As a nearby recreational area, the Brandenburg environs became more popular among Berliners after 1990. In 2003, Berliners took about 35 million outings there. Along with Potsdam, the Spree Forest [Spreewald] in the southeastern part of Brandenburg was especially popular. The Spree Forest became famous beyond the region for its pickles, a typical East German product. The Spree Forest, which was recognized as a biosphere preserve by UNESCO in 1991, harbors a labyrinthine waterscape of about 1,000 kilometers of twisting and turning Fliesse (i.e., streams and bodies of water). About 120,000 people live in the Spree Forest region. During peak season, tourism provides roughly 6,000 jobs. In 2004, the region recorded 3.9 million visitors and 2.1 million overnight stays.
This photograph was taken in the lower Spree Forest near Schlepzig; it shows tourists being punted over the Quaasspree (quaa is Sorbian and means “athwart”) in traditional wooden rowboats. Photo: Patrick Pleul.