The fusion between parts of the Rhineland and Westphalia took place under the codeword Operation Marriage when, on 23 August 1946, the new state of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) was established. Considering the diversity of rural Westphalia and industrial Northern Rhineland, the fusion was more a marriage of convenience rather than of love.
However, following this enforced start, things steadily looked up in NRW. During the early years of the economic miracle, (Wirtschaftswunder), the state boomed just like the rest of Germany with heavy industry in the Ruhr area becoming a major economic factor. But in recent decades, NRW has faced enormous structural change and a more sustainable mix of industry and services has replaced heavy industry.
Today, NRW is home to some 18 Million people. It is the most populous and economically strongest state in Germany. Its central location and strong infrastructure paired with high education and qualification backgrounds make it the number one state in Germany. Economic size, investment and export are superior to every other German state. Many companies that operate in Germany are based in NRW, especially trading companies from the USA, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Japan.
NRW scores not only with its good economy; it is also a well-known location for high-tech enterprises, education and research institutions. 58 universities, 63 technology and incorporation centres, 30 technology transfer centres, thirteen Fraunhofer Institutes and eleven Max-Planck-Institutes are just a part of this network.
Its cultural qualities are also convincing, with no other part of Germany presenting such diversity. Numerous museums, exhibitions, theatres, operas, festivals and events offer enjoyment and entertainment indoors and out. Furthermore, fourteen national parks, the Eiffel hill and mountain range and more than 200 marvellous lakes all wait to be discovered.