European Commission - Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

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North Rhine-Westphalia

Introduction

With 17.93m inhabitants (2019), the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is the most populous of the 16 German federal states, gathering 22% of the national population (Eurostat, 2020). In terms of surface area NRW is the fourth largest region with 34,085 km² (526 inhabitants per km²). It has borders with Lower Saxony, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany as well as Belgium and The Netherlands. The NRW regional capital is Düsseldorf.
NRW is home to the Ruhr industrial region, whose rise to economic importance was fostered by coal extraction. The decrease of coal extraction and associated activities has led to important investments to accompany these economic structural changes, which have resulted in the Ruhr region, at heart of NRW, remaining a key and competitive industrial region of Germany.
 

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