Kaliningrad - Profile
The Kaliningrad region is often called the Amber land and the Amber coast of Russia. These sobriquets refer to the fact that the Kaliningrad peninsula and the western coast of the Kaliningrad Lagoon are home to large deposits of amber. Probable reserves are estimated at 400,000 tons, which accounts for 90% of the entire world’s deposits.
The exclave Kaliningrad region situated on the cost of the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania has a rather small territory of 15,125 km2 (including the Russian parts of the Curonian and Vistula Lagoons of a combined area of 1,846 km2). It is one of the smallest regions in the Russian Federation. However, it is densely populated, being home to 976.4 thousand people, i.e. the population density reaches 64.6 people per km2. The population density in neighbouring Lithuania is lower – 43.9 people per a km2 – and, in Poland, it is twice as high – 123.5 people per km2. However, in the border Warmian-Masurian voivodeship, the population density is only 59.8 people per km2 (Rosstat; Eurostat, 2016).
The regional environmental conditions are more favorable than in many, even southern, non-Black Earth parts of Russia. A major advantage is its mild climate. Moreover, despite its small area, the Kaliningrad region is rich in natural resources. One of them is the 147 km long ice-free seacoast.
A steep decline in the area of cultivated agricultural lands took place in the 1990s, when crop productivity dramatically decreased as standard fertilisation and agricultural management practices were abandoned. The area of the cropped land was decreasing until 2011, when it amounted to 143,600 ha, i.e. 35% of the 1990 level. The crop productivity started to grow in the 2000s to exceed the 1990 numbers in 2015. However, it is still lower than in neighbouring Poland and Lithuania. In 2012, the grain crop yield was 2.2 times lower than in Germany and 15% and 24% below that in Poland and Lithuania respectively. The potato yield was 2.7 times lower than in Germany, 1.5 times than in Poland, and 10% below that in Lithuania. So, in 2015 grain yield was two-fold lower than in Germany, approximately the same level as in Poland and Lithuania, and potato yields was less than 2.4 times compared to Germany.
The key advantage of the Kaliningrad region is the increasing demand for tourism services in Russia, which has a much greater number of potential tourists than Poland or Lithuania. Major disadvantages are the insufficient quantity of tourism infrastructure, a limited variety of services, and the exclave position of the region in relation to mainland Russia – this makes a journey to Kaliningrad rather expansive. The key natural factor for tourism development in the region is a seacoast with sand beaches and unique natural objects – the pine-forest-clad Curonian and the Baltic/Vistula Spits. The spits, whose sand dunes reach 60 m in height, are separated from the sea by shallow bodies of water – the Curonian and the Vistula Lagoons. The Curonian Spit stretches 98 km, 48 of which belong to the Kaliningrad region. The width of the spit ranges from 400 m to 4 km. The Baltic/Vistula spit is shorter and narrower. It is 65 km long, of which 35 belong to the Kaliningrad region. The width of the spit ranges from 300 to 1,800 m. Its seacoast is home to the resort towns of Svetlogorsk, Otradnoe, and Zelenogradsk, and other recreational centers.
The natural conditions and resources of the Kaliningrad region provide a favorable context for the development of a number of manufacturing industries, agriculture, transport, and recreation. However, this potential is not fully realised.
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