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Lower Saxony (German: Niedersachsen ) lies in north-western Germany and is second in area and fourth in population among the sixteen states of Germanymarker. In rural areas Low German is still spoken, but the number of speakers is declining.

Lower Saxony borders on (from north and clockwise) the North Seamarker, the states of Schleswig-Holsteinmarker, Hamburgmarker, Mecklenburg-Vorpommernmarker, Brandenburgmarker, Saxony-Anhaltmarker, Thuringiamarker, Hessemarker and North Rhine-Westphaliamarker, and the Kingdom of the Netherlandsmarker. In total, Lower Saxony borders more neighboring states than any other federal state. The state of Bremenmarker forms two enclaves within Lower Saxony, one being the city of Bremen, the other its seaport city of Bremerhavenmarker. The state's principal cities include Hanovermarker, Braunschweigmarker, Osnabrückmarker, Oldenburgmarker, and Göttingenmarker.

The northwestern portion of Lower Saxony is a part of Frisia; it is called Ostfriesland (East Frisia) and lies on the coast of the North Seamarker. It includes seven islands, known as the East Frisian Islandsmarker. In the extreme west of Lower Saxony is the Emslandmarker, 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 Bremenmarker geestland. Towards the south and southwest lie the northern parts of the German Central Highlands, the Weserberglandmarker (Weser mountain range) and the Harzmarker mountains. Between these two lies the Lower Saxon Hill Country, a range of minor elevations. Lower Saxony's major cities and economic centres are mainly situated in its central and southern parts, namely Hanovermarker, Braunschweigmarker, Osnabrückmarker, Wolfsburgmarker, Salzgittermarker and Hildesheimmarker. Oldenburgmarker, near the northwestern coastline, is another economic center. The region in the northeast is called Lüneburger Heide (Lüneburg Heathmarker), 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 Hamburgmarker, Schleswig-Holsteinmarker, Mecklenburg-Western Pomeraniamarker and Brandenburgmarker. 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.

See also List of places in Lower Saxony.


Lower Saxony is divided into 38 districts (Landkreise or simply Kreise):

  1. Ammerlandmarker
  2. Aurichmarker (includes Juistmarker, Norderneymarker and Baltrummarker)
  3. Grafschaft Bentheimmarker
  4. Cellemarker
  5. Cloppenburgmarker
  6. Cuxhavenmarker
  7. Diepholzmarker
  8. Emslandmarker
  9. Frieslandmarker (includes Wangeroogemarker)
  10. Gifhornmarker
  11. Goslarmarker
  12. Göttingenmarker
  13. Hamelin-Pyrmontmarker (Hameln-Pyrmont)
  1. Hannover (Hanover)
  2. Harburgmarker
  3. Helmstedtmarker
  4. Hildesheimmarker
  5. Holzmindenmarker
  6. Leermarker (includes Borkummarker)
  7. Lüchow-Dannenbergmarker
  8. Lüneburgmarker
  9. Nienburgmarker
  10. Northeimmarker
  11. Oldenburgmarker
  12. Osnabrückmarker
  13. Osterholzmarker
  1. Osterodemarker
  2. Peinemarker
  3. Rotenburg marker
  4. Schaumburgmarker
  5. Soltau-Fallingbostelmarker
  6. Stademarker
  7. Uelzenmarker
  8. Vechtamarker
  9. Verdenmarker
  10. Wesermarschmarker
  11. Wittmundmarker (includes Langeoogmarker and Spiekeroogmarker)
  12. Wolfenbüttelmarker

Furthermore there are ten urban districts:
  1. Braunschweigmarker
  2. Delmenhorstmarker
  3. Emdenmarker
  4. Göttingenmarker ¹
  5. Hannovermarker ²
  6. Oldenburgmarker
  7. Osnabrückmarker
  8. Salzgittermarker
  9. Wilhelmshavenmarker
  10. Wolfsburgmarker
¹ following the "Göttingen Law" of January 1, 1964, the town of Göttingen is incorporated into the district (Landkreis) of Göttingen, but the rules on urban districts still apply, as long as no other rules exist.

² following the "Law on the region of Hanover", Hanover counts since November 1, 2001 as an urban district as long as no other rules apply.


Ordinance No.
55, with which on November 22, 1946 the British military government founded the state Lower Saxony retroactively to November 1, 1946.
The area is named after the Saxons. The Saxons lived in today's state of Schleswig-Holsteinmarker and merged with the Chauci on the left bank of the river Elbe until the middle of the 1st millennium AD. They then expanded over the whole of today's Lower Saxony and further. Originally the region was simply called Saxony, but as the center of gravity of the Duchy of Saxony gradually moved up the Elbe, towards the present-day states of Saxony-Anhaltmarker and Saxonymarker, the region was given the name of Lower Saxony, which it bore as an Imperial Circle Estate from the late 15th century on.

Historically, Low Saxony esp. the southern regions or the Gottingen region sought a high degree of autonomy.

The state was founded in 1946 by the Britishmarker military administration, who merged the former states of Brunswick, Oldenburg, and Schaumburg-Lippe with the former Prussian province of Hanovermarker.

After the Second World War, the military authorities appointed the first Legislative Assembly (Landtag) in 1946, followed by a direct election of Lower Saxony's legislature a year later. It resulted in the election of Social Democrat leader Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf, who became the first prime minister. Kopf led a five-party coalition, whose basic task was to rebuild a state affected by the war's rigours. Kopf's cabinet had to organise an improvement of food supplies and the reconstruction of the cities and towns destroyed by the Allied air raids of the war years. In addition, the first state government also faced the challenge of integrating hundreds of thousands of refugees from Germany's former territories in the east (such as Silesia and East Prussia), which had been annexed by Polandmarker and the Soviet Unionmarker.

Between 1978 and 2004, the state's districts and independent towns were grouped into four administrative regions (Regierungsbezirke): Since 2004 the Bezirksregierung have been broken up again.


Agriculture has always been a very important economic factor in Lower Saxony. Wheat, potatoes, rye, and oats as well as beef, pork and poultry are some of the state's present-day agricultural products. The north and northwest of Lower Saxony are mainly made up of coarse sandy soil that makes crop farming difficult and therefore grassland and cattle farming are more prevalent in those areas. Towards the south and southeast, extensive loess layers in the soil left behind by the last ice age allow high-yield crop farming. One of the principal crops there is sugar beet.

Mining has been an important source of income in Lower Saxony for centuries. Silver ore became a foundation of notable economic prosperity in the Harz Mountains as early as the 1100s, while iron mining in the Salzgitter area and salt mining in various areas of the state became another important economic backbone. Although overall yields are comparatively low, Lower Saxony is also an important supplier of crude oil in the European Union. Mineral products still mined today include iron and lignite.

Radioactive waste is frequently transported in the area to the city of Salzgittermarker, for the deep geological repository Schacht Konradmarker and between Schacht Asse IImarker in the Wolfenbüttelmarker district and Lindwedelmarker and Höfermarker.

Manufacturing is another large part of the regional economy. Despite decades of gradual downsizing and restructuring, the car maker Volkswagen with its five production plants within the state's borders still remains the single biggest private-sector employer, its world headquarters based in Wolfsburgmarker. Due to a legal act commonly known as the Volkswagen Law that has just recently been ruled illegal by the European Union's high court, the state of Lower Saxony is still the second largest shareholder, owning 20.3% of the company.
Due to the importance of car manufacturing in Lower Saxony, a thriving supply industry is centered around its regional focal points. Other mainstays of the Lower Saxon industrial sector include aviation, shipbuilding, biotechnology, and steel.

The service sector has gained importance following the demise of manufacturing in the 1970s and 1980s. Important branches today are the tourism industry with TUI AG in Hanover, one of Europe's largest travel companies, as well as trade and telecommunication.


Since 1948, politics in the state has been dominated by the rightist Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the leftist Social Democratic Party. Lower Saxony was one of the origins of the German environmentalist movement in reaction to the state government's support for underground nuclear waste disposal. This led to the formation of the German Green Party in 1980.

The current Minister-President, Christian Wulff, has led a coalition of his CDU with the Free Democratic Party since 2003. In the most recent state election in 2008, the ruling CDU held on to its position as the leading party in the state, despite losing votes and seats. The CDU's coalition with the Free Democratic Party retained its majority although it was cut from 29 to 10.

The election also saw the entry into the state parliament for the first time of the leftist The Left party.

List of Minister-presidents of Lower Saxony

Minister-president Cabinet Involved parties Tenure
Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf Kopf I SPD, CDU, FDP, NLP, KPD 1946 – 47
Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf Kopf II SPD, CDU, FDP, DP, Zentrum, KPD 1947 – 48
Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf Kopf III SPD, CDU, Zentrum 1948 – 51
Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf Kopf IV SPD, GB/BHE, Zentrum 1951 – 55
Heinrich Hellwege Hellwege I DP, SPD, GB/BHE, CDU, FDP 1955 – 57
Heinrich Hellwege Hellwege II DP, SPD, CDU 1957 – 59
Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf Kopf V SPD, FDP, GB/BHE 1959 – 61
Georg Diederichs Diederichs I SPD, FDP, GB/BHE 1961 – 63
Georg Diederichs Diederichs II SPD, FDP 1963 – 65
Georg Diederichs Diederichs III SPD, CDU 1965 – 67
Georg Diederichs Diederichs IV SPD, CDU 1967 – 70
Alfred Kubel Kubel I SPD 1970 – 74
Alfred Kubel Kubel II SPD, FDP 1974 – 76
Ernst Albrecht Albrecht I CDU 1976 – 77
Ernst Albrecht Albrecht II CDU, FDP, without party affiliation 1977 – 78
Ernst Albrecht Albrecht III CDU 1978 – 82
Ernst Albrecht Albrecht IV CDU 1982 – 86
Ernst Albrecht Albrecht V CDU, FDP 1986 – 90
Gerhard Schröder Schröder I SPD, Grüne, parteilos 1990 – 94
Gerhard Schröder Schröder II SPD, without party affiliation 1994 – 98
Gerhard Schröder Schröder III SPD 1998
Gerhard Glogowski Glogowski SPD 1998 – 99
Sigmar Gabriel Gabriel SPD, without party affiliation 1999 – 2003
Christian Wulff Wulff I CDU, FDP 2003 – 08
Christian Wulff Wulff II CDU, FDP seit 2008

Coat of arms

The coat of arms shows a white horse (Saxon Steed) on red ground, which is an old symbol of the Saxon people.

See also


External links

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