Als ( , ) is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea. It lies east of the Jutland peninsula of Denmark at the town of Sønderborg, and north of the German coast at
The island covers an
area of 321 km² (124 sq. miles), and has a total population of
ca. 60,000. It encompasses the municipality Sønderborg as per January 1, 2007.
north and east of the island are the waters of the Little Belt, to the south is Flensborg Fjord, and to the west is Als
Fjord and Als Strait (Alssund).
of Sønderborg is the capital, and resides on both the island and
the mainland, being split in half by the waters of Als Strait
(Alssund), part of Als Fjord, the
strait that separates the island from
Jutland, the Danish mainland.
It has a good harbour,
considerable trade, and the two halves of the city are connected
over the fjord by two bridges: the 682 meter long Als Strait Bridge
), built in 1978 to 1981, carries automobile
traffic; and the 331 meter long King Christian X
's Bridge (Kong
Christian Xs Bro
), built in 1925 to 1930, carries both
automobile and railroad traffic.
Ferry service connects the island from the town of
Hardeshøj to Ballebro on the Jutland mainsland, from the town of
Mommark to Søby on the island of Ærø, and from
the town of Fynshav to Bøjden on the island of Funen.
Als is a fertile island with a thriving pig
breeding industry. The island was formerly known for its fruit orchards
, some of which
are still in operation.
The west coast of the island has many bays and coves: Stegsvig,
Sandvig, Ketting Nor, Lille Hav, Augstenborg Fjord, Kær Vig, Hørup
Hav, and Dyvig. On the east coast along the Little Belt lies the
7 km² Northern Forest (Nørreskov
), and Lake Nordborg
Nordborg municipality is the home to a number of larger businesses
, Denmark's largest
industrial company, Sauer-Danfoss and Linak
one of Denmark's fastest growing companies.
There are many archeological finds that show the island has been
inhabited from the late Stone Age
the Bronze Age
comes the Hjortspring Boat
During the Middle Ages
the island come
under the influence of a number of noblemen, each of which ruled
over their portion of the island, and its citizens. King Christian III
's son, Duke John,
came in possession of the island as a Duchy
and he bought the other noblemen out. The island was again divided
into several smaller Duchies later on, but this venture failed
Duke Ernst Günther I, first Duke of
Duchess Auguste, first Duchess of Augustenborg (1633-1701).
The town of Augustenborg grew up around Augustenborg Palace which
was established in the years after 1651 by Ernst Günther, a member
of the ducal House of
(its branch of Sønderborg), great-grandson
of King Christian III
a cadet of the royal house of Denmark. The palace, and the
town consequently, received the name in honor of Ernest's wife
Auguste, who was also from a branch of the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein.
The palace became the chief seat of their line which used the name
Augustenborg as its branch name. Later a Danish king made the head
of that line specifically Duke of
. They grew in relative prominence in late 18th
century, and the Duke of Augustenborg became the dominating person
on the island.
The Duchy was overtaken by the Danish Crown after the last Duke of
Augustenborg to live at the palace, Christian August II, had sided
with the Schleswig-Holstein pro-German nationalistic movement
against Denmark. He left on March 18, 1848.
year during the First War of
Schleswig (1848-1851), the Danes directed their main attack
against Fieldmarshal Friedrich Graf von Wrangel's
Austro-Prussian army from the lighthouse on the peninsula of Kegnæs
at the southwest end of Als.
For events in 1864, see Battle of
In 1870 Als
was fortified by Prussia.
Under the two wars over which nation would rule the island, and the
following period under Prussian and German rule, the island's
population was largely Danish
. In 1920
Als returned to Danish rule following a referendum.
After 1920 Als has been marked by growing industry, especially
after 1945 when Danfoss
grew into an
line died out in the
converted into a hospital. There is an exhibit about the castle,
the town and its ducal history in the building's entryway. The
castle church is open to the public in the summertime. There are
periodic tours given.
The town of Sønderborg
of Sønderborg is home to Sønderborg Castle (Sønderborg Slot) and Sandbjerg Estate
Sønderborg castle is located in
the centre of the town, and houses a museum focusing on the history
and culture of the area. The museum is open year round.
Estate, which had belonged for many years to the Dukes of
Sønderborg, and then to the Reventlow family, was donated to
University in 1954.