Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

North Rhine-Westphalia is the state "deep in the West" of Germany. The region between Selfkant in the West and Höxter in the East, Hellenthal in the South and Rahden in the North, is home to some 18 million people who live on a surface area of over 34,000 square kilometres. This not only makes North Rhine-Westphalia the most populous of the 16 German states, it also means that more people live in this state than, for instance, in the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria or Switzerland.

Nearly half of North Rhine-Westphalia's land area is used for agriculture, forests cover one quarter of the state's surface. Altogether, North Rhine-Westphalia has 14 nature parks, some of which it shares with other states, and one national park, the Eifel. There are 29 cities with more than 100,000 residents. The largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia is Cologne with a population of about one million; Düsseldorf is the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia.

North Rhine-Westphalia is a state of great diversity, cosmopolitan and, at the same time, both steeped in tradition and with an eye to the future. Nowhere else in Germany are industrial and rural regions so close to each other. There is hardly any other region on earth with a similar concentration of museums, theatres, opera houses and concert halls.

Among Europe’s metropolitan regions, North Rhine-Westphalia has one of the most powerful economies. Were it an independent country, it would be a world leader in terms of exports. The state is also a national leader. North Rhine-Westphalia has always been Germany’s powerhouse.

North Rhine-Westphalia is Germany’s No. 1 industrial region. Our livelihood depends on industry. Industry sustains and drives forward research, growth and wealth in our state. Of Germany’s top 100 corporations, 37 are based in North Rhine-Westphalia. We are home to the global players.

At the same time, NRW is not only the home of large companies; it also hosts a significant small and medium business sector. SMEs account for 99 per cent of business enterprises, 70 per cent of employees and over 80 per cent of trainees. Small and medium-sized enterprises are the pillar on which our economy rests. If you think you can only become a market leader if you are based in New York or Tokyo, come to North Rhine-Westphalia and think again. Hundreds of thousands of small and medium businesses are daily proof that North Rhine-Westphalia is an SME powerhouse.

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