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Heligoland (or Helgoland)
I visited Heligoland several times

cliffs, sheep and seabirds
village and low lands
Dune Island
Historic Heligoland

Heligoland (Helgoland in German) consists of two very small islands in the southwest corner of the North Sea. The main island is composed of sandstone and has a size of about 70 hectares. The smaller Dune Island, which carries the airport, measures about 40 hectares. The total population of the main island is about 2,000 and nobody lives permanently on the Dunes Island. Politically, the island is a community inside the Kreis Pinneberg in the German Bundesland Schleswig-Holstein.

Heligoland has a moderate climate with precipitation in all seasons, like the climate of the rest of Northwestern Europe. During the summer months, the amount of sunshine is substantially higher than in central Germany, whereas the average temperature is slightly lower.

The main island consists of a sandstone plateau that is bordered by cliffs. Artificial land has been added on the south and east sides. The harbour and the village are in the south. An interesting path takes you around the island, with in the breeding season - beautiful views over breeding seabirds on ridges of the cliffs. Dune Island has a gentle landscape with sandy beaches and a green interior. The eastern shore of the Dune Island has a pebble beach, excellent for collectors of flints and fossils.

People, economy
Heligoland has been inhabited for centuries. Throughout the centuries, the people have never been able to live from their limited amount of land although they grew crops and kept cattle and sheep. The Heligoland people primarily lived from the sea, as fishermen, pilots, and wreckers. Nowadays, the major income source is, of course, mass tourism.

Heligoland has a unique and strategic location, and has hence a violent military history. Heligoland played an important role in history as a military base, and as a diplomatic negotiation object.

Travel and tourism
On Heligoland you can walk, watch flowers, birds and seals or just relax. Dune Island has bathing beaches. The museum is quite interesting. In spring, summer and fall Heligoland can be reached in many ways: by traditional ferry, by fast catamaran and by air. During the winter months, there are, of course, fewer connections. Many people make day trips to the island, from other German islands or from the adjacent mainland. There is plenty of accommodation on both islands. For tourist visits, see .
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Photos and articles are 2005-2020 Alex Ritsema