Heligoland , or Helgoland (holy land), an island in the North sea, belonging to Great Britain, 40 m. N. W. of the mouth of the Elbe; lat. of its lighthouse, 54° 11' 36" N., Ion. 7° 53' 12" E.; pop. in 1871, 1,912. Heligoland is triangular, about a mile long from N. to S. and 1/3 m. broad from E. to W. It was formerly much broader, but the action of the sea is continually wearing it away. There is a good port on the N. side, and another on the S. About the middle of the last century a portion was separated from the main island, and is now known as Sandy island; this is much resorted to for its fine sea bathing. The highest part of the island, its W. side, is 200 ft. above the sea. Heligoland is supposed to have been the island mentioned by Tacitus, where the German goddess Hertha was worshipped. St. Wilbrord preached Christianity there early in the 8th century, and gave it its present name. In 1714 it was taken from the duke of Holstein-Gottorp by the Danes, from whom it was captured by the English in 1807, for whose fleets it served as a station during the war with France, and as a depot for their manufactures, whence they were smuggled into Germany. It was formally ceded to Great Britain in 1814. The inhabitants are descendants of Frisians, and speak the Frisian language as well as the Low German. The men are mostly fishermen and pilots, and leave nearly all domestic [ and agricultural labor to the women.
The trading part of the population are chiefly emigrants from the mainland of Germany. The chief products are haddocks and excellent lobsters, which are exported to Germany. The islanders own 100 small fishing vessels and several larger ones, which make voyages to England and the Baltic ports. The soil is very rich, and grain and vegetables are raised, though most of the land is devoted to the sustenance of flocks of sheep, which are fed on fish in winter. There are a few trees and two or three springs on the island, but most of the people depend on rain for their supply of water. Of late the inhabitants have begun to turn their attention to building houses for rent to summer visitors, with whom it is a favorite bathing place. The government consists of a governor appointed by the crown, aided by an executive council; a form of government established by the queen in 1808.- See "Heligoland, an Historical and Geographical Description of that Island, its Ancient Fortunes and Present Opportunities as a British Colony," by William Bell (London, 1856).