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Bodensee

This article is about the European lake. For the lake in New Zealand, see Lake Constance, New Zealand.
"Constance Lake" redirects here. For the First Nations community in Canada, see Constance Lake First Nation.

Lake Constance (German: Bodensee) is a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps, and consists of three bodies of water: the Obersee ("upper lake"), the Untersee ("lower lake"), and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Seerhein.

The lake is situated in Germany, Switzerland and Austria near the Alps. Specifically, its shorelines lie in the German federal states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, the Austrian federal state of Vorarlberg, and the Swiss cantons of Thurgau and St. Gallen. The Rhine flows into it from the south following the Austro-Swiss frontier.

Lake Constance was first mentioned by the Roman geographer Pomponius Mela about 43 AD. He noted that the Rhine flows through two lakes, and gave them the Latin names Lacus Venetus (Obersee) and Lacus Acronius (Untersee). Pliny the Elder used the name Lacus Brigantinus, after the Roman city of Brigantium (today Bregenz). The lake is also colloquially known as the Swabian Sea[1] (das schwäbische Meer).

The freshwater lake sits at 395 m (1,296 ft) above sea level and is Central Europe's third largest, after Lake Balaton and Lake Geneva. It is 63 km (39 mi) long, and at its widest point, nearly 14 km (8.7 mi). It covers approximately 571 km2 (220 sq mi) of total area.[2] The greatest depth is 252 metres (827 ft) in the middle of the eastern part (Obersee). Its volume is approximately 1e10 m3 (1.3×1010 cu yd). The lake has four parts: the main section, called Obersee, 476 km2 (184 sq mi); the north section, Überlinger See, 61 km2 (24 sq mi); the west section, Untersee, 63 km2 (24 sq mi); and the northwest section, the Zeller See and Gnadensee. The regulated Rhine flows into the lake in the southeast, through the Obersee, the city of Konstanz and the Untersee and flows out near Stein am Rhein. Lake Constance provides fresh water to many cities in south Germany.

Lake Constance was formed by the Rhine Glacier during the ice age and is a zungenbecken lake. The Rhine, the Bregenzer Ache, and the Dornbirner Ache carry sediments from the Alps to the lake, thus gradually decreasing the depth of the lake in the southeast.

The lake was frozen in the years 1077 (?), 1326 (partial), 1378 (partial), 1435, 1465 (partial), 1477 (partial), 1491 (partial?), 1517 (partial), 1571 (partial), 1573, 1600 (partial), 1684, 1695, 1709 (partial), 1795, 1830, 1880 (partial), and 1963.

Approximately 1,000 tonnes (1,100 short tons) of fish were caught by 150 professional fishermen in 2001 which was below the previous ten year average of 1,200 tonnes (1,300 short tons) per year. The Lake Constance trout (Salmo trutta) was almost extinct in the 1980s due to pollution, but thanks to protective measures has made a significant return. Lake Constance was the home of the now extinct species of trout Salvelinus profundus.[3] as well as of the Lake Constance whitefish (Coregonus gutturosus).[4]

The lake itself is an important drinking water source for southwestern Germany, called Bodensee-Wasserversorgung ("Lake Constance Water Supply").[5]

Car ferries link Romanshorn, Switzerland to Friedrichshafen, and Konstanz to Meersburg.

Name

After the Council of Constance, the Catholic world gave the lake its current name, after the city Constantia (Konstanz), that, in turn, was named after a Roman emperor (either Constantius Chlorus or his grandson Constantius II). The German name, Bodensee, derives on the other hand from the place name Bodman (today's Bodman-Ludwigshafen) just north of Konstanz.

International borders

Lake Constance is the only area in Europe where no borders exist, because there is no legally binding agreement as to where the borders lie between Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Therefore the lake has to be considered not as common area, but as area which does not belong to any country.[6] This area does not include the shore, but the lake outside the 25-meter isobath. However, Switzerland holds the view that the border runs through the middle of the lake, Austria is of the opinion that the lake stands in [international law] all the states on its banks, and Germany holds an ambiguous opinion. Legal questions pertaining to ship transport and fishing are regulated in separate treaties.

Naturally, disputes arise. One concerns a houseboat which was moored in two states (ECJ c. 224/97 Erich Ciola); another concerns the rights to fish in the Bay of Bregenz. In relation to the latter, an Austrian family was of the opinion that it alone had the right to fish in broad portions of the bay. However, this was accepted neither by the Austrian courts nor by the organs and courts of the other states.[7]

Recent floods

  • A 100-year flood around June 1999 (Pfingsthochwasser 1999) raised the level about 2 metres above normal, flooding harbors and many shoreline buildings and hotels.
  • In late August 2005, heavy rains raised the level by more than 70 cm in a few days. The rains caused widespread flooding and washed out highways and railroads.

Islands in the lake

The three major islands are:

This is a complete list of the islands in Lake Constance, listed from east to west:

Nr. Island Area (m²) Population Municipality Coordinates
1 Galgeninsel peninsula since 19th century - Lindau (Reutin district)

47°33′00″N 09°42′14″E / 47.55000°N 9.70389°E / 47.55000; 9.70389 (Galgeninsel)

2 Hoy 53 - Lindau (Reutin district)

47°32′57.35″N 09°41′48″E / 47.5492639°N 9.69667°E / 47.5492639; 9.69667 (Hoy)

3 Lindau 680,000 3,000 Lindau (Island district)

47°32′47″N 09°41′00″E / 47.54639°N 9.68333°E / 47.54639; 9.68333 (Lindau)

4 Wasserburg peninsula since 1720 27 Wasserburg (Island district)

47°34′02″N 09°37′46″E / 47.56722°N 9.62944°E / 47.56722; 9.62944 (Wasserburg)

5 Mainau 447,584 185 Konstanz (Litzelstetten district)

47°42′18″N 09°11′46″E / 47.70500°N 9.19611°E / 47.70500; 9.19611 (Mainau)

6 Dominikanerinsel 18,318 21 Konstanz (Altstadt district)

47°39′51″N 09°10′42″E / 47.66417°N 9.17833°E / 47.66417; 9.17833 (Dominikanerinsel)

7 Mittlerer Langbohl 31,254 - Konstanz (Industriegebiet district)

47°40′18″N 09°07′32″E / 47.67167°N 9.12556°E / 47.67167; 9.12556 (Mittlerer Langbohl)

8 Triboldingerbohl 135,570 - Konstanz (Industriegebiet district)

47°40′20″N 09°07′22″E / 47.67222°N 9.12278°E / 47.67222; 9.12278 (Triboldingerbohl)

9 Reichenau 4,300,000 3.200 Reichenau (Unterzell|Mittelzell|Oberzell) 41|40|N|09|03|48|E |type:isle_region:DE-BW name=Reichenau

}}

10 Liebesinsel 300 - Radolfzell (Mettnau district)

47°43′18″N 09°00′19″E / 47.72167°N 9.00528°E / 47.72167; 9.00528 (Liebesinsel)

11 Werd 15,854 9 Eschenz (Untereschenz district)

47°39′19″N 08°52′00″E / 47.65528°N 8.86667°E / 47.65528; 8.86667 (Werd)

12 Mittleres Werdli 4,000 - Stein am Rhein

47°39′24″N 08°51′57″E / 47.65667°N 8.86583°E / 47.65667; 8.86583 (Mittleres Werdli)

13 Unteres Werdli 6,000 - Stein am Rhein

47°39′25″N 08°51′50″E / 47.65694°N 8.86389°E / 47.65694; 8.86389 (Unteres Werdli)

  Lake Constance Islands 5,637,079 6,400 6 municipalities  

Towns and cities at the lake





Austria

Germany

From the entry of the Rhine, on the northern or right shore:

Switzerland

From the entry of the Rhine, on the southern or left shore:

See also

References

Literature

  • Rolf Zimmermann: A look at Lake Constance. Stadler Verlagsgesellschaft mbH. Konstanz 2004. ISBN 3-7977-0507-7. (Pictures and texts of the cities around Lake Constance).

External links

  • Bodensee-Hochwasser (German) waterlevels
  • Internationale Bodenseekonferenz
  • Regio Bodensee Statistics
  • Lake Constance: pictures
  • Photos of Lake Constance
  • Bibliography on Water Resources and International Law Peace Palace Library
  • (Ludwig-Uhland-Department of European Ethnology / Empirical Cultural Science) of the University of Tübingen
  • Lake Constance/Bodensee Lessons learned managing the lake
  • Lake Constance Accommodation
  • Tourist Information Lake Constance
  • Karl Heinz Burmeister: Lake Constance in Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.

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