Before Reunification, much of this marshy coast belonged to communist East Germany and was difficult for Westerners to access. Visitor numbers have risen in the years since the Iron Curtain was pulled back, and the region faces increased development pressures. Its historic cities showcase their well-preserved old towns, which are often surrounded by "less pleasant socialist-era blocks."
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
“Considering the two world wars and the horrible development that took place under the G.D.R., this region is surprisingly well preserved. Historic cities like Wismar and Straslund are very attractive. Internationally, the area is relatively unknown and trains are less frequent than in other parts of Germany.”
“The seaside tradition was alive and well in communist East Germany, and lots of resort towns dotted the coast up to the Polish border. With unification came a new rush to build up as-yet-undeveloped properties. The region around Stralsund is a nice mix of rural landscapes, coastal vistas, and small-scale beachfront development. Along the part of the coast that formerly belonged to West Germany, some places are packed with domestic tourists during the summer.”
"An attractive coastline—not too dramatic but historically interesting. Unfortunately, tourism development has caused some ecological damage. Germans are fiercely proud of their regional traditions. If you want to know more about the place, speak with the locals—They are well informed."
“The region’s economy has undergone a transformation. Tourism has replaced heavy industry. Planning strategies to preserve ecological sites have been adopted. The local population is directly involved in tourism. The industry is becoming more sustainable.”
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2014 Traveler Photo Contest
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