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Düsseldorf

The capital of the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia is located on the banks of the Rhine river in the western part of the state, not far from the borders to Luxemburg, Belgium and the Netherlands and only about 30 minutes from Cologne. The population in the city proper, Germany’s seventh-largest, is 598,700 and in the entire, close-knit Rhine-Ruhr region, of which Düsseldorf is a major hub, there are a total of more than 11 million inhabitants. The city is an important center of economy and home to several large conglomerates. It is also frequently visited by business travelers from around the world because of the trade fairs hosted here. The town’s name derives from a little-known river named Düssel that flows through the city.

Based on loose settlements in the area that had existed on and off for hundreds of years already, a small town had grown here in 1135, when it was first mentioned in documents. The village was developed into a fortress overlooking river traffic and thus became more important, until the place was granted town rights in 1288 following a battle between local farmers and the Cologne archbishop’s troops for regional power. The city then steadily grew further in the next centuries, being elevated to be the seat of various rulers, each of whom added some significant building or landmark to the townscape. After Napoleon’s defeat, Düsseldorf became a part of Prussia in 1815. It enjoyed a population boost during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, only to be heavily air-raided in World War II for its industrial facilities. Düsseldorf was taken by US forces in April 1945.

NRW Duesseldorf Medienhafen

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After the war and after becoming capital of the newly founded state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Düsseldorf quickly rebounded from the damages and population loss it had suffered and rather quickly developed into a prosperous city again, even soon earning a reputation for being an especially wealthy place. In part, this can be attributed to Düsseldorf being a center of the fashion industry and the fact that the city, despite also having a substantial industrial presence, has a history of being a place where companys established their administrative rather than their productive units. Today, Düsseldorf is still a major fashion industry center but has also become a hub for the business consulting, technology, insurance, advertising and telecommunications industries. The Messe Düsseldorf hosts major annual trade fairs, some of which, particularly those in the area of fashion, are regarded to be some of the largest in the world with a global audience. The city’s airport is Germany’s third-largest, featuring regular domestic and mid-range as well as intercontinental connections.

Despite being tied into a metropolitan area in which lines between towns often are hardly discernible, Düsseldorf has retained a local culture with specific food, drinks, dialect, events and traditions such as the city’s own carnival celebrations - the main entry in the regional event calendar. A strong local arts scene with a number of well-known theatres and a few well-recognized music acts have added to the maintenance of this local heritage. Among local customs is a hate-love relationship to neighboring Cologne, today mocking in character and mainly displayed in sport contests and a habit in both cities to constantly evaluate one place against the other.

The city’s population grows by several thousand commuters on workdays. A little more than on sixth of the people living within the city proper are foreigners, with the largest percentage of those having Turkish and Greek roots. There are also a large number of Asians, notably some 5,000 Japanese living here, making Düsseldorf the home of one of the largest Japanese communities in Europe. Although the population density is relatively high, the city still often ranks highly in Best Places to live - comparisons.

Back to: North Rhine-Westphalia