Germany's federal states
Population: 6.1 million
Hesse was created in the aftermath of World War Two through the merger of Hesse-Darmstadt and Hesse-Nassau. It is currently the main centre of the Rhein-Main region of business and industry. Its largest city, Frankfurt am Main, is home to Germany's banking and transportation industries. In fact, Frankfurt, which is one of the world's famous air transit points, is one of Europe's business airports and railway hubs. In addition, as a testimony to Hesse's financial influence, the European Central Bank, together with the branches of most European banks, are located there.
Hesse also hosts twelve public higher education institutions and three state theatres. Kassel, a city in the northern part of the state, is well-known for its internationally acclaimed art collections. Wiesbaden, the state capital, is a popular convention city. Interestingly, notwithstanding the bustling financial activities, Hesse has the highest percentage of forest proportionate to its size of all the federal states in Germany, further boosting its reputation as a population recreational and holiday destination.
Hesse State Theatre
8. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
Population: 1.64 million
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was formed after World War Two through the merger of Mecklenburg and Vorpommern. However, it was dissolved in 1952 before being recreated prior to Germany's reunification in 1990.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which was once known as the "state of castles and cottages", is famous for its beautiful natural scenery. Blessed with huge expanses of arable land and grazing fields, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s economy is dominated by agriculture. In addition, the state has a 350-km long Baltic coastline, which helps to promote the ship-building industry, maritime trade and fishing activities. The city of Rostok was also the largest international port of the former German Democratic Republic.
Given the beautiful natural scenery and long coastline, tourism has since become an important source of income. This is reflected in the rapid development of seaside resorts along the Baltic coast, from the Bay of Lübeck to the island of Rügen. Although the sixth largest state in Germany, it is the least densely populated one.
9. Lower Saxony
Population: 7.9 million
Lower Saxony is the second largest federal state in Germany. Most of its major cities are situated in its central and southern parts, such as Hanover, Brunswick, Osnabrück, Wolfsburg, Salzgitter, Hildesheim and Göttingen. Due to its favourable local climate and arable land, it hosts numerous fruit farms, of which the chief produce is apples.
The main industry of the state is the automobile industry, including famous names like Volkswagen and Continental. Moreover, Hanover hosts two of the world’s most famous trade fairs – the Hanover Industrial Trade Fair and CeBIT (the world’s largest IT trade fair). Despite the bustling economic activities, Lower Saxony has managed to preserve much of its appealing natural landscape.
10. North Rhine-Westphalia
Population: 17.8 million
North Rhine-Westphalia, which is Germany’s most populous state, is home to many large cities and towns such as Cologne, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Krefeld, Bielefeld, Essen and Dortmund. Accounting for almost a quarter of the Federal Republic of Germany’s GDP, the state hosts many large companies and small and medium-sized businesses.
Previously dominated by coal and steel industries, its economy is now much more diversified with chemical industries, technology and service industries. The state is also a confluence between the business, academic and research sectors, allowing it to develop as a key business and research centre in Europe. There are 49 universities and colleges in the state. In addition, the state is also an important cultural region, with its 23 symphony orchestras, 72 theatres and 200 museums.
Population: 4 million
Situated in the heart of Europe, Rhineland-Palatinate was created in 1947 from parts of Bavaria, the Prussian Rhine province, the Prussian Nassau province and Hesse-Darmstadt. Rhineland-Palatinate is Germany's leading producer of wine in terms of grape cultivation and wine export. Its capital, Mainz, is the home of the German Wine Institute, the German Wine Fund in the Haus des Deutschen Weines (House of German Wine) and the Verband Deutscher Pradikats- und Qualitatsweinguter Wine Bourse, a congregation of the top winemakers from Germany and the rest of the world. Moreover, six of the thirteen top wine-producing regions in Germany are located here. In total, the state's wine producers account for more than 75% of Germany's wine exports.
Besides a centre of wine production, it is also a dynamic centre of German foreign trade. The state has developed a comprehensive industrial base and transport infrastructure, together with a wide range of universities, educational institutes and research centres. In addition, the state has a rich historical and cultural heritage and a beautiful natural landscape, making it a popular holiday destination for both Germans and tourists.
Population: 1 million
During the last two centuries, Saarland has changed nationality eight times. Bordering France and Luxembourg, the state is now an excellent example of a transnational Europe, in which cultural exchanges and cross-border cooperation are part and parcel of daily life.
Saarland's economy comprises of the traditional coal and steel industries, as well as modern growth sectors like science and technology. The state government has built up a good infrastructure and research facilities, which enable the state economy to diversify into areas such as automobile manufacturing and IT. As a tribute to the role played by the steel industry in the region, the Volklingen Ironworks was included in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List.
Given its proximity to other countries, Saarland has a wide spectrum of cultural activities in its capital. It is also well-known for its pro-family and environment-friendly policies, such that it now has one of the densest networks of childcare facilities and solar energy plants in the whole of Germany.
In addition, Saarland is also well-known for its attractive mountainous landscapes in the Mittelgebirge region with its vast expanses of forest and significant industrial heritage sites.