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(zär`länt), state (1994 pop. 1,080,000), 991 sq mi (2,567 sq km), SW Germany; formerly called the Saar or the Saar Territory. SaarbrückenSaarbrücken
, Fr. Sarrebruck, city (1994 pop. 190,902), capital of Saarland, W Germany, on the Saar River near the French border. It is the leading industrial center of the Saar coal basin and an important road and rail junction, with an airport nearby.
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 is the capital; other cities include Völklingen, SaarlouisSaarlouis
, Fr. Sarrelouis, city (1994 pop. 38,347), Saarland, SW Germany, on the Saar River near the French border. It is a commercial and industrial center. Manufactures include steel, furniture, tobacco products, and bells. Coal is mined in the area.
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, and Sankt Ingbert. Saarland is bounded by France (S and W), by Luxembourg (NW), and by Rhineland-Palatinate (N and E). A region of low, partly wooded hills, Saarland is drained by the Saar River. The population is German-speaking and largely Roman Catholic. There is a university at Saarbrücken.


Saarland long supported a large iron and steel industry based on vast coal fields. Although iron and steel fell off greatly in the 1990s, bringing a dramatic rise in unemployment, the development of car and auto-parts industries, along with the establishment of high-tech businesses, helped counter the decline. Other manufactures include machinery, motors, ceramics, processed foods, and textiles. Agricultural production is limited. The state is an important road and rail junction and is served by a dense rail network; it also is connected with the Rhine-Marne Canal. There is a domestic and international airport at Saarbrücken-Ensheim.


The Saarland possessed little unity before the 20th cent. Until the late 18th cent. it was divided among France (which held the city Saarlouis and the adjacent territory), the county of Saarbrücken (a dependency of Nassau), and the palatine duchy of Zweibrücken. In 1797 it was ceded to France by the Treaty of Campo Formio. The Treaty of Paris of 1815 divided the territory between Bavaria (i.e., the Bavarian or Rhenish Palatinate) and Prussia. Industrial development in the area occurred after 1871, when Alsace-Lorraine became a part of the German empire. With Lorraine's iron ore deposits, the Saarland was able to take advantage of its extensive coal fields.

The Saar Territory came into existence as a political unit when the Treaty of Versailles (1919) made it an autonomous territory, administered by France under League of Nations supervision, pending a plebiscite to be held in 1935 to determine its final status. France also received the right to exploit its coal fields until that time. When more than 90% of the votes cast in the plebiscite favored its reunion with Germany, the Saar was restored (Mar., 1935) to German control and constituted the Saarland prov.

During World War II, Hitler incorporated it (1940) with Lorraine (annexed from France) into the province of Westmark. The scene of heavy fighting at the close of the war (1944–45), the Saarland was placed under French military occupation in 1945 and in 1947 was given an autonomous government. In a referendum (1947) the population voted for economic union with France, and in 1948 a customs union went into effect. Strong West German claims to the Saar, however, were a serious cause of friction in postwar Franco-German relations.

An agreement between France and West Germany in 1954 (see Paris PactsParis Pacts,
four international agreements signed in Paris on Oct. 23, 1954, to establish a new international status for West Germany. Since the end of World War II, West Germany had been occupied by Allied forces and lacked its own means of defense.
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) provided for an autonomous Saar under a neutral commissioner to be named by the Western European Union; the economic union with France was to be maintained for 50 years. However, the agreement was rejected (Oct., 1955) by the Saarlanders in a popular referendum, and, in accordance with subsequent Franco-German agreements (1956), the Saar Territory became (Jan. 1, 1957) a state (as Saarland) of the Federal Republic of Germany. The agreements permitted France to extract coal from the Warndt deposit until 1981, but the customs union with France was dissolved in July, 1959, whereupon the Saarland became economically integrated with West Germany (now Germany).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(also Saar), a region in the western part of the Federal Republic of Germany, located in the basins of the Saar and Moselle rivers and bordering on France and Luxembourg. Area, 2,600 sq km. Population, 1,000,000 (1973), 83 percent of which is urban. The capital is Saarbrücken.

The economy of Saarland is dominated by industry. Of the economically active population (406,000 in 1972), 51.5 percent work in industry, 2 percent in agriculture and forestry, and 19.5 percent in transportation and commerce. The Saar is an important area for heavy industry, primarily the metallurgical industry, and the coal industry. A crisis in the coal industry has seriously affected the region’s economy. In 1973, 27 percent of all industrial workers were employed in ferrous metallurgy, 13.6 percent in the coal industry, 7.5 percent in general machine building, 6.2 percent in the production of electrical articles, 7.1 percent in the manufacture of steel and light-metal structural members, and 4.0 percent in the textile and clothing industry. The Saar produces 10.4 million tons of coal, or approximately 10 percent of the Federal Republic of Germany’s total output (1972); the coal mines are concentrated around the cities of Neunkirchen, Sulzbach, and St. Ingbert and in areas near the French border. The Saar produces 1.5 million tons of coke, 4.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, 4.5 million tons of cast iron, and 5 million tons of steel. The main centers of ferrous metallurgy are Völklingen, Neunkirchen, and Saarbrücken. The Saar has a chemical industry, which produces coke by-products, industrial rubber goods, and nitrogen fertilizers. It also has oil refining; the refinery in Klarenthal has an output of 2.3 million tons. Motor vehicles are assembled in Saarlouis. The Saar has plants for the production of railroad cars, electrical articles, glass, and Mettlach tile. The clothing and meat-processing industries are prominent consumer-goods industries.

Small and average farms, up to 10 hectares in size, account for 80 percent of all farms and for 25 percent of all agricultural land in Saarland (1973). Farms of 20–50 hectares account for 10 percent of all farms and for 41.4 percent of all agricultural land. Cultivated land constitutes 56.4 percent of the agricultural land (including 37.6 percent planted with grains and 7.3 percent with fodder crops). Meadows and pastures constitute 35 percent, and vegetable gardens, orchards, and vineyards 8.3 percent. Forests cover approximately 31.5 percent of the Saar. Animal husbandry dominates agricultural production; in 1973 there were 75,400 head of cattle, including 28,000 dairy cows, and 73,500 swine.

There is a dense transportation network in Saarland, especially in the Saarlouis-Saarbrücken-Ottweiler area. The Mann-heim-Saarbrücken highway connects with France’s highway network. The Moselle and Saar rivers are navigable.


History. In the Middle Ages, the area that is now the Saar was a county in the Holy Roman Empire. From the 1790’s until 1814, the Saar was a French possession. In 1815 most of it was ceded to Prussia; the rest was ceded to Bavaria. From 1871 it was part of the German Empire. In accordance with the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, the Saar was placed under the authority of a League of Nations commission for 15 years. Its coal mines were ceded to France. In 1935, as the result of a plebiscite, the Saar reverted to Germany, which purchased the coal mines of the Saar from France in accordance with the terms of the peace treaty.

After World War II, the Saar was in the French occupation zone and subsequently in the economic, monetary, and tariff system of France. In accordance with the agreement On the Statute of the Saar between France and the Federal Republic of Germany, an agreement that was incorporated in the Paris Agreements of 1954, the Saar was placed under the temporary control of the Western European Union. In a referendum in October 1955, however, the majority of Saar inhabitants rejected this statute. By the terms of the Saar treaty of 1956 between France and the Federal Republic of Germany, the Saar became part of the Federal Republic of Germany on Jan. 1, 1957; economic union with the Federal Republic of Germany was achieved by July 1959 as stipulated in an agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and France.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a state of W Germany: formed in 1919; under League of Nations administration until 1935; occupied by France (1945--57); part of West Germany (1957--90): contains rich coal deposits and is a major industrial region. Capital: Saarbrücken. Pop.: 1 060 000 (2003 est.). Area: 2567 sq. km (991 sq. miles)
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