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|Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region
location of the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region in Germany
|• Type||Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar GmbH|
|• Metro||5,637 km2 (2,176 sq mi)|
|• Metro density||419/km2 (1,090/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
The Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region (German: Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar, pronounced [metʁoˈpoːlʁeˌɡi̯oːn ˌʁaɪnˈnɛkaɐ̯]), often referred to as Rhein-Neckar-Triangle is a polycentric metropolitan region located in south western Germany, between the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region to the North and the Stuttgart Region to the South-East.
Rhine-Neckar has a population of some 2.4 million with major cities being Mannheim, Ludwigshafen and Heidelberg. Other cities include the former Free imperial cities of Speyer and Worms. The metro area also encompasses parts of the picturesque Baden and Palatinate wine regions, the second largest vine region of the country called Deutsche Weinstraße and territory from the three federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse. It has a strong local identity as a successor of the historical Electorate of the Palatinate state.
The region is named after the rivers Rhine and Neckar, which join at Mannheim. Since 2005, the region is officially recognized as a European Metropolitan Area. After its classification as a European Metropolitan Region and the signing of a second interstate treaty between Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate, in 2006 the close collaboration between the public sector, industry and science was institutionalised in a private-public-partnership model that is one of a kind in Germany: ever since, the associations Zukunft Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar e.V., Verband Region Rhein-Neckar and Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar GmbH have stood for targeted, harmonised regional development work.
The Rhine-Neckar Region is one of Germany’s driving economic forces, with global players such as BASF, SAP, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen or Fuchs Petrolub. It is also home to various SMEs. It is known as the largest technology cluster in Europe, also labeled IT cluster Rhine-Main-Neckar. For this reason, it is also called the Silicon Valley of Europe.
In 2010, regional gross value added was around 67.5 billion euros. Just under 58% of the goods produced in the region are exported. The main sectors are the automotive industry, mechanical engineering and plant construction, chemicals, information technology, biotechnology and the Life Sciences, energy and the environment and the creative and cultural industries. Rhine-Neckar has a leading position both nationally and internationally in many of these fields.
The gross domestic product (BIP) as a measure of economic performance is over 75 billion euros (2010) in the region, slightly higher than that of EU member state Slovakia. The GDP per inhabitant is EUR 31,915. Thanks to its economic power, the Rhine-Neckar region is one of the areas with low unemployment. According to the "Industrie und Handelskammer" (IHK), there are 134,000 companies registered in the region. The Rhine-Neckar region also has high-volume purchasing power, therefore it is an attractive location for retailers and investors. Per capita income in 2008 came to EUR 19,300 in 2008, exceeding the national average by EUR 300.
The Metropolitan region is a strong economic driver as well as a center of the European transportation network. The central location and infrastructure of the region makes it accessible nationally and internationally. Individual and delivery traffic can connect to the national highway network, with highways A5/A67 and A61/A65 from north to south and the A6 from east to west, as well as the respective federal highways.
With the connection to Frankfurt International Airport within 31 minutes (with the ICE train from Mannheim Hbf), the Rhine-Neckar and the Rhine-Main region can access global markets and other metropolitan areas. In addition, the Mannheim City Airport and a second regional airport in Speyer serve as an important connection point of business air travel.
Travelling by rail also provides direct access to national major cities as well as European capitals. With around 240 long-distance departures daily at the central station in Mannheim alone ‒ the second largest ICE terminal in Germany ‒ the region has connections to the European long-distance rail network. According to a study of the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning, neighboring agglomeration regions cannot be reached so quickly from anywhere else as from the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region. The Rhine-Neckar public transport system (VRN), with the Rhine-Neckar S-Bahn as its backbone, provides infrastructure and connects to neighboring regions.
Finally, the second-largest railway yard in Germany (after Hamburg), together with one of the largest inland ports in Europe (after Duisburg) ‒ the Mannheim/Ludwigshafen harbor complex ‒ is a central hub for the European handling of goods. The Mannheim railway yard dispatches up to 5,300 freight cars daily.
The 22 institutes of higher education in the Rhine-Neckar Region  come together with a wide range of well-known research institutions such as the European Molecular Biology Laboratory or the German Cancer Research Center to form a creative environment for innovative technologies. In the conurbation of Mannheim/Heidelberg/Ludwigshafen, more than twice as many experts work in research than the German average. Moreover, both universities and non-university R&D institutes maintain a lively exchange of ideas with industry, ensuring that knowledge is productively transferred from theory to practice.
The region has a long history when it comes to the pursuit of scientific discovery as does Rhine-Neckar. In 1386, the University of Heidelberg was founded as Germany’s first university. Today, it's one of the most prestigious universities in Germany. Some 94,000 students are enrolled at the region’s institutes of higher education, roughly one in ten of whom are international students.
Cities and districts
- Mannheim (324,787 inhabitants)
- Heidelberg (145,642 inhabitants)
- Rhein-Neckar-Kreis (531,723 inhabitants, including Sinsheim, Walldorf and Weinheim)
- Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis (151,043 inhabitants)
- Ludwigshafen (163,002 inhabitants)
- Frankenthal (Pfalz) (47,534 inhabitants)
- Landau in der Pfalz (41,687 inhabitants)
- Neustadt an der Weinstraße (53,898 inhabitants)
- Speyer (50,280 inhabitants)
- Worms (80,955 inhabitants)
- Rhein-Pfalz-Kreis (148,428 inhabitants)
- Landkreis Bad Dürkheim (134,869 inhabitants)
- Landkreis Germersheim (124,894 inhabitants)
- Landkreis Südliche Weinstraße (110,658 inhabitants)
Culture and nature
The Rhine-Neckar Region has more than 80 theatres, more than 200 museums and galleries, plus all kinds of festivals. Last not least, with the SAP Arena since 2005, the region has one of the most modern multifunctional venues of Europe. Up to 15,000 people see international stars in their sport events, trade fairs, entertainment and concerts.
Three World Heritage Sites - Lorsch Abbey, frontiers of the Roman Empire, and the Speyer Cathedral) - and more than 200 castles, cathedrals and palaces dot the history-steeped landscape, including world-famous historical sites such as Heidelberg Castle, Schwetzingen Castle and Hambach Castle.
There are three nature parks (the Palatinate Forest, Neckartal-Odenwald, and the Bergstrasse-Odenwald geopark) within the region as well as four wine-growing areas (Baden, Hessische Bergstrasse, Palatinate, Rhine-Hesse).
In terms of sports, the Rhine-Neckar region features professional teams like the Adler Mannheim (ice hockey), the Rhein-Neckar Löwen (handball) and the 1899 Hoffenheim (football). Notable venues are the Golf Club St. Leon-Rot and the Hockenheimring motorsport circuit. The Olympic training centre for the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region keeps local sportspeople at Olympic level. With more than 2,700 sports associations getting people moving from the Palatinate Forest to the Odenwald mountains, the region offers a broad range of non-professional sports activities.
- Truffle Capital: Rhine‐Main‐Neckar cluster is ahead in Europe. (PDF; 175 kB)
- List of Universities in Rhine-Neckar (in German)
- YouTube Video featuring the Rhine-Neckar Region
- Rhine-Neckar Newcomers Guide - Free Apps featuring practical information for living, visiting or working in the Rhine-Neckar region
- Wish you were here - more information regarding welcome projects of the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region(German only)
- Official regional portal of Initiative Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region (German only)