Rügen is also the name of a Kreis (district) of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, consisting of Rügen and the neighbouring islands of Hiddensee and Ummanz. Area 974 km², population 74,400 (2001). The district's capital is Bergen.
Rügen is mainly accessible by a bridge connecting the island with the city of Stralsund on the mainland. There are also ferry connections from Stralsund, Greifswald and Wolgast. The island has some crowded tourist resorts along the eastern coast as well as quiet and lonely places in the west. There are three nature reserves extending at least partially on the island:
- Vorpommern Lagoon Area National Park (Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft); the west coast of Rügen and the island of Hiddensee are parts of this large national park.
- Jasmund National Park; a small park including the famous chalk cliffs (Königsstuhl).
- Southeast Rügen Biosphere Reserve; a nature reserve consisting of the peninsulas in the southeast.
In 1816 the first bathing resort was founded (Putbus). Later more resorts were established, and Rügen remained the most famous holiday resort of Germany until World War II. In 1936 the bridge connecting Rügen with the mainland was constructed. The Nazis added a resort of outstanding ugliness: Prora, planned by the Kraft durch Freude ("Strength through joy") organisation, which aimed to occupy people's free time. However, Prora was never completed.
Towns on the island of Rügen: Bergen, Sassnitz, Putbus, Garz.