Spree (shprā) [key], river, c.250 mi (400 km) long, rising in the Lausitz Mts., E Central Germany, near the Czech Republic border. It flows N past Cottbus, then NW through the Spree Forest, and from there it meanders east, north, and west before passing through Berlin to join the Havel River at Spandau. Navigable for c.110 mi (180 km), it is connected with the Oder River by the Oder-Spree Canal and with the Havel River by the Teltow Canal, which bypasses Berlin. The Spree Forest (Ger. Spreewald ) in E central Germany, is a marshy region between Cottbus and Lübben, crisscrossed by small waterways that are the chief traffic lanes connecting the region's villages. Its population consists almost entirely of Slavic-speaking Wends, whose isolation has enabled them to keep their colorful traditions and local customs through the centuries. Eel fishing is among the chief economic activities there.
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