Pond farming is practiced at the numerous Mecklenburg lakes, but like coastal fishing, this has lost its importance.
The economy of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is still in a complicated situation.
After 1950, the shipbuilding industry was built up and expanded in the port cities on the coast. The large shipyards in Rostock-Warnemünde, Wismar, Stralsund and Wolgast, however, had to and must fear for their existence after the fall of the Wall. In the high-sea ports in Rostock, Wismar and Stralsund, goods handling was down. In Rostock, cargo handling has stabilized and is developing positively.
Another “bright spot” for the country’s economy is the growing tourism sector.
The most important holiday areas of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are on the Baltic coast. Above all, on the Fischland-Darß-Zingst peninsula and the islands of Rügen and Usedom, the overnight capacities are constantly being expanded and opportunities for adventure tourism are being created. The excursion traffic to the small island of Hiddensee had to be limited in order to protect the environment. Other recreational areas are in the Mecklenburg Lake District.
State capital Schwerin
Schwerin is picturesquely located on the south-western shore of Lake Schwerin and six other lakes. In addition to the state authorities, the city is home to numerous museums, a zoological garden and the Mecklenburg State Theater. Numerous baroque and classicist buildings shape the cityscape. The castle (Fig. 11) and the castle church are particularly impressive on an island. Commercial production with cable manufacture, mechanical engineering and the food industry is mainly concentrated in the Schwerin-Süd industrial complex.
Schwerin has been a town and bishopric since 1160 and was the residence of the dukes of Mecklenburg until 1918.