province memel lakes
EAST PRUSSIA (Ostpreussen), the larger of the two provinces, has an area of 14,280 square miles, and is bounded by the Baltic Sea, Russia, and West Prussia. It shares in the general characteristics of the great north German plain, but, though low, its surface is by no means absolutely flat, as the southern half is traversed by a low ridge or plateau (comp. GERMANY), which attains a height of 1025 feet at a point near the western boundary of the province. This plateau, here named the Prussian Seenplatte, is thickly sprinkled with small lakes, among which is the Spilling See, 46 square miles in extent and the largest inland lake in the Prussian monarchy.
The coast is lined with low dunes or sandhills, in front of which lie the large littoral lakes or lagoons named the Frische Hall' and the Kurische Haff. (See GERMANY.) The first of these receives the waters of the Nogat and the Pregel, and the other those of the Memel or Niemen. East Prussia is the coldest part of Germany, its mean annual temperature being about 44° Fahr., while the mean January temperature of Tilsit is only 25°. The rainfall is 24 inches per annum. About half the province is under cultivation ; 13 per cent. is occupied by forests, and 23 per cent. by meadows and pastures. The most fertile soil is found in the valleys of the Pregel and the Memel, but the southern slopes of the Baltic plateau and the district to the north of the Memel consist in great part of sterile moor, sand, and bog. The chief crops are rye, oats, and potatoes, while flax is cultivated in the district of Erniland, between the Passarge and the upper Alle. East Prussia is the headquarters of the horse-breeding of the country and contains the principal Government stud of Trakehnen ; numerous cattle are also fattened on the rich pastures of the river-valleys. The extensive woods in the south part of the province harbour a few wolves and lynxes, and the elk is still preserved in the forest of Ibenhorst, near the Kurische Haff. The fisheries in the lakes and hafts are of some importance ; but the only mineral product of note is amber, which is found in the peninsula.of Samland in greater abundance than in any other part of the world. Manufactures are almost confined to the principal towns, though linen-weaving is practised as a domestic industry. Commerce is facilitated by canals connecting the Memel and Pregel and also the principal lakes, but is somewhat hampered by the heavy dues exacted at the Russian frontier. A brisk foreign trade is carried on through the seaports of Konigsberg (140,909), the capital of the province, and Memel (19,660), the exports consisting mainly of timber and grain. In 1880 the population of East Prussia was 1,933,936, including 1,654,510 Protestants, 250,462 Roman Catholics, and 18,218 Jews. The Roman Catholics are mainly confined to the district of Ermland, in which the ordinary proportions of the confessions are completely reversed. The bulk of the inhabitants are of German blood, but there are 400,000 Protestant Poles (Masurians or Masovians) in the south part of the province, and 150,000 Lithuanians in the north. As in other provinces where the Polish element is strong, East Prussia is below the general average of the kingdom in education ; in 1883 fully 5i per cent. of its recruits were unable to read or write. There is a university at Konigsberg.