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Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

The “land of a thousand lakes“. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, situated in northeastern Germany along the Baltic Sea, is sparsely populated (approximately 80 inhabitants per square kilometer) and has a predominantly agrarian character. One of the prime assets of this state dotted with inland lakes (Lake Müritz, with an area of 117 square kilomenters, is the largest) is its unspoiled nature: Its exceedingly varied coastline affords sweeping vistas, as do its variegated inland landscapes with their gently rolling hills, broad fields and pastures, and extensive forests.

The two parts of the state, Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania, have different histories. For many years Western Pomerania was largely under Swedish dominion; later, as part of the province of Pomerania, it was under Prussian rule. Mecklenburg, by contrast, was an independent part of the German Empire. After 1701 it was split into two states: Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Not until the year 1934 were the two Mecklenburgian states reunited. The state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was created after the Second World War as part of the GDR, but shortly thereafter it was dissolved and subdivided into three districts. In 1990 it was reestablished as a state of the Federal Republic of Germany. Today about 1.83 million people live in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The dialect known as Low German (Plattdeutsch) is common in everyday speech.

Historic cities worth a special visit. Striking Brick Gothic architecture distinguishes the state’s old Hanseatic cities such as Rostock, Wismar, Stralsund and Greifswald. For centuries the Baltic Sea ports were centers for the transshipment of goods to and from Scandinavia. Rostock and Greifswald are university towns with a long, proud tradition. The capital of MecklenburgWestern Pomerania is Schwerin (111,000 inhabitants). Its most prominent landmark is the palace, formerly the residence of the grand dukes of MecklenburgSchwerin and now the seat of the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Other particularly noteworthy sights include the Mecklenburg State Theater, the State Museum with its magnificent collection of Dutch and Flemish 17th-century paintings, and the cathedral, which is one of the most outstanding examples of Brick Gothic architecture.

Rostock is the state’s largest city (221,000 inhabitants). Its Church of St. Mary has an astronomical clock dating from the 15th century. The city is known for its seaside resort Warnemünde and for the “Hanseatic Port Days“. The medieval fortifications of Neubrandenburg (79,000 inhabitants) with the four old city gates have survived the centuries virtually intact.

The economic base. Eight years after the transition from a state-controlled economy to a market economy, the restructuring of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s economy is well under way. The most important branches are the shipbuilding industry, the food, luxury food and beverage industry, the construction industry, mechanical engineering, the building materials industry and the wood industry. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s seaports continue to figure prominently in the state’s economy. The largest of them is Rostock; the port of Mukran on the island of Rügen, which affords swift connections to the countries adjoining the Baltic, is taking on increasing importance as well. A well-developed network of roads and rail lines links the state with its neighbors. An autobahn along the coast is currently being improved and extended.

Agriculture plays a more significant role in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania than in other states. Prin-cipal crops are grain, oilseed (rape) and potatoes. 80 percent of the 1.3 million hectares given over to agriculture are farmed by operations with more than 500 hectares.

Tourism is an important economic factor for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In 1996, 2.8 million people visited the state, which offers nearly 1,900 accommodations with more than 106,000 beds. The most famous tourist magnet is Rügen, Germany’s largest island (930 square kilometers). Its white chalk cliffs never fail to captivate the beholder. Many visitors are also drawn to the Granitz Hunting Lodge or the Störtebeker Festival. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania takes particular care to ensure that the steadily growing tourism industry does not become a burden on the environment. 296 nature reserves, 103 landscape reserves, three national parks and a biosphere reserve attest to the importance which the state attaches to nature conservation and environmental protection.

The arts and sciences. Prominent individuals linked with the area that is now Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania include the painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) of Greifswald, who romantically transfigured the landscape of his homeland in numerous paintings. Writing in the dialect Low German, Fritz Reuter (1810-1874) realistically described the region’s people and countryside. The aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896) conducted many glider flights here. The sculptor and poet Ernst Barlach (1870-1938) created his lifework in Güstrow. Uwe Johnson (1934-1984) produced a literary monument to his native land with his novels and short stories.

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North Rhine-Westphalia

A European industrial area. Industrial heartland, modern technology center, land of culture and the media: Formerly an industrial landscape dominated by factory smokestacks, winding towers and blast furnaces, North Rhine-Westphalia – with nearly 18 million inhabitants the most populous state – has undergone a profound structural change in recent decades. The land of coal and steel has become a land of coal, steel and promising new industries, an attractive site for domestic and foreign investors not least because of its outstanding infrastructure. Nearly half of its people live in large cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants; at 527 persons per square kilometer, its population density is one of the highest in Europe. The nickname “Kohlenpott“ (coal scuttle) is a thing of the past, for the state has long since satisfied the call of the 1960s for “blue skies over the Ruhr“.

Nearly 52 percent of North Rhine-Westphalia’s land area is given over to farming; 25 percent is woodlands. Nevertheless, the Ruhr, with a population of approx-imately 5.4 million, is Europe’s largest industrial region. Many energy producers and suppliers have their headquarters here. North Rhine-Westphalia is also a prime location of the large-scale power plant industry and the chemical industry.

The creation of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia dates back to the time of British occupation after World War II: In 1946 the greater part of the former Prussian Rhine province and the province of Westphalia were merged – and later augmented by the inclusion of the former state of Lippe-Detmold.

In 1949 the city of Bonn on the Rhine (303,000 inhabitants) was chosen the provisional capital of the Federal Republic. After the unification of Germany, Berlin became the permanent capital. In the year 2000 the seat of the Bundestag, the Bundesrat and the Federal Government was moved to the banks of the Spree River in Berlin. The “federal city“ of Bonn, however, will continue to play an important role in the future as an administrative and scientific center.

Coal, steel and the media. Today the state’s economy has a broader foundation than ever before. Since 1960 the percentage of the work force employed in the coal and steel industry has dropped dramatically: from 12.5 percent to four percent. Only 14 coal mines are still in operation in the Ruhr. Many new jobs have been created in the media and cultural sector, which has become the sector with the highest annual increases in turnover. In 1996 the media conglomerate Time Warner opened a movie park and movie studio complex in Bottrop-Kirchhellen built at a cost of more than DM 360 million – the largest investment ever made in this sector in Germany. The Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, the Institute for Media Practice and Media Transfer at the Folkwang Academy in Essen and the academy for the media in Siegen are further examples of the endeavors undertaken by the state in this area.

Today about 66 percent of the work force in North Rhine-Westphalia is employed in the service sector. Here the restructuring process has always been conjoined with ecological renewal as well: The state’s innovative firms active in the field of environmental protection have made it one of Europe’s foremost centers of environmental technology.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s bustling economic life is supported by a dense network of autobahns, rail lines and waterways connecting the state’s numerous big cities such as Cologne (964,000 inhabitants), Essen (612,000), Dortmund (597,000), Düsseldorf (571,000), Duisburg (533,000), Bochum (398,000), Wuppertal (380,000), Bielefeld (324,000), Gelsenkirchen (289,000), Mönchengladbach (267,000), Münster (266,000), Krefeld (248,000) and Aachen (248,000). The Düsseldorf and Cologne/Bonn airports round out this network; Duisburg on the Rhine has the world’s largest inland port.

44 of Germany’s 100 largest firms have their headquarters in North Rhine-Westphalia. In addition to industrial giants such as Bayer Leverkusen, VEBA AG or the printing and publishing corporation Bertelsmann, about 600,000 small and medium-sized businesses are engaged in production. Düsseldorf is one of Germany’s largest banking centers. Cologne is one of the nation’s leading insurance headquarters. With Düsseldorf, Cologne, Dortmund and Essen, North RhineWestphalia boasts four internationally competitive trade fair venues. The state generates more than one fourth of all German exports and consumes nearly one fourth of the Federal Republic’s imports.

Scholarship, culture and leisure. North Rhine-Westphalia’s 52 higher education institutions and trade and technical schools offer professional training for some 510,000 students at 70 locations. A network of technology centers and transfer sites – including ten institutes operated by the Max Planck Society, five run by the Fraunhofer Society, and ZENIT, a center for innovation and technology in Mülheim an der Ruhr– ensures that small and medium-sized businesses are also able to profit from higher education know-how.

Well over twelve million people visit the state’s 570 museums every year, for example Bonn’s Museum Mile, the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum and Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the Düsseldorf State Art Collection and the Folkwang Museum in Essen. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia contributes to the maintenance of more than 75,000 architectural monuments. Prominent representatives of the modern fine arts pursue their work at the academies of art in Düsseldorf and Cologne. The state’s more than 160 stages ensure cultural diversity and international renown, as do the Ruhr Festival, the NRW Theater Encounter and the Oberhausen Days of Short Films. Pina Bausch and her dance theater are just as well known in New York and Tokyo as they are in their native city of Wuppertal.

Given this wealth of offerings it is no wonder that nearly 13 million people (booking 34 million overnight stays) come to North Rhine-Westphalia every year – as trade fair visitors, for instance, or as vacationers attracted by the unspoiled scenery of the Münsterland with its charming moated castles and by recreational opportunities such as skiing in the Sauerland or windsurfing on one of the state’s many artificial lakes.

Click here for more information about North Rhine-Westphalia.

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In the middle of Europe. The state of Rhineland-Palatinate was formed after the end of World War II, on 30 August 1946, by the French military government. Traditional structures were not taken into account; instead parts of Germany were merged that had never before belonged together: parts of the Prussian Rhine provinces, the territory of Hesse on the left bank of the Rhine, and the strongly Bavarian-influenced Palatinate. These regions have become closely knit over time, however, and Rhineland-Platinate has acquired its own identity.

Rhineland-Palatinate has profited greatly from its geographical location. The extensive modernized network of autobahns and federal highways, the convenient rail connections between the cities of Mainz, Kaiserslautern, Trier, Ludwigshafen and Koblenz, the major waterways Rhine and Mosel, as well as the state’s proximity to three economically powerful centers – the Rhine-Main, Rhine-Neckar and Rhine-Ruhr regions – have created optimal framework conditions for the development of Rhineland-Palatinate into one of Germany’s most dynamic regions.

An old European cultural heartland. The Rhineland was settled by Celts, Romans, Burgundians and Franks. In Speyer, Worms and Mainz, all on the Rhine, stand the great imperial cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Construction of the oldest synagogue in Germany (built in the Romanesque style) began in Worms in 1034. It was in Worms, too, at the Imperial Diet of 1521, that the reformer Martin Luther refused to recant his theses. Three hundred years later, in Koblenz, the liberal paper “Rheinischer Merkur“ inveighed against Napoleonic rule and censorship of the press. In 1832 Hambach Castle was the scene of the first democratic-republican assembly in Germany. The worldfamous Gutenberg Museum displays its treasures in Mainz, the birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg (14001468), who invented the art of printing books with movable type. The philosopher and father of scientific socialism, Karl Marx (1818-1883), was born in Trier.

Viticulture and industry. Products from the state of Rhineland-Palatinate are in high demand on both domestic and international markets. With an export rate of roughly 40 percent, it ranks first in this category among Germany’s states. Its economy is remarkably diversified: Rhineland-Palatinate is a wine-growing center (two thirds of the country’s wine comes from here) and an important wood producer as well as a major center of the chemical industry and a leading supplier of automobile components. Distinctive regional industries include the gemstone industry in Idar-Oberstein, ceramic and glass products from the Westerwald, and the leather industry of the Hunsrück and the Palatinate. Small and medium-sized businesses form the backbone of the Rhineland-Palatinate economy. The state’s principal industrial employer is the chemical and plastics processing industry: BASF in Ludwigshafen is Europe’s largest chemical factory complex and Rhineland-Palatinate’s largest manufacturing firm. Also situated on the Rhine are the state’s four next-largest companies: Boehringer (pharmaceuticals) in Ingelheim, Joh. A. Benckiser (chemicals, cosmetics) in Ludwigshafen, SGE Deutsche Holding (construction) in Ludwigshafen and the Schott Glassworks in Mainz. Europe’s largest television network, ZDF (Channel Two), has its headquarters in Mainz, the state capital, as does the broadcasting company SAT.1.

Picturesque landscapes. Rhineland-Palatinate lies in the center of the Rhenish Schist Massif. One of the most beautiful landscapes in Germany – and the world – is the stretch of the Rhine Valley between Bingen and Bonn. Dotted with castles, it is steeped in legend, and its praises have been sung by countless poets, painters and musicians. Here and in the valley of the Mosel River grow wines which are prized by connoisseurs all over the world. The other tributaries of the Rhine – the Nahe, Lahn and Ahr rivers – are likewise very scenic wine-growing regions. At the foot of the Palatinate Forest runs the “German Wine Route“.

The Rhine has been the region’s economic artery since time immemorial. On it lie the cities of Ludwigshafen (167,000 inhabitants), Mainz (185,000 inhabitants) and Koblenz (109,000 inhabitants). Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa built a castle in Kaiserslautern (102,000 inhabitants) in the 12th century. The old Roman city of Trier (100,000 inhabitants) is 2,000 years old; its buildings dating from Roman times appear on the UNESCO World Heritage List, as do the cathedrals in Speyer, Worms and Mainz, the abbey church Maria Laach in the Eifel, Eltz Castle, the town of Oberwesel on the Rhine, St. Catherine’s Church in Oppenheim, the Church of St. Paulinus in Trier and the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress at Koblenz.

Artists of yesterday and today. The unusual light above the lovely hilly countryside of the Palatinate was captured by the painters Max Slevogt (1868-1932) and Hans Purrmann (1880-1966). Prominent contemporary artists from Rhineland-Palatinate include the painters Heijo Hangen and Karl Otto Götz as well as the sculptors Franz Bernhard, Erwin Wortelkamp and Michael Croissant. Every year, between 1 May and 3 October, the “Rhineland-Palatinate Summer of Culture“ features a wide variety of cultural events which are held all over the state.

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An eventful history. The political evolution of the smallest German state (apart from the city-states) mirrors the vicissitudes of German history in the 20th century. After World War I, upon the entry into force of the Treaty of Versailles in 1920, this coal and steel region was detached from the German Reich and placed under the administration of the League of Nations. In 1935 the people of the Saar voted by a majority of more than 90 percent in favor of its political reintegration into Germany. The same thing happened after World War II. France, the occupying power, closed off the border between the Saarland and the rest of Germany. In a referendum held in 1955, the Saarlanders again voted by a large majority in favor of the return of the Saar to the Federal Republic. France’s consent to this wish was a milestone in the process of Franco-German reconciliation. The reintegration of the Saarland on 1 January 1957 was effected in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law (the German constitution) – setting a precedent for the process of German unification in 1990.

City, state and river. The Saarland takes its name from the Saar River, a tributary of the Mosel; the Saar also appears in the names of the state’s largest cities. The Saar meanders charmingly through scenic countryside – a popular destination for tourists and hikers is the loop of the Saar near Orscholz. Grapes grown along the lower reaches of the Saar yield a wine prized by connoisseurs. Saarlanders have a partiality for more than the wine, however: Their local cuisine combines German tradition with French finesse – just one example of the symbiosis of the French and German way of life which is typical of the Saarland. The state capital Saarbrücken (188,000 inhabitants) is also an industrial hub and a convention center, the venue of the International Saar Fair. One fine Baroque building is the Ludwigskirche built in 1762-1775 by Friedrich Joachim Stengel. The University of the Saarland in Saarbrücken, the colleges of art and music, and other higher education institutions and Fachhochschulen are attended by many students from neighboring countries as well. Saarbrücken offers a wealth of cultural attractions including film and theater festivals, museums, orchestras and choral groups. The director Max Ophüls (1902-1957), who was born in Saarbrücken, made film history with his delightful comedies.

The name of the city of Saarlouis recalls the fact that here, about 300 years ago, the French king Louis XIV ordered his military engineer Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban to erect a fortress to defend his conquests in the western part of Germany. Today Saarlouis is an important industrial city (automobiles, steel, food and electronics).

Völklingen was molded by the ironworks founded here in 1873, which by 1890 had already become one of the former German Empire’s principal iron producers. This ironworks eventually became unable to compete on the world’s markets and was shut down in 1986; substantial parts of it, however, were preserved. Today it is an industrial museum and is used for cultural purposes. In 1995 the Völklinger Hütte ironworks was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

One of Europe’s core regions. “The Saarlanders show us by their example how it is possible to be a good Saarlander, a good German, a good European and a good neighbor all at the same time.“ Thus the former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker characterized the people of the Saar. The Saarland in Germany, Lorraine in France, and Luxembourg – often referred to by the abbreviation “Saar-Lor-Lux“ – are developing ever closer ties, not least as a result of extensive new transportation projects. Traditional branches of industry of supraregional importance are glass and ceramics as well as mechanical engineering, metal processing and chemicals. The Saarland also furthers research projects of great significance. Future-oriented areas of emphasis include information and communications technologies, materials research, electronics, production technologies and medical technology. Numerous top-notch university and university-affiliated institutes form the interface between research and practical applications: the Max Planck Institute for Computers, for example, as well as the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence, the Fraunhofer Institute for Non-Destructive Testing, the Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Technology, the Institute for Information Systems and the world-famous Institute for New Materials.

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