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(both: sä`rĕmä), Swed. Ösel, Rus. Ezel, 1,048 sq mi (2,714 sq km), island off the mainland of Estonia, in the Baltic Sea, across the mouth of the Gulf of Riga. It is irregular in shape and has a level terrain. Dairy farming, stock raising, and fishing are the chief occupations. Kuressaare is the main town and port. It is also a health resort and a popular tourist destination. The island was ruled by the Livonian Knights until 1560, when it passed to Denmark, which in turn ceded (1645) it to Sweden. Saaremaa passed to Russia in 1710 and was incorporated into newly independent Estonia in 1917. It is also called Saare.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Saare, Sarema, Ezel’), the largest island in the Moonsund (West Estonian) Archipelago, in the Baltic Sea; part of the Estonian SSR. Linked by a causeway with Muhu Island. Area, 2,714 sq km.

The island is mainly a limestone structure, covered in places by glacial and marine deposits. Its low-lying surface, rising to an elevation of 54 m, is marshy in places. The soil, formed from carbonaceous, wind-eroded rocks, is poor and gravelly. There are pine forests and infrequent thickets of juniper. Many sea-fowl nest along the shore. There is commercial fishing for Baltic herring, eels, and flatfish. There are deposits of limestones and dolomites (at Karma). The principal city is Kingissepa. On the western part of the island is the Viidumäe Preserve. Northwest of Kingissepa, in Kaali, there is a game preserve with meteorite craters.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the island was seized by fascist German forces during September and October 1941 (seeMOONSUND DEFENSIVE OPERATION OF 1941). As a result of the Moonsund Operation of October-November 1944, the island was liberated by troops of the Leningrad Front and naval forces of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet. In Tekhumardi there is a monument entitled To the Defenders and Liberators of Saaremaa (1967, architect A. Murdmaa, sculptors M. Varik and R. Kuld).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
7) from the Pridoli Ohesaare Formation, Saaremaa Island, Estonia; the scales and spine fragment also closely resemble elements assigned to Nostolepis striata by Gross (1947, 1971).
Coastal damages on Saaremaa Island, Estonia, caused by the extreme storm and flooding on January 9, 2005.
Depth 8.0-8.5 m, Kuressaare-804 core, Saaremaa Island, Estonia; Tahula Beds of the Kuressaare Stage, Upper Ludlow, Upper Silurian.
Geochemical interpretations of the fossil record are further explored by Fadel et al., revealing palaeoenvironmental signatures from the rare earth element compositions in vertebrate microremains of the Upper Wenlock Vesiku Bone Bed from Saaremaa Island in Estonia.
Asva--a Late Bronze Age Settlement in Saaremaa Island. (MT.) (In Vorbereitung.)
5 January 2010 - Swedish engineering group Trelleborg AB (STO: TREL B) will double the production capacity at its plant in Kuressaare, on Estonia's Saaremaa island, in March 2010, Estonian broadcaster ERR reported on Monday, cited by Baltic Business News (BBN).
Hydrodynamical and geological investigations of possible deep harbour sites in north-western Saaremaa Island: overview and conclusions.
High prevalence of human antibodies has been detected against SAAV (23%) on Saaremaa Island and against PUUV (18%) in central Estonia (2,3).
The Laialepa laht on Saaremaa Island is connected with the sea by a short ditch.
At least nine impact craters are located at Kaali (58[degrees]24' N, 22[degrees]40' E), 19 km NE of the town of Kuressaare on Saaremaa Island. The main crater has a diameter of 105-110 m and is about 22 m deep.