The Spreewald (German for "Spree forest"; in Lower Sorbian: Błota) is situated 100 km south-east of Berlin and designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1991. It is known for its traditional irrigation system which consists of more than 200 small channels (called "Fließe"; total length : 1,300 km ) within the 484 km² area. The landscape was shaped during the ice-age. Alder forests on wetlands and pine forests on sandy dry areas are characteristic for the region, however, also grasslands and fields can be found.
As of 1998 about 50,000 people live in the biosphere reserve. Many of them are descendants of the first settlers in the Spreewald region, the Slavic tribes of the Sorbs/Wends. Until today, they have preserved their traditional language, customs and clothing. People mostly depend on tourism. Many tourists enjoy the exploration of the Spreewald in punts. However, also agriculture, forestry and fishery are important sources of income.