January 16, 2013

0470 Baltic Sea map

Bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands, Baltic Sea is a brackish sea, mostly enclosed, which has a limited exchange of water with outer oceans. Is connected to the Atlantic Ocean via Kattegat, Skagerrak and North Sea, but also by man-made waterways to the White Sea via the White Sea Canal, and to the North Sea via the Kiel Canal. It has 1,600 km long, an average of 193 km wide, and an average of 55 m deep, with the maximum depth 459 m.

The first who named it the Baltic Sea (Mare Balticum) was 11th century German chronicler Adam of Bremen, but this name started to dominate only after 16th century, in the Middle Ages being known under a variety of names. There are several theories about the origin of the name, but almost all are related, in one way or another, by the word "belt".

On the long-term average, the Baltic Sea is ice-covered at the annual maximum for about 45% of its surface area, since 1720 being frozen over entirely only 20 times, the most recent in 1987. The Baltic can be also understood as the common estuary of all rivers flowing into it. Actually before the Pleistocene instead of the Baltic Sea there was a wide plain around a big river, on which the paleogeologists called it the Eridanos. Several glaciations scooped out the river bed creating a sea basin, named Eemian sea.

In the early Middle Ages, Vikings built their trade empire all around the Baltic, using also the rivers of Russia for trade routes. Lands next to the sea's eastern shore were among the last in Europe which were converted to Christianity: Finland in the 12th century, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia in 13th century. Denmark had control over most of the Baltic coast, until she was defeated in Battle of Bornhöved (1227). Between the 13th and 17th centuries the strongest economic force in Northern Europe became the Hanseatic league, and in 17th century the Swedish Empire encompassed this sea, even if the dominant traders were the Dutch.

In the 18th century, Russia and Prussia became the leading powers over the sea. After the unification of Germany (1871), the whole southern coast became German. After WWII Poland gained a vast stretch of the southern shore, Russia gained another access to the Baltic with the Kaliningrad oblast, and the Baltic states were occupied by the Soviet Union, so the sea became a border between opposing military blocs. Since 2004, on the accession of the Baltic states and Poland, the Baltic Sea has been almost entirely surrounded by countries of the European Union, with the exception of the Saint Petersburg and the Kaliningrad Oblast exclave. Countries that border on the sea in nowadays are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

The stamp, depicting the flower named Pussy toes (Antennaria dioica), was issued on January 25, 2010.

Baltic Sea - Wikipedia

sender: Juho (postcrossing)
sent from Porvoo (Finland), on 28.06.2012
photos: Toomi Lappalainen, Jussi Ruottinen

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