Brandenburg ( ; Lower Sorbian: Bramborska;
Braniborska) is one of the sixteen states of Germany.
It lies in
the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that
were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former
Germany and East
Germany. The capital is Potsdam.
Brandenburg surrounds but does not include
the national capital Berlin.
Historically, Brandenburg was an independent state, the Margraviate of Brandenburg
grew to become the core of independent Prussia and later the German
state of Prussia. About a third of historic Brandenburg (land east
of the Oder River) was annexed by Poland following the
establishment of the new Oder-Neisse
in 1945 by the Allies. This region was historically
known as East Brandenburg. The federal state of Brandenburg is named
after the town of Brandenburg an der Havel.
medieval and early modern times, Brandenburg was one of seven
electoral states of the Holy Roman Empire, and, along with
Prussia, formed the original core of the German Empire, the first unified German state.
by the Hohenzollern dynasty
from in 1415, it contained the future German capital Berlin.
the Margraviate of
Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia were combined to form Brandenburg-Prussia, which was ruled by
the same branch of the House of
Hohenzollern. In 1701 the state was elevated as the
Prussia. Franconian Nuremberg and Ansbach, Swabian Hohenzollern, the eastern European connections of Berlin, and
the status of Brandenburg's ruler as prince-elector together were instrumental in
the rise of that state.
Early Middle Ages
Brandenburg is situated in territory known in antiquity as Magna Germania
, which reached to the Vistula
river. By the seventh century, Slavic
are believed to have settled in the Brandenburg area.
The Slavs expanded from the east, possibly driven from their
homelands in present-day Ukraine and perhaps Belarus by the
invasions of the Huns
. They relied heavily on river
transport. The two principal Slavic groups in the present-day area
of Brandenburg were the Hevelli
in the west
and the Sprevane
in the east.
Beginning in the early 900s, Henry the
and his successors conquered territory up to the
. Slavic settlements
such as Brenna (Brandenburg an der Havel), Budusin (Bautzen), and Chośebuz (Cottbus) came under imperial control through the installation
Their main function was to defend and protect
the eastern marches
. In 948 Emperor Otto I
established margraves to
exert imperial control over the pagan Slavs west of the Oder River.
Otto founded the Bishoprics of Brandenburg
. The Northern March
was founded as a northeastern
border territory of the Holy Roman
. However, a great uprising of Wends
drove imperial forces from the territory of present-day Brandenburg
in 983. The region returned to the control of Slavic leaders.
During the 12th century the Ottonian
kings and emperors re-established control over the mixed
Slav-inhabited lands of present-day Brandenburg, although some
Slavs like the Sorbs
adapted to Germanization
while retaining their
distinctiveness. The Roman
brought bishoprics which, with their walled
towns, afforded protection from attacks for the townspeople.
monks and bishops, the history of the town of Brandenburg
an der Havel, which was the first center of the state of
In 1134, in the wake of a German
against the Wends
, the German magnate Albert the Bear
was granted the Northern March
by the Emperor Lothar III
. He formally
inherited the town of Brandenburg and the lands of the Hevelli from
their last Wendish ruler, Pribislav
, in 1150. After crushing
a force of Sprevane who occupied the town of Brandenburg in the
1150s, Albert proclaimed himself ruler of the new Margraviate of Brandenburg
Albert, and his descendants the Ascanians
, then made considerable progress
in conquering, colonizing, Christianizing, and cultivating lands as
far east as the Oder. Within this region, Slavic and German
residents intermarried. During the 13th century the Ascanians began
acquiring territory east of the Oder, later known as the Neumark (see also Altmark).
Late Middle Ages
the Brandenburg Ascanian line came to an end, and from 1323 up
until 1415 Brandenburg was under the control of the Wittelsbachs of Bavaria, followed by the Luxembourg dynasty.
Luxembourgs, the Margrave of
gained the status of a prince-elector
of the Holy Roman Empire. In
1415, the Electorate of Brandenburg was granted by Emperor Sigismund
to the House of Hohenzollern
, which would
rule until the end of World War I
Hohenzollerns established their capital in Berlin, by then the
economic center of Brandenburg.
16th and 17th centuries
Brandenburg converted to Protestantism
in 1539 in the wake of the Protestant Reformation
, and generally
did quite well in the 16th century, with the expansion of trade
along the Elbe, Havel, and Spree Rivers. The Hohenzollerns
expanded their territory by acquiring the Duchy of
Prussia in 1618, the Duchy of Cleves (1614) in the Rhineland,
and territories in Westphalia.
result was a sprawling, disconnected country known as Brandenburg-Prussia
that was in poor
shape to defend itself during the Thirty Years' War
Beginning near the end of that devastating conflict, however,
Brandenburg enjoyed a string of talented rulers who expanded their
territory and power in Europe. The first of these was Frederick William
the so-called "Great Elector", who worked tirelessly to rebuild and
consolidate the nation. He moved the royal residence to Potsdam.
Kingdom of Prussia and united Germany
When Frederick William died in 1688, he was followed by his son
, third of that name
in Brandenburg. As the lands that had been acquired in Prussia were
outside the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire, Frederick assumed
(as Frederick I) the title of "King in
" (1701). Although his self-promotion from margrave to
king relied on his title to the Duchy of Prussia, Brandenburg was
still the most important portion of the kingdom. However, this
combined kingdom is known as the Kingdom of Prussia.
Brandenburg remained the core of the Kingdom of Prussia, and it was
the site of the kingdom's capitals, Berlin and Potsdam. When
Prussia was subdivided into provinces in 1815, the territory of the
Margraviate of Brandenburg became the Province of Brandenburg
the City of Berlin was
separated from the Province of Brandenburg.
industrial towns ringing Berlin lay within Brandenburg, and the
growth of the region's industrial economy brought an increase in
the population of the province. The Province of Brandenburg had an
area of and a population of 2.6 million (1925). After World War II, the Neumark, the part of Brandenburg east of
the Oder-Neisse Line, was
transferred to Poland; and its
native German population expelled.
The remainder of the
province became a state in East Germany when Prussia was dissolved
in 1947. The State of Brandenburg was completely
dissolved in 1952 by the Socialist government of East Germany.
East Germany and reunified Germany
In 1952, the East German government divided Brandenburg among
or districts. (See Administrative
division of the German Democratic Republic
). Most of Brandenburg
lay within the Potsdam, Frankfurt (Oder), or Cottbus districts, but
parts of the former province passed to the Schwerin, Neubrandenburg
and Magdeburg districts (town Havelberg).
East Germany relied heavily on lignite
(the lowest grade of coal) as an energy
source, and lignite strip mines marred areas of southeastern
Brandenburg. The industrial towns surrounding Berlin were important
to the East German economy, while rural Brandenburg remained mainly
The present State of Brandenburg was re-established on October 3,
1990. As in other former parts of East Germany, the lack of modern
infrastructure and exposure to West Germany's competitive market
economy brought widespread joblessness and economic difficulty. In
the recent years, however, Brandenburg's infrastructure has been
modernized and joblessness has slowly declined.
In 1995, the governments of Berlin and Brandenburg proposed to
merge the states in order to form a new state with the name of
"Berlin-Brandenburg". The merger was rejected in a plebiscite
in 1996 - while West Berliners voted
for a merger, East Berliners and Brandenburgers voted against
Brandenburg is bordered by Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the north, Poland in the east,
Sachsen in the south, Saxony-Anhalt in the west, and Lower Saxony in the northwest.
The Oder River
forms a part of the
eastern border, the Elbe River
a portion of the
western border. The main rivers in the state itself are the
Spree and the Havel.
the southeast, there is a wetlands region called the Spreewald
; it is the northernmost part of Lusatia
, where the Sorbs
people, still live. These
areas are bilingual, i.e., German
are both used.
Brandenburg is known for its well-preserved natural environment and
its ambitious natural protection policies which began in the 1990s.
15 large protected areas were designated following Germany's reunification
. Each of them
is provided with state-financed administration and a park ranger
staff, who guide visitors and work to ensure nature conservation.
Most protected areas have visitor centers.
Brandenburg is divided into 14 rural districts
and 4 urban districts (kreisfreie Städte
- Brandenburg an der Havel
- For earlier rulers, see List of rulers of
- 1947 - 1949: Karl Steinhoff
- 1949 - 1952: Rudolf Jahn (SED)
- 1990 - 2002: Manfred Stolpe
- since 2002: Matthias Platzeck
September 2009 state election