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The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen

A commitment to tradition. Together with Bavaria, Hamburg and Saxony, the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen is one of the political entities which already existed prior to 1945; after San Marino, it is the second oldest city republic in the world. The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen consists of the city of Bremen (549,000 inhabitants) and the city of Bremerhaven (129,000 inhabitants), which lies 65 kilometers farther down the Weser River. The territory in between the two cities belongs to the state of Lower Saxony.

First mentioned more than 1,200 years ago, namely in the year 782, a bishopric since 787, and endowed with the rights of a free city by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa in 1186, Bremen joined the Hanseatic League in 1358. With the erection of the statue of Roland in 1404 and the construction of the Town Hall in 1405, the city demonstrated its claim to self-determination. In 1646 Bremen was elevated to the status of a free imperial city; since 1806 it has called itself the Free Hanseatic City. Bremerhaven was founded in 1827 and elevated to the status of a city in 1851. The state parliament bears the traditional name “Bremische Bürgerschaft“; the state government is called the “Senat“, and the president of the Senat is the ministerpresident of the state. Every year, on the second Friday in February, distinguished German public figures are invited to the historic “Schaffermahlzeit“ banquet held by Bremen’s maritime community in the Town Hall.

Ports and high tech. Ports and shipping, international trade connections and products of highest quality manufactured by state-of-the-art industries are the foundations of Bremen’s economic life. The container terminal in Bremerhaven is Europe’s largest interconnected container transshipment facility. Every year, nearly 10,000 ships link Bremen’s ports with roughly 1,000 ports all over the world. With an annual volume of one million vehicles (1997 figure), Bremerhaven is Europe’s most important automobile transshipment point. The Free Hanseatic City’s shipyards stand for quality in shipbuilding. Bremen is also one of the centers of the German food, luxury food and beverage industries: Coffee, chocolate, flour, milk products, spices, fish products and beer are the best-known products. Key components for rockets, satellites and the Airbus are developed and built in Bremen, a hub of the aerospace industry. The electrical and electronics industries as well as high-tech industries likewise play a prominent role in the city’s economy. Symbolic of Bremen’s expertise in the field of high technology is the 148-meter-high tower of the Center for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity, in which experiments can be conducted under conditions of weightlessness. The Bremen Securities Exchange – which is over 300 years old – and the commodities exchanges handle trading for all of northwestern Germany.

Marine research and the fine arts. Bremen’s university has about 18,000 students; its primary fields of emphasis are engineering and the natural sciences. Leaders in the area of basic research are the Bremen Institute of Applied Beam Technology (BIAS) and the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics. The Center for Tropical Marine Ecology and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology develop modern concepts for marine research. Bremen is also the home of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. The Bremen Academy for Fine Arts and Music, which focuses on design, the fine arts and music, is nationally renowned as well. The beginning of 1997 marked the reopening of the renovated “Glocke“, the concert hall with extraordinary acoustics.

Bremen’s sights draw millions of visitors to the city every year: the Market Square with the Renaissance Town Hall, the statue of Roland and the Gothic St. Peter’s Cathedral, the famous “Böttcherstrasse“ and the historic Schnoor Quarter. The Bremen Free Market, which has been held on the Bürgerweide for over 960 years, is one of Germany’s largest fairs.

The Art Gallery, the New Museum Weserburg, the Gerhard Marcks House and the Paula BeckerModersohn House display important works of art. The German Maritime Museum in Bremerhaven boasts impressive collections from all eras of seafaring as well as a number of historic ships in the museum’s own port. The Theater am Goetheplatz, the bremer shakespeare company, the annual Bremen Music Festival and the International Music Project Bremen are household words for music and theater aficionados.

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The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

Germany’s gateway to the world. Hamburg is the second largest German city, Germany’s principal seaport and the country’s largest overseas trade center. 185 firms from China (including Hong Kong) have offices here, along with 135 from Japan and 65 from Taiwan; all in all, more than 3,000 firms are engaged in the transaction of import and export business in the Hanseatic City. Traditional port-related industries are shipyards, refineries and processing plants for raw materials from abroad. Through a consistent policy of structural change, Hamburg has developed into a service metropolis. Future-oriented sectors such as the civil aviation, microelectronics and communications industries are laying a modern foundation for the future of this attractive site for business and industry.

Founded around the year 811 (as Hammaburg), Hamburg began to flourish as a commercial town in 1189, when it was granted customs and commercial rights. One of the first members of the Hanseatic League, it was the League’s main transshipment port on the North Sea. Kings and princes never ruled Hamburg: It was always the citizens themselves who governed the city-state. The devastating fire of 1842, a readiness to continually modernize and World War II spared little of the crowded heart of the old commercial metropolis. Prominent structures include the Late Baroque St. Michael’s Church (whose 132-meter-high tower – affectionately called “Michel“ – is the city landmark), the 100-year-old Town Hall, and the Chilehaus, an Expressionist brick building dating from the 1920s. A distinctive type of cultural monument is the old “Speicherstadt“ in the port area, a complex of brick warehouses erected toward the end of the last century. It is not, however, individual buildings which lend Hamburg its special flair but rather the expansive panorama afforded by the Alster, a body of water in the center of the city that has been dammed up to form two lakes, and the colorful picture presented by the port and houses along the broad Elbe River.

The green industrial city. Hamburg is Germany’s second largest industrial center and the heart of a metropolitan area with a population of 3.3 million. It is nevertheless one of the greenest cities in Germany. 41 percent of Hamburg’s total area consists of arable land and garden plots, parks and public gardens, woodlands, moors and heaths. Landscape reserves and nature reserves cover 28 percent of the city’s area. As a result of the unification of Germany and the opening up of Eastern Europe, the port of Hamburg has regained its old hinterland. This enhances the city-state’s prospects of once again becoming the hub of trade, services and communications between East and West. Firm plans have been made for the construction of the Transrapid magnetic levitation train, which is to link Hamburg’s city center with the center of the German capital Berlin in less than one hour.

The port, one of the largest in the world, spreads out over 75 square kilometers, occupying one tenth of Hamburg’s city area. In terms of container transshipment volume, Hamburg ranks second in Europe after Rotterdam. More than 200 scheduled shipping lines offer about 12,000 departures each year from the port of Hamburg to points all over the globe. Every day more than 290,000 people from the surrounding area commute to work in the Hanseatic City. Hamburg is the banking center for northern Germany and one of Germany’s largest insurance headquarters. With more than 95 consulates-general and consulates, Hamburg is the world’s principal consular city. The Congress Center conveniently located in the heart of the city is one of the most modern and most popular conference centers in Europe. The immediately adjacent trade fair halls further enhance its attractiveness as a venue for important trade exhibitions.

Hamburg is the center of the German media industry. The roughly 6,000 firms active in this sector employ a work force of approximately 50,000 and utilize the services of numerous free-lancers. Their annual turnover exceeds DM 40 billion. In recent years the communications sector has been the city’s most rapidly expanding economic sector. The electronic media are playing an increasingly important role in this development: the city’s major radio and television stations as well as the numerous firms engaged in the production of audiovisual and multimedia programs. Hamburg’s advertising industry and its award-winning agencies have steadily gained ground as well. In both the German recording market and the newspaper and magazine market, firms headquartered in the metropolis on the Elbe command a market share of up to 50 percent – 17 of the 21 German newsstand magazines with circulations of over a million are published in Hamburg.

Civic pride and a passion for the arts. The mercantile city of Hamburg is and always has been a place of freedom and tolerance and a city with a rich cultural tradition. It was here that Germany’s first permanent opera house was established in 1678: George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) staged his first opera (“Almira“) in the Hanseatic City. Both Georg Philipp Telemann and Karl Philipp Emanuel Bach lived and worked in Hamburg. One of the city’s famous sons was the composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897); the name of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (born in Hamburg in 1809) is likewise closely tied to the city on the Elbe.

Influenced by England and France, Hamburg was a cradle of the Enlightenment in Germany. In 1767 the Deutsches Nationaltheater was founded here, an institution linked with the name of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (“Hamburgische Dramaturgie“, 1767-1769), which became renowned especially for its performances of Shakespeare’s works. “Minna von Barnhelm“ (Lessing) and “Don Carlos“ (Schiller) were performed for the first time here. Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724-1803) and Matthias Claudius (17401815) were Hamburg’s “literary institutions“ at the time. During the period of reaction in the 19th century, Julius Campe of Hamburg published the works of Heinrich Heine and other “rabble-rousing“ writers of the “Young Germany“.

After World War II, the directors Rolf Liebermann and Gustav Gründgens gave the opera and theater modern accents with a strong international appeal. Unforgotten is the Hamburg-born actor Hans Albers (18911960). Today three state theaters and roughly 35 private theaters enhance the city’s cultural profile. Especially successful in recent years were the musicals “Cats“ and “Phantom of the Opera“ by Andrew Lloyd Webber, productions famous far beyond Hamburg’s city limits. The Hamburg Ballet under the direction of John Neumeier is internationally renowned. It was here in Hamburg that the graphic artist and painter Horst Janssen (who died in 1995) created his extensive portfolio of works. At the beginning of the 1960s the Beatles embarked on their international career in the Hamburg entertainment district of St. Pauli.

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Hesse

A future-oriented center of business and industry. With a population of six million and an area of about 21,100 square kilometers, Hesse is Germany’s fifth largest state. Today it is one of the country’s major centers of business and industry and ranks among the most dynamic regions in Europe. Better known than the state capital Wiesbaden is the international financial center Frankfurt am Main, seat of the Deutsche Bundesbank and, since 1 January 1999, seat of the European Central Bank as well. Over 400 commercial banks are situated here, as is Germany’s largest stock exchange. Frankfurt is also the location of prominent branches of industry and technology and a leading international trade fair venue. Its airport ranks first in Europe in volume of cargo and second in number of passengers.

Political unity since 1945. The region has a turbulent history. In 1848 and 1849 the National Assembly, the first democratic German parliament, convened in St. Paul’s Church (which is now a national monument) in Frankfurt am Main. This democratic beginning failed, however, as a result of the power wielded by Germany’s ruling princes. Prior to Bismarck’s wars of unification, the territory which is now Hesse – like many other regions at that time – resembled a patchwork quilt, encompassing four principalities and duchies, an earldom and the free city of Frankfurt. After the AustroPrussian War of 1866, Prussia absorbed all of this territory except the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt. With the “Proclamation No. 2“ of 19 September 1945, issued in the IG Farben complex in Frankfurt am Main, the American military government merged HesseDarmstadt and most of what had formerly been Prussian territory to form the state of Hesse.

Lush idyllic landscapes and vibrant cities. Geographically the countryside between the Diemel and Weser rivers in the north and the Neckar River in the south has been characterized as a colorful and confusing juxtaposition of uplands and depressions. Western Hesse is part of the Rhenish Schist Massif; the iron ore deposits on the Lahn, Dill and Sieg rivers were already exploited during the pre-Christian era. Eastern Hesse is geologically younger; the prevalent Bunter sandstone soil is poor in minerals and unsuitable for cultivation. The east is barren and more sparsely populated. Typical of the region are its volcanic landscapes: Old massifs can be found in the Westerwald, in the Rhön, on the Hoher Meissner, in the Kaufunger Forest and in the Knüll. Amidst charming landscapes are the university towns of Marburg (77,000 inhabitants) and Giessen (74,400 inhabitants) as well as the city of Wetzlar (53,700 inhabitants), famous for its optical industry. The Bergstrasse and the Rhinegau are among Germany’s best fruit and wine-growing areas. In eastern Hesse lies the bishopric of Fulda (61,700 inhabitants), a Baroque town of considerable historical importance. The state capital Wiesbaden (268,000 inhabitants) is not just an administrative center but also an elegant spa with a much-frequented casino.

Modern industry with a long tradition. Together with the service metropolis Frankfurt (647,000 inhabitants), four branches of industry – the chemical, vehicle, mechanical engineering and electrical industries – have been instrumental in propelling this state to a position of economic strength: Hesse’s per-capita gross domestic product is approximately DM 117,000. With their chemical products, pharmaceuticals, dyes, or assembly components for the computer industry, firms such as Hoechst, Degussa and Rütgers in Frankfurt or Merck in Darmstadt (138,000 inhabitants) are fixtures in the world’s markets just like the Opel main plant in Rüsselsheim, the Volkswagen plant in Baunatal and the Thyssen-Henschel-Werke (machinery and transport technology) in Kassel (201,000 inhabitants). Teves in Frankfurt produces asbestos-free brake linings used by vehicle manufacturers worldwide; VOD is the world’s second largest producer of automobile instruments and electronic regulation and control instruments for vehicle engineering. Honeywell in Offenbach (117,000 inhabitants) produces electronic measurement and control systems for climate control engineering.

Crucial to Hesse’s economic success is the state’s central location with its many junctions of air, rail and waterway traffic. The Rhine-Main Airport is one of the most important traffic hubs in Europe. With about 54,000 employees it has meanwhile become the largest local employer in Germany – and is still growing.

Research scientists and inventors from what is now the state of Hesse laid the foundations for entire branches of industry and new technologies with their trailblazing discoveries and inventions. The Darmstadt chemist Justus Liebig developed the chemical fertilization of agricultural plants around 1840. The Gelnhausen physicist Johann Philipp Reis constructed the first electric telephone in 1861. Television and modern communications technology can be traced back to the invention of the electron tube by the Nobel Prize laureate Karl Ferdinand Braun of Fulda. Konrad Zuse, a resident of Bad Hersfeld, developed the first computer.

The International Book Fair and avant-garde art. Frankfurt, the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, demonstrates a particular devotion to the world of books. The Deutsche Bibliothek (German Library) in Frankfurt, repository for every German-language work to appear in print since 1945, is “Germany’s largest bookcase“. Internationally outstanding cultural events in Hesse are the world’s largest book fair in Frankfurt and the “documenta“ art exhibition in Kassel. Famous festivals are held in Bad Hersfeld, Wetzlar, Wiesbaden and in the Rhinegau. Artistic impulses emanate from the Young Literature Forum Hesse. The state’s Georg Büchner Prize for Literature is one of Germany’s most prestigious literary awards. Hesse offers a wealth of interesting museums and exhibitions: Aside from Frankfurt’s “museum embankment“ on the Main River and the many other museums in the city, people can visit the Ivory Museum in Erbach, the Brothers Grimm Museum in Kassel, or the Hessenpark Open-Air Museum in Neu-Anspach featuring original reconstructed Hessian houses dating from many different centuries. A truly distinctive type of open-air exhibition is the Mathildenhöhe Art Nouveau complex in Darmstadt.

Click here for more information about Hesse.

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Lower Saxony

Tidal mud flats and heathland. Lower Saxony is the second largest state in Germany (47,338 square kilometers). It stretches from the North Sea island of Borkum to the Harz Mountains; in between lie remote heathland regions, greater metropolitan Hanover and the Hildesheimer Börde with the most fertile arable soil in the Federal Republic. Lower Saxony has about 7.8 million inhabitants. They are joined every year by millions of visitors who seek rest and recreation on the seven East Frisian islands of Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog, Spiekeroog and Wangerooge, in the Harz Mountains, in the Weser Hills, in the Teutoburg Forest or in the Lüneburg Heath (Germany’s oldest nature park) or who wish to keep abreast of the latest developments at the world’s two largest trade fairs held in the state capital. Another popular attraction, especially when the apple orchards are in bloom, is the “Altes Land“, Europe’s largest fruit-growing area. Here, just outside the gates of Hamburg, begins the “wet triangle“: the lowlands between the mouths of the Weser and Elbe rivers with the tidal mud flats known as the “Wattenmeer“ (Germany’s largest nature park), the fishing town of Cuxhaven and the artists’ colony of Worpswede. Lower Saxony offers cyclists the most extensive network of biking paths in Germany.

Home of the “Beetle“ – center of alternative energy production. Hanover (523,000 inhabitants), the state capital, is an industrial and service center, seat of a worldfamous manufacturer of writing materials and of TUI, Europe’s largest tour operator. Each year the latest developments are presented at the Hanover Fair, the world’s largest industrial fair, and at “CeBIT“, the international fair for communications technology. From 1 June to 31 October 2000, Hanover was the venue of the World Exposition EXPO 2000, which has the theme “Humankind – Nature – Technology“.

Two thirds of the state’s total area is given over to farming; the food industry produces a wide variety of delicacies ranging from Oldenburg smoked ham to honey from the Lüneburg heath. Nevertheless, Lower Saxony cannot be classified as an agricultural state: In addition to traditional industries such as steel, chemicals and shipbuilding, it now also has thriving electronics and computer industries. The VW?Beetle, made in Wolfsburg, is the most frequently built car in the world; it still rolls off the line in Mexico. Volkswagen AG is the state’s biggest company and has manufactured more than 50 million automobiles in Lower Saxony to date. The Volkswagen Foundation is the largest non-governmental foundation for the promotion of science and scholarship in Germany. Schimmel pianos and Rollei cameras are made in Brunswick (251,000 inhabitants). Brunswick is also the home of the Federal Institute of Physics and Metrology, which determines the exact Central European Time (CET) per radio signal. Video recorders and CD players are built in Peine and in Osterode. The firm MAN in Salzgitter (117,000 inhabitants) manufactures trucks; Wilhelmshaven is the only German deepwater port for supertankers. The Transrapid magnetic levitation train is currently being tested in Emsland. Natural gas from Lower Saxony satisfies one fifth of the Federal Republic’s requirement. Between the Ems and the Elbe rivers, the Lower Saxony Energy Agency is already exploring alternatives for the next millennium: electricity generated by wind power, solar power, landfill gas and animal excrement.

Explorers and inventors, intellect and politics. Diederik Pining of Hildesheim landed in America 19 years before Columbus. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz developed the binary system of numeration in Hanover and built the world’s first functional calculating machine. Carl Friedrich Gauss of Brunswick invented the telegraph, Robert Wilhelm Bunsen of Göttingen the carbon-zinc battery, Werner von Siemens of Lenthe the generation of electricity by means of a dynamo, and Emil Berliner of Hanover the Gramophone. Karl Jatho completed the first successful powered flight at the Vahrenwalder Heide in Hanover – three months before the Wright brothers’ attempt in the United States. Walter Bruch, also from Hanover, developed the PAL color system for color television. 1961 marked the appearance of the last volume of the “Deutsches Wörterbuch“, a comprehensive dictionary of the German language begun in 1838 by the brothers Grimm at the University of Göttingen. In 1837 the brothers Grimm and five other professors – the “Göttingen Seven“ – had protested against the sovereign’s decision to repeal the constitution. In 1957 the “Göttingen 18“, a group that included the Nobel Prize laureates Max Born, Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg and Max von Laue, warned against the dangers of nuclear rearmament.

Stone witnesses to power. At the turn of the 10th century Hildesheim (106,000 inhabitants) was the center of the Ottonian Empire; in the 12th century Bardowick was the most important hub of trade between East and West. Brunswick grew to become one of the four major metropolises of the Late Middle Ages. At the end of the 16th century Emden boasted more ships than any other port in Europe; in the 18th century Clausthal-Zellerfeld in the Harz Mountains was one of the world’s principal industrial centers.

Stone witnesses to the past are everywhere: The 900year-old church in Idesen is considered the most outstanding ecclesiastical structure of its time in Germany. The world’s largest medieval library, where Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz worked, is located in Wolfenbüttel; Goslar, with its magnificent old townscape, is the site of the Kaiserpfalz, Germany’s largest medieval secular building. Brunswick’s Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum is the oldest art museum on the European continent. Celle is the home of Germany’s oldest theater in which performances are still staged. Notable collections of modern art can be found in the Art Gallery in Emden and the Sprengel Museum of Modern Art in Hanover. A special attraction for archaeology buffs is Hildesheim’s Roemer-Pelizaeus Museum, which has a fine collection of ancient Egyptian art. The “Violinale“ in Hanover is one of the world’s preeminent violin competitions.

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