The state of Hesse is located in the center of the Federal Republic of Germany. The state capital is Wiesbaden. A large part of the country, which is strongly structured by basins and depressions, lies in the area of the German low mountain range threshold. The Main and Lahn drain to the Rhine and the Fulda to the Weser. By far the most important economic area is the Rhine-Main agglomeration with the international financial and trade center and transport hub of Frankfurt am Main.
The federal state, located in the heart of Germany, covers an area of 21115 km² and has 6.06 million residents (Fig. 1). Hessen borders in the north on Lower Saxony, in the west on North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, in the south on Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria and in the east on Thuringia. Its capital is Wiesbaden.
The west of the state belongs to the Rhenish Slate Mountains with the Taunus, Hohem Westerwald, Rothaargebirge and Gladenbacher Bergland.
To the northeast and east is the densely wooded Hessian mountainous region, which is divided into individual smaller mountain ranges by two depressions. The Vogelsberg is the largest contiguous area of volcanic rocks in Central Europe. The highest point in the country is the 950 m high Wasserkuppe in the Rhön.
In the south, Hesse has a share in the Upper Rhine Plain, the Odenwald and the Spessart. The Rheingau stretches between Wiesbaden and Rüdesheim am Rhein.
The watershed between the Hessian catchment area of the Weser and that of the Rhine runs in the eastern part over the Kellerwald, the Vogelsberg and the Rhön. The Main with Kinzig and Nidda and the Lahn drain to the Rhine. The Fulda with its tributary Eder and the Werra, which flows through the extreme northeast on the border with Thuringia, drain to the Weser.
The climate of the state has in the basin and ditch zones, especially on the Bergstrasse, in the Rheingau and in the Wetterau, due to the protected location, somewhat more continental features. There is less rainfall and temperatures in winter are milder.
In the higher elevations of the Rhenish Slate Mountains and on the Vogelsberg, however, the climate is cool and humid. While the average rainfall is between 600 and 800 mm per year, up to 1200 mm fall on the Vogelsberg and in the Rhön.
Population, economy and traffic
In recent decades, internal migration in the agricultural region of North Hesse has led to a population decline and in the Rhine-Main area to a considerable increase in population.
Around 30% of the Hessian population live in this conurbation. Despite high building land prices and apartment rents, immigration continues and has led to extensive urban sprawl. The only conurbation in North Hesse is Kassel.
The proportion of foreigners in Hessen is just under 13%. The population is predominantly Protestant. The Jewish religious community has around 9,000 members. Frankfurt am Main has the second largest Jewish community in Germany after Berlin.
The Rhine-Main agglomeration has the largest industrial density in Germany after the Ruhr area. The chemical-pharmaceutical industry, machine and vehicle construction as well as the electrical and electronics industry are concentrated here.
In the metropolitan area around Kassel , wagon, locomotive and motor vehicle construction are represented.
Other important industrial locations in Hesse are Fulda (textile and clothing industry), Wetzlar (precision mechanics optics), Offenbach a. Main (leather processing) Darmstadt and Wiesbaden (chemical and pharmaceutical industry).
The service sector is of great importance. Frankfurt am Main and the state capital Wiesbaden play a special role in this. Frankfurt am Main is the most important international financial, trade and exhibition center in Germany with a securities and product exchange. Many state and federal authorities as well as insurance companies are located in Wiesbaden.
37% of the country’s area is used for agriculture.
There is high-yield arable farming on good soils in the climatically favored basin landscapes, where mainly wheat and sugar beet are grown.
In the basalt landscapes of the Rhön and in the Rhenish Slate Mountains, the proportion of permanent grassland is naturally particularly high.
In the mild climate of the Rheingau and on the Bergstrasse, vegetables (including asparagus), fruit and, above all, wine, and in the Wetterau, not only hops but also roses are grown.
A significant part, namely 40% of Hesse, is covered by forest.
The geographical center of transport is the Rhine-Main area, which is criss-crossed by a particularly dense network of motorways. The international airport of Frankfurt am Main is Europe’s second largest passenger airport after London Heathrow. The city is also a railway junction and has the main inland port. In addition to the Rhine and Main, the Weser and z. T. Fulda and Lahn navigable.
The state capital Wiesbaden
The independent city with 276,000 residents lies between the south-eastern slope of the western Taunus and the Rhine. In addition to the seat of the state government, Wiesbaden is also the seat of the Federal Statistical Office, the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Federal Institute for Population Research, the German Clinic for Diagnostics, the Society for the German Language and numerous other authorities, institutes and associations.
The city’s diverse industry is mainly concentrated on the banks of the Rhine in the southern suburbs.
The water from a total of 27 hot mineral springs, which made Wiesbaden a health resort in Roman times, is particularly used against rheumatism and gout as well as diseases of the respiratory organs. Buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Wiesbaden developed into an international health resort, shape the cityscape. The New Town Hall and the Castle, the Kurhaus with the casino, the theater and the eye-catching Russian Orthodox Church with its five gold-plated domes on the Neroberg date from this time.