Curonian Spit


The Curonian Spit situated in Lithuania and the Russian Federation is an impressive spit in the Baltic region (98 km long and 0.4-4 km wide). It separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. The dunes shifted and settlements disappeared covered under the sand since prehistoric times. Only the efforts of the people residing there managed to overcome this problem, combating the erosion of the spit by stabilizing the dramatic process. The spectacular sand dunes and forest area with their unique ecosystem, and traditional fishermen villages characterize an outstanding cultural landscape. The Curonian Spit was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2000.

The unique and fragile landscape of the Curonian Spit has been created by man in his constant fight against natural wind and water forces. In the 15th century the whole Curonian Spit was wrapped up in a green forest mantle: there grew majestic mixed forests of oaks, firs and pines and small villages were to be found close to the lagoon. Later on people started to intensively fell the trees. Forests especially suffered during the Seven-Year War (1756-1763). Destroyed forests freed sand masses, and west winds brought additional sand from the seashore to Nerija: the sand, driven by the wind, moved across the peninsula towards the Curonian Lagoon. Immense dunes have buried on their way more than one littoral fishing-village. Several generations had to work hard in order to bridle the sand element and to create the pleasant landscape of the today‘s Curonian Spit.