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Hesse

Hesse is also the name of the German writer Hermann Hesse, as well as the German mathematician Otto Hesse.
Civil Flag
State Service Flag
State Coat-of-Arms
Statistics
Capital: Wiesbaden
Area: 21,100 km²
Inhabitants: 6.077.826 (2001)
pop. density: 288 people/km²
Homepage: http://www.hessen.de/
ISO 3166–2: DE-HE
Politics
Minister-president: Roland Koch (CDU)
Ruling party: CDU
Map

With an area of 21,110 km² and just over six million inhabitants, Hesse (German Hessen) is one of Germany's sixteen federal states (Bundesländer). The capital is Wiesbaden.

Table of contents

Geography

Situated in western-central Germany, Hesse borders on (from the north-west and clockwise) the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Thuringia, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. Its principal cities include Frankfurt am Main, Wiesbaden, Darmstadt, Kassel, Gießen, Marburg, Offenbach and Fulda.

The main rivers in the northern part of Hesse are Fulda and Lahn. It is a hilly countryside, the main mountain chains being the Rhön, the Westerwald, the Taunus and the Spessart.

Most inhabitants live in the southernmost part of Hesse between the rivers Main and Rhine. The latter one borders Hesse on the southwest without running through the state. The mountain chain between Main and Rhine is called the Odenwald.

See also List of places in Hessen.

Hessen is divided into 21 districts:


  1. Bergstraße
  2. Darmstadt-Dieburg
  3. Fulda
  4. Gießen
  5. Groß-Gerau
  6. Hersfeld-Rotenburg
  7. Hochtaunuskreis

  1. Kassel
  2. Lahn-Dill
  3. Limburg-Weilburg
  4. Main-Kinzig
  5. Main-Taunus
  6. Marburg-Biedenkopf
  7. Odenwaldkreis

  1. Offenbach
  2. Rheingau-Taunus
  3. Schwalm-Eder
  4. Vogelsbergkreis
  5. Waldeck-Frankenberg
  6. Werra-Meißner
  7. Wetteraukreis

These districts are grouped in three administrative regions (Regierungsbezirke): Kassel, Gießen and Darmstadt.

There are in addition five independent towns, which belong to no district:

History

In the early Middle Ages Hesse was a part of Thuringia, but in the War of the Thuringian Succession (1247-64) Hesse gained its independence and became an earldom within the Holy Roman Empire. The state existed until the death of Philipp I of Hesse in 1567. Despite his earlier intentions, it was split it up among his four sons from his first marriage (Philipp was a bigamist) into much smaller states: Hesse-Kassel, Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Rheinfels and the also previously existing Hesse-Marburg. As the latter two lines died out quite soon (1583 and 1605, respectively), Hesse-Kassel ("Northern Hesse") and Hesse-Darmstadt ("Southern Hesse") were the two core states within the Hessian lands. Several collateral lines split off during the centuries, such as in 1622 Hesse-Homburg from Hesse-Darmstadt.

Hesse-Kassel was called the Electorate of Hesse from 1803 on, although since Napoleon abolished the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, there was no more emperor to elect anymore. In 1866 it was annexed by Prussia, together with the Free City of Frankfurt, Hesse-Homburg and the duchy of Nassau, which established the province of Hesse-Nassau.

Hesse-Darmstadt was called the Grand Duchy of Hesse from 1806 on. It managed to defend its autonomy because in the War of 1866 it had sided with the winning Prussia.

During the Weimar Republic, Hesse-Nassau and Hesse (the former Hesse-Darmstadt) were two constituent states of Germany. After World War II in 1945, the state of Hesse was established within the United States occupation zone. It combined the former states of Hesse(-Darmstadt) and Hesse-Nassau, except for the parts of Hesse on the western banks of the Rhine and a strip of territory along the lower Lahn River, which became a part of Rhineland-Palatinate).

See also Rulers of Hesse.

Spelling

The state is called Hessen in German and Hesse in English. An inhabitant of the state is a Hesse in German and a Hessian in English. Occasionally the German term Hessen is also used in English. Hessia is another, rarely used, variant.

List of Minister-presidents of Hesse

  1. 1945: Ludwig Bergsträsser
  2. 1945 – 1946: Karl Geiler
  3. 1946 – 1950: Christian Stock (SPD)
  4. 1950 – 1969: Georg-August Zinn (SPD)
  5. 1969 – 1976: Albert Osswald (SPD)
  6. 1976 – 1987: Holger Börner (SPD)
  7. 1987 – 1991: Walter Wallmann (CDU)
  8. 1991 – 1999: Hans Eichel (SPD)
  9. since 1999: Roland Koch (CDU)

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