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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

—  State of Germany  —


Coat of arms
Coordinates: 51°28′41″N 7°33′18″E / 51.47806°N 7.555°E / 51.47806; 7.555
Country Germany
Capital Düsseldorf
 - Minister-President Jürgen Rüttgers (CDU)
 - Governing parties CDU / FDP
 - Votes in Bundesrat 6 (of 69)
 - Total 34,084.13 km2 (13,160 sq mi)
Population (2009-1-31)[1]
 - Total 17,920,000
 Density 525.8/km2 (1,361.7/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code DE-NW
GDP/ Nominal € 541,07 billion (2008 [2])[citation needed]

North Rhine-Westphalia (German: Nordrhein-Westfalen [ˈnɔɐ̯tʁaɪn vɛstˈfaːlən] De-Nordrhein-Westfalen.ogg , usually shortened to NRW, official short form NW) is the westernmost, most populous, and economically most powerful state of Germany. North Rhine-Westphalia has about 18 million inhabitants, contributes about 22% of Germany's gross domestic product and comprises a land area of 34,083 km² (13,158 square miles). North Rhine-Westphalia is situated in the western part of Germany and shares borders with Belgium in the southwest and the Netherlands in the west and northwest. It has borders with the German states of Lower Saxony to the north and northeast, Rhineland-Palatinate to the south and Hesse to the southeast.

The capital city is Düsseldorf, and the largest city is Cologne (Köln). Other major cities are Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg, Oberhausen, Aachen, Bielefeld, Bonn, Bochum, Bottrop, Bergisch Gladbach, Mönchengladbach, Mülheim, Münster, Gelsenkirchen, Krefeld, Hagen, Hamm, Herne, Iserlohn, Leverkusen, Neuss, Paderborn, Recklinghausen, Remscheid, Siegen, Solingen, Witten and Wuppertal.

Once, the Ruhrgebiet was affected by coal mining and coal and steel industry but, from the 1960s on, a structural change took place. Even after the fall of these industries, the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region is affected by important basic industries and is one of the German economic centres. In absolute figures, North Rhine-Westphalia remains the most powerful state, economically.



The state is centred on the sprawling Rhine-Ruhr urbanised region, which contains the cities of Düsseldorf, Bonn and Cologne as well as the Ruhr Area industrial complex. The Ruhr area consists of, among others, the cities of Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg, Bochum, Gelsenkirchen and Oberhausen.

The state's area covers a maximum distance of 291 km from north to south, and 266 km from east to west.

The total length of the state's borders is 1,645 km. The following countries and states have a border with North Rhine-Westphalia:[3]

For many people North Rhine-Westphalia is synonymous with industrial areas and agglomerating cities. But the largest part of the state is used for agriculture (almost 52%), and forests cover 25%.[4] The southern parts of the Teutoburg Forest are located in the northeast. In the southwest, Nordrhein-Westfalen shares in a small part of the Eifel, located on the borders with Belgium and Rheinland-Pfalz. The southeast is occupied by the sparsely populated regions of Sauerland and Siegerland. The northwestern areas of the state are part of the Northern European Lowlands.

The most important rivers that run at least partially through North Rhine-Westphalia include: Rhine, Ruhr, Ems, Lippe and Weser. The Pader, which runs only through the city of Paderborn, is considered the shortest river in Germany.


Location and topography

North Rhine-Westphalia is located in the west of the Federal Republic of Germany. The north widely extends into the North German Plain. The northernmost point is the NRW-Nordpunkt near Rahden in the northeast of the state. The Nordpunkt is located only 100 km to the south of the North Sea coast. The deepest natural dip is arranged in the district Zyfflich in the city of Kranenburg with 9.2m above sea level in the northwest of the state. Though, the deepest point overground results from mining. The open-pit Hambach reaches at Niederzier a deep of 293m below sea level. At the same time, this is the deepest man-made dip in Germany. Approximately half of the state is located in the relative shallow regions of the Westphalian Lowland or rather the Rhineland. In the lowlands are a few isolated mountain ranges located, among them the Hohe Mark, the Beckumer Berge, the Baumberge and the Stemmer Berge. Towards the south as well as in the east of the state, the terrain rises. There, the state has a stake in the Mittelgebirgsregionen. To this are counted the Weser Hills with the Eggegebirge, the Wiehengebirge, the Wesergebirge and the Teutoburg Forest in the east, the Sauerland, the Bergisches Land, the Siegerland and the Siebengebirge in the south, as well as the Eifel left-bank in the southwest of the state. The Rothaargebirge in the border region to Hesse exhibits elevations about 800m above sea level. The highest among these mountains is the Langenberg with 843.2m above sea level, then follow the Kahler Asten (840.7m above sea level) and the Clemensberg (839.2m above sea level).

The planimetrical ascertained centre of North Rhine-Westphalia is located in the south of Dortmund-Aplerbeck in the Aplerbecker Mark (51° 28' 42" N, 7° 33' 18" O). The westernmost point is situated near Selfkant close to the Dutch border, the easternmost near Höxter on the Weser and the southernmost near Hellenthal in the Eifel region in the southwest of the state.


See also List of places in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The state consists of five administrative regions (Regierungsbezirke), divided into 31 districts (Kreise) and 23 urban districts (kreisfreie Städte). In total, North Rhine-Westphalia has 396 municipalities (1997), including the urban districts, which are municipalities by themselves.

(Northern) Rhineland and Westphalia

The districts of North Rhine-Westphalia:

North rhine w map.jpg

  1. Aachen
  2. Borken
  3. Coesfeld
  4. Düren
  5. Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis
  6. Rhein-Erft-Kreis
  7. Euskirchen
  8. Gütersloh
  9. Heinsberg
  10. Herford
  11. Hochsauerlandkreis
  1. Höxter
  2. Kleve
  3. Lippe
  4. Märkischer Kreis
  5. Mettmann
  6. Minden-Lübbecke
  7. Rhein-Kreis Neuss
  8. Oberbergischer Kreis
  9. Olpe
  10. Paderborn
  1. Recklinghausen
  2. Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis
  3. Rhein-Sieg-Kreis
  4. Siegen-Wittgenstein
  5. Soest
  6. Steinfurt
  7. Unna
  8. Viersen
  9. Warendorf
  10. Wesel

The urban districts:

Duisburg Lake Masuren in the industrial region of the Ruhr

The five administrative regions—also called regional districts—belonging to one of two Landschaftsverbände:

According to the concept used, the state can be differently arranged. Most common is the subdivision according to several sociocultural, historical, biogeographical and agricultural references. Thus, North Rhine-Westphalia firstly has to be divided into its three parts Northrhine (northern Rhineland, mostly simply called Rhineland), Westfalen and Lippe, which were allied in 1946/47 to the state North Rhine-Westphalia. Especially between Lippe and Westfalen on the one side and the Rhineland on the other side, there are clear historical and cultural differences. The third part of the state, Lippe, which did not enter the already existing state of North Rhine-Westphalia until 1947/48, is - as a former German Federal State which had been independent for about 800 years - mostly seen as an independent region and its own part of the landscape. According to the criteria chosen, an approximate further subdivision could be made like this:

  • Rhineland
    • Bergisches Land
    • Eifel
    • Aachen
    • Lower Rhine
    • Rheinschiene
    • Cologne/Bonn
  • Westfalen
    • Münsterland
    • Minden-Ravensberg
    • Prince-Bishopric Paderborn
    • Sauerland
    • Siegerland
    • Tecklenburger Land
  • Lippe
    • Lipper Land, the region of the ancient free state


Augustusburg Palace in Brühl, North Rhine-Westphalia.

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia was established by the British military administration on 23 August 1946. Originally it consisted of Westphalia and the northern parts of the Rhine Province, both formerly belonging to Prussia. In 1947 the former state of Lippe was merged with North Rhine-Westphalia, hence leading to the present borders of the state. It then passed, and ratified through a plebiscite the constitution of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The North Rhine-Westphalia state election on May 22, 2005 granted the CDU an unexpected victory. Their top candidate Jürgen Rüttgers built a new coalition government consisting of CDU and FDP that replaced the former government headed by Peer Steinbrück. Rüttgers was elected new Prime Minister (German: Ministerpräsident) of the federal state on June 22, 2005.


The flag of North Rhine-Westphalia is green-white-red with the combined coats of arms of the Prussian Rhine province (white line before green background, symbolizing the river Rhine), Westfalen (the white horse) and Lippe (the red rose).

According to legend the horse in the Westphalian coat of arms is the horse that the Saxon leader Widukind rode after his baptism. Other theories attribute the horse to Henry the Lion. Some connect it with the saxon rulers Hengest and Horsa.

A regional anthem is the Lied für NRW (Song for NRW).


These are the Prime Ministers (German: Ministerpräsident) of the Federal State (German: Bundesland) of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW):

Minister-presidents of North Rhine-Westphalia
No. Name Born-Died Party affiliation Begin of Tenure End of Tenure
1 Rudolf Amelunxen 1888-1969 Zentrum 1946 1947
2 Karl Arnold 1901-1958 CDU 1947 1956
3 Fritz Steinhoff 1897-1969 SPD 1956 1958
4 Franz Meyers 1908-2002 CDU 1958 1966
5 Heinz Kühn 1912-1992 SPD 1966 1978
6 Johannes Rau 1931-2006 SPD 1978 1998
7 Wolfgang Clement *1940 SPD 1998 2002
8 Peer Steinbrück *1947 SPD 2002 2005
8 Jürgen Rüttgers *1951 CDU 2005 incumbent

The results of the North Rhine-Westphalia state election, 2005 were as follows. Note that overall seat totals have been reduced, lowering the seat counts for all parties.

Voter turnout was at 63%, an increase of 7% over the previous election in 2000. Prior to the election, some analysts had predicted that a CDU victory might result from disenchanted SPD voters staying home, but the turnout figures appear to reject this scenario.

Party Party List votes Vote percentage (change) Total Seats (change) Seat percentage
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 3,695,806 44.8% +7.9% 89 +1 47.6%
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 3,059,074 37.1% -5.7% 74 -28 39.6%
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 508,354 6.2% -3.7% 12 -12 6.4%
Alliance '90/The Greens 509,219 6.2% -0.9% 12 -5 6.4%
Electoral Alternative for Labor and Social Justice (WASG) 181,886 2.2% +2.2% 0 +0 0.0%
National Democratic Party (NPD) 73,959 0.9% +0.9% 0 +0 0.0%
Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) 72,982 0.9% -0.2% 0 +0 0.0%
The Republicans 67,282 0.8% -0.3% 0 +0 0.0%
All Others 74,810 0.9% +0.5% 0 +0 0.0%
Totals 8,243,372 100.0%   187 -44 100.0%
2005 results; SPD in red, CDU in black, FDP in yellow, Greens in green.


A ThyssenKrupp plant near Duisburg. Thyssen Krupp is the biggest company of today's coal, iron and steel industry in Germany.

In the 1950's and 60's, the land was known as Land von Kohle und Stahl (land of coal and steel). In the post-WWII recovery, the Ruhr was one of the most important industrial regions in Europa and contributed to the German Wirtschaftswunder. As of the late 1960's, repeated crises led to contractions of these industrial branches. On the other hand, producing sectors, particularly in mechanical engineering and metal and iron working industry, experienced a substantial growth. Some of former coal mining areas retain high unemployment rates. Despite this structural change and an economic growth lastingly under the German average, the 2007 GDP of 529.4 billion Euro (21.8 percent of the total German GDP) made the land the economically most important in Germany, as well as one of the most important economical areas in the world.[5] On a per-capita base, though, Northrhine-Westfalia remains one of the weaker among the Western German lands.[6] As of February 2010, the unemployment rate is 9.3%, second highest among all German states, and in particular well above the West German average.[7]


42 %[8] of the people are Roman Catholic and 28 %[9] of the people are members of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

Notes and references

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Central Europe : Germany : North Rhine-Westphalia

North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen) is a state in the northwest of Germany.

  • Rhineland (Rheinland)
  • Ruhr (Ruhrgebiet)
  • Westphalia (Westfalen)


Northrhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen – for short NRW) is an artifical state, founded 1946 by the British Government. It consists, as the name indicates, of the province Westphalia in the east and the northern Rhinelands in the west. And the hyphen symbolizes the attempt to bind people whose nature is so very incompatible and stands also for the gap between the ethnic groups. This gap runs from the southeast to the northwest for 283 kilometers across the state. The Westphalien guy is said to be a little bit tight-lipped but very reliable while the Rhinelanders are full of life and sometimes a little bit noisy. Knowing this makes it easier for a visitor to understand some attitudes, furthermore handle it like the locals - take it in a good spirit.

On a geological view the northern part of NRW is flat farmland and is known for its expertise in horse breeding, while the southern part is mountainous, up to 1000 meters above sea leavel. It's numerous brooks turned the wheels of numerous handicrafts before the steam engine was invented.

In the middle in all aspects - geographic and ethnic - there exists the Ruhr Area (Ruhrgebiet), for short "The Ruhr" which is at least the name of the river at whose banks the region is situated. It arose during the past 150 years by immigrants from all over Europe but has strong roots in Westphalia and the Rhinelands also. The region had been and is still a bit the heard of heavy industry in Germany, based on coal and steel. Althrough mining has come to an end the identification of the people is strongly derivated from heavy industry.

NRW has about 18 Million inhabitants which makes it the state with the highst population in Germany NRW is number four in the largest German states 34 of the 100 largest companies in Germany have their heardquarten in NRW, 9 of the 100 largest European companies have their headquarter in NRW.

The capital is Düsseldorf. The largest city of the state is Cologne. The Ruhr is the third largest urban region in middle Europe, after London and Paris.

Get around

Public transport is very easy. You need only one ticket for local, regional and express trains (no high speed trains), light rail systems, trams and buses in the whole North Rhine-Westphalia. You don't need to purchase another ticket when you change from local train to bus, light rail and tram. Example: You purchased a ticket from Aachen to Wuppertal for local, regional and express trains. Whith this ticket you can use the monorail (Schwebebahn) and the city bus system in Wuppertal.

  • Hotel Lindenhof, Emsdetten.

A clean and comfortable inn with breakfast each morning, including soft boiled eggs, cold cuts and cheeses, an assorment of breads, rolls and spreads, juice, coffee, tea and cereals. Located within walking distance of the train station with free parking and internet access. Excellent onsite restaurant with traditional German fare is served including pork, mushrooms and spatzel, fresh, local produce. There is a lovely, small garden in back which serves as a nice place to unwind after a long day. Toiletries are not provided.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:



Compound of North Rhine and Westphalia.

Proper noun

North Rhine-Westphalia


North Rhine-Westphalia

  1. One of the component states of Germany according to the current administrative division of the nation.


See also


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