Saxony-Anhalt is in the east of the Federal Republic of Germany. The capital of the state is Magdeburg, the second important city and industrial center is Halle (Saale). The northern part of the country lies in the area of the North German lowlands, while the south is characterized by the German low mountain range threshold with the Harz Mountains. The most important river is the Elbe.
Fertile loess soils make the Magdeburger Börde a favored agricultural area. The lignite mining operated in the open-cast mine, the energy generation based on it and the traditional chemical industry, which is mainly located in the Bitterfeld area, caused severe environmental pollution. The Harz and the Saale-Unstrut area are the most important tourist areas.
The state of Saxony-Anhalt borders Brandenburg in the northeast and east, Saxony in the southeast, Thuringia in the southwest and Lower Saxony in the west and northwest (Fig. 1). With an area of around 20,000 km² and 2.4 million residents (2010), the country is one of the smaller territorial states of the Federal Republic. The state capital Magdeburg is located on the eastern edge of the fertile Magdeburg Börde.
Saxony-Anhalt emerged in 1945/46 from the union of the provinces of Magdeburg and Halle-Merseburg, the Free State of Anhalt and parts of the former state of Braunschweig. In 1952 it was dissolved like the other countries in the former GDR. It was only rebuilt in 1990.
Essentially three major landscapes change from north to south in Saxony-Anhalt:
The larger north-eastern part of Saxony-Anhalt belongs to the North German lowlands and is traversed by the Elbe in a wide valley. The Altmark, located in the extreme north, falls to the northeast to the damp lowland area of the Wische on the Elbe, to the southwest to the meadow lowlands of the Drömling and is closed in the south by the barren ice age moraine area of the Letzlinger Heide.
The fertile Magdeburg Börde is located in the central part of Saxony-Anhalt. To the west, the Börde is bordered by the northern Harz foreland with the picturesque towns of Quedlinburg and Wernigerode, and to the east of the Elbe is the western part of the wooded Fläming, also a glacial old moraine area.
According to recipesinthebox, the southern part of the country lies in the area of the German low mountain range threshold. In Saxony-Anhalt, it includes the eastern Harz with the 1142 m high Brocken massif, which is part of the Hochharz National Park, further the eastern part of the protected valley of the Golden Aue south of the Harz and the eastern and south-eastern Harz foreland.
In the east the Leipzig lowland bay and between the Mulde and Elbe the Dübener Heide extend from Saxony into the state. The extreme south is one of the fringes of the Thuringian Basin.
Climate and vegetation
The transitional climate is oceanic and takes on increasingly continental features towards the east. The Harz, rising suddenly from the lowlands, receives large amounts of precipitation. The landscapes in its slipstream from the Magdeburger Börde to the lower Unstrut, on the other hand, are much drier. The Goldene Aue and the valleys of Saale and Unstrut, in which wine can therefore be grown, are particularly warm.
With a population density of around 129 residents / Km², Saxony-Anhalt is one of the less populated federal states. The northern part, which is dominated by agriculture, is significantly less populated than the industrialized south.
Because of the poor economic situation, the emigration of younger people in particular to the West is particularly high. In 2000, Saxony-Anhalt had the highest unemployment rate of all German federal states at 20.2%. In the two largest cities in the country, Magdeburg and Halle, are known universities, including the Martin Luther University in Halle.
The state capital Magdeburg
Magdeburg lies on both sides of the middle Elbe on the eastern edge of the Magdeburg Börde.
With around 231,000 residents, the city is the second largest city in the country after Halle (233,000). The number of residents has decreased since 1990. The main reason for this downward trend is the difficult economic situation after the closure of numerous ailing chemical and heavy industries in the early 1990’s.
Magdeburg is still an important traffic junction in rail and inland waterway traffic. The city lies at the intersection of the Elbe, Elbe-Havel and Mittelland Canal.
Magdeburg was badly damaged towards the end of World War II. Among other things, the important Magdeburg Cathedral with rich interior was built. Magdeburg law, first codified in 1188, was the most widespread German city law of the Middle Ages.
Economy and Transport
The low economic growth in Saxony-Anhalt is well below the national average and also below the average of the eastern federal states.
However, the country has a fairly productive agriculture.
The main growing areas are the Magdeburger Börde and the Goldene Aue. Here z. Wheat, sugar beet and vegetables are mainly grown and cattle and pigs are kept on fertile loess soils.
In the north and east of the country, potatoes and rye are grown on medium and light soils, while grassland is predominant in the Elbe lowlands.
On the leeward side of the Harz, in its eastern foreland and on the Süßen See near Eisleben, fruit growing dominates.
The formerly important large-scale chemical industry with main locations in Leuna near Merseburg, in Schkopau, Bitterfeld, Wolfen and Wittenberg, as well as the lignite mining operated in open-cast mining and the electricity generation based on it, caused great environmental damage. Many production facilities were therefore shut down after 1990 or had to be costly refurbished. For example, a large refinery was built in Leuna. Important branches of industry are still mechanical engineering and heavy engineering with the main location in Magdeburg. Other industrial locations in the state are Halle, Dessau, Zerbst, Köthen (Anhalt), Aschersleben, Zeitz, Staßfurt and Wernigerode.
Tourism has developed into an important source of income.
Tourist destinations and recreational areas are in the Harz Mountains. Also the medieval half-timbered towns of Wernigerode, Quedlinburg and Stolberg on the edge of the Harz, the relaxing Dübener Heide, the wine-growing area on Saale and Unstrut with Naumburg (Saale), the densely wooded Fläming as well as the LUTHER memorials in Wittenberg and Eisleben and, last but not least, the charming Wörlitz Park Dessau are enjoying increasing popularity. Great efforts were and are also being made to recultivate the no longer operated lignite mines and to transform them into excursion destinations.
The transport network is denser in the south than in the north. The most important railway junctions are Halle and Magdeburg. Saxony-Anhalt is crossed by the Hanover-Berlin motorways in the central part and Munich-Berlin in the eastern part. Further motorway routes are under construction. Inland shipping takes place on the Elbe, which connects the country with the Ruhr area and Berlin via the Mittelland and Elbe-Havel canals. The largest inland port is Magdeburg.