Piirissaar is an Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

n island located in Lake Peipus
Lake Peipus
Lake Peipus, ) is the biggest transboundary lake in Europe on the border between Estonia and Russia.The lake is the fifth largest in Europe after Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega in Russia north of St...

. It belongs to Tartu County
Tartu County
Tartu County , or Tartumaa , is one of 15 counties of Estonia.It is located in eastern Estonia bordering Põlva County, Valga County, Viljandi County and Jõgeva County....

 as the Piirissaare Parish
Piirissaare Parish
Piirissaare Parish is the smallest rural municipality in Tartu County, Estonia, consisting of the Piirissaar island in Lake Peipus.-Settlements:There are 3 villages on Piirissaar: Piiri, Saare and Tooni.-External links: *...


Piirissar is the largest island in Lake Peipus with a size of 7.8 km². It is located c. 15 km from the mouth of the Emajõgi
The Emajõgi is a river in Estonia which flows from Lake Võrtsjärv through Tartu County into Lake Peipus, crossing the city of Tartu for 10 km. It has a length of 100 km...

 river. Piirissaar is located c. 1 - 2 meters above the water level in Lake Peipus.

The island was first permanently settled during the Great Northern War
Great Northern War
The Great Northern War was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in northern Central Europe and Eastern Europe. The initial leaders of the anti-Swedish alliance were Peter I the Great of Russia, Frederick IV of...

 by a group of Orthodox Old Believers
Old Believers
In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652–66...

 seeking to escape the religious reforms of Moscow Patriarch Nikon
Patriarch Nikon
Nikon , born Nikita Minin , was the seventh patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church...

 and trying to avoid enrollment in the military. Most of the island's inhabitants still belong to this confession. The inhabitants of Piirissaar are diligent gardeners and vegetable growers, especially onion growers.

The German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 inflicted major damage on the island in February 1944.

There are three villages on the island, Piiri, Saare and Tooni. The number of inhabitants has dropped from c. 700 in 1920 to 86 by 2006. The remaining inhabitants are mostly occupied by fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

 and cultivation of onion
The onion , also known as the bulb onion, common onion and garden onion, is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium. The genus Allium also contains a number of other species variously referred to as onions and cultivated for food, such as the Japanese bunching onion The onion...


Piirissaar has been a nature preserve as part of the Natura 2000
Natura 2000
Natura 2000 is an ecological network of protected areas in the territory of the European Union.-Origins:In May 1992, the governments of the European Communities adopted legislation designed to protect the most seriously threatened habitats and species across Europe. This legislation is called the...

 programme since 1991.

External links

This article is based on the corresponding article on the German Wikipedia
German Wikipedia
The German Wikipedia is the German-language edition of Wikipedia, a free and mostly publicly editable online encyclopedia.Founded in March 2001, it is the second-oldest and, with over articles, the second-largest edition of Wikipedia, behind the English Wikipedia...

, accessed on 3 December 2006.
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