Featured locations

Germany - Ruhr region

The German Mining Museum, Bochum, Germany
The German Mining Museum, Bochum, Germany (© Tupungato / Bigstock)
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In: Featured locations, Germany

The Ruhr region is a densely populated industrial region that takes its name from the river Ruhr, a tributary of the lower Rhine. The region is located in the federal German state of North-Rhine-Westphalia (often shortened to NRW) which borders Belgium and the Netherlands. NRW’s 18 million inhabitants - over one-fifth of Germany’s total - would make it the seventh-largest country in the European Union. The Ruhr region covers a total area of 4,500 sq km (1,737 sq miles) and has a population of more than 5.1 million people. The largest cities are Dortmund (590,000), Essen (580,000), Duisburg (500,000), Bochum (370,000) and Gelsenkirchen (260,000).

The Ruhr region is neither a historical nor a political administrative entity, but a functional area based on its geography and economic activity. In the 19th century, it developed an economy based on coal mining, coal power generation and coal- reliant heavy industries, most notably steel. However, those industries began to decline in the late 1950s and the region has been recreating itself through initiatives such as The Ruhr Development Program (adopted in 1968 to support infrastructure development).

To support this transformation, a unique concentration of scientific and economic competence was created here by means of founding and then expanding universities, technical colleges, and other scientific institutions. The University of Bochum was founded in 1962, followed by the University of Dortmund in 1968 and the comprehensive universities of Essen and Duisburg, both founded in 1972, and eventually merging into the University of Duisburg-Essen in 2003). The FernUniversität in Hagen was founded in 1974.
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