BLACK FOREST (Ger. Schwarzwald; the Silva Marciana and Abnoba of the Romans), a mountainous district of south-west Germany, having an area of 1844 sq. m., of which about two-thirds lie in the grand duchy of Baden and the remaining third in the kingdom of Württemberg. Bounded on the south and west by the valley of the Rhine, to which its declivities abruptly descend, and running parallel to, and forming the counterpart of the Vosges beyond, it slopes more gently down to the valley of the Neckar in the north and to that of the Nagold (a tributary of the Neckar) on the north-east. Its total length is 100 m., and its breadth varies from 36 m. in the south to 21 in the centre and 13 in the north. The deep valley of the Kinzig divides it laterally into halves, of which the southern, with an average elevation of 3000 ft., is the wilder and contains the loftiest peaks, which again mostly lie towards the western side. Among them are the Feldberg (4898 ft.), the Herzogenhorn (4600), the Blössling (4260) and the Blauen (3820). The northern half has an average height of 2000 ft. On the east side are several lakes, and here the majority of the streams take their rise. The configuration of the hills is mainly conical and the geological formation consists of gneiss, granite (in the south) and red sandstone. The district is poor in minerals; the yield of silver and copper has almost ceased, but there are workable coal seams near Offenburg, where the Kinzig debouches on the plain. The climate in the higher districts is raw and the produce is mostly confined to hardy cereals, such as oats. But the valleys, especially those on the western side, are warm and healthy, enclose good pasture land and furnish fruits and wine in rich profusion. They are clothed up to a height of about 2000 ft. with luxuriant woods of oak and beech, and above these again and up to an elevation of 4000 ft., surrounding the hills with a dense dark belt, are the forests of fir which have given the name to the district. The summits of the highest peaks are bare, but even on them snow seldom lies throughout the summer.
The Black Forest produces excellent timber, which is partly sawn in the valleys and partly exported down the Rhine in logs. Among other industries are the manufactures of watches, clocks, toys and musical instruments. There are numerous mineral springs, and among the watering places Baden-Baden and Wildbad are famous. The towns of Freiburg, Rastatt, Offenburg and Lahr, which lie under the western declivities, are the chief centres for the productions of the interior.
The Black Forest is a favourite tourist resort and is opened up by numerous railways. In addition to the main lines in the valleys of the Rhine and Neckar, which are connected with the towns lying on its fringe, the district is intersected by the Schwarzwaldbahn from Offenburg to Singen, from which various small local lines ramify.