North Rhine-Westphalia

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Related to North Rhine-Westphalia: Saxony-Anhalt, Rhineland Palatinate

North Rhine–Westphalia

(nôrth rīn-wĕstfāl`yə), Ger. Nordrhein-Westfalen (nôrt`rīn-vĕst'fä`lən), state (1994 pop. 17,759,000), 13,111 sq mi (33,957 sq km), W central Germany. Düsseldorf is the capital. The state is bounded by Belgium and the Netherlands in the west, Lower Saxony in the north and east, Hesse in the southeast, and Rhineland-Palatinate in the south. Situated in the lower Rhine plain, North Rhine–Westphalia includes the Teutoburg Forest and the Rothaargebirge. It is drained by the Rhine, Ruhr, Wupper, Lippe, and Ems rivers. A highly industrialized state, it contains the largest industrial concentration in Europe (see RuhrRuhr
, region, c.1,300 sq mi (3,370 sq km), North Rhine–Westphalia, W Germany; a principal manufacturing center of Germany. The Ruhr lies along, and north of, the Ruhr River (145 mi/233 km long), which rises in the hills of central Germany and flows generally west to the
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 district), with one of the largest mining and energy-producing regions in Europe. It has excellent transportation facilities, including superhighways, electrified rail service, river transport, and two large airports. Its manufactures include chemicals, machines, processed foods, textiles, clothing, and iron and steel. More than half of the state's total land is occupied with commerical farming as well as gardens and orchards, although these enterprises amount to only a small portion of the area's gross annual product. North Rhine–Westphalia is also the most populous state in Germany and has numerous large cities, including Aachen, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, Dortmund, Remscheid, Oberhausen, and Wuppertal. There are universities at Bielefeld, Bochum, Bonn, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Münster. The state was formed in 1946 through the union of the former Prussian province of WestphaliaWestphalia
, Ger. Westfalen, region and former province of Prussia, W Germany. Münster was the capital of the province. After 1945 the province was incorporated into the West German state of North Rhine–Westphalia, now a state in reunified Germany.
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, the northern part of the former Prussian Rhine ProvinceRhine Province,
Ger. Rheinprovinz, former province of Prussia, W Germany. The province was also known as Rhenish Prussia and as the Rhineland. The northern section of the former province (which contained part of the industrial Ruhr district) is now included in the state
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, and the former state of LippeLippe
, former state, N central Germany, between the Teutoburg Forest and the Weser River. It was incorporated in 1947 into the state of North Rhine–Westphalia. Detmold, the former capital, was the chief city.
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. It possesses little historic unity because of significant cultural differences among the various peoples in the state; this diversity has been enlarged by substantial immigration from other European countries to cities throughout the region.

North Rhine-Westphalia


(German, Nordrhein-West-falen), a Land (state) of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), located in the Rhine River basin. Area, 34,000 sq km. Population, 17.1 million (1972). The capital is the city of Düsseldorf. Bonn, the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, is located in the state.

There are lowlands in the north and west, and the Wester-wald is in the south and east. North Rhine-Westphalia is the most urbanized and most densely populated state of the FRG (more than 500 persons per square kilometer). More than 90 percent of the population lives in cities (1973); 24 cities have more than 100,000 inhabitants. These include Cologne, Essen, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Duisburg, and Wuppertal, which together form the Ruhr-Lower Rhine area, the largest urban region in the country, with a population of 10 million.

North Rhine-Westphalia is an important economic region of the RFG, accounting for 30 percent of the country’s gross national product and industrial output. Its economic significance is due to the Ruhr Coal Basin (a major factor in the development of the Ruhr industrial region) and the proximity of one of Europe’s main arteries, the Rhine. More than 88 million tons of hard coal (85 percent of the national total) are extracted in the Ruhr and Aachen basins, while more than 101 million tons of brown coal (90 percent of the national total) come from the Cologne basin.

Hydroelectric power plants in North Rhine-Westphalia produce approximately one-half of all the electrical energy in the country (151 billion kW-hr in 1973) and supply other regions with electricity. Imported petroleum is received in Cologne through pipelines from Wilhelmshaven and Rotterdam. Petroleum refineries in Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, and other cities account for 40 percent of all petroleum refined in the FRG.

Most of the country’s ferrous metallurgy (70 percent) is concentrated in the Ruhr, including the cities of Duisburg, Dortmund, and Düsseldorf. Nonferrous metallurgy is also highly concentrated around the Ruhr. North Rhine-Westphalia is the center for much of the country’s heavy machine building, including 85 percent of the mining equipment, 90 percent of the blast-furnace and rolling-mill equipment, more than one-half of the railroad cars, and approximately one-half of the machine tools. It also produces river ships, motor vehicles, power machinery, and electronic equipment. The chemical industry produces plastics, synthetic fibers, and rubber; there is also petroleum refining, basic chemical production, and coke production. The textile industry (cotton and silk) is centered in the Münster area and along the left bank of the Rhine, as is the food industry, mainly beer brewing. North Rhine-Westphalia is the country’s leading producer of cement and glass. The predominance of old branches of industry in the overall volume of production and the crisis in coal extraction have caused a relatively low rate of overall industrial development.

Agriculture, which accounts for only 2.5 percent of the gross national product, is a major economic factor only in outlying parts of the Ruhr-Lower Rhine area. Vegetables are raised, and there is dairy farming. Grain and sugar beets are raised at an inlet of the Rhine near Cologne.

North Rhine-Westphalia has a dense network of railroads, highways, and waterways, including the Rhine and the Dortmund-Ems Canal, which link the state with the sea. There is also a concentrated system of petroleum, gas, and petroleum-product pipelines and electric power transmission lines. There is an airport serving Cologne and Bonn.


North Rhine-Westphalia

a state of W Germany: formed in 1946 by the amalgamation of the Prussian province of Westphalia with the N part of the Prussian Rhine province and later with the state of Lippe; part of West Germany until 1990: highly industrialized. Capital: D?sseldorf. Pop.: 18 080 000 (2003 est.). Area: 34 039 sq. km (13 142 sq. miles)
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