The Frisian Islands, also known as the Wadden Islands or the Wadden Sea Islands, form an archipelago at the eastern edge of the North Sea in northwestern Europe, stretching from the northwest of the Netherlands through Germany to the west of Denmark. The islands shield the mudflat region of the Wadden Sea (large parts of which fall dry during low tide) from the North Sea.
The Frisian Islands, along with the mainland coast in the German Bight, form the region of Frisia (German and Dutch: Friesland), homeland of the Frisian people. Generally, the term Frisian Islands is used for the islands where Frisian is spoken and the population is ethnically Frisian. In contrast, the term Wadden Islands applies to the entire archipelago, including the Dutch-speaking westernmost islands of Texel and Vlieland and Danish-speaking Danish Wadden Sea Islands further north off the west coast of Jutland.
Most of the Frisian Islands are environmentally protected areas, and an international wildlife nature reserve is being coordinated between the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. Natural gas and oil drilling continue, however, and in the vicinity of the Ems, Weser and Elbe estuaries, and ship traffic causes tension between wildlife protection and economic values.