Rhineland-Palatinate lies in the south-west of Germany and borders on North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and the Saarland as well as Belgium, France and Luxembourg. Four million inhabitants live in an area of 19,847 square kilometres. The state government under Minister President Kurt Beck (SPD) has its seat in Mainz.
Rhineland-Palatinate is historically composed of the former Bavarian Palatinate, the southern section of the Rhineland, the former province of Rhine-Hesse which belonged to Hesse-Darmstadt, sections of the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau and the former Oldenburg territory around Birkenfeld. In 1946, the federal state was created by order of the French military government. The coat of arms depicts the lion of the Palatinate, the cross of the archdiocese and electorate of Trier and the wheel of Mainz.
Rhineland-Palatinate is a region of strong economic growth. At over 40%, the state has the second highest export rate of all the German territorial states and ranks among the five EU regions with the highest percentage of employment in high technologies. The strongest sectors are chemicals, car manufacturing and mechanical engineering. BASF is the state’s biggest employer. Apart from this, Rhineland-Palatinate is Germany’s main centre of wine and sekt (high-class sparkling wine) production.
Rhineland-Palatinate has an excellent higher education network with four universities, the Otto Biesheim Graduate School of Management (WHU) and seven universities of applied sciences with a total of 80,000 students. The Rhineland-Palatinate Virtual Campus promotes e-learning. There is a special focus on expanding research institutions. Between 1986 and 1990 alone, four applied research institutes were founded including the IMM (Institute of Microtechnology) in Mainz.
Rhineland-Palatinate has over 500 castles and palaces, 400 museums and 50 festivals offering a diverse cultural programme. The “Summer of Culture” takes place every year from May to October – this year with 1,600 events focusing on the theme “Culture and Science”. In the state capital of Mainz, the Gutenberg Museum centres on the history of printing. Europe’s largest TV broadcasting centre, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), is also located in Mainz.