1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sound, The

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SOUND, THE (Danish Oresund), the easternmost of the straits giving entrance to the Baltic Sea from the Cattegat, between the Danish island of Zealand and Sweden. Its extreme length reckoned from the promontory of Kullen to that of Falsterbo, both on the Swedish shore, is 70 m. Its narrowest point is between Helsingör in Denmark and Helsingborg in Sweden, which are 3 m. apart. Its extreme width, 30 m., is towards the south, where Kjöge Bay indents the coast of Zealand. Three islands lie in it—Hven, belonging to Sweden, and Saltholm and Amager (which is separated from Zealand by a narrow channel at Copenhagen), belonging to Denmark. The strait between Amager and Saltholm is called Drogden, and is followed by the larger vessels passing through the Sound. The extreme depth of the Sound is about 14 fathoms. Navigation is open in winter, though three instances are recorded of the Sound being frozen completely over: in 1306, 1830 and 1836. From the 15th century Denmark levied “Sound dues” on foreign vessels passing through the strait, the Hanse traders and certain others being exempt. In the 17th century quarrels arose on this matter between Denmark and the Netherlands and Sweden, while in modern times the powers found the dues irksome, and in 1843 and 1853 protests were made by the representatives of the United States of America, but Denmark based her right on immemorial custom, and adhered to it. In 1856 the matter came up in connexion with the renewal of the treaty of 1826 between the two countries; considerable tension resulted, and the possibility of reprisals by the United States against the Danish possessions in the West Indies was discussed. But the treaty was provisionally extended to the following year, and a conference in Copenhagen, at which most of the affected powers were represented, resulted in the remission of the dues from the 1st of April 1857, Denmark receiving a united compensation of 30,476,325 rix-dollars (equalling about £4,000,000), out of which the amount paid by the British government was £1,125,000. The annual income accruing to Denmark from the dues during the ten previous years had been about 2,500,000 rix-dollars.