Baltic Sea Part of the Atlantic extending past Denmark, along the n coasts of Germany and Poland, and the e coasts of the Baltic states, and separating Sweden from Russia and Finland. The sea extends n–s with an arm reaching out to the e. The n part is the Gulf of Bothnia, the e part of the Gulf of Finland. The Baltic is the largest body of brackish water in the world. Its low salinity (due to its large catchment area, about four times the area of the sea) accounts for the ease with which the Gulf of Bothnia freezes in the winter. The tidal range is low and currents are weak. During the Middle Ages there was an important herring fishing industry. Its decline at the end of the 15th century is thought to be a contributory factor in the demise of the Hanseatic League. Area: 414,400sq km (160,000sq mi).
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