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Lower Saxony

Lower Saxony

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Lower Saxony is a German state situated in north-western Germany
Northern Germany
- Geography :The key terrain features of North Germany are the marshes along the coastline of the North Sea and Baltic Sea, and the geest and heaths inland. Also prominent are the low hills of the Baltic Uplands, the ground moraines, end moraines, sandur, glacial valleys, bogs, and Luch...

 and is second in area and fourth in population among the sixteen states
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. In rural areas Northern Low Saxon
Northern Low Saxon
Northern Low Saxon is a West Low German dialect.As such, it covers a great part of the West Low-German-speaking areas of northern Germany, with the exception of the border regions where Eastphalian and Westphalian are spoken...

, a dialect of Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

, is still spoken, but the number of speakers is declining.

Lower Saxony borders on (from north and clockwise) the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

, the states of Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

, Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-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 West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

, Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt is a landlocked state of Germany. Its capital is Magdeburg and it is surrounded by the German states of Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia.Saxony-Anhalt covers an area of...

, Thuringia
Thuringia
The Free State of Thuringia is a state of Germany, located in the central part of the country.It has an area of and 2.29 million inhabitants, making it the sixth smallest by area and the fifth smallest by population of Germany's sixteen states....

, Hesse
Hesse
Hesse or Hessia is both a cultural region of Germany and the name of an individual German state.* The cultural region of Hesse includes both the State of Hesse and the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state...

 and North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. In total, Lower Saxony borders more neighboring states than any other federal state. The state of Bremen
Bremen (state)
The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen is the smallest of Germany's 16 states. A more informal name, but used in some official contexts, is Land Bremen .-Geography:...

 forms two enclaves within Lower Saxony, one being the city of Bremen, the other its seaport city of Bremerhaven
Bremerhaven
Bremerhaven is a city at the seaport of the free city-state of Bremen, a state of the Federal Republic of Germany. It forms an enclave in the state of Lower Saxony and is located at the mouth of the River Weser on its eastern bank, opposite the town of Nordenham...

. The state's principal cities include Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, Brunswick, Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

, Osnabrück
Osnabrück
Osnabrück is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany, some 80 km NNE of Dortmund, 45 km NE of Münster, and some 100 km due west of Hanover. It lies in a valley penned between the Wiehen Hills and the northern tip of the Teutoburg Forest...

, Oldenburg
Oldenburg
Oldenburg is an independent city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated in the western part of the state between the cities of Bremen and Groningen, Netherlands, at the Hunte river. It has a population of 160,279 which makes it the fourth biggest city in Lower Saxony after Hanover, Braunschweig...

, and Göttingen
Göttingen
Göttingen is a university town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Göttingen. The Leine river runs through the town. In 2006 the population was 129,686.-General information:...

.

The northwestern portion of Lower Saxony is a part of Frisia
Frisia
Frisia is a coastal region along the southeastern corner of the North Sea, i.e. the German Bight. Frisia is the traditional homeland of the Frisians, a Germanic people who speak Frisian, a language group closely related to the English language...

; it is called Ostfriesland (East Frisia
East Frisia
East Frisia or Eastern Friesland is a coastal region in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony....

)
and lies on the coast of the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

. It includes seven islands, known as the East Frisian Islands
East Frisian Islands
The East Frisian Islands are a chain of islands in the North Sea, off the coast of East Frisia in Lower Saxony, Germany. The islands extend for some from west to east between the mouths of the Ems and Jade / Weser rivers and lie about 3.5 to 10 km offshore...

. In the extreme west of Lower Saxony is the Emsland
Emsland (region)
Emsland is the name of a region on the Ems River in western Lower Saxony and northern North Rhine-Westphalia. It is divided into the so-called Hanoverian and Westphalian 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
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 geestland
Geestland
Geest is a type of slightly raised landscape that occurs in the plains of in Northern Germany, the Northern Netherlands and Denmark. It is a landscape of sandy and gravelly soils, usually mantled by a heathland vegetation, comprising glacial deposits left behind after the last ice age during the...

. Towards the south and southwest lie the northern parts of the German Central Highlands, the Weserbergland
Weserbergland
The Weser Uplands is a hill region in Germany The Weser Uplands (German: Weserbergland) is a hill region (Bergland = uplands, hills or hill region) in Germany The Weser Uplands (German: Weserbergland) is a hill region (Bergland = uplands, hills or hill region) in Germany (Lower Saxony, Hesse,...

 (Weser mountain range) and the Harz
Harz
The Harz is the highest mountain range in northern Germany and its rugged terrain extends across parts of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The name Harz derives from the Middle High German word Hardt or Hart , latinized as Hercynia. The legendary Brocken is the highest summit in the Harz...

 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 Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, Brunswick, Osnabrück
Osnabrück
Osnabrück is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany, some 80 km NNE of Dortmund, 45 km NE of Münster, and some 100 km due west of Hanover. It lies in a valley penned between the Wiehen Hills and the northern tip of the Teutoburg Forest...

, Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located on the River Aller northeast of Braunschweig , and is mainly notable as the headquarters of Volkswagen AG...

, Salzgitter
Salzgitter
Salzgitter is an independent city in southeast Lower Saxony, Germany, located between Hildesheim and Braunschweig. Together with Wolfsburg and Braunschweig, Salzgitter is one of the seven Oberzentren of Lower Saxony...

, Hildesheim
Hildesheim
Hildesheim is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located in the district of Hildesheim, about 30 km southeast of Hanover on the banks of the Innerste river, which is a small tributary of the Leine river...

 and Göttingen
Göttingen
Göttingen is a university town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Göttingen. The Leine river runs through the town. In 2006 the population was 129,686.-General information:...

. Oldenburg
Oldenburg
Oldenburg is an independent city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated in the western part of the state between the cities of Bremen and Groningen, Netherlands, at the Hunte river. It has a population of 160,279 which makes it the fourth biggest city in Lower Saxony after Hanover, Braunschweig...

, near the northwestern coastline, is another economic centre. The region in the northeast is called the Lüneburg Heath
Lüneburg Heath
The Lüneburg Heath is a large area of heath, geest and woodland in northeastern part of the state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany. It forms part of the hinterland for the cities of Hamburg, Hanover, and Bremen and is named after the town of Lüneburg. Most of the area is a nature reserve...

 (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
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

 river separates Lower Saxony from Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is a federal state in northern Germany. The capital city is Schwerin...

 and Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-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 West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

. The banks just south of the Elbe are known as Altes Land
Altes Land
Altes Land is an area of reclaimed marshland straddling parts of Lower Saxony and Hamburg. The region is situated downstream from Hamburg on the southwestern riverside of the Elbe around the towns of Stade, Buxtehude, Jork and the Samtgemeinde of Lühe...

 (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 apple
Apple
The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family . It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apple grow on small, deciduous trees that blossom in the spring...

s.

Most of the state's territory was part of the historic Kingdom of Hanover
Kingdom of Hanover
The Kingdom of Hanover was established in October 1814 by the Congress of Vienna, with the restoration of George III to his Hanoverian territories after the Napoleonic era. It succeeded the former Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg , and joined with 38 other sovereign states in the German...

; 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.

Location


Lower Saxony has a natural boundary in the north in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 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
Bremen/Oldenburg Metropolitan Region
The European Metropolitan Region of Bremen/Oldenburg is one of the eleven metropolitan regions in Germany. It covers the area of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen with its cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven and parts of the state of Lower Saxony.- History :...

 is a cooperative body for the enclave area. To the southeast the state border runs through the Harz
Harz
The Harz is the highest mountain range in northern Germany and its rugged terrain extends across parts of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The name Harz derives from the Middle High German word Hardt or Hart , latinized as Hercynia. The legendary Brocken is the highest summit in the Harz...

, low mountains that are part of the German Central Uplands
Central Uplands
The Central Uplands is one of the three major natural regions of Germany and covers most of the land area of the country. To the north lies the North German Plain or Northern Lowland; to the south, the Alps and the Alpine Foreland.- Formation :...

. The northeast and west of the state – which form roughly three-quarters of its land area – belong to the North German Plain
North German plain
The North German Plain or Northern Lowland is one of the major geographical regions of Germany. It is the German part of the North European Plain...

, while the south is in the Lower Saxon Hills
Lower Saxon Hills
The Lower Saxon Hills are one the 73 natural regions in Germany defined by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation . Geographically it covers roughly the same area as the Weser Uplands in its wider sense....

, including the Weser Uplands, Leine Uplands
Leine Uplands
The Leine Uplands is a region in Germany's Central Uplands which forms a part of the Lower Saxon Hills and lies along the River Leine between Göttingen and Hanover...

, Schaumburg Land
Schaumburg Land
The Schaumburg Land is a strip of land in the German federal state of Lower Saxony lying between Lake Steinhude, Schaumburg Forest, Minden Land, the Weser Hills and the Deister. Historically it consisted of the former states of Schaumburg-Lippe in the area of Bückeburg - Obernkirchen and...

, Brunswick Land
Brunswick Land
Brunswick Land is a region in southeast Lower Saxony in the Harz Foreland in central Germany. It formed the heart of the old Duchy of Brunswick and the Free State of Brunswick...

, Untereichsfeld, Elm and Lappwald
Lappwald
The Lappwald is a heavily wooded range of hills, 20 km long and up to 5 km wide, in central Germany. It stretches northwards from the town of Helmstedt. The border between Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt runs through the woods, of which about three quarters is on Lower Saxon terrain...

. In northeast Lower Saxony is Lüneburg Heath
Lüneburg Heath
The Lüneburg Heath is a large area of heath, geest and woodland in northeastern part of the state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany. It forms part of the hinterland for the cities of Hamburg, Hanover, and Bremen and is named after the town of Lüneburg. Most of the area is a nature reserve...

. The heath is dominated by the poor sandy soils of the geest
Geest (topography)
Geest is a type of slightly raised landscape that occurs in the plains of in Northern Germany, the Northern Netherlands and Denmark. It is a landscape of sandy and gravelly soils, usually mantled by a heathland vegetation, comprising glacial deposits left behind after the last ice age during the...

, 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
Loam
Loam is soil composed of sand, silt, and clay in relatively even concentration . Loam soils generally contain more nutrients and humus than sandy soils, have better infiltration and drainage than silty soils, and are easier to till than clay soils...

 and sand
Sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

-containing soils—the land is well-developed agriculturally. In the west lie the County of Bentheim, Osnabrück Land
Osnabrück Land
Osnabrück Land is a region in southwest Lower Saxony in Germany, which extends into the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Its centre is the town of Osnabrück. The region is dominated by the Teutoburg Forest and the River Hase...

, Emsland
Emsland
Landkreis Emsland is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany named after the river Ems. It is bounded by the districts of Leer, Cloppenburg and Osnabrück, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia , the district of Bentheim and the Netherlands .- History :For a long time the region of the Emsland was...

, Oldenburg Land
Oldenburg Land
The Oldenburg Land is a region and regional association in the German state of Lower Saxony in the area of the former Grand Duchy of Oldenburg , the later Free State of Oldenburg and administrative district of Oldenburg without its exclaves, along the rivers Hunte and Hase...

, Ammerland, Oldenburg Münsterland and – on the coast – East Frisia
East Frisia
East Frisia or Eastern Friesland is a coastal region in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony....

.

The state is dominated by several large rivers running northwards through the state: the Ems, Weser, Aller
Aller
The Aller is a river, long, in the states of Saxony-Anhalt and Lower Saxony in Germany. It is a right-hand, and hence eastern, tributary of the River Weser and is also its largest tributary. Its last form the Lower Aller federal waterway...

 and Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

.

The highest mountain in Lower Saxony is the Wurmberg
Wurmberg (Harz)
At the Wurmberg is the second highest mountain in the Harz and the highest in Lower Saxony .- Geography :The Wurmberg lies north of Braunlage, in the district of Goslar, and west of Schierke. Its summit is located due south of the Brocken and roughly 400 m south of the state border with...

 (971 m) in the Harz
Harz
The Harz is the highest mountain range in northern Germany and its rugged terrain extends across parts of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The name Harz derives from the Middle High German word Hardt or Hart , latinized as Hercynia. The legendary Brocken is the highest summit 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
Freepsum
Freepsum is a village in the municipality of Krummhörn in the district of Aurich in East Frisia in North Germany. The village has 437 inhabitants and lies about ten kilometres northwest of the seaport of Emden....

 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.

General


Lower Saxony has clear regional divisions that manifest themselves both geographically as well as historically and culturally. In the regions that used to be independent, especially the heartlands of the former states of Brunswick
Free State of Brunswick
The Free State of Brunswick was the republic formed after the abolition of the Duchy of Brunswick in the course of the German Revolution of 1918–19. It was a state of the German Reich in the time of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany.-History:...

, Hanover, Oldenburg
Oldenburg (state)
Oldenburg — named after its capital, the town of Oldenburg — was a state in the north of present-day Germany. Oldenburg survived from 1180 until 1918 as a county, duchy and grand duchy, and from 1918 until 1946 as a free state. It was located near the mouth of the River Weser...

 and Schaumburg-Lippe
Schaumburg-Lippe
Schaumburg-Lippe was until 1946 a small state in Germany, located in the present day state of Lower Saxony, with its capital at Bückeburg.- History :...

, there is a marked local regional awareness. By contrast, the areas surrounding the Hanseatic cities of Bremen and Hamburg are much more oriented towards those centres.

List of regions


Sometimes there are overlaps and transition areas between the various regions of Lower Saxony. Several of the regions listed here are part of other, larger regions, that are also included in the list.
Just under 20% of the land area of Lower Saxony is designated as nature parks, i.e.: Dümmer
Dümmer Nature Park
The Dümmer Nature Park in North Germany is located in the Lower Saxon districts of Diepholz and Vechta and the North Rhine-Westphalian district of Minden-Lübbecke. It is about northeast of Osnabrück and lies between Diepholz and Bohmte, Bersenbrück and Rahden.The nature park covers an area of...

, Elbhöhen-Wendland, Elm-Lappwald
Elm-Lappwald Nature Park
The Elm-Lappwald Nature Park is a nature park in southwest Lower Saxony, east of Brunswick in central Germany. It is dominated by the forested hill ranges of the Elm, Lappwald and Dorm as well as the region known as the Helmstedt Bowl ....

, Harz
Harz
The Harz is the highest mountain range in northern Germany and its rugged terrain extends across parts of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The name Harz derives from the Middle High German word Hardt or Hart , latinized as Hercynia. The legendary Brocken is the highest summit in the Harz...

, Lüneburger Heide
Lüneburg Heath Nature Park
In the north of the area known as the Lüneburg Heath in northern Germany, lies the Lüneburg Heath Nature Park with an area of...

, Münden
Münden Nature Park
The Münden Nature Park lies within the district of Göttingen, in south Lower Saxony in Germany.- Geography :This large and densely wooded nature park was founded in 1959 within the borders of the now defunct district of Münden...

, Terra.vita
TERRA.vita Nature Park
The TERRA.vita Nature Park is located in the German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia and is divided into northern and southern areas...

, Solling-Vogler
Solling-Vogler Nature Park
The Solling-Vogler Nature Park is a nature park in South Lower Saxony in Germany. It has an area of and was established in 1966.The nature park includes the hill ranges of the Solling and the Vogler but also the Burgberg which lies east of Weser valley between the two upland regions...

, Lake Steinhude
Steinhuder Meer Nature Park
The Steinhuder Meer Nature Park , with northwest Germany's largest inland lake, the Steinhuder Meer, at its heart, covers an area of within the districts of Nienburg and Schaumburg and the region of Hanover...

, Südheide
Südheide Nature Park
The Südheide Nature Park is a large protected area of forest and heathland in the southern part of the Lüneburg Heath in North Germany...

, Weser Uplands, Wildeshausen Geest
Wildeshausen Geest
The Wildeshausen Geest is part of the northwest Germany's geest ridge, that begins near Meppen on the river Ems with the Hümmling, is broken by the Weser depression, continues with the Osterholz Geest and reaches the marshes of Kehdingen by the river Elbe with the ridges of the Wingst and Stade...

, Bourtanger Moor-Bargerveen.

Climate


Lower Saxony falls climatically into the north temperate zone of central Europe that is affected by prevailing Westerlies
Westerlies
The Westerlies, anti-trades, or Prevailing Westerlies, are the prevailing winds in the middle latitudes between 30 and 60 degrees latitude, blowing from the high pressure area in the horse latitudes towards the poles. These prevailing winds blow from the west to the east, and steer extratropical...

 and is located in a transition zone between the maritime climate of West Europe and the continental climate
Continental climate
Continental climate is a climate characterized by important annual variation in temperature due to the lack of significant bodies of water nearby...

 of East Europe. This transition is clearly noticeable within the state: whilst the northwest experiences an Atlantic (North Sea coastal) to Sub-Atlantic climate, with comparatively low variations in temperature during the course of the year and a surplus water budget, the climate towards the southeast is increasingly affected by the Continent. This is clearly shown by greater temperature variations between the summer and winter halves of the year and in lower and more variable amounts of precipitation across the year. This sub-continental effect is most sharply seen in the Wendland, in the Weser Uplands (Hamelin to Göttingen) and in the area of Helmstedt. The highest levels of precipitation are experienced in the Harz because the Lower Saxon part forms the windward side
Windward and leeward
Windward is the direction upwind from the point of reference. Leeward is the direction downwind from the point of reference. The side of a ship that is towards the leeward is its lee side. If the vessel is heeling under the pressure of the wind, this will be the "lower side"...

 of this mountain range against which orographic rain falls. The average annual temperature is 8 °C (7.5 °C in the Altes Land
Altes Land
Altes Land is an area of reclaimed marshland straddling parts of Lower Saxony and Hamburg. The region is situated downstream from Hamburg on the southwestern riverside of the Elbe around the towns of Stade, Buxtehude, Jork and the Samtgemeinde of Lühe...

 and 8.5 °C in the district of Cloppenburg).

Neighbouring states


States bordering on Lower Saxony are Bremen, Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-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 West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

, Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt is a landlocked state of Germany. Its capital is Magdeburg and it is surrounded by the German states of Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia.Saxony-Anhalt covers an area of...

, Thuringia
Thuringia
The Free State of Thuringia is a state of Germany, located in the central part of the country.It has an area of and 2.29 million inhabitants, making it the sixth smallest by area and the fifth smallest by population of Germany's sixteen states....

, Hesse
Hesse
Hesse or Hessia is both a cultural region of Germany and the name of an individual German state.* The cultural region of Hesse includes both the State of Hesse and the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state...

 and North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

. No other German state has so many neighbours.

Lower Saxony also has a border with the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 provinces
Provinces of the Netherlands
A Dutch province represents the administrative layer in between the national government and the local municipalities, having the responsibility for matters of subnational or regional importance. The government of each province consists of three major parts: the Provinciale Staten which is the...

 of Overijssel
Overijssel
Overijssel is a province of the Netherlands in the central eastern part of the country. The region has a NUTS classification of NL21. The province's name means "Lands across river IJssel". The capital city of Overijssel is Zwolle and the largest city is Enschede...

, Drenthe
Drenthe
Drenthe is a province of the Netherlands, located in the north-east of the country. The capital city is Assen. It is bordered by Overijssel to the south, Friesland to the west, Groningen to the north, and Germany to the east.-History:Drenthe, unlike many other parts of the Netherlands, has been a...

 and Groningen
Groningen (province)
Groningen [] is the northeasternmost province of the Netherlands. In the east it borders the German state of Niedersachsen , in the south Drenthe, in the west Friesland and in the north the Wadden Sea...

 as well as part of the German North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 coast.

Administration





Lower Saxony is divided into 38 districts (Landkreise or simply Kreise):
  1. Ammerland
    Ammerland
    Ammerland is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the city of Oldenburg and the districts of Oldenburg, Cloppenburg, Leer, Friesland and Wesermarsch.- History :...

  2. Aurich
    Aurich (district)
    Aurich is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the North Sea, the districts of Wittmund and Leer, and the city of Emden.- History :...

     (includes Juist
    Juist
    Juist is one of the seven inhabited East Frisian Islands at the edge of the Lower Saxon Wadden Sea in the southern North Sea, located between Borkum Island , Memmert Island and Norderney...

    , Norderney
    Norderney
    Norderney is one of the seven populated East Frisian Islands off the North Sea coast of Germany. It is also a municipality in the district of Aurich in Lower Saxony....

     and Baltrum
    Baltrum
    Baltrum is a barrier island off the coast of East Frisia , in Germany, and is a municipality in the district of Aurich, Lower Saxony. It is located in-between the chain of the seven inhabited East Frisian Islands...

    )
  3. County of Bentheim (Grafschaft Bentheim)
  4. Celle
    Celle (district)
    Celle is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Uelzen, Gifhorn, Hanover and Heidekreis.- Geography :...

  5. Cloppenburg
    Cloppenburg (district)
    Cloppenburg is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Ammerland, Oldenburg, Vechta, Osnabrück, Emsland and Leer....

  6. Cuxhaven
    Cuxhaven (district)
    Cuxhaven is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Stade, Rotenburg, Osterholz and Wesermarsch, the city of Bremerhaven and the North Sea.- History :...

  7. Diepholz
    Diepholz (district)
    Diepholz is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Verden, Nienburg, Minden-Lübbecke , Osnabrück, Vechta and Oldenburg, and by the cities of Delmenhorst and Bremen. The biggest city is Stuhr.- History :From the 12th century to 1585 Diepholz was a county within the...

  8. Emsland
    Emsland
    Landkreis Emsland is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany named after the river Ems. It is bounded by the districts of Leer, Cloppenburg and Osnabrück, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia , the district of Bentheim and the Netherlands .- History :For a long time the region of the Emsland was...

  9. Friesland
    Friesland (district)
    Friesland is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Wesermarsch, Ammerland, Leer and Wittmund, and by the North Sea...

     (includes Wangerooge
    Wangerooge
    Wangerooge is one of the 32 Frisian Islands in the North Sea located close to the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. It is also a municipality in the district of Friesland in Lower Saxony in Germany.Wangerooge is one of the East Frisian Islands...

    )
  10. Gifhorn
    Gifhorn (district)
    -Geography:The district is located at the border of Saxony-Anhalt and extends from the southern edge of the Lüneburg Heath in the north to the suburbs of Braunschweig and Wolfsburg in the south. The Aller River enters the district in the southeast, runs through the town of Gifhorn, is joined by...

  11. Goslar
    Goslar (district)
    Goslar is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Osterode, Northeim, Hildesheim and Wolfenbüttel, the city of Salzgitter, and by the states of Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia .-History:The history of the district is linked with the city of Goslar.The district of Goslar...

  12. Göttingen
    Göttingen (district)
    Göttingen is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Northeim and Osterode, and by the states of Thuringia and Hesse .-History:...

  13. Hamelin-Pyrmont
    Hamelin-Pyrmont
    Hamelin-Pyrmont is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Schaumburg, Hanover, Hildesheim and Holzminden, and by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia .-History:...

     (Hameln-Pyrmont)
  14. Hanover
    Hanover (district)
    Hanover Region is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Heidekreis, Celle, Gifhorn, Peine, Hildesheim, Hamelin-Pyrmont, Schaumburg and Nienburg....

     (Hannover)
  15. Harburg
    Harburg
    Harburg is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It takes its name from the town of Harburg upon Elbe, which used to be the capital of the district but is now part of Hamburg...

  16. Heidekreis
  17. Helmstedt
    Helmstedt (district)
    Helmstedt is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the district of Wolfenbüttel, the City of Braunschweig, the District of Gifhorn, the City of Wolfsburg and the State of Saxony-Anhalt .-Geography:The district is bounded by the Elm in the west and the Lappwald in the east...

  18. Hildesheim
    Hildesheim (district)
    Hildesheim is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Hanover, Peine, Wolfenbüttel, Goslar, Northeim, Holzminden and Hamelin-Pyrmont.-History:...

  19. Holzminden
    Holzminden (district)
    Holzminden is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Hamelin-Pyrmont, Hildesheim and Northeim, and by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia .-History:...



  1. Leer
    Leer (district)
    Leer is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the city of Emden, the districts of Aurich, Wittmund, Friesland, Ammerland, Cloppenburg and Emsland, and by the Netherlands ....

     (includes Borkum
    Borkum
    Borkum is an island and a municipality in the Leer District in Lower Saxony, northwestern Germany.-Geography:Borkum is bordered to the west by the Westerems strait , to the east by the Osterems strait, to the north by the North Sea, and to the south by the Wadden Sea...

    )

  2. Lüchow-Dannenberg
    Lüchow-Dannenberg
    Lüchow-Dannenberg is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany which is usually referred to as Hannoversches Wendland or Wendland. It is bounded by the districts of Uelzen and Lüneburg and the states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania , Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt Lüchow-Dannenberg is a district in...


  3. Lüneburg
    Lüneburg (district)
    Lüneburg is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Lüchow-Dannenberg, Uelzen, Heidekreis and Harburg, and the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania .-History:The Amt of Lüneburg appeared in 1862...


  4. Nienburg
    Nienburg (district)
    Nienburg is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Diepholz, Verden, Heidekreis, Hanover and Schaumburg, and by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia ....


  5. Northeim
    Northeim (district)
    Northeim is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Holzminden, Hildesheim, Goslar, Osterode and Göttingen, and the state of Hesse .-History:...


  6. Oldenburg
    Oldenburg (district)
    Oldenburg is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Diepholz, Vechta, Cloppenburg and Ammerland, the city of Oldenburg, the district of Wesermarsch and the city of Delmenhorst.-History:...


  7. Osnabrück
    Osnabrück (district)
    Osnabrück is a district in the southwest of Lower Saxony, Germany. With 2,121 km² it is the second largest district of Lower Saxony.- History :...


  8. Osterholz
    Osterholz
    Osterholz is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Wesermarsch, Cuxhaven, Rotenburg and Verden, and by the city of Bremen.-History:...


  9. Osterode
    Osterode (district)
    Osterode is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Göttingen, Northeim and Goslar, and by the state of Thuringia .-History:...


  10. Peine
    Peine (district)
    Peine is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Hildesheim, Hanover and Gifhorn, and the cities of Brunswick and Salzgitter.-History:...


  11. Rotenburg (Wümme)
    Rotenburg (district)
    Rotenburg is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Stade, Harburg, Heidekreis, Verden, Osterholz and Cuxhaven.-History:...


  12. Schaumburg
    Schaumburg
    Schaumburg is a district of Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Nienburg, Hanover and Hamelin-Pyrmont, and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia .-History:...


  13. Stade
    Stade (district)
    Stade is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Harburg, Rotenburg and Cuxhaven, the Elbe River, and the city state of Hamburg.-History:...


  14. Uelzen
    Uelzen (district)
    Uelzen is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Gifhorn, Celle, Heidekreis, Lüneburg and Lüchow-Dannenberg, and by the state of Saxony-Anhalt...


  15. Vechta
    Vechta (district)
    Vechta is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Oldenburg, Diepholz, Osnabrück and Cloppenburg.-History:...


  16. Verden
    Verden (district)
    Verden is a Kreis in the centre of Lower Saxony, Germany. Adjoining it are the districts of Osterholz, Rotenburg, Heidekreis, Nienburg and Diepholz, as well as the city of Bremen.-Geography:...


  17. Wesermarsch
    Wesermarsch
    Wesermarsch is a Kreis in the northwestern part of Lower Saxony, Germany. Neighboring are the districts of Cuxhaven and Osterholz, the city of Bremen in the state of Bremen, the urban district of Delmenhorst, the district of Oldenburg and the urban district of Oldenburg, and the districts of ...


  18. Wittmund
    Wittmund (district)
    Wittmund is a Landkreis in the northwestern part of Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated in East Frisia, on the North Sea coast. Neighboring districts are Friesland, Leer and Aurich.-Geography:...

     (includes Langeoog
    Langeoog
    Langeoog is one of the seven inhabited East Frisian Islands at the edge of the Lower Saxon Wadden Sea in the southern North Sea, located between Baltrum Island , and Spiekeroog . It is also a municipality in the district of Wittmund in Lower Saxony, Germany. The name Langeoog means Long Island in...

     and Spiekeroog
    Spiekeroog
    Spiekeroog is one of the East Frisian Islands, off the North Sea coast of Germany. It is situated between Langeoog to its west, and Wangerooge to its east. The island belongs to the district of Wittmund, in Lower Saxony in Germany. The only village on the island is also called...

    )

  19. Wolfenbüttel
    Wolfenbüttel (district)
    Wolfenbüttel is a district in southeastern Lower Saxony, Germany. Neighboring districts are the district-free City of Braunschweig, the district of Helmstedt, the district of Harz in Saxony-Anhalt, and the districts of Goslar, Hildesheim and Peine...




Furthermore there are ten urban districts:
  1. Brunswick
  2. Delmenhorst
    Delmenhorst
    Delmenhorst is an urban district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It has a population of 74,500 and is located 10 km/6 miles west of downtown Bremen with which it forms a contiguous urban area, whereas the city of Oldenburg is 25 km/15 miles to the northwest. The city has a total area of 62.36 km²...

  3. Emden
    Emden
    Emden is a city and seaport in the northwest of Germany, on the river Ems. It is the main city of the region of East Frisia; in 2006, the city had a total population of 51,692.-History:...

  4. Göttingen
    Göttingen
    Göttingen is a university town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Göttingen. The Leine river runs through the town. In 2006 the population was 129,686.-General information:...

     ¹
  5. Hanover
    Hanover
    Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

     ²
  6. Oldenburg
    Oldenburg
    Oldenburg is an independent city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated in the western part of the state between the cities of Bremen and Groningen, Netherlands, at the Hunte river. It has a population of 160,279 which makes it the fourth biggest city in Lower Saxony after Hanover, Braunschweig...

  7. Osnabrück
    Osnabrück
    Osnabrück is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany, some 80 km NNE of Dortmund, 45 km NE of Münster, and some 100 km due west of Hanover. It lies in a valley penned between the Wiehen Hills and the northern tip of the Teutoburg Forest...

  8. Salzgitter
    Salzgitter
    Salzgitter is an independent city in southeast Lower Saxony, Germany, located between Hildesheim and Braunschweig. Together with Wolfsburg and Braunschweig, Salzgitter is one of the seven Oberzentren of Lower Saxony...

  9. Wilhelmshaven
    Wilhelmshaven
    Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

  10. Wolfsburg
    Wolfsburg
    Wolfsburg is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located on the River Aller northeast of Braunschweig , and is mainly notable as the headquarters of Volkswagen AG...


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.

Regional history prior to foundation of Lower Saxony





The name of Saxony
Old Saxony
Old Saxony is the original homeland of the Saxons in the northwest corner of modern Germany and roughly corresponds today with the contemporary Lower Saxony, Westphalia and western Saxony-Anhalt....

 derives from that of the Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 tribe of the Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

. Before the late medieval period, there was a single Duchy of Saxony
Duchy of Saxony
The medieval Duchy of Saxony was a late Early Middle Ages "Carolingian stem duchy" covering the greater part of Northern Germany. It covered the area of the modern German states of Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Saxony-Anhalt and most of Schleswig-Holstein...

. The term "Lower Saxony" was used after the dissolution of the stem duchy the late 13th century to disambiguate the parts of the former duchy ruled by the House of Welf from the Electorate of Saxony
Electorate of Saxony
The Electorate of Saxony , sometimes referred to as Upper Saxony, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356...

 on one hand, and from the Duchy of Westphalia
Duchy of Westphalia
The Duchy of Westphalia was a historic territory in the greater region of Westphalia, located in the east of modern North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Originally, Westphalia formed with Angria and Eastphalia one of the three main regions of Saxony...

 on the other.

Period to the Congress of Vienna (1814/1815)


The name and coat of arms of the present state go back to the Germanic tribe of Saxons. During the Migration Period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

 some of the Saxon peoples left their homelands in Holstein
Holstein
Holstein is the region between the rivers Elbe and Eider. It is part of Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state of Germany....

 about the 3rd century and pushed southwards over the Elbe, where they expanded into the sparsely populated regions in the rest of the lowlands, in the present-day Northwest Germany and the northeastern part of what is now the Netherlands. From about the 7th century the Saxons had occupied a settlement area that roughly corresponds to the present state of Lower Saxony, of Westphalia
Westphalia
Westphalia is a region in Germany, centred on the cities of Arnsberg, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Minden and Münster.Westphalia is roughly the region between the rivers Rhine and Weser, located north and south of the Ruhr River. No exact definition of borders can be given, because the name "Westphalia"...

 and a number of areas to the east, for example, in what is now west and north Saxony-Anhalt. The land of the Saxons was divided into about 60 Gaue. The Frisians had not moved into this region; for centuries they preserved their independence in the most northwesterly region of the present-day Lower Saxon territory. The original language of the folk in the area of Old Saxony was West Low Saxon
West Low Saxon
West Low German, also known as Low Saxon , is a group of Low German dialects spoken in the northwest of Germany and adjacent territories...

, one of the varieties of language in the Low German dialect group.

The establishment of permanent boundaries between what later became Lower Saxony and Westphalia began in the 12th century. In 1260, in a treaty between the Archbishopric of Cologne
Archbishopric of Cologne
The Electorate of Cologne was an ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire and existed from the 10th to the early 19th century. It consisted of the temporal possessions of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cologne . It was ruled by the Archbishop in his function as prince-elector of...

 and the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg the lands claimed by the two territories were separated from each other. The border ran along the Weser to a point north of Nienburg. The northern part of the Weser-Ems region was placed under the rule of Brunswick-Lüneburg.

The word Niedersachsen was first used before 1300 in a Dutch rhyming chronicle (Reimchronik). From the 14th century it referred to the Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg
Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg
The Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg between the 14th and 17th centuries), later also known as the Duchy of Lauenburg, was a reichsfrei duchy that existed 1296–1803 and 1814–1876 in the extreme southeast region of what is now Schleswig-Holstein...

 (as opposed to Saxe-Wittenberg
Saxe-Wittenberg
The Duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg was a medieval duchy of the Holy Roman Empire centered at Wittenberg, which emerged after the dissolution of the stem duchy of Saxony. As the precursor of the Saxon Electorate, the Ascanian Wittenberg dukes prevailed in obtaining the Saxon electoral dignity.-Ascanian...

). On the creation of the imperial circle
Imperial Circle
An Imperial Circle comprised a regional grouping of territories of the Holy Roman Empire, primarily for the purpose of organizing a common defensive structure and of collecting the imperial taxes, but also as a means of organization within the Imperial Diet and the Imperial Chamber Court.Each...

s in 1500, a Lower Saxon Circle
Lower Saxon Circle
The Lower Saxon Circle was an Imperial Circle of the Holy Roman Empire. Covering much of the territory of the mediæval Duchy of Saxony , firstly the circle used to be called the Saxon Circle , only to be later better differentiated from the Upper Saxon Circle the more specific name prevailed.An...

 was distinguished from a Lower Rhenish–Westphalian Circle. The latter included the following territories that, in whole or in part, belong today to the state of Lower Saxony: the Bishopric of Osnabrück
Bishopric of Osnabrück
The Diocese of Osnabrück is a diocese of the Catholic church in Germany; it was founded around 800. It was also a Prince-Bishopric of the Holy Roman Empire until 1803.- The Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück :...

, the Bishopric of Münster
Bishopric of Münster
The Bishopric of Münster was an ecclesiastical principality in the Holy Roman Empire, located in the northern part of today's North Rhine-Westphalia and western Lower Saxony...

, the County of Bentheim, the County of Hoya, the Principality of East Frisia
East Frisia
East Frisia or Eastern Friesland is a coastal region in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony....

, the Principality of Verden, the County of Diepholz, the County of Oldenburg
Oldenburg (state)
Oldenburg — named after its capital, the town of Oldenburg — was a state in the north of present-day Germany. Oldenburg survived from 1180 until 1918 as a county, duchy and grand duchy, and from 1918 until 1946 as a free state. It was located near the mouth of the River Weser...

, the County of Schaumburg and the County of Spiegelberg. At the same time a distinction was made with the eastern part of the old Saxon lands from the central German
Central German
Central German is a group of High German dialects spoken from the Rhineland in the west to the former eastern territories of Germany.-History:...

 principalities later called Upper Saxony
Upper Saxony
Upper Saxony was a name given to the majority of the German lands held by the House of Wettin, in what is now called Mitteldeutschland....

 for dynastic reasons. (see also → Electorate of Saxony
Electorate of Saxony
The Electorate of Saxony , sometimes referred to as Upper Saxony, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356...

, History of Saxony
History of Saxony
The Saxons were originally a small tribe living on the North Sea between the Elbe and Eider Rivers in the present Holstein. Their name, derived from their weapon called Seax, a knife, is first mentioned by the Roman author Ptolemy ....

).

The close historical link of the domains of the Lower Saxon Circle now in modern Lower Saxony survived for centuries especially from a dynastic point of view. The majority of historic territories whose land now lies within Lower Saxony were sub-principalities of the medieval, Welf estates of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. All the Welf princes called themselves dukes "of Brunswick and Lüneburg" despite often ruling parts of a duchy that was forever being divided and reunited as various Welf lines multiplied or died out.

To the end of the Second World War


Over the course of time two great principalities were left to the east of the Weser: the Kingdom of Hanover
Kingdom of Hanover
The Kingdom of Hanover was established in October 1814 by the Congress of Vienna, with the restoration of George III to his Hanoverian territories after the Napoleonic era. It succeeded the former Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg , and joined with 38 other sovereign states in the German...

 and the Duchy of Brunswick
Duchy of Brunswick
Brunswick was a historical state in Germany. Originally the territory of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in the Holy Roman Empire, it was established as an independent duchy by the Congress of Vienna in 1815...

 (after 1866 Hanover became a Prussian province
Province of Hanover
The Province of Hanover was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1868 to 1946.During the Austro-Prussian War, the Kingdom of Hanover had attempted to maintain a neutral position, along with some other member states of the German Confederation...

; after 1919 Brunswick became a free state). Historically a close tie exists between the royal house of Hanover (Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg) to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 as a result of their personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 in the 18th century.

West of the River Hunte
Hunte
The Hunte is a 189 km long river in north-western Germany , left tributary of the Weser. It rises in the Wiehengebirge hills. In the Northern German Plain it flows through lake Dümmer. It flows generally northwards through the towns Bad Essen, Diepholz, Wildeshausen and Oldenburg. It flows...

 a "de-Westphalianising process" began in 1815: After the Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

 the territories of the later administrative regions (Regierungsbezirk
Regierungsbezirk
In Germany, a Government District, in German: Regierungsbezirk – is a subdivision of certain federal states .They are above the Kreise, Landkreise, and kreisfreie Städte...

e
) of Osnabrück and Aurich transferred to the Kingdom of Hanover. Until 1946, the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg and the Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe
Schaumburg-Lippe
Schaumburg-Lippe was until 1946 a small state in Germany, located in the present day state of Lower Saxony, with its capital at Bückeburg.- History :...

 retained their stately authority. Nevertheless the entire Weser-Ems region (including the city of Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

) were grouped in 1920 into a Lower Saxon Constituency Association (Wahlkreisverband IX (Niedersachsen)). This indicates that at that time the western administrations of the Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n Province of Hanover and the state of Oldenburg were perceived as being "Lower Saxon".

The forerunners of today's state of Lower Saxony were lands that were geographically and, to some extent, institutionally interrelated from very early on. The County of Schaumburg (not to be confused with the Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe) around the towns of Rinteln
Rinteln
Rinteln is a small town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located on the banks of the Weser river above the Porta Westfalica. Population: 28,500.It is accessed by the A2 autobahn .-History:...

 and Hessisch Oldendorf
Hessisch Oldendorf
Hessisch Oldendorf is a town in the Hamelin-Pyrmont district, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the river Weser, approx. 10 km northwest of Hamelin. The adjective "Hessisch" is used since 1905, to distinguish it from other towns named Oldendorf. Hessisch Oldendorf was part of...

 did indeed belong to the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau until 1932, a province that also included large parts of the present state of Hesse, including the cities of Kassel
Kassel
Kassel is a town located on the Fulda River in northern Hesse, Germany. It is the administrative seat of the Kassel Regierungsbezirk and the Kreis of the same name and has approximately 195,000 inhabitants.- History :...

, Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden is a city in southwest Germany and the capital of the federal state of Hesse. It has about 275,400 inhabitants, plus approximately 10,000 United States citizens...

 and Frankfurt am Main; but in 1932, however, the County of Schaumburg became part of the Prussian Province of Hanover. Also before 1945, namely 1937, the city of Cuxhaven has been fully integrated into the Prussian Province of Hanover by the Greater Hamburg Act, so that in 1946, when the state of Lower Saxony was founded, only four states needed to be merged. With the exception of Bremen and the areas that were ceded to the Soviet Occupation Zone in 1945, all those areas allocated to the new state of Lower Saxony in 1946, had already been merged into the "Constituency Association of Lower Saxony" in 1920.

In a lecture on 14 September 2007, Dietmar von Reeken described the emergence of a "Lower Saxony consciousness" in the 19th century, the geographical basis of which was used to invent a territorial construct: the resulting local heritage societies (Heimatvereine) and their associated magazines routinely used the terms "Lower Saxony" or "Lower Saxon" in their names. At the end of the 1920s in the context of discussions about a reform of the Reich and promoted by the expanding local heritage movement (Heimatbewegung), a twenty-five year conflict started between "Lower Saxony" and "Westphalia". The supporters of this dispute were administrative officials and politicians, but regionally focussed scientists of various disciplines were supposed to have fuelled the arguments. In the 1930s, a real Lower Saxony did not yet exist, but there was a plethora of institutions that would have called themselves "Lower Saxon". The motives and arguments in the disputes between "Lower Saxony" and "Westphalia" were very similar on both sides: economic interests, political aims, cultural interests and historical aspects.

Post World War II


After the Second World War most of Northwest Germany lay within the British Zone of Occupation. On 23 August 1946, the British Military Government issued Regulation No. 46 "Concerning the dissolution of the provinces of the former state of Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 in the British Zone and their reformation as independent states"
, which initially established the State of Hanover
State of Hanover
The State of Hanover was a state in Northwest Germany. It existed between the dissolution of the former State of Prussia and the foundation of Lower Saxony in 1946 and saw itself in the tradition of the Kingdom of Hanover, annexed in 1866 by Prussia, as is clear from the state emblems...

 on the territory of the former Prussian Province of Hanover. Its minister president, Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf, had already suggested in June 1945 the formation of a state of Lower Saxony, that was to include the largest possible region in the middle of the British Zone. In addition to the regions that actually became Lower Saxony subsequently, Kopf asked, in a in memorandum dated April 1946, for the inclusion of the former Prussian district of Minden-Ravensberg
Minden-Ravensberg
Minden-Ravensberg was a Prussian administrative unit consisting of the Principality of Minden and the County of Ravensberg from 1719–1807. The capital was Minden. In 1807 the region became part of the Kingdom of Westphalia, a client state of Napoleonic France...

 (i.e. the Westphalian city of Bielefeld
Bielefeld
Bielefeld is an independent city in the Ostwestfalen-Lippe Region in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. With a population of 323,000, it is also the most populous city in the Regierungsbezirk Detmold...

 as well as the Westphalian districts of Minden, Lübbecke, Bielefeld, Herford and Halle), the district of Tecklenburg and the state of Lippe. Kopf's plan was ultimately based on a draft for the reform of the German Empire from the late 1920s by Georg Schnath and Kurt Brüning. The strong Welf connotations of this draft, according to Thomas Vogtherr, did not simplify the development of a Lower Saxon identity after 1946.

An alternative model, proposed by politicians in Oldenburg and Brunswick, envisaged the foundation of the independent state of "Weser-Ems", that would be formed from the state of Oldenburg, the Hanseatic City of Bremen and the administrative regions of Aurich and Osnabrück. Several representatives of the state of Oldenburg even demanded the inclusion of the Hanoverian districts of Diepholz, Syke, Osterholz-Scharmbeck and Wesermünde in the postulated state of "Weser-Ems". Likewise an enlarged State of Brunswick was proposed in the southeast to include the Regierungsbezirk of Hildesheim and the district of Gifhorn. Had this plan come to fruition, the territory of the present Lower Saxony would have consisted of three states of roughly equal size.

The district council of Vechta protested on 12 June 1946 against being incorporated into the metropolitan area of Hanover (Großraum Hannover). If the State of Oldenburg was to be dissolved, Vechta District would much rather be included in the Westphalia
Westphalia
Westphalia is a region in Germany, centred on the cities of Arnsberg, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Minden and Münster.Westphalia is roughly the region between the rivers Rhine and Weser, located north and south of the Ruhr River. No exact definition of borders can be given, because the name "Westphalia"...

n region. Particularly in the districts where there was a political Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 the notion was widespread, that Oldenburg Münsterland and the Regierungsbezirk of Osnabrück should be part of a newly formed State of Westphalia.

Since the foundation of the states of North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

 and Hanover
State of Hanover
The State of Hanover was a state in Northwest Germany. It existed between the dissolution of the former State of Prussia and the foundation of Lower Saxony in 1946 and saw itself in the tradition of the Kingdom of Hanover, annexed in 1866 by Prussia, as is clear from the state emblems...

 on 23 August 1946 the northern and eastern border of North Rhine-Westphalia has largely been identical with that of the Prussian Province of Westphalia
Province of Westphalia
The Province of Westphalia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1815 to 1946.-History:Napoleon Bonaparte founded the Kingdom of Westphalia, which was a client state of the First French Empire from 1807 to 1813...

. Only the Free State of Lippe
Free State of Lippe
The Free State of Lippe was a German state formed after the Principality of Lippe was abolished following the German Revolution of 1918.After the end of World War II, Lippe was restored from Nazi rule. This autonomy ended in January 1947 when British forces incorporated Lippe into the new German...

 was not incorporated into North Rhine-Westphalia until January 1947. With that the majority of the regions left of the Upper Weser became North Rhine-Westphalian.

In the end, at the meeting of the Zone Advisory Board on 20 September 1946, Kopf's proposal with regard to the division of the British occupation zone into three large states proved to be capable of gaining a majority. Because this division of their occupation zone into relatively large states also met the interests of the British, on 8 November 1946 Regulation No. 55 of the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 military government
Military government
Military government can refer to conditions under either Military occupation, or Military dictatorship.-Military Government:Military government is the form of administration by which an occupying power exercises governmental authority over occupied territory.The Hague Conventions of 1907 specify...

 was issued, by which the State of Lower Saxony with its capital Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

 were founded, backdated to 1 November 1946. The state was formed by a merger of the Free States of Brunswick
Free State of Brunswick
The Free State of Brunswick was the republic formed after the abolition of the Duchy of Brunswick in the course of the German Revolution of 1918–19. It was a state of the German Reich in the time of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany.-History:...

, of Oldenburg and of Schaumburg-Lippe
Schaumburg-Lippe
Schaumburg-Lippe was until 1946 a small state in Germany, located in the present day state of Lower Saxony, with its capital at Bückeburg.- History :...

 with the previously formed State of Hanover. But there were exceptions:
  • In the Free State of Brunswick, the eastern part of the district of Blankenburg and the exclave of Calvörde
    Calvörde
    Calvörde is a municipality in the Börde district in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is situated approx. 15 km northwest from Haldensleben between the Ohre river and the Midland Canal...

    , which belonged to the district of Helmstedt fell into the Soviet Zone of Occupation and were later integrated into the state of Saxony-Anhalt
    Saxony-Anhalt
    Saxony-Anhalt is a landlocked state of Germany. Its capital is Magdeburg and it is surrounded by the German states of Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia.Saxony-Anhalt covers an area of...

    .

  • In the State of Hanover
    State of Hanover
    The State of Hanover was a state in Northwest Germany. It existed between the dissolution of the former State of Prussia and the foundation of Lower Saxony in 1946 and saw itself in the tradition of the Kingdom of Hanover, annexed in 1866 by Prussia, as is clear from the state emblems...

    , Amt Neuhaus
    Amt Neuhaus
    Amt Neuhaus is a municipality in the District of Lunenburg , in Lower Saxony, Germany.- History :In the course of the eastern colonisation the area of today's Amt Neuhaus became a part of the Duchy of Saxony...

     and the villages of Neu Bleckede and Neu Wendischthun were allotted to the Soviet Zone and thus the subsequent East Germany. They were not returned to Lower Saxony until 1993.

  • The city of Wesermünde that then lay in the Regierungsbezirk Stade was renamed in 1947 to Bremerhaven
    Bremerhaven
    Bremerhaven is a city at the seaport of the free city-state of Bremen, a state of the Federal Republic of Germany. It forms an enclave in the state of Lower Saxony and is located at the mouth of the River Weser on its eastern bank, opposite the town of Nordenham...

     and incorporated into the new federal state of Bremen.


The demands of Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 politicians that the Netherlands should be given the German regions east of the Dutch-German border as war reparations
War reparations
War reparations are payments intended to cover damage or injury during a war. Generally, the term war reparations refers to money or goods changing hands, rather than such property transfers as the annexation of land.- History :...

, were roundly rejected at the London Conference of 26 March 1949. In fact only about 1.3 km² of West Lower Saxony was transferred to the Netherlands, in 1949.

→ see main article Dutch annexation of German territory after World War II

History of Lower Saxony as a state



The first Lower Saxon parliament
Lower Saxon Landtag
The Lower Saxon Landtag or the Parliament of Lower Saxony is the state diet of the German state of Lower Saxony. It convenes in Hanover and currently consists of 152 members of five Parties...

 or Landtag met on 9 December 1946. It was not elected; rather it was established by the British Occupation Administration (a so-called "appointed parliament"). That same day the parliament elected the Social Democrat
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

, Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf
Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf
thumb|right|Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf 1948Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf was a German politician, who served as Prime Minister of Lower Saxony from 1946 to 1955 and from 1959 to 1961...

, the former Hanoverian president (Regierungspräsident) as their first minister president. Kopf led a five-party coalition, whose basic task was to rebuild a state afflicted 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 Allied air raids during the war years. Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf remained – interrupted by the time in office of Heinrich Hellwege
Heinrich Hellwege
Heinrich Peter Hellwege was a German politician . Hellwege was Federal Minister for Affairs of the Federal Council and Prime Minister of Lower Saxony ....

 (1955–1959) – as the head of government in Lower Saxony until 1961.

The greatest problem facing the first state government in the immediate post-war years was the challenge of integrating hundreds of thousands of refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s from Germany's former territories in the east (such as Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

 and East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

), which had been annexed by Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. Lower Saxony was at the western end of the direct escape route from East Prussia and had the longest border with the Soviet Zone. On 3 October 1950 Lower Saxony took over the sponsorship of the very large number of refugees from Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

. In 1950 there was still a shortage of 730,000 homes according to official figures.

During the period when Germany was divided, the Lower Saxon border crossing at Helmstedt found itself on the main transport artery to West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

 and, from 1945 to 1990 was busiest European border crossing point.

Of economic significance for the state was the Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen is a German automobile manufacturer and is the original and biggest-selling marque of the Volkswagen Group, which now also owns the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, and Škoda marques and the truck manufacturer Scania.Volkswagen means "people's car" in German, where it is...

concern, that restarted the production of civilian vehicles in 1945, initially under British management, and in 1949 transferred into the ownership of the newly founded country of West Germany and state of Lower Saxony. Overall, Lower Saxony, with its large tracts of rural countryside and few urban centres, was one of the industrially weaker regions of the federal republic for a long time. In 1960, 20 % of the working population worked on the land. In the rest of the federal territory the figure was just 14 %. Even in economically prosperous times the jobless totals in Lower Saxony are constantly higher that the federal average.

In 1961 Georg Diederichs
Georg Diederichs
Georg Diederichs was a German politician, a member of the SPD, who served as Prime Minister of Lower Saxony.He was born at Northeim and died in Hanover....

 took office as the minister president of Lower Saxony as the successor to Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf. He was replaced in 1970 by Alfred Kubel
Alfred Kubel
Alfred Kubel was a German politician; in his later career, he was a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.In 1928, after attending Middle School, Kubel became an industrial clerk...

. The arguments about the Gorleben Nuclear Waste Repository, that began during the time in office of minister president Ernst Albrecht (1976–1990), have played an important role in state and federal politics since the end of the 1970s.

In 1990 Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

 entered the office of minister president. On 1 June 1993 the new Lower Saxon constitution entered force, replacing the "Provisional Lower Saxon Constitution" of 1951. It enables referenda and plebiscites and establishes environmental protection
Environmental protection
Environmental protection is a practice of protecting the environment, on individual, organizational or governmental level, for the benefit of the natural environment and humans. Due to the pressures of population and our technology the biophysical environment is being degraded, sometimes permanently...

 as a fundamental state principle.

The former Hanoverian Amt Neuhaus
Amt Neuhaus
Amt Neuhaus is a municipality in the District of Lunenburg , in Lower Saxony, Germany.- History :In the course of the eastern colonisation the area of today's Amt Neuhaus became a part of the Duchy of Saxony...

 with its parishes of Dellien, Haar, Kaarßen, Neuhaus (Elbe), Stapel, Sückau, Sumte and Tripkau as well as the villages of Neu Bleckede, Neu Wendischthun and Stiepelse in the parish of Teldau and the historic Hanoverian region in the forest district of Bohldamm in the parish of Garlitz transferred with effect from 30 June 1993 from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to Lower Saxony (Lüneburg district). From these parishes the new municipality of Amt Neuhaus was created on 1 October 1993.

In 1998 Gerhard Glogowski
Gerhard Glogowski
Gerhard Glogowski is a German politician .-Education:After Glogowski finished public school in Bonn he completed an apprenticeship as Toolmaker. In parallel, he attended night school where he finished his Abitur...

 succeeded Gerhard Schröder who became Federal Chancellor. Because he had been linked with various scandals in his home city of Brunswick, he resigned in 1999 and was replaced by Sigmar Gabriel
Sigmar Gabriel
Sigmar Gabriel is a German politician currently chairing the Social Democratic Party of Germany .On 15 December 1999, after the resignation of Gerhard Glogowski, who had succeeded Gerhard Schröder in office, Gabriel became Minister-President of Lower Saxony and served until 4 March 2003...

.

From 2003 to his election as Federal President in 2010 Christian Wulff
Christian Wulff
Christian Wilhelm Walter Wulff is the President of Germany and a politician of the Christian Democratic Union. He was elected President on 2010 and publicly swore the oath of office on . A lawyer by profession, he served as Premier of the state of Lower Saxony from 2003 to 2010.-Early life and...

 was minister president in Lower Saxony. The Osnabrück
Osnabrück
Osnabrück is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany, some 80 km NNE of Dortmund, 45 km NE of Münster, and some 100 km due west of Hanover. It lies in a valley penned between the Wiehen Hills and the northern tip of the Teutoburg Forest...

er headed a CDU-led coalition with the FDP as does his successor, David McAllister
David McAllister
David Graeme McAllister AM is the Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet and a former Principal Dancer with the company.-Biography:...

.

Administrative sub-divisions


Between 1946 and 2004, the state's districts and independent towns were grouped into eight regions, with different status for the two regions (Verwaltungsbezirke) comprising the formerly free states of Brunswick and Oldenburg. In 1978 the regions were merged into four governorates (Regierungsbezirk
Regierungsbezirk
In Germany, a Government District, in German: Regierungsbezirk – is a subdivision of certain federal states .They are above the Kreise, Landkreise, and kreisfreie Städte...

e
): Since 2004 the Bezirksregierung
Regierungsbezirk
In Germany, a Government District, in German: Regierungsbezirk – is a subdivision of certain federal states .They are above the Kreise, Landkreise, and kreisfreie Städte...

en (regional governments) have been broken up again.

1946–1978:
  • Governorate of Aurich
  • Administrative Region of Brunswick (Braunschweig)
  • Governorate of Hanover
    Hanover (region)
    Hanover was a Regierungsbezirk of the Prussian Province of Hanover and of Lower Saxony, Germany, that existed from 1885 until 2004. It was located in the south of the state around the city of Hanover, its capital....

     (Hannover)
  • Governorate of Hildesheim
  • Governorate of Lunenburg
    Lüneburg (region)
    Lüneburg was one of the four Regierungsbezirke of Lower Saxony, Germany, located in the north of the federal state between the three cities Bremen, Hamburg and Hanover....

     (Lüneburg)
  • Administrative Region of Oldenburg
  • Governorate of Stade
    Stade (region)
    The Stade Region emerged in 1823 by an administrative reorganisation of the dominions of the Kingdom of Hanover, a sovereign state, whose then territory is almost completely part of today's German federal state of Lower Saxony...


1978–2004:
  • Governorate of Brunswick
    Braunschweig (region)
    Brunswick is one of the four former administrative regions of Lower Saxony, Germany, located in the southeast of the state. The region covers roughly the area of the former state of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

     (Braunschweig)
  • Governorate of Hanover
    Hanover (region)
    Hanover was a Regierungsbezirk of the Prussian Province of Hanover and of Lower Saxony, Germany, that existed from 1885 until 2004. It was located in the south of the state around the city of Hanover, its capital....

     (Hannover)
  • Governorate of Lunenburg
    Lüneburg (region)
    Lüneburg was one of the four Regierungsbezirke of Lower Saxony, Germany, located in the north of the federal state between the three cities Bremen, Hamburg and Hanover....

     (Lüneburg)
  • Governorate of Weser-Ems
    Weser-Ems
    Weser-Ems was the most westerly of the four Regierungsbezirke of Lower Saxony, Germany, bordering the Dutch provinces of Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel...



On 1 January 2005 the four administrative regions or governorates (Regierungsbezirk
Regierungsbezirk
In Germany, a Government District, in German: Regierungsbezirk – is a subdivision of certain federal states .They are above the Kreise, Landkreise, and kreisfreie Städte...

e
), into which Lower Saxony had been hitherto divided, were dissolved. These were the governorates of Brunswick, Hanover, Lüneburg and Weser-Ems.

Economy


Agriculture has always been a very important economic factor in Lower Saxony. Wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, potatoes, rye
Rye
Rye is a grass grown extensively as a grain and as a forage crop. It is a member of the wheat tribe and is closely related to barley and wheat. Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder...

, and oats
OATS
OATS - Open Source Assistive Technology Software - is a source code repository or "forge" for assistive technology software. It was launched in 2006 with the goal to provide a one-stop “shop” for end users, clinicians and open-source developers to promote and develop open source assistive...

 as well as beef
Beef
Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

, pork
Pork
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

 and poultry
Poultry
Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of producing eggs, meat, and/or feathers. These most typically are members of the superorder Galloanserae , especially the order Galliformes and the family Anatidae , commonly known as "waterfowl"...

 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
Loess
Loess is an aeolian sediment formed by the accumulation of wind-blown silt, typically in the 20–50 micrometre size range, twenty percent or less clay and the balance equal parts sand and silt that are loosely cemented by calcium carbonate...

 layers in the soil left behind by the last ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

 allow high-yield crop farming. One of the principal crops there is sugar beet
Sugar beet
Sugar beet, a cultivated plant of Beta vulgaris, is a plant whose tuber contains a high concentration of sucrose. It is grown commercially for sugar production. Sugar beets and other B...

.

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 12th century, 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
Lignite
Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, or Rosebud coal by Northern Pacific Railroad,is a soft brown fuel with characteristics that put it somewhere between coal and peat...

.

Radioactive waste
Radioactive waste
Radioactive wastes are wastes that contain radioactive material. Radioactive wastes are usually by-products of nuclear power generation and other applications of nuclear fission or nuclear technology, such as research and medicine...

 is frequently transported in the area to the city of Salzgitter
Salzgitter
Salzgitter is an independent city in southeast Lower Saxony, Germany, located between Hildesheim and Braunschweig. Together with Wolfsburg and Braunschweig, Salzgitter is one of the seven Oberzentren of Lower Saxony...

, for the deep geological repository
Deep geological repository
A deep geological repository is a nuclear waste repository excavated deep within a stable geologic environment...

 Schacht Konrad
Schacht Konrad
The pit Konrad is a former iron ore mine proposed as a deep geological repository for medium- and low level radioactive waste in the city Salzgitter in the Metropolitan region Hannover-Braunschweig-Göttingen-Wolfsburg in southeast Lower Saxony, Germany, located between Hildesheim and Braunschweig...

 and between Schacht Asse II
Schacht Asse II
The Asse II pit is a former salt mine used as a deep geological repository for radioactive waste in the mountain range of Asse in district Wolfenbüttel in Lower Saxony, Germany.-History:...

 in the Wolfenbüttel
Wolfenbüttel (district)
Wolfenbüttel is a district in southeastern Lower Saxony, Germany. Neighboring districts are the district-free City of Braunschweig, the district of Helmstedt, the district of Harz in Saxony-Anhalt, and the districts of Goslar, Hildesheim and Peine...

 district and Lindwedel
Lindwedel
Lindwedel is a municipality in the district of Heidekreis, in Lower Saxony, Germany....

 and Höfer
Höfer, Germany
Höfer is a municipality in the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany.Höfer has an abandoned mine named Mariaglück, about 910 m deep, from which the sum of 13.2 million tons of common salt and potash salt was mined between 1916 and 1977. As the maximum, in 1943 about 241,000 tons of salt were...

.

Manufacturing
Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

 is another large part of the regional economy. Despite decades of gradual downsizing and restructuring, the car maker Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen is a German automobile manufacturer and is the original and biggest-selling marque of the Volkswagen Group, which now also owns the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, and Škoda marques and the truck manufacturer Scania.Volkswagen means "people's car" in German, where it is...

 with its five production plants within the state's borders still remains the single biggest private-sector employer, its world headquarters based in Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located on the River Aller northeast of Braunschweig , and is mainly notable as the headquarters of Volkswagen AG...

. Due to a legal act commonly known as the Volkswagen Law that has just recently been ruled illegal by the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

'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 centred around its regional focal points. Other mainstays of the Lower Saxon industrial sector include aviation, shipbuilding, biotechnology
Biotechnology
Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bioproducts. Biotechnology also utilizes these products for manufacturing purpose...

, and steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

.

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
TUI AG
TUI AG is a German multinational travel and tourism company headquartered in Hanover. Until 2001 it was an industrial and transportation company named Preussag AG, which in the mid-1990s decided to reinvent itself as a tourism, shipping, and logistics company...

 in Hanover, one of Europe's largest travel companies, as well as trade
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

 and telecommunication
Telecommunication
Telecommunication is the transmission of information over significant distances to communicate. In earlier times, telecommunications involved the use of visual signals, such as beacons, smoke signals, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags, and optical heliographs, or audio messages via coded...

.

Politics


Since 1948, politics in the state has been dominated by the rightist Christian Democratic Union
Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It is regarded as on the centre-right of the German political spectrum...

 (CDU) and the leftist Social Democratic Party
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

. 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 former Minister-President, Christian Wulff
Christian Wulff
Christian Wilhelm Walter Wulff is the President of Germany and a politician of the Christian Democratic Union. He was elected President on 2010 and publicly swore the oath of office on . A lawyer by profession, he served as Premier of the state of Lower Saxony from 2003 to 2010.-Early life and...

, has led a coalition of his CDU with the Free Democratic Party
Free Democratic Party (Germany)
The Free Democratic Party , abbreviated to FDP, is a centre-right classical liberal political party in Germany. It is led by Philipp Rösler and currently serves as the junior coalition partner to the Union in the German federal government...

 between 2003 and 2010. In the most recent state election in 2008
Lower Saxony state election, 2008
The 2008 Lower Saxony state election was held in Lower Saxony in north-western Germany on 27 January 2008. Despite losing votes and seats, the ruling Christian Democratic Union held on to its position as the leading party in the state...

, 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
The Left (Germany)
The Left , also commonly referred to as the Left Party , is a democratic socialist political party in Germany. The Left is the most left-wing party of the five represented in the Bundestag....

 party.

On 1 July 2010 David McAllister
David McAllister (politician)
David James "Mac" McAllister is a German politician of the conservative Christian Democratic Union . On 1 July 2010 he was elected Minister-President of the state of Lower Saxony, succeeding Christian Wulff, who resigned following his election as President of Germany...

 was elected Prime Minister.

Constitution


The state of Lower Saxony was formed after World War II by merging the former states of Hanover, Oldenburg, Brunswick and Schaumburg-Lippe. Hanover, a former kingdom, is by far the largest of these contributors by area and population and has been a province of Prussia since 1866. The city of Hanover is the largest and capital city of Lower Saxony.

The constitution states that Lower Saxony be a libertarian, republican, social and environmentally sustainable state inside the Federal Republic of Germany; universal human rights, peace and justice are preassigned guidelines of society, and the human rights and civil liberties proclaimed by the constitution of the Federal Republic are genuine constituents of the constitution of Lower Saxony. Each citizen is entitled to education and there is universal compulsory school attendance.

All government authority is to be sanctioned by the will of the people, which expresses itself via elections and plebiscites. The legislative assembly is a unicameral parliament elected for terms of five years. The composition of the parliament obeys to the principle of proportional representation of the participating political parties, but it is also ensured that each constituency delegates one directally elected representative. If a party wins more constituency delegates than their statewide share among the parties would determine, it can keep all these constituency delegates.

The governor of the state (prime minister) and his ministers are elected by the parliament. As there is a system of five political parties in Germany and so also in Lower Saxony, it is usually the case that two or more parties negotiate for a common political agenda and a commonly determined composition of government where the party with the biggest share of the electorate fills the seat of the governor. Currently (January 2010), the coalition majority is formed by the conservative CDU party with governor Christian Wulff and the capitalistic FDP. The opposition thus consists of the social democrats (SPD), the liberal "Green Party" and the leftist Socialists.

The states of the Federal Republic of Germany, and so Lower Saxony, have legislative responsibility and power mainly reduced to the policy fields of the school system, higher education, culture and media and police, whereas the more important policy fields like economic and social polcies, foreign policy etc. are a prerogative of the federal government. Hence the probably most important function of the federal states is their representation in the Federal Council (Bundesrat), where their approval on many crucial federal policy fields, including the tax system, is required for laws to become inacted.

Minister-President of Lower Saxony


The Minister-President heads the state government, and is elected by the Landtag of Lower Saxony. The current Minister-President, David McAllister
David McAllister (politician)
David James "Mac" McAllister is a German politician of the conservative Christian Democratic Union . On 1 July 2010 he was elected Minister-President of the state of Lower Saxony, succeeding Christian Wulff, who resigned following his election as President of Germany...

, was elected on 1 July 2010, and heads the Cabinet McAllister
Cabinet McAllister
The Cabinet McAllister is the current state government of the German state of Lower Saxony. It took office on 1 July 2010.The Cabinet is headed by Prime Minister David McAllister...

, a coalition government consisting of the CDU and FDP. Many previous Ministers-President of Lower Saxony have risen to prominence in federal politics, among them Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

, Sigmar Gabriel
Sigmar Gabriel
Sigmar Gabriel is a German politician currently chairing the Social Democratic Party of Germany .On 15 December 1999, after the resignation of Gerhard Glogowski, who had succeeded Gerhard Schröder in office, Gabriel became Minister-President of Lower Saxony and served until 4 March 2003...

 and Christian Wulff
Christian Wulff
Christian Wilhelm Walter Wulff is the President of Germany and a politician of the Christian Democratic Union. He was elected President on 2010 and publicly swore the oath of office on . A lawyer by profession, he served as Premier of the state of Lower Saxony from 2003 to 2010.-Early life and...

.

Religion


The Evangelical Church in Germany
Evangelical Church in Germany
The Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of 22 Lutheran, Unified and Reformed Protestant regional church bodies in Germany. The EKD is not a church in a theological understanding because of the denominational differences. However, the member churches share full pulpit and altar...

 is the faith of 50.8% of the population. It is organised in the five Landeskirche
Landeskirche
In Germany and Switzerland, a Landeskirche is the church of a region. They originated as the national churches of the independent states, States of Germany or Cantons of Switzerland , that later unified to form modern Germany or modern Switzerland , respectively.-Origins in the Holy Roman...

n named Evangelical Lutheran State Church in Brunswick (comprising the former Free State of Brunswick
Free State of Brunswick
The Free State of Brunswick was the republic formed after the abolition of the Duchy of Brunswick in the course of the German Revolution of 1918–19. It was a state of the German Reich in the time of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany.-History:...

), Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover (comprising the former Province of Hanover
Province of Hanover
The Province of Hanover was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1868 to 1946.During the Austro-Prussian War, the Kingdom of Hanover had attempted to maintain a neutral position, along with some other member states of the German Confederation...

), Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldenburg (comprising the former Free State of Oldenburg
Free State of Oldenburg
The Free State of Oldenburg was a state of the Weimar Republic. It was established in 1918 following the abdication of the Grand Duke Frederick Augustus II following the German Revolution....

), Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Schaumburg-Lippe (comprising the former Free State of Schaumburg-Lippe
Free State of Schaumburg-Lippe
The Free State of Schaumburg-Lippe was created following the abdication of Prince Adolf II of Schaumburg-Lippe on 15 November 1918. It was a state in Germany during the Weimar Republic, headed by a Minister President. The democratic government was suppressed during Nazi rule...

), and Evangelical Reformed Church (covering all the state). The Catholic Church is the faith of 17.6% of the population, organised in the three dioceses of Osnabrück (western part of the state), Münster
Roman Catholic Diocese of Münster
The Diocese of Münster is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany. It is a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Cologne. Bishop Felix Genn is the current Bishop of the Diocese of Münster. He was ordained to the priesthood on July 11, 1976 and was appointed...

 (comprising the former Free State of Oldenburg) and Hildesheim (northern and eastern part of the state). Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 is a minority faith.

Coat of arms



The coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

 shows a white horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

 (Saxon Steed
Saxon Steed
The Saxon Steed is a favorite heraldic motif of the Saxons.-Origin and past uses:The Saxon Steed originated in the tribal Duchy of Saxony...

) on red ground, which is an old symbol of the Saxon people.

See also




External links