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Encyclopedia > North Rhine Westphalia
Landesflagge (civil flag)

Landesdienstflagge (state service flag)

Landeswappen (state coat-of-arms)

Capital: Düsseldorf
Area: 34,080 km²
Inhabitants: 18,060,211 (2002)
pop. density: 530 inh./km²
Homepage: http://www.nrw.de/
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.



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, which contains the cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Bonn, as well as the Ruhr industrial complex. The Ruhr area consists, among others, of the cities of Essen, Dortmund, Duisburg, Bochum and Gelsenkirchen.

For many people North Rhine-Westphalia is synonymous with industrial areas and agglomerating cities. But the largest part of the state 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. The northwestern areas of the state are part of the Northern European Lowlands.

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

See also List of places in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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

The districts of North Rhine-Westphalia:


  1. Aachen
  2. Borken
  3. Coesfeld
  4. Düren
  5. Ennepe-Ruhr
  6. Rhein-Erft-Kreis
  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. Rhein-Kreis 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

The independent cities, which do not 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 five administrative regions, belonging to one of two Landschaftsverbände:

  • Nordrhein
    • Cologne
    • Düsseldorf
  • Westfalen-Lippe
    • Arnsberg
    • Münster
    • Detmold


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

List of Minister-presidents of North Rhine-Westphalia

  1. 1946 - 1947: Rudolf Amelunxen
  2. 1947 - 1956: Karl Arnold (CDU)
  3. 1956 - 1958: Fritz Steinhoff (SPD)
  4. 1958 - 1966: Franz Meyers (CDU)
  5. 1966 - 1978: Heinz Kühn (SPD)
  6. 1978 - 1998: Johannes Rau (SPD)
  7. 1998 - 2002: Wolfgang Clement (SPD)
  8. since 2002: Peer Steinbrück (SPD)

External links

  • Official governmental portal (http://www.nrw.de/)
  • Tourism (http://www.nrw-tourismus.de/)

States of Germany
Baden-Württemberg | Bavaria | Berlin | Brandenburg | Bremen | Hamburg | Hesse | Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania | Lower Saxony | North Rhine-Westphalia | Rhineland-Palatinate | Saarland | Saxony | Saxony-Anhalt | Schleswig-Holstein | Thuringia



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