With a history clearly distinct from the rest of Germany and close ties to neighboring France, the Saarland has a unique position among the German federal states. Between the two countries of France and Germany, the region has long been disputed and it actually was French once, but ever since the former enemies grew together to become the driving force of European integration, the Saarland has become something of a connecter between both countries. Several thousand French workers commute to Saarland for work and the federal state has decided to set up future education bilingually. Apart from the common border with France, Saarland also borders the francophone country of Luxembourg.
A good part of the state, about one third of the entire acreage, is covered by forests and the population is mostly centered around the capital, Saarbrücken, which is located in the southern half of the state. There are a numer of good opportunities for hiking, mountain biking or other outdoor activities along the Saar river, at whose banks some scenic vineyards can also be found.
The state’s economy was for a long time dependent on coal mining, but the last mining operation closed its doors in 2012. The job loss associated with this development could partly be absorbed by setting up a number auto industry companies. Another important branch is the steel industry.
People in the Saarland speak a distinct dialect with some vocabulary borrowed from the French language. The typical Saar cuisine is comparatively simple and not easy to come by in restaurants, which tend to lean towards the French cuisine.