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Area:21,100 km²
Inhabitants:6.077.826 (2001)
pop. density:288 people/km²
ISO 3166-2:DE-HE
Minister-President:Roland Koch (CDU)
Ruling party:CDU

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
1 Geography
2 History
3 List of Minister-Presidents of Hesse
4 External links


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, 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.

Hesse 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.

Furthermore there are five independent towns, which don't belong to any district:


In the early Middle Ages Hesse was a part of Thuringia, but in the War of the Thuringian Succession (1247-64) Hesse gained its independency and became an earldom within the Holy Roman Empire. The state existed until 1567, when Philipp I of Hesse died. Hesse was divided into four mini states: Hesse-Kassel, Hesse-Marburg, Hesse-Rheinfels and Hesse-Darmstadt.

Hesse-Rheinfels was annexed by Hesse-Darmstadt in 1583. Hesse-Marburg was annexed by Hesse-Kassel in 1604. A collateral line within Hesse-Darmstadt split off in 1622 in order to form the state of Hesse-Homburg. So there were three Hessian states in the late 17th century.

Hesse-Kassel was called the Electorate of Hesse from 1803 on. In 1866 it was together with Hesse-Homburg and the duchy of Nassau annexed by Prussia, 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.

During the Weimar Republic Hesse-Nassau and Hesse were two administrative regions 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, which became a part of Rhineland-Palatinate).

Spelling: In Germany the land is called "Hessen", an inhabitant is a "Hesse". In English, the word for Hessen is Hesse, and the word for Hesse is Hessian. Sometimes the original Hessen is used as a variant, but this is not the common use.

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)

External links

States of Germany:
Baden-Württemberg | Bavaria | Berlin | Brandenburg | Bremen | Hamburg | Hesse | Mecklenburg-Vorpommern | Lower Saxony | North Rhine-Westphalia | Rhineland-Palatinate | Saarland | Saxony | Saxony-Anhalt | Schleswig-Holstein | Thuringia