Hesse(redirected from Hessians)
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Land and Economy
a Land in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). Area, 21,100 sq km. Population, 5.4 million (1969). Capital, Wiesbaden.
In the west are the eastern spurs of the Rhenish Slate Mountains, reaching an elevation of 800 m in the central part, and in the east, the Reinhardswald, the Habichtswald, the Knöll, the Vogelsberg, and part of the Rhön, with Hesse’s highest mountain, the Wasserkuppe (950 m). In the south lie the western part of the Odenwald and the plains of the Main-Rhine valleys. The rivers are part either of the Rhine basin (the Main, Lahn, and Nidda) or of the Weser basin (the Fulda, Werra, and Eder). The climate is moderate, transitional between marine and continental. The average temperature in January is between 0° and 2° C, and in July, 18°-20° C. Precipitation ranges between 600 and 800 mm yearly. The forests are broad-leaved (oak, hornbeam, beech, and linden).
Nearly half of those gainfully employed work in industry. Lignite is mined in the Kassel and Wetterau regions; the output is 3.5 to 4 million tons a year. Hesse produces 4.5 percent of the total electric power produced in the FRG (10 billion kilowatt-hours in 1969). The state is linked by gas pipelines with the Ruhr and by a petroleum pipeline with the Cologne region and Rotterdam. Hesse produces more than a third of the FRG’s potash (mainly in the Werra River valley). Ferrous metallurgy and a foundry industry have developed, mainly in the Lahn-Dill valley, based on local iron ore deposits (for example, at Wetzlar). There is large-scale chemical industry, including pharmaceutical products, at Frankfurt am Main, Hochst, Wiesbaden, and Darmstadt. General machinery, especially machine tools, is manufactured at Frankfurt, Kassel, Wiesbaden, and Darmstadt; motor vehicles at Rüsselsheim and Kassel; and electrical engineering products at Frankfurt and Hanau. (A plant for electronic computers is being constructed at Heppenheim.) Other industries include leather (Offenbach), rubber, fur (Frankfurt), precision instruments and optics (Wetzlar and Kassel), glass, jewelry (Hanau), and book publishing (Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, and Darmstadt). Hesse’s main industrial center is in the Main-Rhine district, of which Frankfurt is the most important city.
Agricultural lands comprise about 47 percent of the territory of Hesse. Of this, 60 percent is plowed land, about 25 percent hayfields, 10 percent pasture, and 4 percent truck gardens, orchards, and vineyards. As much as 70 percent of the plowed land is in cereal crops—mainly rye, oats, and fodder barley in the north and the mountainous regions and wheat and brewer’s barley in the south. Root crops take up 17 percent—primarily potatoes in the north and sugar beets in the south. Fodder grasses account for 8-9 percent. Fruit growing is important in the Rheingau, Bergstrasse, and Wetterau districts, Rheingau being one of the most important grape-growing regions of the FRG. In 1968 Hesse had 12.5 percent of the sheep, about 9 percent of the horses, 7.5 percent of the hogs, and 6.5 percent of the cattle in the FRG.
The Rhine and lower Main are navigable. Frankfurt am Main is the main transportation center. Tourism is important to Hesse’s economy, and its mineral-springs resorts at Wiesbaden, Schlangenbad, Bad Homburg, and elsewhere are well known.
O. V. VITKOVSKII
Hesse’s name came from the Hessians, a Germanic tribe that inhabited this region during the early Middle Ages. In the late eighth and early ninth century, Hesse was ruled by counts, who after 1137 paid fealty to the landgraves of Thuringia. In the 13th century the Hessian counts became independent feudal lords and after 1292 were landgraves and imperial princes; Hesse became one of the territorial principalities of Germany. In 1277, Kassel became the capital. After numerous divisions of its territory in the 14th and 15th centuries, Hesse was united under Philip the Magnanimous, who ruled from 1509 to 1567. In 1525, Hesse was swept by a peasant war, which the landgrave savagely suppressed. In 1526 the Reformation was introduced in Hesse. After 1567, Hesse was divided into two principalities: Hesse-Kassel and Hesse-Darmstadt. Hesse-Kassel, whose ruler was an elector from 1803 to 1866, was annexed by Prussia in 1866 and became part of the province of Hesse-Nassau. From 1806 to 1918, Hesse-Darmstadt was ruled by a grand duke. The state was known as the Grand Duchy of Hesse from 1866 to 1918. After 1918 it became the republic (Land) of Hesse. After the defeat of fascist Germany, Hesse came partly under the American zone of occupation and partly under the French. Since 1949 it has been part of the FRG, most of it incorporated into the Land of Hesse, but a small part going to the Land of Rhineland-Palatinate.