The islands are located in the Heligoland Bight (part of the German Bight) in the North Sea's southeastern corner and had a population of 1,127 at the end of 2016. They are not the only German islands in the immediate vicinity of the mainland. They lie at the mouth of the Elbe River about 69 kilometers (43 miles) by sea from Cuxhaven. During the period of British possession, August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote the lyrics to "Deutschlandlied," which became Germany's national anthem on one of the islands in 1841, while he was on vacation there. In addition to German, the local population, who are ethnic Frisians, speak the North Frisian language Heligolandic dialect called Halunder. Heligoland used to be called Heyligeland, or "holy land," possibly because of the island's long association with the god Forseti. Ferries to Heligoland run from Bremerhafen, Büsum, Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Wedel, and Sylt and Amrum Islands. Crossings take between one hour and four hours.
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