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// GENERAL INFORMATION
Kaliningrad Region is located on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. With an area of 15 100 km2, it is the smallest region of the Russian Federation. It extends a maximum of 195 km from west to east and 110 km from north to south.
The region is in an unusual geographic location, being entirely cut off from the rest of Russia by the Baltic States. It borders on Lithuania in the north and east (length of border - 200 km), Poland in the south (210 km), and the Baltic Sea in the west (140 km of coastline). The only ice-free port on the Baltic Sea is located in Kaliningrad Region; it is the shortest transportation route to other Russian regions and the maritime gateway to Eastern Europe. Kaliningrad Region has a well-developed road network extending 4581 km. A highway of the Trans-European network passes through the region.
Kaliningrad Region is divided into 13 administrative districts with 22 cities and 5 towns. The region has a population of 950 000 people, 80% of whom live in urban areas and 20% in rural areas.
The climate is transitional from temperate continental to maritime. The average annual temperature ranges from +6.2 to +7.6 °C (compared to +3.5 °C for Moscow and +4.1 °C for St. Petersburg) with an average July temperature of +17 °C and an average January temperature of +3 °C. The frost-free period is about 180 days. Winds are predominantly from the west. The mild, healthy maritime climate of the Kaliningrad coast with its lack of abrupt temperature fluctuations has great curative properties. In fall and winter, southerly and southeasterly Atlantic winds bring air masses warmed by the Gulf Stream, which raise the temperature and decrease atmospheric pressure. The strongest solar UV radiation in Russia occurs in the city of Svetlogorsk in the center of Kaliningrad's resort zone, where there are up to 135 sunny days per year. To a great extent, this is due to the geographic location of the resort area, which is 5i south of St. Petersburg and 300 km west of Riga. After storing up heat during the summer, the sea here never freezes.
The plant life of Kaliningrad Region is rich and distinctive, with 1300 different species, including 500 species of trees and shrubs. The most widespread trees are spruce, pine, oak, birch, and maple.
Deer, moose, and wild boar are typical representatives of the region's varied wildlife. About 400 species of land vertebrates and 60 species of fish inhabit the territory; many are listed in the Red Book.
Kaliningrad is rightly called the capital of amber country, since more than 90% of the world's explored amber reserves are found in Kaliningrad Region. There are also considerable industrial, scientific, and recreational opportunities here.
Natural resources include amber, oil, coal, rock salt, large peat and water reserves, mineral water, and therapeutic mud.
The region's geographic location, ice-free coast, and nearness to the Atlantic Ocean and European countries create favorable conditions for the development of many maritime economic sectors, foreign trade ties, and the resort business. The fishing industry, which comprises companies involved in catching and processing fish, as well as numerous service facilities, is the leading food industry sector. Kaliningrad is currently the Russian fishing fleet's main base on the Baltic Sea.
Other representatives of the food industry include companies in the dairy, cheese, meat, baking, confectionery, margarine, fruit canning, and yeast production sectors.
The structural metal and metalworking industries make a significant contribution to the regional economy.
The pulp and paper industry is represented by four pulp and paper mills and one factory producing offset and photogravure paper, cardboard, and office supplies.
The city of Kaliningrad, formed on July 4, 1946, is the region's administrative center. Kaliningrad has its own distinctive appearance: parks and squares occupy a third of the city's territory, and typical Western European architecture gives way to styles common to modern cities. It is an economic and cultural center where the number of tourists has gradually been increasing in recent years.
Kaliningrad has direct passenger bus (to seven cities in Poland and three in Germany), air, and rail connections to other centers. The city itself attracts attention because of unique monuments of the past that have been preserved to this day and the pride of the city, the Kaliningrad Zoo. It also has considerable scientific potential owing to its two universities, research institutes, technical and liberal arts colleges, and various higher and secondary schools of navigation.
The Baltic Sea influences the structure of many of the city's industrial facilities. Their products, e.g., frozen, smoked, and dried fish and canned and preserved goods, are known throughout Russia. Other companies build ships and produce hopper cars, road-building equipment, and electrical equipment for the oil and gas industry.
Although Kaliningrad Region is Russia's smallest territory, it is the country's third most densely populated region (63 people/km2). The ratio of men to women is 48 : 52.
The population is multinational, with representatives of 97 different nationalities and ethnic groups. Russians make up more than 78% of the population, Belarussians more than 8%, Ukrainians more than 7%, Lithuanians more than 2%, Germans 0.6%, Poles 0.5%, and other nationalities about 3%.
Kaliningrad itself has a population of about 426 000. In recent years, population growth has occurred as a result of immigration; the region's actual birth rate is 4.7 per 1000.
The population breakdown by age group is as follows:
- working age - 60.7%,
- under working age - 19.9%,
- over working age - 19.4%.
Employment of the population by sector:
- Total - 174 504 people 100%
- Industry 37%
- Construction 6%
- Transportation 11%
- Communications 2%
- Trade 6%
- Health 8%
- Education 7%
- Science 3%
- Culture 2%
- Public services 5%
- Other 13%
By the third millennium B.C., Kaliningrad region had already become a unique Russian area where many cultures of Eastern, Central, and Western Europe coexisted.
The first settlers who lived here in the 3rd millennium B.C. were mainly hunters. Thick forests abounding in wild animals were perfect for hunting. The hunters also lived among lakes full of fish. In the mid-3rd and late 6th centuries A.D., some Germanic tribes moved to the Samland Peninsula, giving rise to the Prussian culture. By the early 6th century, the Prussians had taken over the western part of the Mazurian Lakeland after absorbing or pushing out other Germanic tribes that had settled there in the 3rd and 4th centuries B.C.
In the early 12th century, Prussia faced impending danger. The invasion of the Teutonic Order at the end of 12th century was a bloody chapter in Prussia's history. The Prussians struggled heroically against the invaders for more than 50 years, but they could not resist the onrush of the conquerors with their more highly developed culture. The Prussians gradually assimilated, began speaking German, and abandoned their customs. The Teutonic Order was faced with the prospect of establishing a state in the conquered lands. As the Order advanced eastward, each successful crusade was immediately secured by the construction of fortresses and castles. The fortress of Konigsberg became the most important outpost of Germanization in Samland. In its heyday (14th and 15th centuries), the Order achieved secure economic and political positions, but strong enemies opposed it. In winter of 1409-1410, Poland and Lithuania began active preparations for a joint military campaign against the Order. There were Russian units within the Lithuanian army as well. On July 15th 1410, a decisive battle took place near Grunwald. It lasted for more than six hours and ended in total victory for the Polish-Lithuanian-Russian forces. As a result, the Teutonic Knights were weakened and were thereafter brought under Polish sovereignty.
In 1812, a powerful French force began concentrating in East Prussia in preparation for the campaign in Russia. Napoleon arrived in Konigsberg just before the start of the invasion. Here he mustered his army, which also included Prussian units that did not participate in the military actions. On January 6th, 1813, Russian troops marched into Konigsberg, and by the end of the month Prussia was totally liberated from Napoleon's army.
The First World War took a heavy toll on East Prussia. Military disruptions and exacerbation of social, political, and national conflicts in Germany, Poland, and Lithuania destroyed economic relations with neighboring states and violated the historical openness of the region, causing social unrest. Thus in November 1918, revolutionary events burst out in East Prussia and all of Germany, However, the revolutionary action failed. On March 4-5, 1919, the last rebels were driven from the barracks in the Lithuanian Wall, and repression began in Konigsberg and other towns of East Prussia.
There were no military actions in East Prussia for the first five years of the Second World War. Then in 1944, hurried construction of the so-called "East Wall" began. The entire defense system was constructed as a deep defensive line and stretched along the border of East Prussia up to the Baltic coastline. It was a serious obstacle in the path of the Soviet troops. However, the British air force, rather than the Red Army, was the first to strike East Prussia. On the nights of August 27 and 30, 1944, the British dropped about 40 000 bombs on Konigsberg. The center of the old city was totally destroyed, and nearly 50 000 people were left homeless. By the end of summer 1944, the Red Army reached the border of East Prussia; and on October 18, 1944, troops of the 3rd Belorussian Front engaged in battle in the area. Elimination of isolated Nazi groups began on February 10, 1945. Konigsberg's defenses comprised an outer defensive line breached by Russian troops in January and three inner defensive lines. Traces of these lines can be seen even today, decades after the battles.
The assault of the city began on April 6. The unified defense system of Konigsberg held only for the first day, and by the end of April 9, Konigsberg capitulated. In July and August 1945, when the war in Europe was over, the victors- the USSR, the USA, and Great Britain-agreed on the liquidation of East Prussia at the Potsdam Conference. The northern part of East Prussia with a total area of 15 100 km2, including Konigsberg and the adjacent territory and bays (about one-third of the territory of the region), was given to the Soviet Union and the remaining part to Poland as a historical possession. The inviolability of these borders today is a sine qua non of European security. This provision is fixed in the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe held in Helsinki in 1975.
On April 7, 1946, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted the Decree "On the Organization of the Konigsberg Region within the RSFSR." On July 4, the administrative center was renamed Kaliningrad and the entire region to Kaliningrad Region. According to the Potsdam Conference decision, the German population was to be relocated to Germany from the areas split off from the German State. Relocation of the German population of East Prussia began in 1947and ended by early 1948. On June 21, 1946, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR passed the Decree "On Regulation of the Economy in the Konigsberg Region," which envisaged settlement in the new area on the principles of volunteerism and plan and state incentives for the migrants.
Development of the region proceeded under difficult conditions. Out of 360 industrial facilities located on the Soviet territory of East Prussia, 182 were totally destroyed and the rest partially destroyed The situation was aggravated by the lack of an energy and raw material base. Plumbing and sewage systems had broken down, and Konigsberg was 80-90% destroyed. Only 8% of all administrative buildings remained, and 60% of Tilsit (now Sovetsk) the second-largest town, and about 90% of Insterburg (now Chernyakhovsk) were in ruins.
Kaliningrad was to become one of the major fishing regions of the country. By January 1, 1947, four fish plants, a shipyard, a foundry and engineering works, a refrigerated warehouse, and other enterprises were functioning. Two large seaports were constructed in Kaliningrad on the base of the former Lesnaya harbor and in Pionersky on the territory of the fishing harbor. Reconstruction of the food industry began as well. The operating capacity of electric power stations doubled, and pulp and paper production increased. In August 1947, a coach works started mass production of four-axle 50-ton dump trucks.
Profound changes took place in the region starting in 1991. They were mainly related to the abolition of Kaliningrad Region's status. It had formerly been an area closed to foreigners where major formations of the Russian army and Navy had been shifted. This event stimulated economic activity in the region and made it attractive to foreign investments. In January 1996, the region was declared a Special Economic Zone.
The citizens of Kaliningrad rebuilt their city and their region from the ruins through their own efforts. Today Kaliningrad Region has become not only economically self-sufficient, but also represents Russia worthily in the European Community.
Water covers a total area of 1400 km2 in Kaliningrad Region. The Pregolya, Neman, Prokhladnaya, and Krasnaya rivers and 4600 other small rivers, canals, and streams flow through the region. There are also a number of lakes, the largest of which is Vishtynetskoe Lake. Bogs are concentrated in Krasnozhamensky, Polessky, and Slavsky districts.
There are 1 512 500 hectares of land reserves in Kaliningrad Region consisting of farmland (815 300 hectares or 53.9% of the total), forests and brush (308 900 hectares; 20.4%), disturbed land (4800 hectares; 0.3%), and submerged land (119 100 hectares; 13.2%). There are also 34 000 hectares of specially protected lands. These are recreational areas such as Curonian Spit Preserve, a nature preserve system that includes the Baltic Spit and Vishtynetsky preserves, and other areas where rare and vanishing plant species grow.
Kaliningrad Region is located in the deciduous forest subzone of the mixed forest zone. More than 400 species of trees and shrubs grow in the forests, which cover an area of 308 900 hectares (18% of the region's total area) and have protective and conservation functions. The most common trees are spruce, pine, oak, maple, and birch. The region's forests are subdivided into water-protection forests (17 200 hectares), roadside shelter belts (13 800 hectares), city and community parks (54 500 hectares), urban forests (7400 hectares), ravine (antierosion) forests (3700 hectares), and protected beech woods (500 hectares).
Nearly 1300 different plant species grow in Kaliningrad Region, about 10% of which need special protective measures. Many species of trees and shrubs from various parts of the world have been planted here.
Kaliningrad Region is the habitat of 409 vertebrate species, including 176 that are classified as rare or very rare. Among them are 94 species of birds, 42 species and subspecies of fish, 35 species of mammals, 3 species of amphibians, and 1 species of cyclostome [a primitive jawless eel-like fish with a round sucking mouth]. There are seven nature preserves in the region (three all-purpose and four wildlife preserves) for the purpose of restoring the populations of valuable game species and rare animals. The spring and fall flyway of millions of birds passes over Curonian Spit.
Amber deposits are located mainly in the northwestern part of the Samland Peninsula. It is part of an amber-bearing area bounded on the north and west by the Baltic Sea, on the south by the shore of the Gulf of Finland, and on the east by the Zelenogradsk-Kaliningrad railway line. Amber deposits cover an area of 300 km2, but only 25-30% of this area has been explored. Total amber reserves on the Samland Peninsula are estimated at 283 000 tons. The largest reserves are found in the Palmikenskoe deposit between the towns of Sinyavino and Pokrovsk. The northern part of the amber-bearing strata extends under the Baltic Sea, where the amber beds crop out at a depth of more than 8 m. Amber is produced commercially at the Palmikenskoe deposit. Excavators and powerful monitors are used to remove and wash away the barren rock from the amber layer. The amber-bearing "blue earth" is delivered to a concentrating plant, where it is washed and the amber is sorted before delivery to the Kaliningrad Amber Plant (Kaliningradsky yantarny kombinat) for processing. Amber production is currently several hundred tons per year, but only one-tenth of this production is used to make jewelry. This work is carried out at the state-owned Amber (Yantar) Company, which not only makes jewelry, but also manufactures other products, e.g., succinic acid and high-quality insulators.
Oil was discovered in Kaliningrad Region as early as 1963, but commercial oil production began only in 1975. Very low-sulfur (0.2%) oil was discovered on the Baltic shelf at a depth of 1500-2000 m in 1983. Geological oil reserves in Kaliningrad Region are estimated at 275 million tons, or 800 000 tons of oil per year.
Peat deposits cover an area of more than 1000 km2, or more than 7% of Kaliningrad Region. The thickness of the deposits ranges from 3-5 m up to 12 m, and reserves are estimated at more than 3 billion m3. Peat is used mainly in agriculture as an organic fertilizer. The region also produces brown coal; reserves are estimated at 50 million tons.
High-quality rock salt is produced in Kaliningrad Region from reserves estimated at 10 billion tons. The salt is used to meet regional needs and is also exported to other countries.
The region has a large number of deposits of non-ore materials such as sand, clay, sand-gravel mix, and heavy sand containing titanium, zirconium, and ferromanaganese used in the construction industry. Therapeutic peat mud and highly mineralized water located deep underground are widely used in the region's health care services.
Kaliningrad Region belongs to the group of regions with a low gross regional product (GRP). The region's geographic location and geopolitical situation, as well as its ice-free coastline and nearness to the Atlantic Ocean, have a strong influence on its economic development. On January 22, 1996, the President of the Russian Federation signed the Federal Law "On the Special Economic Zone in Kaliningrad Region," which grants special privileges to economic entities in the region. The creation of the Amber (Yantar) special economic zone was necessary in order to accelerate the region's socioeconomic development, provide favorable conditions for attracting foreign capital and technologies, and increase export opportunities.
The use of preferential duties has significantly decreased the heavy losses incurred by companies in the region as a result of being isolated from Russia. VAT (value-added tax) and duty exemptions make production costs 35% lower than in other Russian regions.
The special economic zone gives foreign investors certain advantages: foreign goods imported into Kaliningrad Region with 30% local added value are considered locally produced goods, and the added value on certain kinds of electronics and sophisticated household equipment is only 15%. These goods are not liable to customs duties or VAT when re-exported to Russia. Kaliningrad Region's main trading partners are Germany, Poland, and Lithuania.
Investments in the special economic zone are made in the forms stipulated in legislation of the Russian Federation and international agreements signed with the Russian Federation. Kaliningrad Region is between 11th and 20th place among Russian regions in terms of investments in its economy. More than 1000 joint ventures have been set up since the adoption of the federal law establishing the special economic zone, and companies from 60 countries have invested capital in economic development in the region. The most attractive sectors for foreign investors are trade and purchasing, international freight and passenger transport, catering, motor vehicle servicing, production of fish products, and consulting services.
Germany is the leading investor (30% of total investments), followed by Great Britain and Sweden.
Germany is also the leader in foreign trade turnover, followed by Poland, Lithuania, the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Great Britain, Italy, and France. In recent years, foreign trade turnover has increased more than 2.5 times annually, and price increases on basic commodities have decreased three times compared to Russia as a whole. Ports of call for foreign ships have been opened in Kaliningrad, Svetly, and Baltiysk. Residents of Kaliningrad Region can legally travel to Poland and Lithuania without a visa. Kaliningrad was one of the first regions to sign an agreement on distribution of jurisdiction and powers with the federal government. The Administration of Kaliningrad Region is prepared to work with all investors interested in developing the special economic zone.
Freight transport plays an important role in the regional economy, since general, packaged, and bulk cargoes, oil, and other products are transshipped through Kaliningrad Region's ice-free ports. The ports also provide vacant warehouse services for trade with Russia and neighboring Poland, Belarus, and Lithuania.
Kaliningrad companies handle 84% of the region's exports. The main exports are fish products, pulp (cellulose), fertilizer, oil, coke, and ferrous and nonferrous metals. Exports are primarily oriented towards raw materials. Goods are exported to other Russian regions and to many countries around the world.
Imports consist mainly of food, fuel, energy, and engineering products. Most goods are imported from Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Great Britain.
The most developed industries in Kaliningrad Region today are the fishing industry (catching and processing), engineering and metalworking, pulp and paper, coke, and mineral production (oil, amber, coal, and peat).
Industry contributes more than 30% to the region's gross domestic product (GDP). Nearly 3000 industrial facilities operate in the region. The main industrial centers are the cities of Kaliningrad, Gusev, Baltiysk, Sovetsk, Chernyakhovsk, and Neman, where more than 2/3 of all industrial production in the region is concentrated.
The region's large marine fishing industry has significance for the whole country. Nearly 300 fishing boats fish the Baltic Sea for flounder, Baltic herring, sprats, cod, and Baltic salmon. Kurshsky and Vislinsky bays also have an abundance of fish, mainly bream, perch, and eel.
There is production of specialized equipment for the fishing industry, and a number of shipyards are in operation. Despite economic difficulties, the outlook for the fishing industry is good in both fish catching and processing. Several large fish canning plants operate in the region, supplying products to both the Russian market and for export abroad.
The meat and poultry processing industries are also well developed in Kaliningrad Region.
The structural metal and metalworking industries are an important part of the region's economy. More than 20 companies in the engineering industry, most of which are located in Kaliningrad, service the fishing industry.
Companies in this sector build and repair ships, cranes, loaders, and instruments and equipment for the fishing industry and also manufacture electric welding equipment, gas pipeline control and automation systems, commercial processing and papermaking equipment, road-building machinery, and cars. Production of BMW cars began in summer 1999.
The main engineering companies are Gazavtomatika, AO Baltkran, Sistema, Kvarts, Vagonostroitel, and the Fakel Experimental Design Bureau (OKB Fakel).
Defense industry companies such as the Yantar Shipyard (PSZ Yantar), and the Kvarts electronics plant are undergoing a conversion to civilian production.
The raw material for the region's pulp and paper industry (four pulp and paper mills and one paper factory) comes mainly from northern Russia. The plants have enough existing capacity to produce about 400 000 tons of pulp (11% of all Russian output), 150 000 tons of paper, and 30 000 tons of cardboard annually. Product quality is quite high, so there are prospects for them on foreign markets. The pulp and paper mills also produce ethyl alcohol, nutrient yeast, and other consumer goods. Industry output has been showing signs of increasing in the last few years.
Light industry comprises ten companies. One important product is furniture, which is ranked among the 100 best goods in Russia. The construction industry is developing rapidly, with nearly 2000 companies currently in operation. Construction contributes nearly 8% to the region's GDP.
The ice-free ports, which can receive sea-going ships and river boats year-round, form the basis of the region's transportation facilities. They handle nearly 5 million tons of various cargoes per year, although there is enough available capacity to handle up to 12 million tons. Commercial and fishing ports and Western shipping lines are all part of the marine transport sector. Twenty companies have their own berths along the maritime canal, in Kurshsky and Kaliningrad bays, and on the Neman, Pregolya, and inland rivers.
Kaliningrad Region has a well-developed transportation infrastructure. The Kaliningrad Railway has lines to Lithuania and Poland and a total route length of 756 km. The region has one of Russia's best road systems, with 6800 km of paved roads (92% of the total length).
The fuel industry comprises OAO Lukoil-Kaliningradmorneft, OOO Kaliningradnefteprodukt (a subsidiary of Surgutneftegaz), and Kaliningrad-Gazkomplektimpeks, which represents the interests of Moscow-based Gazkomplektimpeks-OAO Gazprom.
Local power plants operating on imported fuel oil and gas meet about 20% of region's demand for electricity. The remaining power transits from Russia via Lithuania.
Agricultural land occupies an area of 817 000 hectares of Kaliningrad Region; about 752 000 hectares are reclaimed lands. Favorable climatic conditions, a long growing season (160-180 days), sufficient moisture, and fertile soils create a good base for successful development of agriculture, although the potential of these rich agricultural lands is not being fully utilized. There are more than 4000 farms occupying 64 500 hectares of land in Kaliningrad Region. The productivity of natural forage lands is among the highest in the Russian Federation. However, there has been a steady decline in the area under cultivation in recent years, and soil fertility has also been decreasing.
For a long time, agriculture not only supported Kaliningrad Region, but also promoted its development. Since the start of economic reforms in 1990, the drop in agricultural production has been halted and there has even been a slight increase. The regional administration has passed laws to protect local producers and has also raised purchase prices. The government of Kaliningrad Region is taking all possible measures to make agriculture profitable. Today, agriculture contributes about 10% to the region's GDP.
The main agricultural sectors in Kaliningrad Region are livestock faming (beef and dairy cattle, poultry, and sheep), the fishery, and fur farming.
Numerous companies of various forms of ownership process agricultural products. These companies include 5 meat-packing plants, 18 dairies, and 5 distilleries and breweries among others. The output of food industry companies could completely satisfy regional demand for meat and dairy products, eggs, potatoes, and other vegetables.
The Kaliningrad Regional Duma headed by a Chairman exercises legislative authority in Kaliningrad Region.
The Administration of Kaliningrad Region headed by the Governor is the region's highest executive body.
The Administration of the City of Kaliningrad is the city's highest executive body.
CULTURE AND ART
Kaliningrad was long considered a center of European culture and remains so today. The architectural monuments, fortresses, castles, and estates that have been preserved to this day are a unique feature of Kaliningrad Region, although many of them are in a partially ruined state.
One special reminder of Old Konigsberg is the Mausoleum of Immanuel Kant, the city's most celebrated native and the founder of classical German philosophy. Kant was born in 1724 and lived to the age of 80. He was initially buried by the university walls, but his remains were later moved to a chapel near the Cathedral. Then in 1924, a mausoleum designed by the architect Lars was built on the site of the chapel; each element of the design has a symbolic meaning connected with Kant's philosophy.
The ruined Stadthalle (concert hall), originally built at the beginning of the 20th century, was restored according to a design by the architect E. Popov and the Regional Museum of History and Art was relocated in it. However, Kaliningrad is not only known for its monuments; there are also many cultural facilities, including museums, exhibition halls, theaters, and a philharmonic. The Art Gallery, which opened in 1988 and has a fund of 5000 works, never ceases to amaze Kaliningrad residents with its exhibitions.
The Regional Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestra make an invaluable contribution to Kaliningrad's intellectual development. These orchestras have an extensive and varied repertoire consisting of classical and chamber music, as well as regular additions of new works. The Lik male chamber choir of sacred and secular music and the piano trio under the Kaliningrad Philharmonic deserve special mention. The choir has often won acclaim at international competitions. Its repertoire includes examples of unique sacred music of the 14th-20th centuries, folk songs, and classical vocal masterpieces. The piano trio (piano, violin, and cello) performs intricate chamber works.
The Garmonika Russian music ensemble founded in 1990 also makes an important contribution to national culture. It has a repertoire made up of Russian folk songs, chastushki [short, usually humorous Russian songs], old romances, and folk music from around the world.
Kaliningrad's theaters introduce audiences to the arts and to classical and contemporary literature. The Kaliningrad Regional Drama Theater is very popular with Kaliningrad residents and visitors alike. It opened its first season in October 1947 with a performance of A Guy from Our City (Paren iz nashego goroda) based on a play by Konstantin Simonov. At that time, the troupe worked as a traveling company, but five years later, it acquired small premises; and then in 1960, the company celebrated the opening of its own theater in a restored building that had once housed the Konigsberg New Drama Theater. Today, the theater stages productions from both the classical and contemporary repertoires: you can see the names of Shakespeare, Brecht, Alexei Tolstoy, Ostrovsky, and many other playwrights on the theater's program. A small stage is used for performances of chamber works. The Tilsit Theater also makes a great contribution to the development of theater art in the region. Its performances have won a number of prizes at international and Russian theater festivals. There is a theater department at the State Institute of Dramatic Art (GITIS), which operates in association with the Antrepriza Lik private theater.
The Regional Puppet Theater transports young audiences to the world of fairy tales. It has been delighting children since 1964 with its shows based on Russian, Latvian, German, and English fairy tales.
Kaliningrad is the home of the only German theater in Russia, registered in November 1995. The theater stages performances in German with a Russian translation. Educational, ethnographic, and musical centers work in association with the theater. The Vergissmeinnicht adult ensemble and the Glockchen children's ensemble also make their contribution to the development of German national culture.
Kaliningrad Region is located on the Baltic Sea and occupies a special place among seaside resorts, with a 30-km-long resort zone along its coast. Nature has generously endowed this region where the open sea combines with endless golden beaches, moderately warm summers and mostly frost-free winters, and abundant and varied plant and animal life. Everything here is favorable for healthy recreation and effective health-resort treatments.
The number of people interested in vacationing on the Kaliningrad seashore has been increasing year by year. The mild coastal climate of the Kaliningrad resort zone has special curative properties, and people are attracted here by the treatment centers that form the basis of an extensive system of health resorts.
Resort visitors are drawn most of all to the sea and the beautiful Baltic beaches that form a broad belt of fine light-colored sand. There are no beaches like them on the Black Sea. The gently sloping sandy sea-bottom is suitable for swimmers of all ages. The swimming season runs from June through mid-September; the average water temperature during this period is 17-19iN with a maximum of 22iN. August is the "velvet season" (i.e., the nicest month) on the coast.
The pure, clear sea air saturated with the scent of pine and flowers, air- and sunbathing, swimming in the sea, and walking along the scenic coast relieve stress and fatigue and raise the spirits. The climate, modern health-resort treatments, and the local therapeutic mineral waters and peat mud have a beneficial effect on people suffering from cardiovascular diseases, nervous-system and musculoskeletal disorders, and certain other illnesses.
The main health resorts are located in the Svetlogorsk resort area. The small seaside town of Svetlogorsk is the center of a large resort that has become enormously popular. More than a million vacationers make use of its services each year, leaving with fond memories of health centers like Amber Coast (Yantarny bereg) and Otradnoe. There is a group of specialized children's sanatoria that effectively treat tuberculosis of the bones and joints, rheumatism, and the aftereffects of childhood neurological infections. The health resorts have all the necessary diagnostic and treatment equipment and experienced staffs of doctors and other medical personnel.
An account of the Kaliningrad coast would be incomplete without mention of the natural wonder of Curonian Spit, a narrow strip of land shaped by water and wind where the sea borders on a freshwater bay located above sea level. If you cross the spit from the bay to the sea (only a short distance), the bleak sandy landscape changes to pine woods. Millions of birds fly over the spit during their annual migrations. A surprising world full of harmony and contrasts and a distinctive microclimate welcome vacationers wanting to relax at the tourist centers, campsites, holiday homes, and children's camps on Curonian Spit.
Today, the resorts of the Kaliningrad coast are full of life, with more bars, restaurants, casinos, and discos than any other Russian city.
The Botanical Gardens maintained by Kaliningrad State University are the pride of the city. The gardens' collection includes more than 2500 plant species from nearly all parts of the world. Visitors to Kaliningrad can also take in the Kaliningrad Zoo, which today has about 370 different animal species.
During your vacation on the Baltic Sea, you can visit Poland and Lithuania as well. There are daily tours to Lithuania offering visits to the Delphinarium, the Maritime Museum, and Curonian Spit National Park.
There are also organized tours to Poland on request, with visits to Malborg Castle, the tombs of the Prussian kings in Fromborg, Hitler's headquarters in Wolfsschanze, organ recitals in Swieta Lipka, and the Tropikanka aquapark. Enjoy your vacation!
Official Site of the Administration of Kaliningrad Region: