Soviet General Staff Map (1984-87)

The second topographic map of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR, which is used here, was created in the years 1984 to 1987. It was thus created about 20 years after the first topographic maps covering the entire area of the Curonian Spit were available from the Soviet period. Unlike the 1960-66 map, the 1984-1987 map is available in many archives and source collections. In addition, the map is available at different scales and thus at different degrees of generalization. This is discussed in more detail in the article on the history of the map here.

The 1984-1987 map shows land use on the Spit after about 40 years of Soviet rule over the area. The total area of the Spit has increased by about 10.2 km² compared to the previous map and is now 171.24 km² (1960-66: 161.04 km²). This represents the largest change in the total area of the Curonian Spit since the map of 1834. The decrease in the share of the area of sand-dominated landforms has continued and is now only 13.03%, decreasing again by 5 percentage points compared to 1960-66 (from 18.07%). Compared to 1912, the proportion of sandy areas has thus more than halved (1912: 30.77%). The decrease in areas with herb/shrub cover (incl. gray dune) has continued, and also decreased by slightly more than 5 percentage points to 8.04% (1960-66 13.43%). The proportion of grassland (including sparse tree population) has declined again after the 1912-1960-66 increase, to only 12.77% in 1984-1987 (1960-66: 21.22). In contrast, the share of forest land out of the total land has increased significantly to 59.91%, an increase of 17.06 percentage points or more than a quarter compared to 1960-1966.

Looking at these developments on the map, it is noticeable that the distribution of different land uses on the Curonian Spit have not changed significantly. Many of the changes that can be noted are progressive developments that were already evident in the period from 1912 to 1960-66. Overall, the Curonian Spit appears to be characterized less by a mosaic of small-scale areas than was previously the case. Many of these formerly small areas are now part of adjacent larger areas. The map image also clearly shows the decrease in sandy areas. Most noticeable is the disappearance of the large open sand area between Juodkrantė and Preila. This area is now marked as a gray dune with herb and shrub cover. The sandy areas between Morskoye (Russian Морское/ German Pillkoppen) and Nida (German Nidden) and south of Morskoye have shrunk considerably and it can be seen that a strip of grassland (including sparse tree population) has formed here at the edge of the forest. The sandy area between Rybačij (Russian Рыбачий/ German Rossitten) and Lesnoi (Russian Лесной/ German Sarkau) has shrunk significantly. In addition, a band of herb/shrub cover (including gray dune) has formed here, which delimits the area towards the Curonian Lagoon on almost the entire surface.

The increase in forest areas affects the entire Curonian Spit. Many areas that used to be marked as grassland (including sparse tree population) are now shown as forest. This indicates undisturbed growth of trees, gradually transforming the sparse forests into woodlands. A band of connected forest areas can now also be seen along the entire length of the Curonian Spit, with the main forest areas particularly visible on the shore of the Baltic Sea, while the sandy areas and grassland (including sparse forest cover) are located particularly on the shore of the lagoon.

The agricultural area in the extreme south of the Curonian Spit, which first appeared in the 1960-66 map, has disappeared again. There is now a wetted area and forest. Instead, the agricultural area south of Rybačij (Russian Рыбачий/German Rossitten) is included in the map again. Previously, there was grassland here (including sparse tree population). The share of agricultural land has thus increased to 1.19% in the period since 1960-66 (0.84% in 1960-66). However, it has not yet reached the 1912 share of 1.42%. The share of settlement areas and their immediate surroundings has increased to 2.76% share of the total area by 1984-87, thus almost doubling (1960-66: 1.40%). This significantly exceeds the 1912 figure (2.01%). In the map image, it is very easy to see that all the settlement areas appear significantly larger, with Lesnoi experiencing the greatest increase. Here the settlement area now extends from the shore of the Curonian Lagoon to the shore of the Baltic Sea.

The percentage of areas with wetlands/marshes/breaks has remained largely constant in the period from 1960-66 to 1984-87 with a slight decrease to 2.14% (1960-66: 2.36%) In the process, many of the small wetted areas in the north of the Curonian Spit have disappeared from the map image again, but the wetted area in the southernmost part of the map has become larger and now includes areas extending along the shore of the Curonian Lagoon far to the north towards Lesnoi. The wetted area north of Rybačij has also disappeared again, but a body of water known as Möwenbruch, which was missing from the previous map image of 1960-66, can be seen to the west of the agricultural area.

Overall, the appearance of the Curonian Spit has changed less significantly in the 1984-1987 map image than before. Many of the changes here are continuations of the processes that were already noticeable in the comparison of the 1912 and 1960-66 maps. The trend towards a map image less characterized by small-scale vegetation patterns has also continued.


Square kilometre


Herb/shrub cover (incl. grey dune)






Water area






Settlement area and immediate surroundings



Grassland (incl. sparse tree population)



Agricultural land










Methodological note: The explanatory map description refers to the derived form of the map, which is shown interactively on the left. For this purpose, the land use type or the ecotope was derived from the signatures of the original map and presented in a summarised map. In this form, the height information was completely omitted, which is why it is only taken into account here in the form of additional information. This information relates in particular to the distribution and form of the dunes that are so characteristic of the spit.