Heligoland/Helgoland is a small German archipelago in the North Sea.
Formerly Danish and British possessions, the islands (population 1,127) are located in the Heligoland Bight (part of the German Bight) in the south-eastern corner of the North Sea. They are the only German islands not in the immediate vicinity of the mainland and are approximately three hours sailing time from Cuxhaven at the mouth of the River Elbe. In addition to German, the local population, who are ethnic Frisians, speak the Heligolandic dialect of the North Frisian language called Halunder. Heligoland was formerly called Heyligeland, or “holy land”, possibly due to the island’s long association with the god Forseti.
Heligoland is now a holiday resort and enjoys a tax-exempt status, as it is part of the EU but excluded from the EU VAT area and customs union, and consequently, much of the economy is founded on sales of cigarettes, alcoholic beverages and perfumes to tourists who visit the islands. Also, there is a search and rescue (SAR) base of the DGzRS, the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger (“German Maritime Search and Rescue Service”) on Heligoland. The ornithological heritage of Heligoland has also been re-established, with the Heligoland Bird Observatory now being managed by the Ornithologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft Helgoland e.V. which was founded in 1991. Until 2009 electricity on Heligoland was generated by a local Diesel plant when the island was connected to the mainland network by a submarine cable. With a length of 53 kilometres (33 mi) the Heligoland Power Cable is one of the longest submarine AC power cables in the world and the longest of its kind in Germany. It was manufactured by the North German Seacable Works in a single piece and was laid by the barge Nostag 10 in spring 2009. The Heligoland Power Cable, which is designed for an operational voltage of 30 kV reaches the German mainland at Sankt Peter-Ording.
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