The North Sea has long been the site of important European shipping lanes as well as a major fishery. The sea is a popular destination for recreation and tourism in bordering countries and more recently has developed into a rich source of energy resources including fossil fuels, wind, and early efforts in wave power.

 

Historically, the North Sea has featured prominently in geopolitical and military affairs, particularly in Northern Europe. It was also important globally through the power northern Europeans projected worldwide during much of the Middle Ages and into the modern era. The North Sea was the centre of the Vikings' rise. Subsequently, the Hanseatic League, the Netherlands, and the British each sought to dominate the North Sea and thus access to the world's markets and resources. As Germany's only outlet to the ocean, the North Sea continued to be strategically important through both World Wars.

The coast of the North Sea presents a diversity of geological and geographical features. In the north, deep fjords and sheer cliffs mark the Norwegian and Scottish coastlines, whereas in the south, the coast consists primarily of sandy beaches and wide mudflats. Due to the dense population, heavy industrialization, and intense use of the sea and area surrounding it, there have been various environmental issues affecting the sea's ecosystems. Adverse environmental issues – commonly including overfishing, industrial and agricultural runoff, dredging, and dumping, among others – have led to a number of efforts to prevent degradation of the sea while still making use of its economic potential.

The North Sea is bounded by the Orkney islands  and east coast of Great britain  to the west and the northern and central European mainland to the east and south, including Norway,  Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic via the Skagerrak, Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden  respectively. In the north it is bordered by the  Shetland Islands, and connects with the Norwegian Sea, which lies in the very north-eastern part of the Atlantic.

The North Sea is more than 970 kilometres  long and 580 kilometres wide, with an area of 570,000 square kilometresand a volume of 54,000 cubic kilometres

For the most part, the sea lies on the European shelf with a mean depth of 90 metres . The average temperature in summer is 17°C and 6°C  in the winter.

The beaches and coastal waters of the North Sea are destinations for tourists. The Belgian, Dutch, German and Danish coasts are developed for tourism. The North Sea coast of the United Kingdom has tourist destinations with beach resorts and golf courses.
The climatic conditions on the North Sea coast have been claimed to be healthful. As early as the 19th century, travellers used their stays on the North Sea coast as curative and restorative vacations. The sea air, temperature, wind, water, and sunshine are counted among the beneficial conditions that are said to activate the body's defences, improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, and have healing effects on the skin and the respiratory system.

 

Samenstelling : Aubin. Bron: Wikipedia.