SPREEWALD, a district of Germany, in the Prussian province of Brandenburg, a marshy depression of the middle Spree valley, extending to some 106 sq. m., its length being 27 m. and its width varying from i to 7 m. It owes its marshy character to the river Spree, which above Liibben splits into a network of over two hundred arms, and in seasons of flood generally overflows considerable portions of the region. In the parts which are especially liable to inundation, as, for example, the villages of Lehde, Leipe and Burg, many of the homesteads are built each on a little self-contained island, approachable in summer only by boat, and in winter over the ice. In spite of its marshy character the Spreewald is in part cultivated, in part converted into pasturage, and almost everywhere, but more especially in the lower districts, wooded like a park, the predominant trees being willows. Fishing, cattle-breeding and the growing of vegetables, more particularly small pickling cucumbers, are the chief occupations of the people, about 30,000 in all. In great part they are of Wendish blood, and though the majority have been Germanized, there is a small residue who have faithfully preserved their national speech, customs, and their own peculiar styles of dress. The attractive xxv. 24 blending of wood and water makes the Spreewald in summer a resort of the people of the Prussian capital; but also in winter the district is largely visited by people bent on skating, sleighing and other winter pastimes. The chief town is Liibben, 45 m. south from Berlin on the railway to Gorlitz.
See W. von Schulenburg, Wendische Volkssagen und Gebrauche aus dem Spreewald (Leipzig, 1880) ; Kiihn, Der Spreewald und seine Bewohner (Cottbus, 1889); and Braunsdorf, Spreewaldfahrien (Lubbenau, 1901).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)