Plazes, a social networking site based in Berlin, has announced that it has raised £1.8m in a first round of founding led by Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures.

Plazes is a social network site with the added dimension of location tracking. Plazes automatically detects your location and connects you with people or places nearby.

The site is a mashup with Google Earth, and also allows integration with Flickr and Skype. For instance, users can add their Flickr photos to a location on the Plazes map.

Users need to download a piece of software called the ‘Plazer’ to use the service, and can then allow thier contacts to see their exact location.

Locations can be automatically updated on your blog, social network page, as well as the Plaze profile page and map.

Plazes lets you browse by location and interests, to find friends and contacts nearby, or places of interest. Each ‘Plaze’ on the map has photos, comments and reviews attached to it, as well as a list of other Plaze users in that location.

According to Michael Arrington at TechCrunch, Plazes currently has around 40,000 active users, having launched in January 2005. You can see a screencast explaining how the service works here.