Germany's federal states
Population: 4.1 million
During the 19th and 20th centuries, small and medium sized enterprises in Saxony played a leading role in the industrialisation of Germany. Well-known for its economic vitality, the state economy is well-diversified, including a wide range of industries such as IT, watch-making, car-making, construction and trade.
Saxony has also played an influential role in the world of music, represented by the Semper opera house in Dresen and the Thomaner Choir in Leipzig. In additions, visitors can discover not just Bach, the Baroque and the famous blue swords adorning Meissen porcelain, but also a vibrant diversity of contemporary culture clustered here. Thanks to its beautiful natural landscapes, Saxony has also attracted many Germans and tourists as a holiday destination.
Dresden at night
Population: 2.3 million
Saxony-Anhalt, situated on the banks of the Elbe and Saale rivers, plays a crucial role in German history. It was from Magdeburg where Christianity spread to the areas east of the Elbe. During the 10th and 11th centuries, the region became a centre of the Christian world, for it was from Wittenberg where Martin Luther launched the Reformation.
Saxony-Anhalt's economy main comprises the chemical industry, construction of heavy machinery and plant equipment, steel and light metal engineering, and lignite mining. In recent years, it has also developed a highly competitive agricultural industry.
The state is well-known for its picturesque Saale-Unstrut region, dotted with castles, which extends to the south-east of the Harzmountains.
Population: 2.8 million
Schleswig-Holstein, which is the most northern of the federal states, lies between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Given such geographical conditions, ship-building and fishing have been important activities in its history. In fact, two-thirds of the German fishing fleet are registered here. However, with the diversification of its economy, tourism and agriculture have also begun to come to the forefront. In addition, the state government has also encouraged the growth of technical innovation in universities and colleges, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises.
The North Sea and Baltic coastlines, which extend for hundreds of kilometres, make Schleswig-Holstein a popular destination for holiday makers. The North Sea island of Sylt is one example. Other well-known features in the state are the North Sea-Baltic Canal and the beautiful Hanseatic city of Lübeck, which was designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
Population: 2.2 million
Thuringia was created out of seven small states, combined with territories that had previously belonged to Prussia. It is well-known for its beautiful landscapes, such as the Thuringian Forest, the Southern Harz and Kyffhäuser Mountains, as well as the valleys of the Saaleand Rhön. The state also has a culinary and literary tradition, exemplified by its famous long thin sausages and the historic works of Weimar poets Goethe and Schiller.
Thuringia’s economic landscape is shaped by the large industries that have developed throughout the state, although Erfurt, the state capital, is also now home to a flourishing bio- and solar technology sector. In addition, the state also contains many significant cities such as Weimar (the city of German Classicism and the birthplace of the Weimar Republic), Gotha, Altenburg and Meiningen (which were previously a centre of power for German princes).