The Ruhr district is an important industrial region in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Ruhr region is Europe’s industrial center and here up to 10 million people live in cities side by side.
The Ruhr area is mostly located east of the River Rhine. For visitors from more sparsely populated places, the cohesive urban environment usually impresses. You can drive really far through constant habitation. The rural areas between the cities have since a long time been built and the big cities have grown together.
Comprehensive transportation possibilities
Ruhr has the most developed highway network in Europe. Over 10 different highways cross each other. The highways are built in a grid in the region, which facilitates both local traffic as passing traffic.
Outside the city of Bochum is one of the Autobahns best stretches to test the performance of cars. Early Sunday morning you can see exotic sports cars floating by almost 300km / h on the long straight stretches.
Dortmund and Düsseldorf have the two largest international airports, but the proximity to Cologne provides additional opportunities for air passengers.
Ruhr has the world’s largest tram network.
Europe’s largest inland port is located in Duisburg. A quay of about 150 meters is by the way the name Ruhr originates from.
Big cities in Ruhr
In the area, there are plenty of big cities. Some of these are Essen, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, and Duisburg. The population does not impress in figures and rarely exceeds half a million in each city. It is of course counted within the city limits. If you expect the entire metropolitan area, the population will be considerably larger.
5.2 million people are reported to live in Ruhr, but depending on how you count the result may be 10-12 million inhabitants.
Why so many people in Ruhr?
The reason for the high population figures in Ruhr can be derived from industrialization in the late 1800s. In 1837 coal mining began, resulting in the rapid expansion of the iron and steel industry. Many jobs were created, which in turn stimulated migration.
Occupations and decline
After Germany’s defeat in the First World War, France and Belgium occupied the Ruhr area in 1923-25.
In 1945 most cities and factories were ruined due to Allied bombings. The industries were rebuilt almost immediately.
During the 1970s, the coal, iron and steel industry began to deteriorate. Several mines were closed and unemployment increased. The heavy industry has not recovered since then. When the hard-centered industries went with full power, it was seldom the sun’s rays reached the ground in Ruhr. Often it was a fog over the area.
Today it is different. The heavy industry has changed its shape and today there are several major companies in the automotive, mechanical and electrical industries, as well as the chemical and petrochemical industries.The River Rhine is almost more clean than ever.
Mining holes and machines have in some places been transformed into cultural monuments.