Curonian Spit

Curonian Spit

Region of the Russian Federation: Kaliningrad Region

Status of Territories composing the Property: Kurshskaya Kosa National Park

Area: 31 200 ha

Status: inscribed in the World Heritage List in 2000, as a cultural property.

The Curonian Spit belongs to the largest accumulative phenomena in the Baltic Sea and was inscribed on the World Natural Heritage List as an international (Russian-Lithuanian) cultural property. The location of the Spit and its relief are unique indeed. A continuous line of 300 m to one km wide sand dunes, some of which are among the highest in the world (to 68 m), stretches for 70 km along the peninsula.

Due to its geographical position and northeast to southwest orientation, the Spit is a "directing line" for many migrating bird species flying from northwest Russia, Finland and the Baltic countries to countries of middle and southern Europe. Every spring and fall 10 to 20 million migratory birds pass over the Curonian Spit and a considerable number of them stop to feed and rest. Due to the high concentration of migratory birds, the Spit is a very important link in the chain of natural protected areas situated along the White Sea – Baltic flyway. Among these migratory bird populations many are rare and endangered, listed in the Red Books of Russia, Europe and worldwide.

The Curonian Spit landscapes were not created purely though natural processes but comes also from human activity, and it stands today as an example of harmonious interaction between nature and human beings. The tribe of Kursiai, which inhabited the Curonian Spit for a long time in the past, has disappeared, but its ethnographic heritage is still visible. Remains of fishing villages buried under sand dunes in the 18th – 19th century can be found here.

The Spit is rich in cultural heritage. Protective engineering structures, unique in scale, are important from the standpoint of history, science and art. Fishing settlements, archaeological sites and religious architectural structures are perfectly integrated into the landscape.

The Curonian Spit is a wonderful natural phenomenon hardly comparable in its beauty and scenery to any other site in the Baltic region. The diverse and strongly differentiated dune relief of the Curonian Spit combined with the green of the forests, bright whiteness of sandy beaches and unlimited blue of the Baltic Sea, represent important aesthetic values.