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Area:18,338 km²
Inhabitants:4,600,000 (2000)
pop. density:251 inh./km²
Homepage:sachsen.de (http://www.sachsen.de/)
ISO 3166-2:DE-SN
Minister-President:Georg Milbradt[?] (CDU)
Ruling party:CDU
With an area of 18,400 sq. km. and a population of 4.45 million, Saxony (German Sachsen) is tenth largest in area but sixth in population among Germany's sixteen federal states. Created upon Germany's reunification in 1990, it occupies the approximate area of the former kingdom (1806-1918) of the same name. The capital is Dresden.

In the early Middle Ages the term "Saxony" referred to a different region, occupying today's states of Lower Saxony and Bremen and the northern (Westphalian) part of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Saxons, after whom the area was named, had migrated from the area of present-day Schleswig-Holstein during the second quarter of the 1st millennium AD. See the history section below for more details.

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Saxony borders on (from the east and clockwise) Poland, the Czech Republic and the German states of Bavaria, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. Its capital is Dresden, and the other principal cities are Leipzig, Chemnitz and Zwickau. Since 1989 the state and its urban centres have lost population through migration to the former West Germany.

The main axis of Saxony is the Elbe river, crossing the state from southeast to northwest. Another important river, located west of the Elbe, is the Mulde. The Neiße (Nysa) river forms the Polish border.

The portions in the east of Saxony are the southern parts of the historical region of Lusatia (Lausitz) and are called Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz); the minority of the Sorbs live in the region, which is bilingual today.

The countryside rises gradually from north to south, culminating in the mountain ranges along the Czech border. The Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) extend from Bavaria to the Elbe river. The Elbe itself has cut a majestic gorge in order to pass the mountains of the Elbsandsteingebirge[?]. Further east the mountains are less high and form a hilly countryside called the Lausitzer Bergland[?].

Saxony is divided into 3 Regierungsbezirke - Chemnitz, Dresden, Leipzig - which are subdivided into 22 districts:

  1. Annaberg
  2. Aue-Schwarzenberg
  3. Bautzen
  4. Chemnitzer Land
  5. Delitzsch
  6. Döbeln
  7. Freiberg[?]
  8. Kamenz[?]
  1. Leipziger Land[?]
  2. Löbau-Zittau[?]
  3. Meißen[?]
  4. Mittlerer Erzgebirgskreis[?]
  5. Mittweida[?]
  6. Muldentalkreis[?]
  7. Niederschlesischer Oberlausitzkreis[?]
  1. Riesa-Großenhain[?]
  2. Sächsische Schweiz[?]
  3. Stollberg[?]
  4. Torgau-Oschatz[?]
  5. Vogtlandkreis
  6. Weißeritzkreis
  7. Zwickauer Land[?]

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

  1. Chemnitz
  2. Dresden
  3. Görlitz
  4. Hoyerswerda[?]
  5. Leipzig
  6. Plauen[?]
  7. Zwickau


For the origins of the Saxon tribes see Saxons.

Foundation of the first Saxon state

The first duchy of Saxony emerged about 900 in a region, which is completely different from the present state of Saxony: It was located in today's Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. The first dukes of Saxony were at the same time kings (or emperors) of the Holy Roman Empire (Ottonian or Saxon Dynasty).

In 1137 Saxony was passed to the Welfen[?] dynasty. It reached its peak under duke Henry the Lion, but after his death it began to shrink. In 1180 large portions west of the Elbe had to be ceased to the bishops of Cologne (these lands later formed the duchy of Brunswick-Lueneburg). The small remains were passed to an Ascanian dynasty and were divided in 1260 into the two mini states of Saxony-Lauenburg and Saxony-Wittenberg.

Foundation of the second Saxon state

Saxony-Lauenburg was later called Lauenburg and had nothing to do anymore with the history of Saxony.

Saxony-Wittenberg (in present Saxony-Anhalt) became subject to the margravate of Meißen (ruled by the Wettin dynasty) in 1423. A new powerful state was established, occupying large portions of present Saxony, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt. Although the centre of this state was far southeast of the former Saxony, it was soon called Upper Saxony and then only Saxony, while the former Saxon territories were now called Lower Saxony.

A collateral line of the Wettin princes diverged in 1485. This line received what later became Thuringia and founded several tiny states there (see Thuringia for more details). The remaining state became even more powerful. In the 18th century Saxony was known for great cultural achievements, but was politically inferior to Prussia and Austria, which pressed Saxony from either sides.

Saxony in the 19th and 20th centuries

In the Congress of Vienna Saxony was forced to cease its northern territories to Prussia. These lands became the Prussian province of Saxony, which is today incorporated in Saxony-Anhalt.

Remaining Saxony was roughly identical with the present federal state. It became a kingdom in 1831. After 1918 Saxony was an administrative region in the Weimar Republic, the Nazi era and under Soviet occupation. It was dissolved in 1952, but reestablished in 1990 upon the German reunification. Today Saxony also includes a little part of Silesia around the town of Goerlitz which remained German after the war.

See also:

External link

For the state's own website, see http://www.sachsen.de/

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