Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Lower Saxony



Area:47,600 km²
Inhabitants:7,956,416 (2001)
pop. density:160 inh./km²
ISO 3166-2:DE-NI
Minister-President:Christian Wulff (CDU)
Ruling party:CDU/FDP

With an area of 47,600 km² and nearly eight million inhabitants, Lower Saxony (German Niedersachsen) lies in north-western Germany and is second in area and fourth in population among the country's sixteen Bundesländer (federal states). In rural areas Low Saxon is still spoken, but declining so.

Table of contents
1 Geography
2 History
3 Politics
4 List of Minister-Presidents of Lower Saxony
5 External links


Lower Saxony borders on (from north and clockwise) the North Sea, the states of Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia, and the kingdom of the Netherlands. The state of Bremen forms two enclaves within Lower Saxony. The state's principal cities include Hanover, Braunschweig (Brunswick), Osnabrück, Oldenburg and Göttingen.

The northwestern portion of Lower Saxony is a part of Frisia; it is called Ostfriesland (Eastern Frisia) and lies on the coast of the North Sea. It includes seven islands, known as the East Frisian Islands. In the southwest of Lower Saxony is the Emsland, a sparsely populated area, once full of inaccessible swamps. The northern half of Lower Saxony is absolutely flat, but there are two mountain chains in the south: the Weserbergland ("Weser Hilly Region") and the Harz. The middle of the state houses the largest cities and the economic centres: Hanover, Hildesheim, Wolfsburg, Salzgitter and Braunschweig. The region in the northeast is called Lüneburger Heide (Lüneburg Heath), the largest heath of Germany and in medieval times wealthy due to the salt trade. To the north the Elbe river separates Lower Saxony from Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. The lands on the southern banks are called Altes Land (literally "Old Land"), and they are characterised by thousands of fruit-trees.

Lower Saxony is divided into 38 districts (Landkreise or simply Kreise):

  1. Ammerland
  2. Aurich
  3. Bentheim
  4. Celle
  5. Cloppenburg
  6. Cuxhaven
  7. Diepholz
  8. Emsland
  9. Friesland
  10. Gifhorn
  11. Goslar
  12. Göttingen
  13. Hamelin-Pyrmont (Hameln-Pyrmont)
  1. Hanover (Hannover)
  2. Harburg
  3. Helmstedt
  4. Hildesheim
  5. Holzminden
  6. Leer
  7. Lüchow-Dannenberg
  8. Lüneburg
  9. Nienburg
  10. Northeim
  11. Oldenburg
  12. Osnabrück
  13. Osterholz
  1. Osterode
  2. Peine
  3. Rotenburg
  4. Schaumburg
  5. Soltau-Fallingbostel
  6. Stade
  7. Uelzen
  8. Vechta
  9. Verden
  10. Wesermarsch
  11. Wittmund
  12. Wolfenbüttel

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

  1. Braunschweig (Brunswick)
  2. Delmenhorst
  3. Emden
  4. Oldenburg
  5. Osnabrück
  6. Salzgitter
  7. Wilhelmshaven
  8. Wolfsburg

The districts and idependent towns are grouped into four administrative regions (Regierungsbezirke):


The area is named for the Saxons, who moved there from what is today the neighbouring state of Schleswig-Holstein towards the middle of the 1st millennium AD. Originally the region was simply called Saxony, but as the center of gravity of the Duchy of Saxony gradually moved up the Elbe, towards the present day states of Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony, the region was given the name Lower Saxony, which it bore as an Imperial Circle Estate from the late 15th Century.

The state was founded in 1946 by the British military administration, who merged the former states of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Oldenburg, and Schaumburg-Lippe with the former Prussian province of Hanover.


List of Minister-Presidents of Lower Saxony

  1. 1946 - 1955: Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf (SPD)
  2. 1955 - 1959: Heinrich Hellwege
  3. 1959 - 1961: Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf (SPD)
  4. 1961 - 1970: Georg Diederrichs (SPD)
  5. 1970 - 1976: Alfred Kubel (SPD)
  6. 1976 - 1990: Ernst Albrecht (CDU)
  7. 1990 - 1998: Gerhard Schröder (SPD)
  8. 1998 - 1999: Gerhard Glogowski (SPD)
  9. 1999 - 2003: Sigmar Gabriel (SPD)
  10. since 2003: Christian Wulff (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