Geography, Economy and Population Issues


Location of de state of Hessen

Hessen is one out of 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany, located in the western-central part of the country (Fig. 1). Covering an area of 21 114 km2 the state of Hessen accounts for 6 % of the total area of Germany. About 60 % of the 6 million inhabitants live in the southern part of Hessen which comprises the Rhine-Main metropolitan area with its international centre of trade Frankfurt (Main), also being the largest city of Hessen (670.000 inhabitants). The capital of Hessen is Wiesbaden (280.000 inhabitants) which is located on the east bank of the Rhine river, at the southern foot of the Taunus mountains (Fig.2). In 2009 the population density was 287 inhabitants/km2.


Map of the region of Hessen

The most relevant gross value sector is service industry (37%), followed by production industry (21%), trade and transport (19%), government, private and non-profit organisations (19%), construction industry (3%), and agriculture, forestry and fishing (< 1%). The gross domestic product of Hessen totals 220.814 Mio EUR (2008).

The landscape of the less populated middle and northern parts of Hessen are predominantly characterised by densely forested upland mountain ranges like the Taunus, the Rhön, the Vogelsberg or the Westerwald (Fig.2). The Vogelsberg is the largest single mass of volcanic rock in Central Europe covering an area of more than 2000 km². The southern part of Hessen is characterised by the low planes of the Upper Rhine Valley and the Lower Main Valley as well as the low mountain range of the Odenwald. Elevation ranges from 71 metres above sea level in the Middle Rhine Valley up to 950 metres in the Rhön. An area of about 40 % of Hessen is covered with forests (Fig. 3) that predominately occur in the mountainous areas. Agriculturally used areas (42 %) are located in the low regions of the Upper Rhine Valley, Lower Main Valley, Wetterau and Hessische Senke. The climatically favoured regions of the Rheingau and alongside the Bergstrasse belong to the world-famous vine growing districts of Germany.





Land use in Hessen

The moderate climate of Hessen is characterised by mild winters, moderate warm summers, and precipitation throughout the year. For most areas of Hessen the mean annual precipitation varies between 600 and 800 mm, whereas the Rhön and the Vogelsberg receives up to 1200 mm. The Upper Rhine Valley receives the least precipitation and is counted to the warmest regions in Germany. In Frankfurt the mean temperature in January is 0.8 °C, the mean temperature in July is 19.4 °C. In Hessen the mean annual temperature is 8,4°C.

The most important rivers in Hessen are the Fulda and Eder rivers in the north, the Lahn in the central part of Hessen, and the Main and Rhine in the south. In Hessen groundwater accounts for 95 % of the drinking water supply. Most parts of Hessen consist of fractured aquifers. However, the most important groundwater resource of the state of Hessen is a large porous aquifer which is located in the Upper Rhine Valley in the southwestern part of Hessen. In this area, which is called the Hessian Reed, integrated groundwater management is required and implemented in order to meet the competing demands and conflicts of interest between agriculture, forestry, nature conservation, urban areas and water supply. In 2007 the per capita consumption of drinking water in Hessen was 123 litre.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee declared the landscape of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley between Bingen, Rüdesheim and Koblenz a World Heritage Site in 2002. Hessen is famous for its castles, forests, thermal springs and spas, and the Rheingau has always been renowned for its wines.

Rüdesheim, entrance to the UpperMiddle
Rhine Valley (Unesco World Heritage)


Kochbrunnen_fg01_Fritz Geller-Grimm_crop.jpg

Thermal spring "Kochbrunnen" in

Frankfurt, located on the River Main








This project is cofinanced by the ERDF and made possible by the INTERREG IVC programme


The Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC, financed by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund, helps Regions of Europe work together to share experience and good practice in the areas of innovation, the knowledge economy, the environment and risk prevention. EUR 302 million is available for project funding but, more than that, a wealth of knowledge and potential solutions are also on hand for regional policy-makers.