North Rhine-Westphalia

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State of North Rhine-Westphalia
Flag of North Rhine-Westphalia
country flag
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Coat of arms of North Rhine-Westphalia
state coat of arms
basic data
language : German , Low German
state capital : Dusseldorf
form of government : parliamentary republic , partially sovereign member state of a federal state
Area : 34,110.26 km²
Foundation : August 23, 1946
ISO 3166-2 : DE-NW
Population : 17,925,570 (December 31, 2020)
population density : 526 inhabitants per km²
Gross domestic product (nominal): EUR 711.4 billion  ( 1st ) (2019)
debts : EUR 187.178 billion
(June 30, 2020)
Unemployment rate : 6.9% (January 2022)
head of government : Prime Minister
Hendrik Wüst ( CDU )
State President : President of the Landtag
André Kuper ( CDU )
Governing parties: CDU and FDP
Allocation of seats in the 17th state parliament :
Allocation of seats in the state parliament : Out of 199 seats are allocated to:
  • CDU 72
  • SPD 69
  • FDP 28
  • Green 14
  • AfD 12
  • non-attached 4
  • Last choice: May 14, 2017
    Next choice : expected in May 2022
    Voices in the Federal Council : 6
    North Rhine-Westphalia topographic map 01V.svg
    Niederlande Belgien Rheinland-Pfalz Hessen Niedersachsen Essen Wuppertal Solingen Remscheid Hagen Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis Bochum Dortmund Herne Gelsenkirchen Bottrop Oberhausen Mülheim an der Ruhr Duisburg Kreis Mettmann Düsseldorf Rhein-Kreis Neuss Kreis Heinsberg Mönchengladbach Krefeld Kreis Viersen Kreis Wesel Kreis Kleve Rhein-Erft-Kreis Kreis Düren Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis Oberbergischer Kreis Kreis Recklinghausen Kreis Borken Kreis Unna Märkischer Kreis Kreis Olpe Hamm Kreis Soest Kreis Coesfeld Kreis Steinfurt Kreis Warendorf Leverkusen Köln Städteregion Aachen Bonn Rhein-Sieg-Kreis Kreis Euskirchen Münster Kreis Siegen-Wittgenstein Hochsauerlandkreis Kreis Paderborn Kreis Gütersloh Kreis Höxter Kreis Lippe Kreis Herford Kreis Minden-Lübbecke BielefeldNorth Rhine-Westphalia, administrative divisions - de - colored.svg
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    North Rhine-Westphalia (  [ ˌnɔrtraɪ̯nvɛstˈfaːlən ] , country code NW , common abbreviation NRW ) is a parliamentary republic and a semi- sovereign member state within the Federal Republic of Germany . With around 17.9 million inhabitants, it is the most populous state in Germany . The state capital is Düsseldorf , the most populous city is Cologne . The federal city of Bonn is today the second seat of government of the Federal Republic of Germany. Play audio file

    North Rhine-Westphalia borders Lower Saxony to the north and north-east, Hesse to the south-east, Rhineland-Palatinate to the south, and the Belgian province of Liège to the west, as well as the Dutch provinces of Limburg , Gelderland and Overijssel . With an area of ​​around 34,100 square kilometers, North Rhine-Westphalia is the fourth largest German state. 30 of the 81 major German cities are in its heavily urbanized area. With around ten million inhabitants, the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region in the center of the state is one of the 30 largest metropolitan areas in the world and the central part of the most densely populated region in Europe, the " Blue Banana ".

    The northern part of the Rhine-Ruhr conurbation is formed by the heavily urbanized Ruhr area (cf. Ruhrstadt ) with the centers of Dortmund , Essen , Duisburg and Bochum . Its economic rise in the early 19th century was based on industrialization and the mining industry , particularly ore and coal mining . Since the decline in mining from the 1960s onwards, a structural change towards a service and technology economy has been taking place there, which is still ongoing today and is accompanied by projects such as “ RUHR.2010 – European Capital of Culture ”. With a share of around 22 percent in the German gross domestic product , North Rhine-Westphalia is the state with the highest economic output.

    The state of North Rhine-Westphalia was established in 1946 by the British occupying power from the Prussian province of Westphalia and the northern part of the Prussian Rhine province ( North Rhine ) and expanded in 1947 to include the state of Lippe . It has been part of the Federal Republic of Germany since 1949. Until 1999, Bonn was the sole seat of government in the Federal Republic. As a result of the capital city decision, the federal ministries retained their offices in Bonn, which the Berlin/Bonn Act guarantees important government functions as a federal city . Today, Bonn is the second seat of government in the Federal Republic and is home to numerous federal authorities and non-governmental organizations . As the German headquarters of the United Nations (UN), the federal city of Bonn has a high degree of international integration with a large number of UN organisations .

    Culturally , North Rhine-Westphalia is not a uniform area; there are clear differences, especially in traditional customs, between the Rhineland on the one hand and the Westphalia and Lippe on the other hand. The country is home to a large number of important educational and research institutions .


    The highest peaks in North Rhine-Westphalia are in the Rothaar Mountains
    State border with North Rhine-Westphalia near the Hanseatic city of Warburg ; in the background the Desenberg , with 345 m landmark and highest elevation of the Warburger Börde near the border triangle of NRW - Hesse - Lower Saxony
    Rur reservoir in the Eifel National Park , since 2004 the first national park in North Rhine-Westphalia

    North Rhine-Westphalia is located in western Germany, bordering clockwise on Lower Saxony , Hesse , Rhineland-Palatinate , Belgium and the Netherlands . The country extends from southwest to northeast about 260 kilometers. The north of the country lies in the North German Plain and is roughly divided into the Westphalian Bight , through which the rivers Lippe , Ems and Ruhr flow , and the Lower Rhine Plain on both sides of the Rhine , which is the largest river in the country (and also in Germany). . The lowest point is 9.2  m above sea level. NHN in the northwest of the country. The remaining areas of the country are part of the German low mountain range regions . The Weserbergland on the upper Weser characterizes the east of the country. The mountains of the Rhenish Slate Mountains occupy the south. The Rhenish Slate Mountains are roughly divided into the Eifel on the left bank of the Rhine in the southwest and Bergisches Land and Sauerland to the east of the Rhine. The Langenberg in the Sauerland belonging Rothaargebirge is at 843.2  m above sea level. NHN the highest mountain in the country. The geographic center of the state is in Dortmund in the Aplerbecker Mark ; near Selfkant is the westernmost point of North Rhine-Westphalia and at the same time of Germany.

    The climate of North Rhine-Westphalia shows balanced temperature and precipitation patterns. The mean annual temperatures are between 5 °C and 10 °C, depending on the altitude. The annual precipitation is between 600 millimeters in the lowlands and 1400 millimeters in the low mountain ranges.


    By virtue of occupation law , the occupying power Great Britain founded the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on August 23, 1946 from the northern part of the Prussian Rhine Province ( North Rhine Province ) and the also Prussian Province of Westphalia . The political preparation for this ran under the code word Operation Marriage . After the incorporation of the state of Lippe , which had been independent for centuries , in 1947, today's territorial layout was achieved.

    On its territory , North Rhine-Westphalia has become the legal successor to the Free State of Prussia and the State of Lippe. In contrast to some other German states, North Rhine-Westphalia as a whole did not have a strong identity- establishing predecessor state. When the state of North Rhine-Westphalia was founded, the focus was not on the idea of ​​merging homogeneous areas, but on the British government's desire to embed the Ruhr area and its important industrial resources as a whole in one country.

    In 1949 North Rhine-Westphalia founded the Federal Republic of Germany together with other states . The greatest challenges in the post-war period were the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country and the establishment of a democratic state. In particular as a result of the decline of the mining industry as a result of the coal and steel crises and the trend towards tertiarisation , the design of the necessary structural change has become a central topic in state politics.

    From 1966 to 1976 there was a municipal area reform , which reduced the number of towns, municipalities and districts belonging to a district. The number of governmental districts has been reduced from 6 to 5 districts. The former administrative district of Aachen was merged with the administrative district of Cologne to form the new administrative district of Cologne.

    Bonn was the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the sole seat of government until 1999. Since then, government functions have been shared between Berlin and Bonn, making Bonn the second seat of government and today the seat of numerous federal authorities.

    politics and administration

    North Rhine-Westphalia is a Land of the Federal Republic of Germany according to the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany and the Constitution for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia . According to its constitution, the country is organized around the principles of a republican , social and democratic constitutional state . The legislature is largely in the hands of the Landtag , which is elected by the electorate for a period of five years . Elements of direct democracy hardly play a role in practice. The CDU and FDP have held the state government since 2017 . The executive , which is tied to parliament, is headed by the Prime Minister – since October 27, 2021 by Hendrik Wüst ( CDU ) ( Wüst Cabinet ). The state administration is subordinate to the state government. The district governments for the districts of Düsseldorf , Cologne , Münster , Detmold and Arnsberg are a middle level of the state administration. The state constitutional jurisdiction lies with the constitutional court for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia . Due to its partial sovereignty , North Rhine-Westphalia, as a limited state subject under international law, can conclude international treaties in certain areas . Through the Bundesrat , the state participates in federal legislation and in affairs of the European Union . As a federal city, Bonn is the seat of numerous federal institutions and also the location of various United Nations organizations .

    The towns and municipalities of the state have the right to local self-government and take on tasks of the state administration on behalf of the state or by way of organ loan . At the municipal level, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia is divided into 30 districts and one city ​​region . The districts and the urban region include 374 district-affiliated (region-affiliated) municipalities and cities . In addition, there are 22 urban districts in North Rhine-Westphalia . The city of Aachen is both independent of a district and part of the Aachen city region. Overall, the country is divided into 396 municipalities. The country has 29 major cities . The two regional associations in North Rhine-Westphalia , as well as other municipal associations such as the Ruhr regional association or the Lippe state association , are of particular importance in the cultural and social area and for other tasks of local government . Below is the breakdown of the country into administrative districts and associated districts and urban districts (district independent cities in italics):

    Districts, urban regions and urban districts resident Area
    Population density
    (inhabitants per km²)
    arnsberg Bochum , Dortmund , Ennepe-Ruhr district , Hagen , Hamm , Herne , Hochsauerland district , Märkischer district , Olpe , Siegen-Wittgenstein , Soest , Unna 3,597,297 8011 449
    Detmold Bielefeld , Gütersloh , Herford , Höxter , Lippe , Minden-Lübbecke , Paderborn 2,057,996 6525 315
    Dusseldorf Duisburg , Düsseldorf , Essen , Kleve , Krefeld , Mettmann , Mönchengladbach , Mülheim an der Ruhr , Oberhausen , Remscheid , Rhein-Kreis Neuss , Solingen , Viersen , Wesel , Wuppertal 5,173,623 5292 978
    Cologne Aachen (city region) , Bonn , Düren , Euskirchen , Heinsberg , Cologne , Leverkusen , Oberbergischer Kreis , Rhein-Erft-Kreis , Rhein-Sieg-Kreis , Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis 4,422,371 7364 601
    Muenster Borken , Bottrop , Coesfeld , Gelsenkirchen , Munster , Recklinghausen , Steinfurt , Warendorf 2,614,229 6917 378



    Most populous cities in North Rhine-Westphalia
    city Residents
    Cologne 1,083,498 Cityscape of Cologne (detail).jpg
    Dusseldorf ,
    state capital
    0620,523 Rheinkniebrücke at night.jpg
    Dortmund 0587,696 Dortmund Centrum.jpg
    meal 0582,415 Essen-Südviertel Luft.jpg
    Duisburg 0495,885 Duisburg Inner Harbor Blue Hour 2014.jpg
    → more
    Population pyramid for North Rhine-Westphalia (data source: census 2011)

    The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has 17,925,570 (as of December 31, 2020) inhabitants, making it the most populous German state . At the same time, the area with a population density of 526 inhabitants per square kilometer is by far the most densely populated country among the non-city states. However, the population is distributed quite unequally. The Münsterland , the Tecklenburger Land , the more mountainous regions in the south of the state and parts of Ostwestfalen-Lippe are rather sparsely populated . With around ten million inhabitants, the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region is one of the most densely populated and densely populated regions in Europe. The following table shows the country's population development.

    Population development in North Rhine-Westphalia from 1930 to 2018 according to the adjacent table
    year resident
    1930 11,407,000
    1940 12,059,000
    1950 12,926,000
    1955 14,442,000
    1960 15,694,000
    1965 16,619,450
    1970 17.033.651
    year resident
    1975 17.129.200
    1980 17,057,488
    1985 16.674.001
    1990 17,349,651
    1995 17.893.045
    2000 18.009.865
    2001 18.052.092
    year resident
    2002 18.076.355
    2003 18,079,686
    2004 18.075.352
    2005 18.058.105
    2006 18,028,745
    2007 17,996,621
    2008 17.933.064
    year resident
    2009 17,872,763
    2010 17.845.154
    2011 17,841,956
    2012 17.848.113
    2013 17,571,856
    2014 17.638.098
    2015 17.865.516
    year resident
    2016 17.890.100
    2017 17.912.134
    2018 17,932,651
    2019 17.947.221

    In 2006, the proportion of people over 65 was around 19.7 percent (1950: 8.8 percent). The proportion of under-15s was 14.7 percent in 2006 (1950: 22.6 percent).

    In 2006 there were around 8.5 million households in the country. The average household size is therefore 2.12 people. However, only one person lives in 37 percent of these households. In 1950 the average household size was over 3 people. In 1950, the proportion of one-person households was only 16.9 percent. The proportion of single people is even higher than the proportion of single-person households. In 2006, around 39 percent of the population were single. Only around a quarter of North Rhine-Westphalians live in a "classic" couple relationship with children.

    In 2006, North Rhine-Westphalia had the third highest fertility rate among the federal states of Germany , with 1.36 children per woman . In 2007, this rose to 1.39. However, there are strong regional differences. Comparatively high values ​​of over 1.5 can be found in the north and east of the country. The district of Lippe took the top spot with 1.61 (2007). Low values ​​can be found in the Ruhr area, e.g. B. Bochum with 1.15 or Dortmund with 1.33. Duisburg has the highest value in the Ruhr area at 1.45. Remscheid is the independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia with the highest fertility rate, 1.56. The state capital of Düsseldorf has very low values ​​at 1.29 and the most populous city of Cologne at 1.26. By 2017, the number of children in North Rhine-Westphalia had risen to 1.60 per woman.

    Average life expectancy in 2015/17 was 78.1 years for men and 82.7 years for women. Men thus rank 7th among the German federal states, while women rank 13th. Regionally, in 2013/15 Münster (expectation of the total population: 82.43 years), Bonn (82.23) and Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis (81.81) had the highest, as well as Oberhausen (78.86), Herne (78.62) and Gelsenkirchen (78.49) the lowest life expectancy.


    Largest groups of foreigners in North Rhine-Westphalia 2016
    rank nationality Quantity
    01 Turkey Turkey 501,035
    02 Poland Poland 210,470
    03 Syria Syria 174,020
    04 Italy Italy 139,220
    05 Romania Romania 102,245
    06 Greece Greece 98,350
    07 Iraq Iraq 72,570
    08th Netherlands Netherlands 71,265
    09 Serbia Serbia 65,435
    10 Bulgaria Bulgaria 60.105
    11 Kosovo Kosovo 54,480
    12 Russia Russia 51,785

    In 2014, the proportion of residents with a migration background (registered residents with non-German citizenship or people born outside Germany who have immigrated since 1950 and their children) was 23.6 percent. The proportion of foreigners (registered residents without German citizenship) in the total population was 10.6 percent on December 31, 2006.

    The proportion of citizens with a migration background is 29.3 percent (2018).

    population forecast

    The adjacent forecasts in comparison to the real development from 1990 to 2018

    According to various forecasts, the population of North Rhine-Westphalia will shrink significantly in the coming decades. The country's statistics agency's population projection predicts a total population of just 16.16 million by 2050. According to forecasts, the proportion of people over 65 in the total population will rise to almost 30 percent by 2050. The German Federal Statistical Office ( DESTATIS ) forecasts a population decline of around one million people every 20 years for NRW. In 2011, the Bertelsmann Foundation published the "Wegweiser Kommune" forecast. By 2030, a population decline of around one million inhabitants is forecast.

    Lt. According to the forecast by IT.NRW from 3/2016, the population decline will go hand in hand with the decline in the labor force for the period 2014 to 2040. A decline of around 7.9% or 693,000 labor force is expected (5.2% for men or 248,000 from 4,739,000 to 4,491,000 or for women by 11.1% or 445,000 from 4,013,000 to 3,568,000).

    The results of these population forecasts are summarized in the following tables:

    Forecast 2011 (Destatis)
    date resident
    December 31, 2010 17,818,000
    December 31, 2015 17,596,000
    December 31, 2020 17,364,000
    December 31, 2025 17,112,000
    December 31, 2030 16,832,000
    December 31, 2035 16,510,000
    December 31, 2040 16,136,000
    December 31, 2045 15,702,000
    December 31, 2050 15,219,000
    December 31, 2055 14,716,000
    December 31, 2060 14,230,000
    Prognosis 2011
    (community guide)
    date resident
    December 31, 2009 17,860,460
    December 31, 2015 17,659,710
    December 31, 2020 17,445,490
    December 31, 2025 17.196.820
    December 31, 2030 16.907.040
    Source: Bertelsmann Foundation
    Prognosis 2014
    (state agency IT.NRW)
    date resident
    1st of January 2014 17,571,900
    January 1, 2020 17,702,000
    January 1, 2025 17,737,300
    January 1, 2030 17,708,900
    January 1, 2035 17.602.200
    January 1, 2040 17.491.100
    January 1, 2045 17,321,600
    January 1, 2050 17.091.100
    January 1, 2055 16,813,700
    January 1, 2060 16,522,400

    In mid-2019, the State Statistical Office presented a new model calculation. According to this, North Rhine-Westphalia will probably have 18.08 million inhabitants in 2040 and will therefore grow faster than previously assumed. Accordingly, the population will increase by 0.9 percent by 2040. The population is expected to develop very differently from region to region. While the number of inhabitants in the Rhineland with its agglomerations from the Lower Rhine to Bonn is growing noticeably, it is declining in structurally weaker regions such as the Sauerland, Siegerland and large parts of the Ruhr area.

    identification and cultural identity

    The carnival is considered by some to be an expression of Rhenish joie de vivre .
    Cologne Cathedral is the largest church building and one of the biggest tourist attractions in North Rhine-Westphalia.
    Prussian defense barracks in Minden : In the Prussian museums in Minden and Wesel , North Rhine-Westphalia, the largest successor state to Prussia, cultivates its Prussian historical and commemorative culture and thus the Prussian aspects of its cultural identity .
    Hermann Monument , Germany 's tallest statue and landmark of the Lippe region .

    North Rhine-Westphalia is referred to as a "hyphenated state" because it was formed from three historically different parts of the state under the decisive influence of the occupying power Great Britain in 1946 and 1947 and since then no particularly strong identification with the state has emerged. When the state was founded , cultural considerations took a back seat to geopolitical and economic considerations of embedding the Ruhr area as a whole. Economically, the regions of the country were intertwined early on, sometimes closely.

    Since 1946, the inhabitants of the three parts of the state of Westphalia , Lippe and Rhineland have certainly developed a certain identification with the state. Especially since the 1980s, a breakthrough towards a clear national identity could be observed. However, this awareness is often secondary to the awareness of belonging to a part of North Rhine-Westphalia. Above all, the historical, cultural and linguistic differences between the Rhineland and Westphalia-Lippe have a separating effect. Large parts of Westphalia-Lippe, especially in the north and east, feel culturally and historically connected to the neighboring regions of Lower Saxony . But there are also other distinct regional identities within the other regions of North Rhine-Westphalia, which can often be traced back to the territories formed in the Middle Ages and modern times, their ruling houses and the associated denominational ties. Today's 285 km long Rhenish-Westphalian internal border between the former Prussian provinces within today's state is regarded throughout the Prussian period as an ancient cultural border that can be traced back to the Franconian - Saxon tribal border of the 8th century. The regional awareness of the Lipper, which is remarkably pronounced for such a small area, is mainly fed by its long independence, because culturally the Lipperland can hardly be separated from the rest of Westphalia, especially the neighboring Minden-Ravensberg . The identity of the Rhinelanders also reaches beyond the borders of North Rhine-Westphalia in their imagination and mostly refers to a historical cultural area along the Rhine , which roughly corresponds to the former Rhine province , i.e. also includes parts of today 's Rhineland-Palatinate and peripheral areas of East Belgium (→ Rhineland ). Another characteristic of the Rhinelanders' self-image is their awareness of the ties with and proximity to Western Europe .

    While in the 19th century individual territories in what later became North Rhine-Westphalia (such as the Duchy of Kleve , the County of Mark and Minden-Ravensberg ) had been associated with Brandenburg-Prussia for centuries , many residents (particularly in the secularised, former clerical territories such as Kurköln and the Bishoprics of Münster and Paderborn ) as " Muslim Prussia " had a largely distanced relationship with the Prussian state . This was expressed, for example, during the Cologne turmoil , which culminated in the arrest of the Cologne Archbishop Clemens August Droste zu Vischering and which promoted the emergence of political Catholicism in the Rhineland and in Westphalia, as well as in the Cologne-Düsseldorf fraternity festival in the summer of 1843, when Rhenish citizens committed themselves to maintaining their Rhenish law . The rift widened for many as a result of the failure of the March Revolution and the Kulturkampf , the repressive measures against the ties of many Rhinelanders and Westphalians to the Roman Catholic Church and to Ultramontanism . The Rhenish and Westphalian identity development was promoted by the contrasts of the Prussian state, which was centrally controlled in “distant Berlin”. A further major influence was that Prussia not only united the Rhinelanders, who had previously been spread over various dominions, in the Rhine Province, but also promoted the Rhine romanticism that shaped the Rhenish self-image , especially in the Middle Rhine area . The same can be said about the Westphalians, which were also united by Prussia in the 19th century in the province of Westphalia .

    In the case of the residents of the state with a foreign migration history , the proportion of which is not small, especially in the urbanized and industrialized regions, the fact that their culture and identity is shaped by the living environment of their different cultures of origin comes into play as an identity-forming factor, for example in the case of so-called Ruhr Poles , emigrants and late emigrants , Turkish people and their descendants. Not small is also the proportion of those residents who have moved here from other federal states or as so-called expellees and have thus “brought along” an identity that was pre-formed in other German or formerly German regions. The characteristic of the mixture and absorption of different people, cultures and traditions in the Rhineland had led the writer Carl Zuckmayer to his metaphor of the Rhine as the “ peoples’ mill of Europe ” in 1946 – i.e. long before the labor migration of the so-called guest workers .

    The old contrasts between the parts of the country are only slowly fading away. The two regional associations for Westphalia-Lippe and the Rhineland are responsible for the regional cultivation of culture and thus to a certain extent institutionalize the cultural-spatial separation of the state. With Ostwestfalen-Lippe and in particular the industrial - cultural Ruhr area , however, cross-state and new identity-forming regions have also emerged. As a result of the process of European integration , a European identity has also become more pronounced as a further identity level - above the prevailing self-image of North Rhine-Westphalia as Germans .

    Overall, more than 70 years after the founding of North Rhine-Westphalia, it can be stated that the awareness of the state, promoted through publications, events (e.g. through the North Rhine-Westphalia Day ), awards , national emblems and state symbols , museums with state-specific themes, the construction and the presence of representative government buildings and institutions such as B. Westdeutscher Rundfunk , is developing and that the identity of the country's residents is spatially increasingly oriented towards the country's borders. The respective prime ministers and state governments tried to promote and use the North Rhine-Westphalian identity of the state residents in different ways and intensity, for example Franz Meyers (foundation of the art collection North Rhine-Westphalia ), Johannes Rau (election slogan We in NRW , later name of a blog) and Jürgen Rüttgers (slogan We in the West , later foundation of the North Rhine-Westphalia Day). However, one cannot yet speak of a particularly strong general awareness of the country. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia wants to convey the development of the state up to the present to a broad public with a house of the history of North Rhine-Westphalia , which is to be set up in the Mannesmann-Haus on the Rhine promenade in the government district of Düsseldorf by the 75th state anniversary in 2021 and invite you to actively engage with the past, present and future of the country. This should also promote a sense of state and a self-confident national identity.

    Tolerance in a nationwide comparison

    In the 2015 “ Mitte Study ” the approval of xenophobic statements in individual German federal states was examined. 78.8% of North Rhine-Westphalians rejected xenophobic statements. This was the highest rejection rate for xenophobic statements in a non-city state (national average: 75.7%).

    religious and philosophical communities

    Aachen Cathedral , cathedral of the Aachen diocese and important example of the Carolingian Renaissance .

    The largest religious group are the Roman Catholic Christians with around 37.5 percent of the total population in 2018. The second largest group are Protestant residents with 23.8 percent, also for 2018. Evangelical Free Churches make up 1.1 percent and Orthodox 1.5 percent of the population. The largest non-Christian population group with a religious confession are Muslims with about 8 percent of the population, who predominantly belong to the Sunni faith of Islam . There are also Alevis and other groups. Jews make up about 0.1 percent. The state constitution recognizes a special role in society for the churches , especially in the area of ​​education, and guarantees the right to practice one's religion freely .

    The proportion of non-denominationals is accordingly around 28 percent.

    dialects and languages

    The colloquial and official language is German . The dialects and languages in North Rhine-Westphalia vary due to the cultural inconsistency of the state area. In the Rhenish part of the country there are mainly Rhenish regiolects , in Westphalia and Lippe mainly Westphalian regiolects of High German, which have their roots in Westphalian dialects of Low German . The Ruhr German that arose under the influence of immigration is an example of a regiolect. Due to language teaching and immigration, the multilingualism of the residents has increased considerably over the past few decades. The pronunciation is in Low German Noordrhien-Westfalen


    North Rhine-Westphalia and the area of ​​today's state has produced numerous important personalities. The composer Ludwig van Beethoven , the painter Peter Paul Rubens and the racing driver Michael Schumacher are probably at the forefront of international fame . Five federal presidents alone were born in what later became North Rhine-Westphalia: Gustav Heinemann , Heinrich Lübke , Johannes Rau , Walter Scheel , Frank-Walter Steinmeier . With Konrad Adenauer and Gerhard Schröder , two Federal Chancellors also come from North Rhine-Westphalia. Other well-known personalities are Otto III. , Friedrich Engels , Joseph Beuys , Heinrich Böll , Annette von Droste-Hülshoff , Heinrich Heine , Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen and Alfred Krupp .

    Education and Research


    The North Rhine-Westphalian school system provides for attending one of the secondary school types Hauptschule , Realschule , Gymnasium , Gesamtschule or Sekundarschule after a standard four-year period at primary school . The highest school-leaving exam is the general higher education entrance qualification , which is usually taken as a central high school diploma after three years of completing the upper level at a secondary school .

    Since 2010 (with the exception of 2015), North Rhine-Westphalia has spent the least amount on education per pupil at general and vocational schools compared to the other federal states.

    Universities and research institutions

    Prince Bishop's Palace in Münster , seat and landmark of the Westphalian Wilhelms University

    In the 1950s there were only a few universities in North Rhine-Westphalia, including the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, the University of Cologne and the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn . Since the 1960s, more and more new universities have been founded. More than 768,000 students are enrolled at North Rhine-Westphalian universities in the 2019/2020 winter semester. The universities in Bochum , Duisburg/Essen , Hagen , Cologne and Münster as well as the RWTH Aachen are the universities with the largest number of students in the state and are among the ten largest universities in Germany . Overall, the state (as of 2020), including the universities of applied sciences, has 30 public universities, seven state art and music universities, 26 recognized private and church universities and five universities of applied sciences that are not subject to the official and technical supervision of the state.

    In addition to the other institutions of the Helmholtz Association , the Max Planck Society and the Fraunhofer Society , the Jülich Research Center is known as one of the largest research institutions in Europe. The NRW Graduate Schools are research funding institutions within the existing universities.

    economy and transport

    ThyssenKrupp plant in Duisburg; ThyssenKrupp is the largest of the remaining companies in the coal and steel industry
    The Media Harbor in Düsseldorf is an example of structural change in North Rhine-Westphalia. The former port and industrial area near the North Rhine-Westphalian government district has been restructured into an office and hotel location .


    In the 1950s and 1960s, the land of coal and steel was an apt description of North Rhine-Westphalia both for itself and for others. The mining and industrial area on the Rhine and Ruhr was one of the most important industrial regions in Europe and made a decisive contribution to the reconstruction and the economic miracle not only in the state but in the entire Federal Republic. After the Second World War , his future was initially politically controversial on an international level due to the Ruhr issue . From the end of the 1940s, the Ruhr Statute and the Schuman Plan paved the way towards a European communitization of the coal and steel sector in the form of the European Coal and Steel Community . At the latest since the 1960s, the strong focus of the Ruhr area on the mining industry has had a negative impact as a monostructure . Recurring steel and coal crises caused the coal and steel industry to melt together more and more. On the other hand, companies in the manufacturing sector outside the Ruhr area, especially in mechanical engineering and in the metal and iron processing industry, experienced a significant upswing. The structural change in North Rhine-Westphalia varied greatly from region to region. While parts of the old district still have high unemployment rates, a structural change has taken place from a predominantly industrial society to a knowledge society.

    With a gross domestic product (GDP) of 711.419 billion euros in 2019 , North Rhine-Westphalia was the economically strongest state in Germany and one of the most important economic centers in the world. In terms of gross domestic product per inhabitant, North Rhine-Westphalia is in the middle of the western German states . The unemployment rate is 6.9% (January 2022) . This value is higher than the federal German and well above the western German unemployment rate. The North Rhine-Westphalian unemployment rate is the highest of all West German non- city ​​states .

    According to surveys by the American business magazine Fortune , four of the hundred top-selling companies in the world are based in North Rhine-Westphalia. According to a survey by Wirtschaftsblatt newspaper in 2009, the ten top-selling companies in North Rhine-Westphalia were E.ON (utilities), Metro (retail), Deutsche Telekom (telecommunications), Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd (retail), Rewe (retail), RWE (utilities ), Deutsche Post AG (logistics and transport), Thyssenkrupp (mechanical and plant engineering), Deutsche BP (utilities) and Bayer AG (pharmaceuticals and chemicals). Across Germany, the country can book the highest foreign direct investments of all German states with around 135 billion euros (around 29 percent of all direct investments in Germany, both as of the end of 2009).

    Development of the unemployment rate
    year 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
    unemployment rate in % 9.2 8.8 9.2 10.0 10.2 12.0 11.4 9.5 8.5 8.9 8.7 8.1 8.1 8.3 8.2 8.0 7.7 7.4 6.8 6.5


    Track layout of the marshalling yard in Hagen-Vorhalle

    Along with the central location in the most important European economic area , the high population density, the strong urbanization and the numerous business locations, North Rhine-Westphalia has one of the densest transport networks in the world. In 2015, every third traffic jam report in Germany was in North Rhine-Westphalia.

    Cologne Eifeltor station is Germany 's largest container transhipment station for combined rail/road freight traffic . Hagen-Vorhalle station is one of the largest marshalling yards in Germany for freight traffic .

    The Port of Duisburg is regarded as a traffic hub for German inland shipping . The most important inland waterway in North Rhine-Westphalia is the Rhine. In addition, the Rhine-Herne Canal (RHK), the Wesel-Datteln Canal (WDK), the Datteln-Hamm Canal (DHK) and the Dortmund-Ems Canal (DEK) play an important role for inland shipping.

    The two most important hubs in international air traffic are the airports in Düsseldorf ( third largest German airport in terms of passenger numbers) and Cologne/Bonn (third largest German airport in terms of freight volume). Other airports with regular scheduled and charter flights are Dortmund Airport , Niederrhein Airport , Münster/Osnabrück Airport and Paderborn/Lippstadt Airport .

    culture and leisure

    art and cultural landscape

    The Neue Philharmonie Westfalen , one of the three state orchestras, in the Cologne Philharmonic
    Nordkirchen Palace , a baroque palace known as the “Westphalian Versailles” , in the “ Castle and Palace Landscape ” of North Rhine-Westphalia
    The Dortmunder U , seat of the Museum Ostwall with the animation "Flying Pictures" by Adolf Winkelmann

    The promotion of art and culture in North Rhine-Westphalia is stipulated in the state constitution as a national goal . North Rhine-Westphalia supports a large number of artistic and cultural projects and institutions, almost exclusively in the state, at federal level the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation , the Cultural Foundation of the Federal States , the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Goethe Institute . Due to the sheer number of inhabitants of the country, numerous cultural workers live in the country, according to an estimate around 30,000 artists. The North Rhine-Westphalia Film and Media Foundation plays an important role in the national and international promotion of film and the media . The Kunststiftung NRW does something similar in the field of art and culture.

    Characteristic of the art and culture scene in North Rhine-Westphalia is its diversity and polycentrism . The reasons for this include the pronounced regional differences in the state in terms of cultural space, with the most striking cultural border running between Westphalia-Lippe and the Rhineland , and in the state's history , which did not allow the emergence of a metropolis or residential city that was also dominant in cultural terms. Important cultural institutions are therefore spread across the country. Impulses for cultural and artistic developments in today's country rarely came "from above". The working class culture in the Ruhr area is a particularly good example of this. The workers' culture formed one of the roots of the transformation of the Ruhr area from an industrially dominated region to a "cultural metropolis" which - like other industrial regions of North Rhine-Westphalia - continues to see its industrial culture as an important part of its cultural identity . In 2010 the Ruhr area was the European Capital of Culture .

    With the Art Cologne , North Rhine-Westphalia is home to the largest art fair in Germany and the oldest in the world. Other well-known art fairs are the Art Düsseldorf , the Great Art Exhibition NRW Düsseldorf and the tour of the Düsseldorf Art Academy . Düsseldorf and Cologne are known as centers of art and art trade as well as locations of important art collections and exhibition halls, including in Düsseldorf the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen , the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf , the Museum Kunstpalast and the NRW-Forum , in Cologne the picture gallery Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud as well as the Museum Ludwig . The Ostwall Museum is located in Dortmund . The Folkwang Museum is located in Essen and the LWL Museum for Art and Culture is in Münster . The Museum Mile in Bonn is home to two of the most important art museums in the country , the Bonn Art Museum and the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany . Among the most important theaters in Germany are the Schauspielhaus Bochum and the Schauspiel Köln . The only state theater in North Rhine-Westphalia is the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus . The best-known opera houses are the Cologne Opera , the Dortmund Opera House, the Aalto Theater in Essen and the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf and Duisburg. The Dortmund Theater is one of the largest three-section houses in Germany. The Dortmund Concert Hall , the Düsseldorf Tonhalle , the Essen Philharmonic and the Cologne Philharmonic are the best-known concert halls in the country. The best- known art schools are the Düsseldorf Art Academy, the Detmold University of Music and the Folkwang University of the Arts .


    The biggest tourist attraction in the country and at the same time in the Federal Republic is the Cologne Cathedral with around six million visitors a year. In addition to the Cologne Cathedral, the Aachen Cathedral and the Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces , since 2001 the Zollverein colliery and coking plant and since 2014 the Corvey Monastery are also among the country's UNESCO World Heritage Sites . In the Westphalian-Lippe part of the country, half-timbered construction is still very common and often architecture that shapes the cityscape. The currently oldest, dated half-timbered houses (including the so-called Eckmännekenhaus from 1471) are in the Hanseatic city of Warburg in southern East Westphalia. The Sauerland and Eifel regions are also architecturally characterized by half-timbered construction, here in particular with the brick covering using slate. The colliery architecture is the most outstanding example of numerous industrial monuments in the cities on the Rhine and Ruhr, whose historic inner city areas were often destroyed in World War II or during industrialization. As a state, North Rhine-Westphalia expresses itself through a large number of state buildings, in particular through the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia and the state government buildings in the government district of Düsseldorf. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is probably the world's best-known architect from what is now North Rhine-Westphalia.


    The Senne in Ostwestfalen-Lippe is the most important contiguous heathland in North Rhine-Westphalia.

    The nature in North Rhine-Westphalia is typical of the Central European natural area. Most widespread in North Rhine-Westphalia are species that are adapted to cleared cultural landscapes or wooded low mountain ranges. However, the original, species-rich flora and fauna is threatened more than in almost any other region in Europe due to the high settlement density, the country's large industrial centres, mining, almost all-encompassing agricultural and forestry use and the almost complete transport infrastructure. Overall, structural change in the Ruhr area and environmental protection measures have led to a significant improvement in air and water quality in the Rhine-Ruhr region. North Rhine-Westphalia is about 25 percent forested. The forested low mountain range regions of the state therefore play an important role in nature conservation and local recreation for the inhabitants of the densely populated Rhine-Ruhr region. North Rhine-Westphalia has a share in 14 nature parks . The largest of these parks is the Teutoburg Forest/Eggegebirge Nature Park in Ostwestfalen-Lippe . With the Eifel National Park , the state has had a national park since 2004 .


    The Externsteine , a major tourism attraction in the Teutoburg Forest

    The country's accommodation facilities had around 20 million guests in 2012, who stayed a total of around 45.4 million times. Most overnight stays in 2012 were recorded in the Teutoburg Forest travel region (6.5 million), followed by the Sauerland and the “Cologne and Rhein-Erft-Kreis” travel region, each with 6.2 million overnight stays. The number of overnight stays by foreign guests was over 9.2 million in 2012. Guests from the Netherlands are the most important group with around 25.2 percent of overnight stays. Tourists from the United Kingdom (7.7 percent), Belgium (6.3 percent), the USA (5.2 percent) and France (4.1 percent) follow at a clear distance.


    Viticulture near Oberdollendorf

    With regard to the North Rhine-Westphalian cuisine, the division into a Rhenish and Westphalian-Lippe part can be seen again. The cuisines of the Lower Rhine and the Bergisches Land also belong to the Rhenish cuisine . The Westphalian cuisine and the associated Lippe cuisine are part of the North German cuisine in a broader sense. The Westphalian cuisine is above all hearty, an example is Westphalian ham on pumpernickel . Other meat, sausage and bread specialties also play an important role there. Rhenish cuisine is also down-to-earth, but appears a bit more refined compared to Westphalian cuisine. A well-known example of Rhenish cuisine is the Rhenish sauerbraten . In the south-west of the state on the Rhine, wine is grown in the Middle Rhine wine-growing region ( Großlage Petersberg ). Otherwise, North Rhine-Westphalia is a "beer country". In addition to the Pilsner , which is particularly widespread in Westphalia , which pushed back the export beer that had been the dominant beer in the 1970s , there are two types of top-fermented beer, Altbier and Kölsch , which are particularly widespread in the Rhineland.


    Sportland NRW logo
    The Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen is the largest fully covered stadium in Germany ahead of the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Düsseldorf

    Sport in North Rhine-Westphalia is primarily characterized by football. The Rhine-Ruhr region has a particularly high density of successful football clubs , which cannot be explained solely by its size and population density. Football has always been part of the tradition of the miners in the mining area . Measured by the number of inhabitants, North Rhine-Westphalia is usually over -represented in the Bundesliga . Clubs in the first Bundesliga are currently Borussia Dortmund , Borussia Mönchengladbach , VfL Bochum , Bayer 04 Leverkusen , Arminia Bielefeld and 1. FC Köln . The largest football stadium in Germany is the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund with over 80,000 seats. In addition to football, many other sports are practiced in North Rhine-Westphalia. Handball, ice hockey and basketball attract a particularly large number of spectators.

    public holidays

    In addition to the national holidays of New Year, Good Friday, Easter, Labor Day, Ascension Day, Pentecost, German Unity Day and Christmas, Corpus Christi and All Saints' Day are public holidays in North Rhine-Westphalia.

    On June 24, 2015, the state parliament decided that on October 31, 2017, Reformation Day would be celebrated as a holiday.


    The state of North Rhine-Westphalia awards or endows the following awards:

    Well-known prizes awarded by private organizations in North Rhine-Westphalia are:

    See also

    Portal: North Rhine-Westphalia  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of North Rhine-Westphalia


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    1. In addition to the pronunciation variant of the Duden (Stefan Kleiner, Ralf Knöbl, Max Mangold: Duden. The pronunciation dictionary . 7th edition. Volume 6 . Duden publisher. Bibliographic Institute, Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-411-04067-4 . ) with the transcription [ ˌnɔrtraɪ̯nvɛstˈfaːlən ], there are further variants:
      1. [ nˌɔʶtʁ̥aɛ̯n vɛstfˈaːln ] according to Eva-Maria Krech, Eberhard Stock, Ursula Hirschfeld, Lutz Christian Anders: German pronunciation dictionary . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-11-018202-6 . 2. [ nɔɐdʀa͡en vɛstfaːln̩ ] according to adaba: Austrian pronunciation dictionary. Austrian pronunciation database. University of Graz. Forschungsstelle Österreichisches Deutsch, retrieved on April 6, 2010 (the German variant, i.e. not the one commonly used in Austria, is given for “North Rhine-Westphalia”).
    2. In Great Britain, since the participation in the Allied occupation of the Rhineland after the First World War , the Ruhr area has been understood to mean an area of ​​industrial cities on the Rhine and Ruhr characterized by heavy industry, not the Ruhr area according to the widespread view today.
    3. Examples are the Bishopric of Münster , which historically extended far into today's Lower Saxony, or the territories of the House of Lippe and its side line of Schaumburg , which lay on both sides of today's state borders.
    4. In the 17th century, the city ​​of Kleve was one of the three residential cities of the Electorate of Brandenburg , along with Königsberg and Berlin .
    5. See also a scene from George Hurdalek, Helmut Käutner, Gyula Trebitsch , Carl Zuckmayer : Des Teufels General . Editor: Helmut Käutner . February 23, 1955 ( YouTube [accessed March 5, 2015] Conversation between General Harras and Lieutenant Hartmann (excerpt (duration 2:06 min))). See also Des Teufels General (1955) at the Internet Movie Database
    6. Low German is neither written nor spoken. In addition to the variant "Noordrhien-Westfalen", which is mainly widespread in Northwest Germany, the variant Nuordrien-Westfaolen is widespread in the Westphalian Münsterland, see Klaus-Werner Kahl: Dictionary of the Münsterländer Platt . 3rd Edition. Aschendorf Verlag, Munster 2009, ISBN 978-3-402-06447-4 .


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    Coordinates: 51° 29′  N , 7° 33′  E