From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The subject of this article was previously also known as Saxony. For other uses, see Saxony (disambiguation).
Land Niedersachsen (German)
Land Neddersassen (Low Saxon)
Lound Läichsaksen (Saterland Frisian)
|State of Germany|
|• Minister President||Stephan Weil (SPD)|
|• Governing parties||SPD / Greens|
|• Votes in Bundesrat||6 (of 69)|
|• Total||47,624.22 km2 (18,387.81 sq mi)|
|• Density||160/km2 (420/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|ISO 3166 code||DE-NI|
|GDP/ Nominal||€213.97 billion (2010)|
Lower Saxony borders on (from north and clockwise) the North Sea, the states of Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia, and the Netherlands. Furthermore, the state of Bremen forms two enclaves within Lower Saxony, one being the city of Bremen, the other, its seaport city of Bremerhaven. In fact, Lower Saxony borders more neighbours than any other single Bundesland. The state's principal cities include the state capital Hanover, Brunswick, Lüneburg, Osnabrück, Oldenburg, Hildesheim, Wolfenbüttel, Wolfsburg and Göttingen.
The northwestern area of Lower Saxony, which lies on the coast of the North Sea, is called East Frisia and the seven East Frisian Islands offshore are popular with tourists. In the extreme west of Lower Saxony is the Emsland, a traditionally poor and sparsely populated area, once dominated by inaccessible swamps. The northern half of Lower Saxony, also known as the North German Plains, is almost invariably flat except for the gentle hills around the Bremen geestland. Towards the south and southwest lie the northern parts of the German Central Uplands: the Weser Uplands and the Harz mountains. Between these two lie the Lower Saxon Hills, a range of low ridges. Thus, Lower Saxony is the only Bundesland that encompasses both maritime and mountainous areas.
Lower Saxony's major cities and economic centres are mainly situated in its central and southern parts, namely Hanover, Brunswick, Osnabrück, Wolfsburg, Salzgitter, Hildesheim and Göttingen. Oldenburg, near the northwestern coastline, is another economic centre. The region in the northeast is called the Lüneburg Heath (Lüneburger Heide), the largest heathland area of Germany and in medieval times wealthy due to salt mining and salt trade, as well as to a lesser degree the exploitation of its peat bogs up until about the 1960s. To the north, the Elbe river separates Lower Saxony from Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg. The banks just south of the Elbe are known as Altes Land (Old Country). Due to its gentle local climate and fertile soil it is the state's largest area of fruit farming, its chief produce being apples.
Most of the state's territory was part of the historic Kingdom of Hanover; the state of Lower Saxony has adopted the coat of arms and other symbols of the former kingdom. It was created by the merger of the State of Hanover with several smaller states in 1946.
LocationLower Saxony has a natural boundary in the north in the North Sea and the lower and middle reaches of the River Elbe, although parts of the city of Hamburg lie south of the Elbe. The state and city of Bremen is an enclave entirely surrounded by Lower Saxony. The Bremen/Oldenburg Metropolitan Region is a cooperative body for the enclave area. To the southeast the state border runs through the Harz, low mountains that are part of the German Central Uplands. The northeast and west of the state – which form roughly three-quarters of its land area – belong to the North German Plain, while the south is in the Lower Saxon Hills, including the Weser Uplands, Leine Uplands, Schaumburg Land, Brunswick Land, Untereichsfeld, Elm and Lappwald. In northeast Lower Saxony is Lüneburg Heath. The heath is dominated by the poor sandy soils of the geest, whilst in the central east and southeast in the loess börde zone there are productive soils with high natural fertility. Under these conditions—with loam and sand-containing soils—the land is well-developed agriculturally. In the west lie the County of Bentheim, Osnabrück Land, Emsland, Oldenburg Land, Ammerland, Oldenburg Münsterland and – on the coast – East Frisia.
The state is dominated by several large rivers running northwards through the state: the Ems, Weser, Aller and Elbe.
The highest mountain in Lower Saxony is the Wurmberg (971 m) in the Harz. For other significant elevations see: List of mountains and hills in Lower Saxony. Most of the mountains and hills are found in the southeastern part of the state. The lowest point in the state, at about 2.5 metres below sea level, is a depression near Freepsum in East Frisia.
The state's economy, population and infrastructure are centred on the cities and towns of Hanover, Stadthagen, Celle, Brunswick, Wolfsburg, Hildesheim and Salzgitter. Together with Göttingen in southern Lower Saxony, they form the core of the Hanover-Brunswick-Göttingen-Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region.