|Area:||ca 15,776 km²|
|pop. density:||176 inh./km²|
|Minister-President:||Heide Simonis[?] (SPD)|
|Ruling party:||SPD/Green coalition|
Schleswig-Holstein is the name of one of the 16 Bundesländer in Germany. Historically the name refers to a larger region, containing present day Schleswig-Holstein and the Danish region Sønderjylland. The Danish name for this region is Slesvig-Holsten, the Low Saxon name is Sleswig-Holsteen.
The northern part of the Bundesland is called Southern Schleswig whereas the southern part is called Holstein. Northern Schleswig (today mostly called Sønderjylland) is a part of Denmark, since the former duchy of Schleswig now is divided between Denmark and Germany.
Schleswig-Holstein borders on Denmark in the North, the North Sea in the West, the Baltic Sea and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the East, and Lower Saxony and Hamburg in the South. Kiel is the capital of this Bundesland.
The countryside is lowlands with virtually no mountains, the highest elevation being the Bungsberg with only 168 m. There are many lakes especially in the eastern part of Holstein called the Holsteinische Schweiz[?] ("Holsatian Switzerland"). A group of islands called the North Frisian Islands is situated before the western coast, and another small islet called Heligoland further off. Just one island lies at the eastern coast: Fehmarn. The longest river - besides of the Elbe is the Eider.
Schleswig-Holstein is divided into eleven Kreise (districts):
Furthermore there are four independent towns, which do not belong to any district:
Languages The official languages are High German, Low Saxon, Danish and Frisian. Low Saxon - the classic language of the country - is spoken in most parts of the Country, Danish by the Danish minority, Frisian by the North Frisians at the North Sea Coast and the Northern Frisian Islands and a special Frisian Dialect called Hallun at the Island Heligoland. High German had been introduced since the 16th century, mainly for official purposes, but it is today the most used language, since it had been forced by the Prussian government after 1864.
The Duchy of Schleswig was in early medieval times split off from the the Danish kingdom, also Holstein was later united in a duchy. Through their history they've variably retained independence, belonging to the Danish Crown and to the German Reich. For extended periods the King of Denmark was also German Duke of Schleswig and/or Holstein.
National awakening after the Napoleonic Wars led to a strong popular movement for re-unification with (Prussia-dominated) Germany, and after a failed rebellion in 1848 and the unsuccessful First war of Schleswig[?] (1848-1851), Otto von Bismarck succeeded in the Second war of Schleswig[?] (1864).
As a matter of trivia, the term 'Holstein' derives from the Old Norse and Old Saxon, 'Holseta Land', meaning simply "Woodland". Originally, it referred to the central of the three saxon tribes north of the Elbe river, 'Tedmarsgoi', Holcetae and 'Sturmarii'. The area of the Holcetae was between the Stör[?] river and Hamburg, the main church was in Schenefeld[?].
The Kiel Canal crosses Schleswig-Holstein and allows German shipping to cross from the Baltic to the North Sea without leaving German territory. It had a vital role in assisting German commerce and war efforts during the last century.
State's own website: http://www.schleswig-holstein.de/