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North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous federal state, is one full of contrasts and diversity.
With its major economic centres, its good infrastructure and central position, it is one of Europe’s most urbanized areas. But North Rhine-Westphalia also has agricultural areas and scenic countryside such as the Siebengebirge to offer. As far as economic figures are concerned, North Rhine-Westphalia, which accounts for a quarter of Germany’s GDP, leads the field. Alongside some 763,000 small and medium-sized enterprises, many major firms are based here, including those with the highest turnover in Germany. North Rhine-Westphalia is famous above all for its chemical industry, mechanical engineering and metal production and processing. But it also takes pride in future-oriented sectors such as the media and creative economy, environmental technologies and ICT. Düsseldorf and Cologne are also important cities for trade fairs.
The federal state also boasts 68 universities, some 100 research institutes and 50 research centres outside the university context. But North Rhine-Westphalia has even more to offer. It has one of the world’s most dense and diverse cultural scenes. Countless museums, concert halls, cultural centres, theatres, symphony orchestras and the strongholds of Germany’s carnival celebrations are to be found here. Parallel to these structures, North Rhine-Westphalia has developed a vibrant scene with independent groups, galleries, alternative theatres and clubs. Cologne excels in electronic music and jazz, whereas Düsseldorf is considered a city of fashion.
With kind permission of the Bundesrat (January 2013)