Germany’s second-largest state by area forms much of the northwestern part of the country, sharing a border with the Netherlands and also bordering the North Sea. The small city-state of Bremen forms an enclave within Lower Saxony, which also borders eight other German states. The northern part of Lower Saxony is defined by the mostly flat North German Plain, while the state’s Southern area has some hills and low mountains, which reach up to 970 meters in elevation in the Harz region. The state was established after World War II by the British Military Government.
Organized in 38 political subdivisions, Lower Saxony has its cultural, political and economic center in Hanover, the state’s largest city and capital. A number of the smaller cities and towns have distinct, historic cores and long histories with the notable exception of Wolfsburg, a city founded as late as 1938, which is today the site of the world headquarters and manufacturing facilities of Volkswagen. The company operates five plants in Lower Saxony and is the state’s largest private sector employer. Hanover is host to a number of important and well-known trade fairs and also has a significant position for the trade and tourism branches. In addition, agriculture plays an important role for Lower Saxony’s economy.
The state features a number of nature parks and other protected areas. There are numerous lakes and rivers, all of which ultimately reach the North Sea. It is thus a favorite destination for travelers looking for good opportunities to hike or cycle.