Brandenburg
Overview
 
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

. Brandenburg surrounds but does not include the national capital and city-state of Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

.

Originating in the medieval Northern March
Northern March
The Northern March or North March was created out of the division of the vast Marca Geronis in 965. It initially comprised the northern third of the Marca and was part of the territorial organisation of areas conquered from the Wends...

, the Margraviate of Brandenburg
Margraviate of Brandenburg
The Margraviate of Brandenburg was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806. Also known as the March of Brandenburg , it played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe....

 grew
Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia is the historiographic denomination for the Early Modern realm of the Brandenburgian Hohenzollerns between 1618 and 1701. Based in the Electorate of Brandenburg, the main branch of the Hohenzollern intermarried with the branch ruling the Duchy of Prussia, and secured succession...

 to become the core of the kingdom
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

, later Free State of Prussia.
Encyclopedia
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

. Brandenburg surrounds but does not include the national capital and city-state of Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

.

Originating in the medieval Northern March
Northern March
The Northern March or North March was created out of the division of the vast Marca Geronis in 965. It initially comprised the northern third of the Marca and was part of the territorial organisation of areas conquered from the Wends...

, the Margraviate of Brandenburg
Margraviate of Brandenburg
The Margraviate of Brandenburg was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806. Also known as the March of Brandenburg , it played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe....

 grew
Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia is the historiographic denomination for the Early Modern realm of the Brandenburgian Hohenzollerns between 1618 and 1701. Based in the Electorate of Brandenburg, the main branch of the Hohenzollern intermarried with the branch ruling the Duchy of Prussia, and secured succession...

 to become the core of the kingdom
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

, later Free State of Prussia. The eastern third of historic Brandenburg (Ostbrandenburg/Neumark
Neumark
Neumark comprised a region of the Prussian province of Brandenburg, Germany.Neumark may also refer to:* Neumark, Thuringia* Neumark, Saxony* Neumark * Nowe Miasto Lubawskie or Neumark, a town in Poland, situated at river Drwęca...

) was ceded to Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 in 1945.

History

In late medieval and early modern times, Brandenburg was one of seven electoral states
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

 of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, and, along with Prussia, formed the original core of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, the first unified German state. Governed by the Hohenzollern
House of Hohenzollern
The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near...

 dynasty from 1415, it contained the future German capital Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. After 1618 the Margraviate of Brandenburg
Margraviate of Brandenburg
The Margraviate of Brandenburg was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806. Also known as the March of Brandenburg , it played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe....

 and the Duchy of Prussia were combined to form Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia is the historiographic denomination for the Early Modern realm of the Brandenburgian Hohenzollerns between 1618 and 1701. Based in the Electorate of Brandenburg, the main branch of the Hohenzollern intermarried with the branch ruling the Duchy of Prussia, and secured succession...

, which was ruled by the same branch of the House of Hohenzollern
House of Hohenzollern
The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near...

. In 1701 the state was elevated as the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

. Franconian Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

 and Ansbach
Ansbach
Ansbach, originally Onolzbach, is a town in Bavaria, Germany. It is the capital of the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Ansbach is situated southwest of Nuremberg and north of Munich, on the Fränkische Rezat, a tributary of the Main river. As of 2004, its population was 40,723.Ansbach...

, Swabian Hohenzollern
Burg Hohenzollern
Hohenzollern Castle is a castle about south of Stuttgart, Germany. It is considered the ancestral seat of the Hohenzollern family, which emerged in the Middle Ages and eventually became German Emperors....

, the eastern European connections of Berlin, and the status of Brandenburg's ruler as prince-elector
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

 together were instrumental in the rise of that state.

Early Middle Ages

Brandenburg is situated in territory known in antiquity as Magna Germania, which reached to the Vistula river. By the 7th century, Slavic peoples
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 are believed to have settled in the Brandenburg area. The Slavs expanded from the east, possibly driven from their homelands in present-day Ukraine and perhaps Belarus by the invasions of the Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 and Avars. They relied heavily on river transport. The two principal Slavic groups in the present-day area of Brandenburg were the Hevelli in the west and the Sprevane in the east.

Beginning in the early 10th century, Henry the Fowler and his successors conquered territory up to the Oder River. Slavic settlements such as Brenna (Brandenburg an der Havel), Budusin (Bautzen
Bautzen
Bautzen is a hill-top town in eastern Saxony, Germany, and administrative centre of the eponymous district. It is located on the Spree River. As of 2008, its population is 41,161...

), and Chośebuz (Cottbus
Cottbus
Cottbus is a city in Brandenburg, Germany, situated around southeast of Berlin, on the River Spree. As of , its population was .- History :...

) came under imperial
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 control through the installation of margraves. Their main function was to defend and protect the eastern marches
Marches
A march or mark refers to a border region similar to a frontier, such as the Welsh Marches, the borderland between England and Wales. During the Frankish Carolingian Dynasty, the word spread throughout Europe....

. In 948 Emperor Otto I
Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto I the Great , son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda of Ringelheim, was Duke of Saxony, King of Germany, King of Italy, and "the first of the Germans to be called the emperor of Italy" according to Arnulf of Milan...

 established margraves to exert imperial control over the pagan Slavs west of the Oder River. Otto founded the Bishoprics of Brandenburg and Havelberg
Bishopric of Havelberg
The Bishopric of Havelberg was a Roman Catholic diocese founded by King Otto I, King of the Germans, in 946. The diocese was suffragan to the Archbishopric of Magdeburg. Its most famous bishop was Anselm of Havelberg. Its seat was in Havelberg in the Northern March and it roughly covered the...

. The Northern March
Northern March
The Northern March or North March was created out of the division of the vast Marca Geronis in 965. It initially comprised the northern third of the Marca and was part of the territorial organisation of areas conquered from the Wends...

 was founded as a northeastern border territory of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. However, a great uprising of Wends
Wends
Wends is a historic name for West Slavs living near Germanic settlement areas. It does not refer to a homogeneous people, but to various peoples, tribes or groups depending on where and when it is used...

 drove imperial forces from the territory of present-day Brandenburg in 983. The region returned to the control of Slavic leaders.

12th century

During the 12th century the Ottonian
Ottonian
The Ottonian dynasty was a dynasty of Germanic Kings , named after its first emperor but also known as the Saxon dynasty after the family's origin. The family itself is also sometimes known as the Liudolfings, after its earliest known member Liudolf and one of its primary leading-names...

 German kings and emperors re-established control over the mixed Slav-inhabited lands of present-day Brandenburg, although some Slavs like the Sorbs
Sorbs
Sorbs are a Western Slavic people of Central Europe living predominantly in Lusatia, a region on the territory of Germany and Poland. In Germany they live in the states of Brandenburg and Saxony. They speak the Sorbian languages - closely related to Polish and Czech - officially recognized and...

 in Lusatia
Lusatia
Lusatia is a historical region in Central Europe. It stretches from the Bóbr and Kwisa rivers in the east to the Elbe valley in the west, today located within the German states of Saxony and Brandenburg as well as in the Lower Silesian and Lubusz voivodeships of western Poland...

 adapted to Germanization while retaining their distinctiveness. The Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 brought bishoprics which, with their walled towns, afforded protection from attacks for the townspeople. With the monks and bishops, the history of the town of Brandenburg an der Havel
Brandenburg (town)
Brandenburg an der Havel is a town in the state of Brandenburg, Germany, with a population of 71,778 . It is located on the banks of the River Havel. The town of Brandenburg, which is almost as widely known as the state of Brandenburg, provided the name for the medieval Bishopric of Brandenburg,...

, which was the first center of the state of Brandenburg, began. In 1134, in the wake of a German crusade against the Wends
Wends
Wends is a historic name for West Slavs living near Germanic settlement areas. It does not refer to a homogeneous people, but to various peoples, tribes or groups depending on where and when it is used...

, the German magnate Albert the Bear was granted the Northern March
Northern March
The Northern March or North March was created out of the division of the vast Marca Geronis in 965. It initially comprised the northern third of the Marca and was part of the territorial organisation of areas conquered from the Wends...

 by the Emperor Lothar III
Lothair III, Holy Roman Emperor
Lothair III of Supplinburg , was Duke of Saxony , King of Germany , and Holy Roman Emperor from 1133 to 1137. The son of Count Gebhard of Supplinburg, his reign was troubled by the constant intriguing of Frederick I, Duke of Swabia and Duke Conrad of Franconia...

. He formally inherited the town of Brandenburg and the lands of the Hevelli from their last Wendish ruler, Pribislav, in 1150. After crushing a force of Sprevane who occupied the town of Brandenburg in the 1150s, Albert proclaimed himself ruler of the new Margraviate of Brandenburg
Margraviate of Brandenburg
The Margraviate of Brandenburg was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806. Also known as the March of Brandenburg , it played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe....

. Albert, and his descendants the Ascanians, then made considerable progress in conquering, colonizing, Christianizing, and cultivating lands as far east as the Oder. Within this region, Slavic and German residents intermarried. During the 13th century the Ascanians began acquiring territory east of the Oder, later known as the Neumark
Neumark
Neumark comprised a region of the Prussian province of Brandenburg, Germany.Neumark may also refer to:* Neumark, Thuringia* Neumark, Saxony* Neumark * Nowe Miasto Lubawskie or Neumark, a town in Poland, situated at river Drwęca...

 (see also Altmark
Altmark
The Altmark is a historic region in Germany, comprising the northern third of Saxony-Anhalt. As the initial territory of the Brandenburg margraves, it is sometimes referred to as the "Cradle of Prussia", as by Otto von Bismarck, a native from Schönhausen near Stendal.- Geography :The Altmark is...

).

Late Middle Ages

In 1320 the Brandenburg Ascanian line came to an end, and from 1323 up until 1415 Brandenburg was under the control of the Wittelsbach
Wittelsbach
The Wittelsbach family is a European royal family and a German dynasty from Bavaria.Members of the family served as Dukes, Electors and Kings of Bavaria , Counts Palatine of the Rhine , Margraves of Brandenburg , Counts of Holland, Hainaut and Zeeland , Elector-Archbishops of Cologne , Dukes of...

s of Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

, followed by the Luxembourg
House of Luxembourg
The House of Luxembourg was a late medieval German dynasty, which between 1308 and 1437 ruled the Holy Roman Empire, twice interrupted by the rivaling House of Wittelsbach.-History:...

 dynasty. Under the Luxembourgs, the Margrave of Brandenburg gained the status of a prince-elector
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

 of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1415, the Electorate of Brandenburg was granted by Emperor Sigismund
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
Sigismund of Luxemburg KG was King of Hungary, of Croatia from 1387 to 1437, of Bohemia from 1419, and Holy Roman Emperor for four years from 1433 until 1437, the last Emperor of the House of Luxemburg. He was also King of Italy from 1431, and of Germany from 1411...

 to the House of Hohenzollern
House of Hohenzollern
The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near...

, which would rule until the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The Hohenzollerns established their capital in Berlin, by then the economic center of Brandenburg.

16th and 17th centuries

Brandenburg converted to Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 in 1539 in the wake of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, and generally did quite well in the 16th century, with the expansion of trade along the Elbe, Havel, and Spree Rivers. The Hohenzollerns expanded their territory by acquiring the Duchy of Prussia in 1618, the Duchy of Cleves
Duchy of Cleves
The Duchy of Cleves was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was situated in the northern Rhineland on both sides of the Lower Rhine, around its capital Cleves and the town of Wesel, bordering the lands of the Prince-Bishopric of Münster in the east and the Duchy of Brabant in the west...

 (1614) in the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

, and territories in Westphalia
Westphalia
Westphalia is a region in Germany, centred on the cities of Arnsberg, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Minden and Münster.Westphalia is roughly the region between the rivers Rhine and Weser, located north and south of the Ruhr River. No exact definition of borders can be given, because the name "Westphalia"...

. The result was a sprawling, disconnected country known as Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia
Brandenburg-Prussia is the historiographic denomination for the Early Modern realm of the Brandenburgian Hohenzollerns between 1618 and 1701. Based in the Electorate of Brandenburg, the main branch of the Hohenzollern intermarried with the branch ruling the Duchy of Prussia, and secured succession...

 that was in poor shape to defend itself during the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

.

Beginning near the end of that devastating conflict, however, Brandenburg enjoyed a string of talented rulers who expanded their territory and power in Europe. The first of these was Frederick William
Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg
|align=right|Frederick William was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia – and thus ruler of Brandenburg-Prussia – from 1640 until his death. A member of the House of Hohenzollern, he is popularly known as the "Great Elector" because of his military and political prowess...

, the so-called "Great Elector", who worked tirelessly to rebuild and consolidate the nation. He moved the royal residence to Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

.

Kingdom of Prussia and united Germany

When Frederick William died in 1688, he was followed by his son Frederick
Frederick I of Prussia
Frederick I , of the Hohenzollern dynasty, was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia in personal union . The latter function he upgraded to royalty, becoming the first King in Prussia . From 1707 he was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

, third of that name in Brandenburg. As the lands that had been acquired in Prussia were outside the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire, Frederick assumed (as Frederick I) the title of "King in Prussia
King in Prussia
King in Prussia was a title used by the Electors of Brandenburg from 1701 to 1772. Subsequently they used the title King of Prussia....

" (1701). Although his self-promotion from margrave to king relied on his title to the Duchy of Prussia, Brandenburg was still the most important portion of the kingdom. However, this combined state is known as the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

.

Brandenburg remained the core of the Kingdom of Prussia, and it was the site of the kingdom's capitals, Berlin and Potsdam. When Prussia was subdivided into provinces in 1815, the territory of the Margraviate of Brandenburg became the Province of Brandenburg
Province of Brandenburg
The Province of Brandenburg was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1815 to 1946.-History:The first people who are known to have inhabited Brandenburg were the Suevi. They were succeeded by the Slavonians, whom Henry II conquered and converted to Christianity in...

. In 1881, the City of Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 was separated from the Province of Brandenburg. However, industrial towns ringing Berlin lay within Brandenburg, and the growth of the region's industrial economy brought an increase in the population of the province. The Province of Brandenburg had an area of 39039 km² (15,073 sq mi) and a population of 2.6 million (1925). After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Neumark
Neumark (region)
The Neumark , also known as the New March or as East Brandenburg , comprised a region of the Prussian province of Brandenburg, Germany, located east of the Oder River in territory which became part of Poland in 1945....

, the part of Brandenburg east of the Oder-Neisse Line
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

, was transferred to Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

; and its native German population expelled. The remainder of the province became a state in East Germany when Prussia was dissolved in 1947. The State of Brandenburg was completely dissolved in 1952 by the Socialist government of East Germany.

East Germany and reunified Germany

In 1952, the East German government divided Brandenburg among several Bezirke or districts. (See Administrative division of the German Democratic Republic
Administrative division of the German Democratic Republic
The Administrative divisions of the German Democratic Republic were constituted in two different forms during the country's 41-year-long history. The Republic first retained the traditional German division into federated states called Länder, but in 1952 replaced them with arbitrarily-drawn...

). Most of Brandenburg lay within the Potsdam, Frankfurt (Oder), or Cottbus districts, but parts of the former province passed to the Schwerin, Neubrandenburg and Magdeburg districts (town Havelberg
Havelberg
Havelberg is a town in the district of Stendal, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is situated on the Havel, and part of the town is built on an island in the centre of the river. The two parts were incorporated as a town in 1875...

). East Germany relied heavily on lignite
Lignite
Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, or Rosebud coal by Northern Pacific Railroad,is a soft brown fuel with characteristics that put it somewhere between coal and peat...

 (the lowest grade of coal) as an energy source, and lignite strip mines marred areas of southeastern Brandenburg. The industrial towns surrounding Berlin were important to the East German economy, while rural Brandenburg remained mainly agricultural.

The present State of Brandenburg was re-established on 14 October 1990. The newly elected Landtag of Brandenburg first met on 26 October 1990. As in other former parts of East Germany, the lack of modern infrastructure and exposure to West Germany's competitive market economy brought widespread joblessness and economic difficulty. In the recent years, however, Brandenburg's infrastructure has been modernized and joblessness has slowly declined.

In 1995, the governments of Berlin and Brandenburg proposed to merge the states in order to form a new state with the name of "Berlin-Brandenburg". The merger was rejected in a plebiscite in 1996 - while West Berliners voted for a merger, East Berliners and Brandenburgers voted against it.

Geography

Brandenburg is bordered by Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the north, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 in the east, the Freistaat Sachsen in the south, Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt is a landlocked state of Germany. Its capital is Magdeburg and it is surrounded by the German states of Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia.Saxony-Anhalt covers an area of...

 in the west, and Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony is a German state situated in north-western Germany and is second in area and fourth in population among the sixteen states of Germany...

 in the northwest.

The Oder River forms a part of the eastern border, the Elbe River
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

 a portion of the western border. The main rivers in the state itself are the Spree
Spree
The Spree is a river that flows through the Saxony, Brandenburg and Berlin states of Germany, and in the Ústí nad Labem region of the Czech Republic...

 and the Havel
Havel
The Havel is a river in north-eastern Germany, flowing through the German states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt. It is a right tributary of the Elbe river and in length...

. In the southeast, there is a wetlands region called the Spreewald
Spreewald
The Spreewald is situated about 100 km south-east of Berlin. It was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1991. It is known for its traditional irrigation system which consists of more than 200 small channels within the area. The landscape was shaped during the ice-age...

; it is the northernmost part of Lusatia
Lusatia
Lusatia is a historical region in Central Europe. It stretches from the Bóbr and Kwisa rivers in the east to the Elbe valley in the west, today located within the German states of Saxony and Brandenburg as well as in the Lower Silesian and Lubusz voivodeships of western Poland...

, where the Sorbs
Sorbs
Sorbs are a Western Slavic people of Central Europe living predominantly in Lusatia, a region on the territory of Germany and Poland. In Germany they live in the states of Brandenburg and Saxony. They speak the Sorbian languages - closely related to Polish and Czech - officially recognized and...

, a Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 people, still live. These areas are bilingual, i.e., German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 and Sorbian are both used.

Protected areas

Brandenburg is known for its well-preserved natural environment and its ambitious natural protection policies which began in the 1990s. 15 large protected areas were designated following Germany's reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

. Each of them is provided with state-financed administration and a park ranger staff, who guide visitors and work to ensure nature conservation. Most protected areas have visitor centers.

National parks
  • Lower Oder Valley National Park
    Lower Oder Valley National Park
    The Lower Oder Valley International Park is a shared German-Polish nature reserve. It comprises the western banks of the Oder river within the Uckermark district in the German state of Brandenburg as well as the steep eastern banks in the Gryfino and Police counties of the Polish West Pomeranian...

     (106 km²)


Biosphere reserves
  • Spreewald
    Spreewald
    The Spreewald is situated about 100 km south-east of Berlin. It was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1991. It is known for its traditional irrigation system which consists of more than 200 small channels within the area. The landscape was shaped during the ice-age...

     Biosphere Reserve (474 km² (183 sq mi))
  • Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve
    Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve
    The Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve, often shortened to Schorfheide, is a nature reserve in the German State of Brandenburg near the Polish border. The reserve was established in 1990 following the German Reunification and is under the protection of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme...

     (1.291 km² (0.498457886742963 sq mi))
  • River Landscape Elbe-Brandenburg Biosphere Reserve (533 km² (206 sq mi))


Nature parks
  • Barnim Nature Park
    Barnim Nature Park
    Barnim Nature Park is a nature park and reserve in the state of Brandenburg, and partly in Berlin, Germany. It covers an area of 750 km² . It was established on September 24, 1998.-Overview:...

      (750 km² (290 sq mi))
  • Dahme-Heideseen Nature Park
    Dahme-Heideseen Nature Park
    Dahme-Heideseen Nature Park is a nature park and reserve in the state of Brandenburg, Germany. It covers an area of 594 km² . It was established September 19 1998 and is located southeast of Berlin....

     (594 km² (229 sq mi))
  • High Fläming Nature Park
    High Fläming Nature Park
    High Fläming Nature Park is a 827 km² nature park in Potsdam-Mittelmark district in the German state Brandenburg. It is the third largest of 11 nature parks in the state of Brandenburg...

     (827 km² (319 sq mi))
  • Märkische Schweiz Nature Park
    Märkische Schweiz Nature Park
    Märkische Schweiz Nature Park is a nature park and reserve in the state of Brandenburg, Germany. It covers an area of 204 km² . It was established on October 1, 1990 and is located east of Berlin....

      (204 km² (79 sq mi))
  • Niederlausitzer Heidelandschaft Nature Park (490 km² (189 sq mi))
  • Niederlausitzer Landrücken Nature Park
    Niederlausitzer Landrücken Nature Park
    The Lower Lusatian Ridge Nature Park is a nature park and reserve in the state of Brandenburg, Germany. It covers an area of 580 km² . It was established on September 9, 1997....

      (580 km² (224 sq mi))
  • Nuthe-Nieplitz Nature Park
    Nuthe-Nieplitz Nature Park
    Nuthe-Nieplitz Nature Park is a nature park and reserve in the state of Brandenburg, Germany. It covers an area of 623 km² . It was established on August 1999 and is located south-west of Berlin....

      (623 km² (241 sq mi))
  • Schlaube Valley Nature Parke  (225 km² (87 sq mi))
  • Uckermark Lakes Nature Park
    Uckermark Lakes Nature Park
    Uckermark Lakes Nature Park is a nature park and reserve in the state of Brandenburg, Germany. It covers an area of 895 km² . It was established on May 3 1997 and is located on the northern edge of Brandenburg state....

      (895 km² (346 sq mi))
  • Westhavelland Nature Park
    Westhavelland Nature Park
    Westhavelland Nature Park is a nature park and reserve in the state of Brandenburg, Germany. It covers an area of 1315 km². It was established on June 11, 1998....

      (1.315 km² (0.507724338549184 sq mi))
  • Stechlin-Ruppiner Land Nature Park
    Stechlin-Ruppiner Land Nature Park
    Stechlin-Ruppiner Land Nature Park is a nature park and reserve in the state of Brandenburg, Germany. It covers an area of 1,080 km². It was established on July 1, 2001. It includes Lake Stechlin, home to the endemic Stechlin cisco....

      (1.08 km² (0.416990331279938 sq mi))

Religion

Evangelical Church in Germany
Evangelical Church in Germany
The Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of 22 Lutheran, Unified and Reformed Protestant regional church bodies in Germany. The EKD is not a church in a theological understanding because of the denominational differences. However, the member churches share full pulpit and altar...

 (mostly: Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia) 17.8 %, Catholic Church (mostly: Archdiocese of Berlin
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Berlin
The Archdiocese of Berlin is a Roman Catholic archdiocese, seated in Berlin and covering the northeast of Germany.As of 2004 the archdiocese has 386,279 Catholics out of the population of Berlin, most of Brandenburg and Hither Pomerania, i. e. the German part of Pomerania...

, minor: Diocese of Görlitz
Roman Catholic Diocese of Görlitz
The Diocese of Görlitz is a diocese of the Roman Catholic church in Germany. The current ordinary is Wolfgang Ipolt-History:For the history until 1972 see the History of the See of Breslau....

) 3.1 %.

Political subdivisions

Brandenburg is divided into 14 rural districts (Landkreise):
  1. Barnim
    Barnim
    Barnim is a district in Brandenburg, Germany. It is bounded by Poland, the district of Märkisch-Oderland, the city state of Berlin and the districts of Oberhavel and Uckermark.- History :...

  2. Dahme-Spreewald
    Dahme-Spreewald
    Dahme-Spreewald is a district in Brandenburg, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Oder-Spree, Spree-Neiße, Oberspreewald-Lausitz, Elbe-Elster and Teltow-Fläming, and by the city of Berlin.- History :...

  3. Elbe-Elster
    Elbe-Elster
    Elbe-Elster is a Kreis in the southern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring districts are Teltow-Fläming, Dahme-Spreewald, Oberspreewald-Lausitz, Meißen,Nordsachsen and Wittenberg...

  4. Havelland
    Havelland
    Havelland is a geograhical region and district in Brandenburg, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Ostprignitz-Ruppin and Oberhavel, the city-state of Berlin, the district of Potsdam-Mittelmark, the city of Brandenburg and the state of Saxony-Anhalt .-History:-Geography:Geographically...

  5. Märkisch-Oderland
    Märkisch-Oderland
    Märkisch-Oderland is a Landkreis in the eastern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring are the district Barnim, the country Poland, the district-free city Frankfurt , the district Oder-Spree and the Bundesland Berlin...

  6. Oberhavel
    Oberhavel
    Oberhavel is a Kreis in the northern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring districts are Mecklenburg-Strelitz in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the districts Uckermark, Barnim, the Bundesland Berlin, and the districts Havelland and Ostprignitz-Ruppin.-Geography:The district is located along...

  7. Oberspreewald-Lausitz
    Oberspreewald-Lausitz
    Oberspreewald-Lausitz is a Kreis in the southern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring districts are Dahme-Spreewald, Spree-Neiße, the districts Kamenz and Riesa-Großenhain in Saxony, and the district Elbe-Elster....



  1. Oder-Spree
    Oder-Spree
    Oder-Spree is a Kreis in the eastern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring are the district Märkisch-Oderland, the district-free city Frankfurt , Poland, the district Spree-Neiße and Dahme-Spreewald, and the Bundesland Berlin.-Geography:The district is named after the two major rivers in the...


  2. Ostprignitz-Ruppin
    Ostprignitz-Ruppin
    Ostprignitz-Ruppin is a Kreis in the northwestern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring are the districts Müritz and Mecklenburg-Strelitz in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the districts...


  3. Potsdam-Mittelmark
    Potsdam-Mittelmark
    Potsdam-Mittelmark is a Kreis in the western part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring are the district Havelland, the district free cities Brandenburg and Potsdam, the Bundesland Berlin, the district Teltow-Fläming, and the districts Wittenberg, Anhalt-Bitterfeld and Jerichower Land in...


  4. Prignitz
    Prignitz
    Prignitz is a Kreis in the northwestern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring are the district Ludwigslust-Parchim in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the district Ostprignitz-Ruppin in Brandenburg, the district Stendal in Saxony-Anhalt and the district Lüchow-Dannenberg in Lower...


  5. Spree-Neiße
    Spree-Neiße
    Spree-Neiße is a Kreis in the southern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring districts are the districts Niederschlesischer Oberlausitzkreis and Kamenz in Saxony, the districts Oberspreewald-Lausitz, Dahme-Spreewald and Oder-Spree. The district-free city Cottbus is completely surrounded by...


  6. Teltow-Fläming
    Teltow-Fläming
    Teltow-Fläming is a Kreis in the southwestern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring districts are Dahme-Spreewald, Elbe-Elster, the districts Wittenberg in Saxony-Anhalt, the district Potsdam-Mittelmark, and the Bundesland Berlin.-Geography:The district is named after the two main regions...


  7. Uckermark




and 4 urban districts (kreisfreie Städte):
  1. Brandenburg an der Havel
  2. Cottbus
    Cottbus
    Cottbus is a city in Brandenburg, Germany, situated around southeast of Berlin, on the River Spree. As of , its population was .- History :...

  3. Frankfurt (Oder)
    Frankfurt (Oder)
    Frankfurt is a town in Brandenburg, Germany, located on the Oder River, on the German-Polish border directly opposite the town of Słubice which was a part of Frankfurt until 1945. At the end of the 1980s it reached a population peak with more than 87,000 inhabitants...

  4. Potsdam
    Potsdam
    Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....


Government

For earlier rulers, see List of rulers of Brandenburg

September 2009 state election

External links

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