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Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region
Metropolregion Rhein-Ruhr
The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region according to the LEP NRW, 1995
The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region according to the LEP NRW, 1995
Country  Germany

 North Rhine-Westphalia

Largest Cities Cologne
 • Metro 7,110 km2 (2,750 sq mi)
Highest elevation 494 m (1,621 ft)
Lowest elevation 20 m (70 ft)
Population [1][2]
 • Metro 11,316,429
 • Metro density 1,422/km2 (3,684/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
GRP 20
Nominal €335($445) billion (3rd in EU)

Aerial view of Cologne
Aerial view of Düsseldorf, the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia
Aerial view of Dortmund
Aerial view of Essen

The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region (German: Metropolregion Rhein-Ruhr) is the largest metropolitan region in Germany with over 11 million inhabitants. It is of polycentric nature and the only megacity in Germany. It covers an area of 7,110 square kilometers and lies entirely within the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region spreads from Dortmund-Bochum-Essen-Duisburg (Ruhr Area) in the north, to the urban areas of the cities of Mönchengladbach, Düsseldorf (the state capital), Wuppertal, Leverkusen, Cologne (the region's largest and Germany's fourth largest city), and Bonn in the south. The location of the Rhine-Ruhr at the heart of the European blue banana makes it well connected to other major European cities and metropolitan areas like the Randstad, the Flemish Diamond and the Frankfurt Rhine Main Region.

The metropolitan area is named after the Rhine and Ruhr rivers, which are the regions's defining geographical features and historically its economic backbone.


The largest cities in the Rhine-Ruhr area are Cologne, with over 1 million inhabitants, followed by Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen, which each have a population of over 500,000.

There are many different sub-definitions of what belongs to the Rhine-Ruhr area, but the metropolitan area itself has officially defined borders with Hamm in the east, Mönchengladbach in the west and Bonn in the south and the small city Wesel as its northernmost point. The northern border is similar to the border of the Ruhr Area.

The table below shows an unofficial summary of regions. In the official definition the metropolitan area is much smaller.

Region major cities area population
Ruhr Metropolitan Region[3] 4,435 km² 5,172,745
Dortmund 280 km² 581,308
Essen 210 km² 576,259
Duisburg 233 km² 491,931
Bochum 145 km² 385,626
Gelsenkirchen 233 km² 268,102
Oberhausen 77 km² 212,568
Düsseldorf Metropolitan Region 2,404 km² 2,944,700
Düsseldorf 217 km² 586,217
Neuss 99 km² 151,280
Mönchengladbach 170 km² 258,251
Wuppertal 168 km² 351,050
Cologne / Bonn Metropolitan Region[4] 2,920 km² 2,818,178
Cologne 405 km² 1,000,298
Bonn 141 km² 319,841
Leverkusen 79 km² 160,819
Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region 9,759 km² 10,935,623

Eurostat's Urban Audit splits the Rhine-Ruhr region into six Larger Urban Zones (LUZ). These six Urban Zones do not cover the cities of Remscheid and Solingen nor the district of Rhein-Kreis Neuss.

Larger Urban Zone major cities area population
Ruhr Larger Urban Zone[5][6] 4,434 km² 5,172,745
Dortmund 280 km² 581,308
Essen 210 km² 576,259
Duisburg 233 km² 491,931
Düsseldorf Larger Urban Zone[7][8] 1,200 km² 1,525,774
Düsseldorf 217 km² 586,217
Neuss 99 km² 151,280
Ratingen 67 km² 91,306
Mönchengladbach Larger Urban Zone[9][10] 170 km² 258,251
Mönchengladbach 170 km² 258,251
Wuppertal Larger Urban Zone[11][12] 168 km² 351,050
Wuppertal 168 km² 351,050
Cologne Larger Urban Zone[13][14] 1,627 km² 1,899,930
Cologne 405 km² 1,000,298
Bonn Larger Urban Zone[15][16] 1,295 km² 918,248
Bonn 141 km² 319,841
Rhine-Ruhr Region 8,894 km² 10,125,998


Deutsche Telekom headquarters in Bonn

Historically, most of the Ruhr area was for the most part characterized by heavy industry since the age of industrialisation in the late 19th and early 20th century. Since the Middle Ages, Cologne, Dortmund and other cities were important regional trading cities, but during the 19th century the city of Düsseldorf grew to become the administrative center of the region and since 1945 its political capital.

Today, the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region accounts for roughly 15% of the GDP of the German economy, which would place it as the 3rd largest GRP of metropolitan area in the European Union and the 16th largest GDP in the world. Despite this size, the Rhine-Ruhr region as a whole often lacks international competitiveness from the lack of a unified presentation, in which cities and urban areas within it, often pursue a separate investment policy against each other.[17]

From within, Düsseldorf, Essen and Cologne are by far the largest economic centers,[18] with specialisation in financial/high tech and insurance/multi media services respectively. Other major economic centers are Bonn and Dortmund. The region is home to twelve[19] Fortune Global 500 companies, among them E.ON AG, Essen, Deutsche Post AG, Bonn, Metro AG, Düsseldorf, Deutsche Telekom AG, Bonn, ThyssenKrupp AG, Essen/Duisburg, RWE AG, Essen, Bayer AG, Leverkusen, Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH, Duisburg, Evonik Industries, Essen, Hochtief AG, Essen and the Henkel Group, Düsseldorf.


Map of DB 2650 connecting Cologne with Hamm


The area has four international commercial airports, and multiple smaller aerodromes for general aviation.

Airport IATA code ICAO code annual passenger traffic
Düsseldorf Airport DUS EDDL 22,47 Mio. (2015)
Cologne Bonn Airport CGN EDDK 10,33 Mio. (2015)
Dortmund Airport DTM EDLW 1,98 Mio. (2015)
Weeze Airport NRN EDLV 1,91 Mio. (2015)


North Rhine-Westphalia has the densest network of Autobahns in Germany.

Public transport[edit]

The rail, S-Bahn, U-Bahn and bus companies are administered through a consortium of local and regional transport lines, the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr. It offers a rapid transit system which interconnects all cities and their respective local buses, trams, U- and S-Bahn systems, partly under the umbrella of Deutsche Bahn. Their systems are highly integrated where even some subway lines continue from one city to the next (for example between Düsseldorf and Duisburg or Bochum and Herne, which is unique in Germany, as the city border is crossed underground). The region is divided into several urban zones and fares are paid according to the amount of urban areas (or zones) passed through. Tickets include door to door transportation with all forms covered in one ticket with the exception of high speed rail (which only stops in the major cities). Some excursions, theatre and opera tickets as well as museums offer free transportation from any point in the Rhine Ruhr area to the venue and return.


Duisburg Port (Duisport) and Dortmund Port are large industrial inland ports and serve as hubs along the Rhine and the German inland water transport system.



Signal Iduna Park, the stadium of Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, is the largest stadium in Germany

The region is host to numerous large events, comprising fun fairs and cultural events like the Cologne and Düsseldorf carnivals (carnival is however a public event in almost all cities and towns of the area), the Cologne Comedy Festival, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, and the RuhrTriennale, as well as gamescom and other trade fairs at koelnmesse—Cologne Trade Fair and Messe Düsseldorf. With a capacity of up to 20,000 people, the Lanxess Arena and Westfalenhallen are amongst the largest indoor arenas in Germany.

The region is home to a total of 13 Bundesliga football clubs, of which five are active in the season of 2012/13. The most successful among them are Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach, 1. FC Köln, FC Schalke 04 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Signal Iduna Park, the stadium of Borussia Dortmund, is the biggest stadium in Germany.


The Zeche Zollverein coal mine

Several tourist destinations within the region attract over 12 million tourists per year. Cologne Cathedral, Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces at Brühl and the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex at Essen are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Other sights include Schloss Benrath in Düsseldorf and several anchor points of the European Route of Industrial Heritage.


NRW Forum, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Museum Koenig, Museum Ludwig, Romano-Germanic Museum, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Neanderthal Museum, Museum Folkwang, Museum Ostwall, Lehmbruck Museum, German Mining Museum and Deutsches Museum Bonn are some of the most famous examples.


The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region is home to nine universities and over 30 partly postgraduate colleges, with a total of over 300.000 students. The largest and oldest university is the University of Cologne (Universität zu Köln), founded in 1388 AD. Other universities include:


This map of the Rhine-Ruhr Area spans approximately 130 kilometers (81 mi) from north to south.
A view of Düsseldorf, the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia
The skyline of Dortmund
The skyline of Essen
The skyline of Duisburg
The skyline of Bochum
The skyline of Wuppertal
View of Bonn

The following register lists all municipalities that officially belong to Rhine-Ruhr area. Demographically, these municipalities include 20 cities (German: ″Kreisfreie Städte″), each with more than 100,000 inhabitants, and 11 districts (German: "Kreis"), each with a population of more than 250,000 inhabitants. Some districts only belong partly to Rhine-Ruhr area. In such a case only the municipalities that belong to the metro area are listed.

Cities independent of a Kreis
Municipality Inhabitants
31. December 2009[2]
Inhabitants per/
Bochum (BO) 376.319 145,44 2,587.45
Bonn (BN) 319.841 141,22 2,264.84
Bottrop (BOT) 117.241 100,61 1,165.3
Dortmund (DO) 581.308 280,39 2,073.21
Duisburg (DU) 491.931 232,81 2,113.01
Düsseldorf (D) 586.217 217,01 2,701.34
Essen (E) 576.259 210,38 2,739.13
Gelsenkirchen (GE) 259.744 104,86 2,477.06
Hagen (HA) 190.121 160,36 1,185.59
Hamm (HAM) 181.741 226,26 803.24
Herne (HER) 165.632 51,41 3,221.79
Cologne (K) 998.105 405,15 2,463.54
Krefeld (KR) 235.414 137,76 1,708.87
Leverkusen (LEV) 160.593 78,85 2,036.69
Mönchengladbach (MG) 258.251 170,45 1,515.11
Mülheim an der Ruhr (MH) 167.471 91,29 1,834.49
Oberhausen (OB) 214.024 77,04 2,778.09
Remscheid (RS) 111.422 74,60 1,493.59
Solingen (SG) 160.992 89,46 1,799.6
Wuppertal (W) 351.050 168,39 2,084.74
total/average 6.503.676 3.163,74 2,055.69
Kreise (districts)
Municipality/Kreis (district) Inhabitants
31. December 2009[2]
Surface per
Kreis Mettmann (ME)
Erkrath 46.084 26,89
Haan 29.156 24,22
Heiligenhaus 26.818 27,47
Hilden 55.551 25,96
Langenfeld (Rheinland) 59.038 41,10
Mettmann 39.374 42,52
Monheim am Rhein 43.065 23,10
Ratingen 91.306 88,72
Velbert 84.633 74,90
Wülfrath 21.420 32,23
Kreis Unna (UN)
Bergkamen 51.149 44,80
Bönen 18.630 38,02
Fröndenberg/Ruhr 22.135 56,21
Holzwickede 17.264 22,36
Kamen 44.803 40,93
Lünen 87.783 59,18
Schwerte 48.523 56,20
Selm 27.123 60,34
Unna 66.652 88,52
Werne 29.994 76,08
Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis (EN)
Ennepetal 30.778 57,42
Gevelsberg 31.651 26,29
Hattingen 55.817 71,39
Herdecke 24.794 22,40
Schwelm 29.012 20,50
Sprockhövel 25.512 47,79
Wetter 28.221 31,47
Witten 98.601 72,37
Kreise (districts)
Municipality/Kreis (district) Inhabitants
31. December 2009[2]
Surface per
Märkischer Kreis (MK)
Hemer 37.459 67,56
Iserlohn 95.232 125,50
Menden 56.078 86,06
Kreis Recklinghausen (RE)
Castrop-Rauxel 75.752 51,66
Datteln 35.757 66,08
Dorsten 77.308 171,19
Gladbeck 75.520 35,91
Herten 62.639 37,32
Marl, North Rhine-Westphalia 88.202 87,63
Oer-Erkenschwick 30.499 38,69
Recklinghausen 119.050 66,43
Waltrop 29.837 46,99
Rhein-Erft-Kreis (BM)
Brühl 44.259 36,12
Frechen 49.752 45,11
Hürth 57.501 51,17
Wesseling 35.144 23,37
Rhein-Kreis Neuss (NE)
Dormagen 62.924 85,41
Grevenbroich 64.039 102,46
Kaarst 41.841 37,40
Korschenbroich 33.116 55,26
Meerbusch 54.190 64,38
Neuss 151.280 99,48
Kreise (districts)
Municipality/Kreis (district) Inhabitants
31. December 2009[2]
Surface per
Rhein-Sieg-Kreis (SU)
Alfter 22.895 34,77
Bornheim 48.544 82,71
Niederkassel 37.402 35,79
Sankt Augustin 55.524 34,23
Siegburg 39.654 23,46
Troisdorf 75.150 62,17
Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis (GL)
Bergisch Gladbach 105.699 83,12
Burscheid 18.771 27,38
Leichlingen 27.476 37,33
Kreis Viersen (VIE)
Kempen 36.040 68,81
Tönisvorst 30.084 44,33
Viersen 75.475 91,07
Willich 51.962 67,77
Kreis Wesel (WES)
Dinslaken 69.687 47,67
Kamp-Lintfort 38.724 63,16
Moers 105.929 67,69
Neukirchen-Vluyn 27.627 43,48
Rheinberg 31.648 75,15
Voerde 37.668 53,48
Wesel 60.958 122,53
total 3.609.212 3.946,69


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf - Business location - Metropolitan areas". Duesseldorf.de. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Amtliche Bevölkerungszahlen von Information und Statistik Nordrhein-Westfalen (German)". It.nrw.de. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "metropoleruhr.de - Metropole Ruhr - Portal für das Ruhrgebiet". Metropleruhr.de. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Home: Region Köln Bonn". Region-koeln-bonn.de. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  5. ^ [1] Archived April 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Essen - Städtestatistik im Internet". Staedtestatistik.de. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  7. ^ [2] Archived April 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Düsseldorf, LH - Städtestatistik im Internet". Staedtestatistik.de. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  9. ^ [3] Archived June 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Mönchengladbach - Städtestatistik im Internet". Staedtestatistik.de. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  11. ^ [4] Archived June 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "Wuppertal - Städtestatistik im Internet". Staedtestatistik.de. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  13. ^ [5] Archived June 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "Köln - Städtestatistik im Internet". Staedtestatistik.de. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  15. ^ [6] Archived June 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "Bonn - Städtestatistik im Internet". Staedtestatistik.de. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "Comparative Analysis of the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region" (PDF). Düsseldorf Regional Government. August 2002. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  18. ^ "Metropolitane Funktionen der Städte in der Metropolregion : Rhein-Ruhr" (PDF). Raumplanung.uni-dortmund.de. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "Please create a screen name to access this feature". CNN. Money.cnn.com. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Knapp, Wolfgang (1998). The Rhine-Ruhr area in transformation: Towards a European metropolitan region?. European Planning Studies. 
  • Dieleman, Frans M. (1998). Randstad, Rhine-Ruhr and Flemish diamond as one polynucleated macro-region?. Blackwell Publishing. 
  • Blotevogel, Hans H. (1998). The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region: Reality and discourse. European Planning Studies. 

External links[edit]