🇩🇪 Heligoland is a small archipelago in the North Sea. A part of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein since 1890, the islands were historically possessions of Denmark, then became the possessions of the United Kingdom from 1807 to 1890, and briefly managed as a war prize from 1945 to 1952.
The islands are located in the Heligoland Bight (part of the German Bight) in the south-eastern corner of the North Sea and had a population of 1,127 at the end of 2016. They are the only German islands not in the vicinity of the mainland. They lie approximately 69 km (43 miles) by sea from Cuxhaven at the mouth of the River Elbe. During a visit to the islands, August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote the lyrics to "Deutschlandlied", which became the national anthem of Germany.
In addition to German, the local population, who are ethnic Frisians, speak the Heligolandic dialect of the North Frisian language called Halunder. Heligoland used to be called Heyligeland, or 'holy land', possibly due to the island's long association with the god Forseti.
Heligoland is located 46 km (29 mi) off the German coastline and consists of two islands: the populated triangular 1 km2 (0.4 sq mi) main island (Hauptinsel) to the west, and the Düne ('dune', Heligolandic: de Halem) to the east. Heligoland generally refers to the former island. Düne is somewhat smaller at 0.7 km2 (0.27 sq mi), lower, and surrounded by sand beaches. It is not permanently inhabited, but is today the location of Heligoland's airport.
The main island is commonly divided into the Unterland ('Lower Land', Heligolandic: deät Deelerlun) at sea level (to the right on the photograph, where the harbour is located), the Oberland ('Upper Land', Heligolandic: deät Boperlun) consisting of the plateau visible in the photographs, and the Mittelland ('Middle Land') between them on one side of the island. The Mittelland came into being in 1947 as a result of explosions detonated by the British Royal Navy (the so-called "Big Bang"; see below). The main island also features small beaches in the north and the south and drops to the sea 50 metres (160 ft) high in the north, west and southwest. In the latter, the ground continues to drop underwater to a depth of 56 metres (184 ft) below sea level. Heligoland's most famous landmark is the Lange Anna ('Long Anna' or 'Tall Anna'), a free-standing rock column (or stack), 47 metres (154 ft) high, found north-west of the island proper.
The two islands were connected until 1720 when the natural connection was destroyed by a storm flood. The highest point is on the main island, reaching 61 metres (200 ft) above sea level. Although culturally and geographically closer to North Frisia in the German district of Nordfriesland, the two islands are part of the district of Pinneberg in the state of Schleswig-Holstein. The main island has a good harbour and is frequented mostly by sailing yachts.
Helgoland has a population of over 1,307 people. Helgoland also forms part of the wider Pinneberg District which has a population of over 317,085 people. For the location of Helgoland see: Heligoland.