Encyclopedia > North Rhine-Westphalia

  Article Content

North Rhine-Westphalia


Area:34,080 km²
Inhabitants:18,060,211 (2002)
pop. density:530 inh./km²
ISO 3166-2:DE-NW
Minister-President:Peer Steinbrück[?] (SPD)
Ruling party:SPD/Green coalition
With eighteen million inhabitants inhabiting 34,080 km² in western-northwestern Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia (German Nordrhein-Westfalen) is largest in population though only fourth in area among Germany's sixteen federal states. The capital is Düsseldorf.

Table of contents


North Rhine-Westphalia borders on (from the west and clockwise) Belgium, the Netherlands and the German states of Lower Saxony, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate.

The state is centred on the sprawling Rhine-Ruhr[?] urbanised region, in turn centred on the great Ruhr industrial complex, consisting of the cities of Essen, Dortmund, Duisburg, Bochum and Gelsenkirchen. All these cities form a huge agglomeration, that is grouped along the Ruhr river. The Ruhr is a tributary of the Rhine, which enters the state in the south and leaves northwest towards the Netherlands. Major cities on the Rhine are Cologne, Düsseldorf and Bonn.

For many people North Rhine-Westphalia is synonymous with industrial areas and agglomerating cities. They ignore that the greatest part of the state's area is covered with forests and fields. The southern parts of the Teutoburg Forest are located in the northeast. In the southwest North Rhine-Westphalia shares in a small part of the Eifel, located on the borders with Belgium and Rhineland-Palatinate. The southeast is occupied by the sparsely populated regions of Sauerland and Siegerland[?].

Main rivers, that run at least partially through North Rhine-Westphalia, include: Rhine, Ruhr, Ems, Lippe and Weser.

The state consists of 5 administrative regions (Regierungsbezirke), divided into 31 districts (Kreise) and 23 district-free cities (kreisfreie Städte). Together North Rhine-Westphalia has 396 municipalities (1997), including the district-free cities, which are municipalities by themselves.

The districts of North Rhine-Westphalia:

  1. Aachen
  2. Borken
  3. Coesfeld
  4. Düren
  5. Ennepe-Ruhr
  6. Erftkreis
  7. Euskirchen
  8. Gütersloh
  9. Heinsberg
  10. Herford
  11. Hochsauerland
  1. Höxter
  2. Cleves (Kleve)
  3. Lippe
  4. Märkischer Kreis
  5. Mettmann
  6. Minden-Lübbecke
  7. Neuss
  8. Oberbergischer Kreis
  9. Olpe
  10. Paderborn
  1. Recklinghausen
  2. Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis
  3. Rhein-Sieg
  4. Siegen-Wittgenstein
  5. Soest
  6. Steinfurt
  7. Unna
  8. Viersen
  9. Warendorf
  10. Wesel

Furthermore there are 23 independent towns, which don't belong to any district:

  1. Aachen
  2. Bielefeld
  3. Bochum
  4. Bonn
  5. Bottrop
  6. Cologne (Köln)
  7. Dortmund
  8. Duisburg
  1. Düsseldorf
  2. Essen
  3. Gelsenkirchen
  4. Hagen
  5. Hamm
  6. Herne
  7. Krefeld
  8. Leverkusen
  1. Mönchengladbach
  2. Mülheim[?]
  3. Münster
  4. Oberhausen
  5. Remscheid
  6. Solingen
  7. Wuppertal

The districts are grouped into five Regierungsbezirke, belonging to one of two Kommunalverbände (formerly called Landschaftsverbände).


The state of North Rhine-Westphalia was established by the British military administration in 1946. Originally it consisted of Westphalia and the northern parts of the Rhine province, both formerly belonging to Prussia. In 1947 the former state of Lippe was merged with North Rhine-Westphalia, hence leading to the present borders of the state.


The flag of North Rhine-Westphalia is green-white-red with the combined coats of arms of the Prussian Rhine province (white line before green background), Westphalia (the white horse) and Lippe (the red rose).

According to legend the horse in the Westphalian coat of arms is the horse that the Saxonian leader Widukind rode after his baptism. Other theories attribute the horse to Henry the Lion.

External link

For the state's own website (in German), see http://www.nrw.de/

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
North Lindenhurst, New York

... at 40°42'25" North, 73°23'6" West (40.706966, -73.385011)1. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.9 km² (1.9 ...

This page was created in 28.8 ms