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(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.
S. B. LAVROV