Overview of the Ruhr Metropolis

The Ruhr region is one of the five largest conurbations in Europe and is home to approximately 5.2 million people. Over decades, the region has transformed itself from a coal and steel industrial site to a service and culture-oriented metropolis.

Cities and administrative districts in the Ruhr Metropolis

Map: Cities and administrative districts in the Ruhr Metropolis.
Map: Cities and administrative districts in the Ruhr Metropolis.

The most important facts

In the heart of Europe lies the Ruhr region, which is transforming itself successfully under the new brand name of “Ruhr Metropolis” to a modern cultural, scientific and technological location with a high standard of living. Situated in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Ruhr Metropolis stretches across 116 kilometres from east to west and 67 kilometres from north to south. The region is criss-crossed by the rivers Emscher, Lippe and by the Ruhr, from which it got its name. Eleven metropolitan cities and four administrative districts are clustered in the Ruhr Metropolis; that is a total of 53 communities which are incorporated in the Ruhr Regional Association.

A short history of the region

Coal developed into the most important raw material contributing to the development of the Ruhr region. Industrialisation started in the 19th century and collieries and steelworks drafted workers from all over the world. Today approximately 600,000 people of foreign origin, whose roots lie in almost 200 countries, live in the Ruhr Metropolis. From the 1960s onwards, the coal and steel enterprises became increasingly unprofitable and were gradually decommissioned. The formative coal and steel industry disappeared and the structural transformation began.

Centre for knowledge

The starting shot for the transformation to a location with future was given by the University of Bochum, which was the first university to be founded in the region in 1963. Meanwhile, the Ruhr Metropolis with its more than 20 universities has developed into one of the densest education and research sites. At the same time, the transformation to a centre for knowledge, technology and service has taken place. Approximately 2.2 million people are employed in the region and earn 5.6 per cent of the German gross domestic product.

The metropolis as Capital of Culture

With the motto “Change through culture – culture through change”, Essen was chosen as the European Capital of Culture 2010 to represent the Ruhr Metropolis. Because the Ruhr region, with its hundreds of museums, theatres, concert venues, festivals und industrial monuments, is also a cultural conurbation. These prerequisites and the special activities offered during the Capital of Culture year drew approximately ten million visitors to the Capital of Culture.

Guide for expats & business travellers

The Ruhr edition of Amazing Capitals expat guides is packed with knowledge designed to make living easier for international business professionals arriving and staying in the exciting Ruhr Metropolis.

Discover "must do’s” and "great do’s”, read initial information on expat life, about getting registered or settled, find restaurants, bistros, clubs, other English speakers and almost everything else plus a general feel for this great region.