Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is situated along the southern coast of the Baltic Sea in the Northeast of Germany. It consists of the two regions of Mecklenburg in the West and Vorpommern in the East. The landscape is mostly characterised by broad, open plains; only in some areas, mainly towards the West and South, it contains lakes and slightly more hilly areas due to ground and terminal moraines. The coastline along the Baltic Sea belongs to the most beautiful regions of Germany and has always been a holiday destination of the Germans. Significant parts of the landscapes of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern enjoy special protection as national parks and nature reserves. In 1995, Mecklenburg celebrated '1000 years of Mecklenburg' and it became obvious that remains of its long history are omnipresent in the whole country. Megaliths form a substantial part of this multitemporality of the landscape of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. There is a long tradition of archaeology in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Rügen: Jasmunder Bodden, seen from Bobbin (1995)

The state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, sometimes called simply Mecklenburg, was first created in 1945, but dissolved again in 1952 when the German Democratic Republic (GDR) decided to introduce districts rather than maintain the old state structure. From then until 1990 the area of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was split into the districts of Rostock, Schwerin, and Neubrandenburg.
Since this administrative division determined archaeological research and the location names used for monuments over a long time period including the years of Ewald Schuldt's research campaign, I have adopted in this work the old system of place name plus the district name. In 1990, the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was recreated and it then joined, together with the other four states of what used to be the GDR, the Federal Republic of Germany. The borders of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern of today are, however, not completely identical with those of the three former districts. This is because older historic state boundaries were taken into account when the new boundaries were determined, and in some parishes the people could actually determine in a referendum to which state they wished to belong. According to the outcome, the archaeological records too either stayed in Lübstorf (near the capital Schwerin) or were moved to Potsdam in Brandenburg. For practical reasons, I have restricted the area of my empirical research about megaliths to those regions which previously belonged to the three districts of Rostock, Schwerin, or Neubrandenburg and now belong to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. This excludes the districts of Perleberg, Prenzlau and Templin, as well as parts of the districts of Pasewalk and Strasburg.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern today has a size of 23,000 km2 but only approx. 1.8 million inhabitants. It is the poorest German state with an unemployment rate of 15.1%, and a birth rate having dropped by two thirds of what it was in 1990. The economy almost entirely depends on agriculture and, increasingly, tourism. Since 1994 the government has been formed by a coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats (Der Spiegel 38, 1995). A brief political history of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has been published by the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

© Cornelius Holtorf, last updated on 7 December 2001