North Rhine-Westphalia (
[ˈnɔɐ̯tʁaɪn vɛstˈfaːlən] (
listen), usually shortened to NRW, official short form NW) is the westernmost, most populous, and economically most powerful
Germany. The state was formed in 1946, by merger of two rather distinct territories of the historic
Free State of Prussia: the
Rhine Province and the
Province of Westphalia. The former
Free State of Lippe was joined in 1947.
North Rhine-Westphalia is situated "deep in the West" of Germany and includes the plains of the
Lower Rhine region and parts of the
Central Uplands (Mittelgebirge) up to the gorge of
Porta Westfalica. The state comprises a land area of
34,083 km² (13,158 square miles) and shares borders with
Belgium in the southwest and the
Netherlands in the west and northwest. It has borders with the German states of
Lower Saxony to the north and northeast,
Rhineland-Palatinate to the south and
Hesse to the southeast.
North Rhine Westphalia has a population of approximately 18 million inhabitants, and is centred around the polycentric
metropolitan region, which includes the formerly industrial
Ruhr region and the Rhenish cities of
Cologne (Köln) and
Düsseldorf. 30 of the
80 largest cities in Germany are located within North Rhine-Westphalia. The state's capital is Düsseldorf, the state's largest city is Cologne.
As the most urbanised federal state in Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia possesses the country's highest density of cultural, educational and research institutions, the densest transport infrastructure and the highest number of multinational corporations. North Rhine-Westphalia contributes about 22% to Germany's
gross domestic product and accounts for about 28% of the country's
foreign direct investments.