The Ruhr District, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Ruhr District, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

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The Ruhrgebiet, or Ruhr district, is a large area in the midwest of Germany, located at the river Ruhr, after which it is named. The area begins in Duisburg in the west and stretches as far as Wetter in the east.

The Ruhrgebiet has one of the highest population densities in Germany, with many large cities close to each other along the main highway. Part of this large population is to do with the fact that the Ruhrgebiet was the main area for steel and coal factories in the 1970s and 1980s, but now most of them have ceased production.

Today, many cultural activities have been developed using the old factories, the best example of which is the old Hüttenwerk in Duisburg. The light designer of Pink Floyd produced an excellent 'light performance' there, which is activated every Friday and Saturday night. In the old hall, where the steel used to be melted, is a theatre stage, an open-air cinema, and a venue for concerts. The old gasometer is filled with water for a diving club, and the old factory also contains several pubs.

Some of the cities in the Ruhrgebiet include Dortmund, well-known because the famous football club Borrusia Dortmund; Westfelenhalle, home to fairs and musicals, and Duisberg, the largest inland port in the world. Shoppers might be advised to go to Oberhausen or Mülheim, with its large shopping centre, the Rhein Ruhr Zentrum.

Because of the high population density, there are many universities, including those at Dortmund, Bochum, Gelsenkirchen, Essen and Duisburg. However, because of the large amount of traffic, it's often faster to travel by train, which offers easy accessibility.

The character of the people living in the area is a very special one, perhaps due to the high proportion of foreign workers, having come here to work during the industrial boom time, and now living here as the third generation. Today, the Ruhrgebiet is becoming an area where many 'high-tech' companies settle, and is also an increasingly popular tourist destination, thus fast eradicating the old stereotype of a grey and dirty Rhurpott.

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