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Lusatia

Lusatia (lōsāˈshə) [key], Ger. Lausitz, Pol. Łużyce, region of E Germany and SW Poland. It extends N from the Lusatian Mts., at the Czech border, and W from the Oder River. The hilly and fertile southern section is known as Upper Lusatia, the sandy and forested northern part as Lower Lusatia. The Lusatian Neisse separates E Germany and SW Poland. Forestry, farming, and stock raising are the chief occupations. There are lignite mines, textile mills, and glass-making factories. Bautzen, Cottbus, Görlitz, Żagań, and Zittau are the main towns.

The Lusatians are descended from the Slavic Wends, and part of the population, particularly in the Spree Forest, still speaks Wendish and has preserved traditional dress and customs. The region was colonized by the Germans beginning in the 10th cent. and was constituted into the margraviates of Upper and Lower Lusatia. Both margraviates changed hands frequently among Saxony, Bohemia, and Brandenburg. In 1346 several towns of the region formed the Lusatian League and preserved considerable independence. Under the Treaty of Prague (1635) all of Lusatia passed to Saxony. The Congress of Vienna awarded (1815) Lower Lusatia and a large part of Upper Lusatia to Prussia. After World War II the Lusatian Wends (or Sorbs, as they are also called) sought unsuccessfully to obtain national recognition.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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