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(bŏn, Ger. bôn), city (1994 pop. 296,860), former capital of West Germany, North Rhine–Westphalia, W Germany, on the Rhine River. It functioned as the provisional seat of government of reunited Germany until 1999, when most of the government moved to BerlinBerlin
, city (1994 pop. 3,475,400), capital of Germany, coextensive with Berlin state (341 sq mi/883 sq km), NE Germany, on the Spree and Havel rivers. Formerly divided into East Berlin (156 sq mi/404 sq km) and West Berlin (185 sq mi/479 sq km), the city was reunified along
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; some government functions remain in Bonn. The city's manufactures include light-metal products, ceramics, office equipment, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. After the departure of the national government, Bonn made strides in becoming an information-technology and medical research center.

Bonn was founded in the 1st cent. A.D. as the Roman garrison of Castra Bonnensia. It was devastated by the Normans in the 9th cent. and later became the residence (1238–1794) of the electors of Cologne and the scene of the coronations of Frederick the Handsome (1314) and Charles IV (1346) as kings of the Romans. During the Palatinate Succession War (1689), Bonn was destroyed by Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg. It was rebuilt, largely in the baroque style. Bonn was occupied (1794) and later annexed (1798–1814) by France. In 1815, it passed to Prussia. In 1948–49, delegates from the parts of Germany occupied by France, Great Britain, and the United States met in Bonn and drafted a constitution for the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1949, Bonn was made West Germany's capital.

Bonn is the seat of a famous university, whose main building formerly was the electoral palace (built 1697–1725). The city has a noteworthy church (11th–13th cent.). The Bonn Art Museum and the Federal Art and Exhibition Center both opened in 1992. There is a museum of Rhenish culture, and BeethovenBeethoven, Ludwig van
, 1770–1827, German composer. He is universally recognized as one of the greatest composers of the Western European music tradition. Beethoven's work crowned the classical period and also effectively initiated the romantic era in music.
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's birthplace is also a museum.



(Latin Bonna or Castra Bonnensia), capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, situated in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, on the left bank of the Rhine and partly on the spurs of the Rhine Schiefergebirge. It has a temperate continental climate, with an average January temperature of about 0° C and a July average temperature of about 20° C. The annual precipitation is between 700 and 1,000 mm. Bonn is the headquarters of the president, parliament, the government, and various state, administrative, and political institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany, while other such institutions are in nearby towns, such as Bad-Godesberg, Konigswinter, and Mehlem. In 1969 many suburbs were incorporated into the town. The population in 1969 was 138,000.

The town is administered by a town council, having at its head Oberbürgermeister who is elected by the population for a period of four years. Executive functions are in the hands of a town director and his assistants appointed by the council.

The town was founded by the Romans in the first century A.D. From 1273 to 1794 it was the residence of the electors of Cologne. In 1814 it became part of Prussia. From 1945 to 1949 it was in the British occupation zone of Germany, and since 1949 it has been the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Beethoven was born in Bonn, and Karl Marx studied at the university there from 1835 to 1836.

Bonn is an important transport junction. It is a port on the Rhine and a highway and railway junction. The airport is at Wahn (Cologne-Bonn). Its industry is small (more than 10,000 were employed in industry in 1967) and the articles manufactured are mainly consumer goods. Products include electrotechnical goods, nonferrous metal articles, precision machinery and optical instruments, pharmaceutical products, furniture, ceramics, stationery, foodstuffs, and tobacco. There is also a printing industry. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Federal Republic of Germany is in Bonn, as are the offices of many industrial and financial concerns and the like. Lignite is mined in the area. There is a university which dates back to 1777, a higher agricultural institution, a conservatory, and a teacher-training college, as well as various scientific societies. The concert hall, where biannual musical festivals are held, is dedicated to Beethoven. Among the architectural monuments are the Romanesque cathedral (11th to the beginning of the 13th century), the Gothic church of St. Remigius (1274–1317), the baroque Jesuit church (1686–1717) and town hall (1737), the electoral palace (now the university, built in the 13th century, rebuilt in 1715), and the castle of Poppelsdorf (1715–53). After 1945 a new section with governmental buildings arose in Bonn (Parliament, 1950); the old center is being reconstructed and modern-style public buildings (Beethoven Hall, 1959) and high-rise administrative buildings are being built. German art of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries is exhibited at the Town Hall Gallery.


a city in W Germany, in North Rhine-Westphalia on the Rhine: the former capital (1949--90) of West Germany; university (1786). Pop.: 311 052 (2003 est.)
References in periodicals archive ?
What was the capital of West Germany prior to reunification in 1990?
This industrial town on the Rhine, with roughly a million inhabitants, emerged as not only the art capital of West Germany but the world's most important city for contemporary art outside New York.
which city was the capital of west Germany until unification in 1990?