The state of Rhineland-Palatinate is located in the west of the Federal Republic of Germany. The capital Mainz extends on the left side of the Rhine, which here forms the state border against Hesse. The river with its tributaries, e.g. B. Moselle, as well as the numerous low mountain ranges characterize the landscape. Rhineland-Palatinate is by far the largest German wine producer and supplies a large part of the German vegetable harvest. The most important branch of industry is the chemical industry with large plants in Ludwigshafen am Rhein.
The 19,853 km² federal state borders North Rhine-Westphalia in the north, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg in the east, France and Saarland in the south and Luxembourg and Belgium in the west (Fig. 1). The state capital of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate with 4.013 million residents is Mainz, separated from the Hessian state capital Wiesbaden by the Rhine. In 1946, the French military government formed the state of Rhineland-Palatinate by ordinance from the former Bavarian Palatinate, Rheinhessen, parts of the Prussian Rhine province and the province of Hessen-Nassau.
The low mountain range and the Rhine characterize the diverse landscape. In the north lies the Rhenish Slate Mountains, which are crossed by the rivers Rhine, Mosel, Lahn and Mittel Sieg is subdivided. On the left bank of the Rhine lies the Eifel, most of which belongs to Rhineland-Palatinate, the Moselle valley, the Hunsrück and the Middle Rhine valley, which is accompanied by vineyards. On the right bank of the Rhine lies the mountainous region of the middle Sieg, the Westerwald, the lower Lahn valley and the western Hintertaunus. The southern part of the country includes the North Palatinate Bergland and south of the Palatinate Gebrüch the Westrich as well as the wooded Palatinate Forest, whose eastern mountain edge, the Haardt, slopes down to the Upper Rhine lowlands. The German Wine Route runs in the area of the loess-covered foothills that accompany the Haardt. The Upper Rhine lowlands on the left bank of the Rhine are occupied in the south by the Upper Rhine Graben and in the north by the fertile Rheinhessen hill country. Forest covers almost 40% of the country’s area.
The climate is influenced by the different surface shapes. The sun-exposed parts of the Upper Rhine Lowland, Lower Nahe Valley, Middle Rhine Valley and the valley areas of the Moselle, Ahr and Lahn have sunny and warm summers and mild winters, which are protected from rough winds. Wine is grown everywhere there. This contrasts with the significantly cooler mountain and hill countries.
Population, economy and traffic
Rhineland-Palatinate is in the area of the Central and Rhine Franconian dialects. The population is about 55% Catholic and 38% Protestant. The relatively sparsely populated low mountain ranges are contrasted by the conurbations of Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Mainz, Speyer, Worms, Kaiserslautern, Koblenz and Trier. The entire Rhine valley, Rheinhessen and the central Moselle valley are also densely populated.
Mainz remains Mainz
This is the motto of the famous Mainz Fassnacht, which has helped the Rhineland-Palatinate state capital to become well-known across the region.
Mainz is located on the left bank of the Rhine opposite the confluence of the Main and the Hessian state metropolis Wiesbaden. The city, which has almost 200,000 residents, is the seat of the state government, the state parliament and a Catholic bishop. In addition to the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz also has the Academy of Sciences and Literature and the Max Planck Institutes for Chemistry and Polymer Research as further educational institutions. Important museums are the Roman-Germanic National Museum and the Gutenberg Museum (World Museum for Printing Art).
The Second German Television (ZDF) is based in Mainz and makes the city an important media location. With its operations in glass production, the chemical, electronic and electrotechnical industries, mechanical engineering and precision mechanics as well as wine and champagne cellars, Mainz is also an important industrial city.
After the heavy destruction in the Second World War, numerous buildings in the inner city area were extensively restored, including the very important Romanesque cathedral and the former electoral palace from the 17th century. Mainz goes back to a Celtic settlement and the Roman military camp Mogontiacum.
The determining location factor for economic development is the Rhine as a transport route. The industrial regions Rhine-Main, Rhine-Neckar and the Middle Rhine Basin lie on its banks. The branch of industry with the highest turnover is the chemical industry, which has its focus in Ludwigshafen am Rhein (BASF AG).
This is followed by road vehicle construction, the food and beverage industry, the areas of mechanical engineering, office machines, EDP, the manufacture of plastic goods, the iron, sheet metal and metal goods industry, as well as the electrotechnical, iron-producing industry and the building materials industry. Regional focuses have the shoe industry in the Pirmasens area, fine ceramics in the Westerwald and the precious stone industry in the Idar-Oberstein area.
Rhineland-Palatinate has few mineral resources, but is rich in usable stones and earth and has numerous mineral springs, especially in the Eifel and Westerwald landscapes, which were shaped by earlier volcanism. Numerous spas also benefit from the mineral springs.
The agriculture uses about a third of the land area, 60% serve as farmland. The largest area is used for growing barley and wheat as well as sugar beet, rape, potatoes and forage crops. In the Vorderpfalz, there is intensive vegetable cultivation with increasing under-film cultivation. The most important special crop is viticulture. Around 70% of the German wine harvest is produced in the wine-growing regions of Ahr, Middle Rhine, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Nahe, Rheinhessen and Pfalz. In contrast, livestock farming is of little importance.
Rhineland-Palatinate has a share in one of the most important rail connections in Germany, the Ruhr area-Alps route on the Middle and Upper Rhine. The Pfälzer Gebrüch is an important traffic guideline for east-west traffic between Ludwigshafen am Rhein via Saarbrücken on to Paris. The inland waterways Rhine and Moselle with the largest ports Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Mainz, Koblenz and Trier are of particular importance for traffic. With Hahn, a former military airport, Rhineland-Palatinate now also has an international airport, primarily for charter traffic.