The state of Saxony is located in the east of Germany. Dresden is the capital of the state and next to Leipzig the economic and cultural center. Saxony lies on the border between the North German lowlands and the low mountain range threshold. Elbe Sandstone Mountains, Ore Mountains, Elster Mountains and Lusatian and Zittau Mountains form varied and ecologically valuable landscapes. The Elbe drains large parts of the country. The formerly important uranium ore mining and the mining of lignite were completely or largely stopped. Saxony is heavily industrialized; however, many industries have suffered losses since reunification. Fertile loess soils enable intensive agriculture and horticulture. In the Elbe Valley there is even viticulture. Important tourist regions are the Elbe Sandstone Mountains,
Saxony (Free State of Saxony) borders Brandenburg in the north, Poland in the east, the Czech Republic in the south-east, Bavaria in the south-west and Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt in the west (Fig. 1). The state covers an area of 18,412 km² and has 4.17 million residents. Its capital is Dresden. After the Second World War, the state of Saxony was rebuilt in 1947, but was dissolved again in the GDR in 1952. Newly founded in 1990, it became a federal state of the Federal Republic of Germany as part of the reunification.
According to relationshipsplus, northern Saxony still belongs to the glacial flat land of the North German Plain, which extends far to the south in the Leipzig lowland bay. In the south, Saxony has a share in the low mountain range over which the border with the Czech Republic runs. These include the Elster Mountains (in the extreme south-west), the Ore Mountains and the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. In the Ore Mountains lies the Fichtelberg, which is 1,214 m high and the highest point in the country. The Elbe Sandstone Mountainslies on both sides of the deeply cut Elbe. It is a popular travel destination because of its bizarre rock formations. The Saxon Switzerland National Park is located in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The central Saxon hill country around Chemnitz is in front of the low mountain range. It is divided by the Zwickauer Mulde, Zschopau and Freiberger Mulde, some of which have deep valleys and the shallow depressions of the Erzgebirge basin. Upper Lusatia and a small part of Lower Lusatia form the eastern part of Saxony around the Upper Spree.
Except in the extreme east, the country is drained by the rivers and streams to the Elbe, which Saxony crosses from southeast to northwest.
In the east of Saxony the climate is continental and is mainly determined by the different altitudes (Fig. 3). In the Ore Mountains and in the Vogtland bordering Bavaria, the climatic conditions are harsh, while the Dresden Elbe valley and the Leipzig lowland bay are considered unfavorable climates. The mean January temperature in Saxony is between –0.5 °C and –5.3 °C, the mean July temperature between 11.2 °C and 17.8 °C. The average annual rainfall is between 510 mm in the northwest and 1130 mm in the ridges of the Ore Mountains.
27.8% of the area of Saxony is covered by forest, of which 80% are coniferous forests.
Population, economy and traffic
With 226 residents / km², Saxony is one of the most densely populated new federal states, although the population decreased from 4.76 million to 4.17 million between 1990 and July 2010. This migration trend, especially from the eastern parts of the country, is continuing.
In addition to the predominantly German-born population, the Sorbian minority lives in the east of Saxony. In Upper Lusatia around the cities of Hoyerswerda, Bautzen, Kamenz, Niesky and Weißwasser, around 40,000 Sorbs maintain their own Slavic culture and some of them speak Sorbian as a second language.
At the turn of the millennium, around 2.3% of the population were foreigners. The largest cities are Leipzig, the capital Dresden, Chemnitz, Zwickau and Görlitz.
In 1999, 23.5% of the population belonged to the Protestant regional churches and 4.3% to the Catholic Church. The three Jewish communities (Chemnitz, Dresden, Leipzig) have around 1000 members. There are four universities in Saxony: in Leipzig, Dresden, Chemnitz and Freiberg, six technical colleges and two art colleges each in Leipzig and Dresden.
Saxony has an important industry. The mining in the Ore Mountains, which was developed in the Middle Ages, the hard coal and lignite deposits in the Leipzig lowlands and the favorable geographical location in the middle of Europe gave the artisanal and industrial production strong impulses, which were supported by efficient agriculture.
The conversion from the planned economy to the market economy after 1989 led to the existential crisis of many industrial companies and, in some cases, entire branches of the economy (textile, chemical industry, vehicle construction, mining) as well as agricultural companies. The mining of lignite around Leipzig and the associated power generation and coal chemistry as well as uranium ore mining in the Ore Mountains caused severe environmental damage. Open-cast lignite mining has largely ceased today. Uranium and tin ore mining ceased in 1991. The renovation of the uranium mining areas of Wismut AG, which began on a large scale in 1990, together with that of lignite mining, represented major environmental projects.
About a third of the economic potential of all the new federal states is in Saxony. The centers are the industrial agglomeration of the Elbe Valley with the main location in Dresden, the industrial area in and around Leipzig and the foothills of the Ore Mountains. Special branches of industry and commerce have emerged. In the Ore Mountains, toy manufacture and the art of carving as well as watchmaking have a long tradition.
The mighty loess deposits in the foothills of the low mountain range and in the Leipzig lowland bay enable high-yield arable farming. Mainly wheat, sugar beets and vegetables are grown. Fruit growing is particularly practiced in the Elbe valley and around Leisnig, viticulture between Pillnitz and Diesbar-Seusslitz, hop growing, among other things, in the Lommatzscher care. This is one of the most northerly closed wine-growing regions in Europe. Rye, potato and fodder crops are grown on the sandy soils in the North Saxon lowlands as well as in the higher elevations of the low mountain range, and cattle are raised in the upper mountain ranges.
There are several important recreational areas and tourist regions in Saxony . Elbe Sandstone and Ore Mountains, Vogtland and the Saxon Castle and Heathland are of great importance for tourism. The natural beauties of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains have been placed under special protection in the Saxon Switzerland National Park. The Erzgebirge has a long tradition as a winter sports area.
Saxony is criss-crossed by a dense transport network, the performance of which was significantly improved after 1990 through the expansion and construction of the Dresden-Görlitz motorway on the border with Poland and through completed sections of the Dresden-Prague lines under construction. In addition, there is the Südharz Autobahn and the expansion of the “Sachsenmagistrale” on the Hof-Leipzig-Chemnitz-Dresden route as part of the German Unity transport projects. The largest railway junctions are Leipzig, Chemnitz and Dresden. The Elbe is an important inland waterway route with ports in Torgau, Dresden and Riesa. Leipzig (Leipzig-Halle) and Dresden have international airports.