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Tønder (German: Tondern) is a Danish town of Region Syddanmark with a population of 7,743 (1 January 2010).[1] It is the main town and the administrative seat of Tønder Municipality.



The arabic geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi mentions in the mid-12th century a landmark Tu(r)ndira, which may be Tønder or possibly the nearby town of Møgeltønder.

Tønder was granted Hanseatic port privileges in 1243, and is thus Denmark's oldest privileged market town. In 1532 the town was hit by severe flooding, with the water reaching 1.8 metres high in St Laurent's church, 5.3 metres above normal. Tønder's port lost direct access to the sea mainly due to the building of dykes west of the town in the 1550s, at the instigation of Duke Hans the Elder of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev (a son of Frederick I of Denmark). The centre of the town is dominated by houses from the late 17th and early 18th century, when the town experienced rapid growth as a result of its lace industry.

Prior to 1864, Tønder was situated in the Duchy of Schleswig, so its history is properly included in the contentious history of Schleswig-Holstein. In the 1920 Schleswig Plebiscite that incorporated Northern Schleswig as part of Denmark, 76.5% of Tønder's inhabitants voted for remaining part of Germany and 23.5% voted for the cession to Denmark.[2]

Between 1915 and 1918, a base for Zeppelin airships was operated at Tønder by the German navy. The former site now houses a museum, the Zeppelin and Garrison Museum Tønder.[3] An aircraft hangar from World War 1 survives as do some of the ancillary buildings from the period, but only the foundations remain of the large Airship hangars constructed to house the Zeppelins.


Every August, the Tønder Festival takes place, offering the visitor a wide variety of traditional and modern folk music. The Scouts of Tonder are twinned with a village called Hemyock in Devon England and the scouts make exchange trips every few years

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