West Munsterland

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The Westmünsterland is a region in the northwest of the country North Rhine-Westphalia , between the border with the Netherlands in the west, the main center of Munster in the East and the Ruhr region in the south. The definition varies culturally, geographically or naturally depending on the perspective.

Since the communal territorial reform in 1975 , Westmünsterland has been understood to mean, in particular, the area of ​​the Borken and Coesfeld districts, detached from the natural spatial connotation . According to this definition, Bocholt in the Borken district would be the largest city in the region.

Natural West Munsterland

In terms of natural space , the Westmünsterland is an approximately 2000 km² main natural space unit in the west of the Westphalian Bay . It is not completely congruent with the west of the Westphalian Münsterland , as it also has small parts of Lower Saxony in the north and the historic Münsterland extends west into the neighboring main unit group of the Lower Rhine Bay . In the south, the natural Westmünsterland (north of the Recklinghausen district ) extends over the Lippe , where historically the Cologne-Electorate Vest Recklinghausen began.

In the south-east there are also the hilly mountain ranges Hohe Mark (with Rekener Kuppen) (up to 145.9  m ), Borkenberge (up to 133.3  m ) and Haard (up to 153.8  m , left of the Lippe), which are also known as Halterner Mountains are grouped together to form the main unit, while the Baumberge (up to 187.6  m ) are already assigned to the Kernmünsterland and flank the middle of the Westmünsterland to the east.

In the far western north, Bad Bentheim is the only village in Lower Saxony that belongs to Westmünsterland, all other parts belong to Westphalia.

The north-east is occupied by the west of the Steinfurt district with Rheine and the neighboring towns to the south-west.

The district of Borken , which adjoins the cities of Gronau , Ahaus and Borken further south, has the largest share of the natural space . Up to the east of Winterswijk , the Dutch border also represents the natural boundary, while places west of the district town are already included in the Lower Rhine Plain .

South of Borkens is the central and eastern part of the Hohe Mark-Westmünsterland Nature Park with the mountain ranges Hohe Mark (up to 145.9  m ), Borkenberge (up to 153.8  m ) and Haard (up to 156.9  m ; to the left of the Lippe), which in the Recklinghausen district includes the town of Haltern am See along with the Haltern reservoir , while in the extreme south the industrial towns of Dorsten and Marl (the second-named place only belongs to the northern half of the Westmünsterland) are enclosed in a horseshoe shape by the nature park. The main unit of the Emscherland borders here to the south .

In the Coesfeld district , the eastern slopes from Haardt and Borkenbergen to Dülmen , which is no longer west of Munsterland, also represent the eastern border to the Kernmünsterland . Further north, the eastern border includes Coesfeld and Billerbeck, so that at the second place you can reach the Baumberge in Kernmünsterland (until 187, 6  m ).

Further north, Schöppingen is the only place in the Kernmünsterland in the east of the Borken district. The natural boundary in the Steinfurt district continues to the northeast in such a way that it excludes Steinfurt (Kernmünsterland) and Emsdetten ( Ostmünsterland ) in order to reach Rheine , which is the northeasternmost place of the main unit and only about half ( both the district and the settlement) is added.

Natural structure

The Westmünsterland is structured as follows (in the finer sub-units with two decimal places, individual villages or rivers are linked for better localization):

The units 544.3, 544.5 and 544.7 are also summarized under the name Halterner Berge .


Apart from the tributary north-west of the Ems, the Westmünsterland drains exclusively in north-westerly directions to the IJsselmeer or, in the south, over the Lippe to the Rhine .

Flowing waters

The most important rivers to the IJsselmeer are, arranged from north to south (length and catchment area in brackets [in Westmünsterland]):

  • Steinfurter Aa (Unterlauf; zur Vechte, see below; 46.4 [15.2] km, 205 [<80] km² - the larger part in the Kernmünsterland )
  • Vechte (lower upper reaches; 181.7 [30.8] km, 3,780 [approx. 340] km² - only 43.4 km and <410 km² in the Westphalian Bay)
  • Dinkel (upper reaches; 89.0 [41.0] km, 643 [187] km²)
  • Ahauser Aa (to the IJssel ; 85.3 [34.9] km, [143] km²)
  • Berkel (upper and middle reaches; to the IJssel; 114.6 [76.5] km, [380] km²)
  • Schlinge (upper course; to Issel ; 55.4 [13.9] km, [59] km²)
  • Bocholter Aa (upper course; to Issel; 55.8 [22.4] km, 536 [<224] km² - of which 50.8 km and 440 km² in Germany, lower course in the Lower Rhine lowlands and NL)

In the south of the Westmünsterland, the Lippe, arranged downstream from east to west, flows into the following rivers from the north:

  • Stever (58.0 [15.6] km, 924 [> 376] km²)
  • Halterner Mühlenbach (in the upper reaches of the "Heubach" ; to the Stever, see above, or to the Halterner Stausee; 30.7 km, 296 km²)
  • Hammbach (21.5 km - via Midlicher Mühlenbach and Wienbach 24.1 km; 148 km²; a small part of the catchment area in the west no longer belongs to Westmünsterland)

Standing water

The most important standing waters of the Westmünsterland are from north to south (the area in brackets):


The soils of all parts of the Westmünsterland are comparatively sandy . In addition, many stretches of land were or are traditionally damp to wet, which has led to a rather sparse settlement. Natural forest communities are on sandy soils of the pedunculate oak - birch mixed forest, with a larger proportion of clay the sessile oak - red beech mixed forest. However, they can only be found in an almost natural composition in small areas.

It was only with the cultivation of the heaths and moors that agriculture established itself in connection with fertilization , which still characterizes the Westmünsterland today. As a result, the Low German language has been preserved to this day, especially in smaller towns.

Most of the industrialization did not begin until the end of the 19th century. A wide variety of industries are represented today. The unemployment is comparatively low, not least because many places to town for the Ruhr active commuters were.

Cultural and geographical region name

The term Westmünsterland is an expression of regional identity, which goes hand in hand with an emotional bond with the region and includes terms such as place of residence, regional culture, landscape and people.

For some years now, companies have been using the term Westmünsterland directly or in abbreviated form for their company names , such as Sparkasse Westmünsterland , Radio WMW , Wohnbau Westmünsterland , Stadtwerke Westmünsterland Energiekooperation , the corporate association AIW - Active Entrepreneurs in Westmünsterland , the advisory region Westmünsterland of the North Rhine-Westphalia Chamber of Agriculture , the common Internet portal of the AWO circle associations Borken and Coesfeld, the VWG Verlagsgesellschaft Westmünsterland and the now set wm.tv . These are based more on cultural rather than natural boundaries.

Westmünsterland was a focus of the North Rhine-Westphalian structural funding program Regionale 2016 , whose agency was based in Velen.

The Westmünsterlandbahn ( Enschede - Coesfeld - Lünen - Dortmund ) only runs in the western and central section between Gronau and Dülmen through the (natural) Westmünsterland. Another rail link is directed to the south, via Hamminkeln and Wesel to Duisburg on the Rhine .

These examples show that a region is no longer determined by natural, cultural or even denominational conditions as it used to be. Rather, there are factors that determine everyday life: shopping locations, commuter flows, traffic axes.

Political structure

The districts of Borken, Coesfeld, Steinfurt and possibly Recklinghausen belong to Westmünsterland in the broader sense . The districts go back to the administrative units created by Prussia in 1815, which were given today's layout after the communal reorganization in 1975.

With a view to the Regionale 2016 “Zukunftsland”, the municipalities of Dorsten and Haltern am See (Recklinghausen district), Hamminkeln , Hünxe , Schermbeck (all in Wesel district ), Selm and Werne ( Unna district ) also belong to this region.

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Emil Meynen and Josef Schmithüsen : Handbook of the natural spatial structure of Germany . Federal Institute for Regional Studies, 6th delivery, Remagen 1959 (a total of 9 deliveries in 8 books 1953–1962, updated map 1: 1,000,000 with main units 1960)
  2. Map services of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation ( information ) Map service "Protected areas" shows the boundaries of the main unit group ("Natural areas") and the main units, the somewhat coarser map service "Landscapes" divides the natural areas even more finely.
  3. Geographical land survey: The natural spatial units on sheet 83/84 - Osnabrück / Bentheim (Sofie Meisel 1961; west and center), sheet 95/96 - Kleve / Wesel (Wilhelm von Kürten 1977; center and east) and sheet 97 - Münster ( Sofie Meisel 1960; West) - Federal Institute for Regional Studies, Bad Godesberg
  4. Topographical Information Management, Cologne District Government, Department GEObasis NRW ( Notes ) - "Water stationing" and "Federal Agency for Nature Conservation / Natural Spatial Structure / Main Units" can be downloaded.
  5. ^ Ludger Kremer: Historical-regional research in the Westmünsterland . Ed .: Society for historical regional studies of the western Münsterland. ISBN 978-3-937432-24-3 , pp. 191 ff .
  6. ^ A b Ludger Kremer: The Westmünsterland as a geographical-political-cultural space. On the origin and meaning of a landscape name. In: Ingeborg Höting, Ludger Kremer, Timothy Sodmann (eds.): Contributions by the Society for Historical Regional Studies of the Western Münsterland, forays through the settlement, economic and social history of the Westmünsterland. tape 5 . Achterland Verlagscompagnie, 2013, ISBN 978-3-933377-21-0 , p. 9 ff .


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