East Frisian Islands

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The East Frisian Islands (German: Ostfriesische Inseln) are a chain of islands in the North Sea, off the coast of East Frisia in Lower Saxony, Germany. The islands extend for some 90 kilometres (56 mi) from west to east between the mouths of the Ems and Jade / Weser rivers and lie about 3.5 to 10 km offshore. Between the islands and the mainland are extensive mudflats, known locally as Watten, which form part of the Wadden Sea. In front of the islands are Germany's territorial waters, which occupy a much larger area than the islands themselves. The islands, the surrounding mudflats and the territorial waters (The Küstenmeer vor den ostfriesischen Inseln nature reserve) form a close ecological relationship. The island group makes up about 5% of the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park.

The largest island by surface area is Borkum, located at the western end of the chain; the other six inhabited islands are from west to east: Juist, Norderney with the largest town in the islands, Baltrum Langeoog, Spiekeroog and Wangerooge. There are also four other small, uninhabited islands: Lütje Hörn east of Borkum, Memmert and Kachelotplate southwest of Juist, Minsener Oog, a dredged island southeast of Wangerooge, and Mellum at the eastern end of the island chain which, following the boundary revision by the Federal Office for Nature Conservation, no longer belongs to the East Frisian Islands, but to the mudflats of the Elbe-Weser Triangle (Watten im Elbe-Weser-Dreieck).


Overview of the islands and sand flats

The following table contains basic information about the islands and sand flats (Sandplaten). The uninhabited and unparished sand flats are highlighted in yellow.

Norderney is the remaining part of Buise, which was almost entirely engulfed by the sea in the 17th century. Lütje Hörn east of Borkum is in constant danger of being washed away. In 2003 the German Coastal Defence (NLWK) announced that the sandbank Kachelotplate can now be called an island too, because it is no longer regularly flooded by high tide. However, it is not larger than 2 km² and will remain unsettled. Kachelotplate is located north of the mouth of the Ems river.

Most of the islands do not allow cars. The exceptions are Borkum and Norderney, which are also the most crowded islands. There are no bridges connecting the mainland with the islands. Each island is accessible by ferry.

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