Lower Saxony, Ger. Niedersachsen nē´dərsäk˝sən [key], state (1994 pop. 7,480,000), 18,295 sq mi (47,384 sq km), NW Germany. Hanover is the capital. The state was formed in 1946 by the merger of the former Prussian province of Hanover with the former states of Brunswick , Oldenburg , and Schaumburg-Lippe . Situated on the North German plain, it is bordered by the Netherlands on the west; the states of North Rhine–Westphalia and Hesse on the south; the states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia on the east; and the states of Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, and Hamburg and the North Sea on the north. The state is mountainous in the south (notably the Harz and Weser mts.); heaths and moors form the central belt. Lower Saxony is drained by the Weser, Ems, Aller, Leine, and Elbe rivers. Farming and cattle raising are important occupations. Industry (including the manufacture of iron and steel, textiles, machinery, food products, and chemicals) is well developed in the cities of Brunswick, Celle, Goslar, Hanover, and Osnabrück. There are oil wells in the Emsland, large iron-ore deposits at Watenstedt-Salzgitter, and lignite mines near Helmstedt. Emden, Wilhelmshaven, and Cuxhaven are the chief North Sea ports. The region of Lower Saxony has had no historic unity since 1180, when Emperor Frederick I broke up the duchy of Henry the Lion of Saxony, of which it was a part. The term
Lower Saxonycontinued, however, as a geographic expression. It also designated (16th cent. to 1806) one of the imperial circles of the Holy Roman Empire; the circle included, besides present-day Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg, Holstein, and Bremen.
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