Free Hanseatic City of Bremen

Free Hanseatic City of Bremen

Together with Bremerhaven, the city of Bremen, located on both sides of the lower Weser, forms Germany’s smallest federal state, the “Free Hanseatic City of Bremen”. Both cities are surrounded by the state of Lower Saxony. The ports of both cities and the port-oriented industry shape the country’s economy.

According to, the smallest federal state in Germany is the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen with an area of ​​404 km² and around 662,000 residents (2009) (Fig. 1). As a city-state, it is naturally very densely populated (1637 residents / km²). The federal state of Bremen is located in the north German lowlands on the Weser or Weser estuary. It consists only of the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven, which are separated from each other by an area that belongs to the federal state of Lower Saxony. The seat of government is Bremen.

From 1945 to 1949, Bremen and Bremerhaven belonged to the American zone of occupation as the “Bremen enclave”. In 1947 the US military administration established the state of Bremen, which in 1949 became a state of the Federal Republic of Germany. The legislature rests with the 100-member citizenry, who elect the government and the Senate. The Senate President is also First Mayor of the City of Bremen.

The climate is particularly characterized by wet westerly winds. The average annual rainfall is 715 mm, the mean January temperature is slightly below 1 °C. In July it is an average of 17 °C.

The most important economic basis are the ports of Bremen and Bremerhaven on the Weser and its funnel mouth. Taken together they are in second place after Hamburg, the most important German port, with a total cargo handling of around 45 million t (2000).

The 440 km long Weser is created near Hannoversch-Münden by the confluence of the Fulda and Werra rivers. It is canalised from Minden and can be used by seagoing vessels from Bremen. As the Lower Weser, it flows into the North Sea near Bremerhaven. The influence of the tides is noticeable up to Bremen; the banks are therefore accompanied by dikes. Compared to the Elbe and Ems, the pollutant input of the Weser into the North Sea and thus the pollution of the Wadden Sea by the river is rather low.


The city of Bremen lies on both sides of the lower Weser, about 113 km from the open sea. Bremen has 543,300 residents and is the seat of most of the state authorities and the highest courts. The city has a university, several colleges, the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and other research facilities. Unique in Europe is the 146 m high drop tower of the Bremen Center for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity, in which experiments can be simulated under conditions of weightlessness. A special address for anyone interested in geosciences, especially schoolchildren, is the Universum Science Center Bremen, a new type of museum with its own school laboratory. Other important museums are the Überseemuseum, the Focke Museum for Art and Cultural History and the Kunsthalle.

The port and port- oriented industry largely determine economic life. There are several major shipping companies and a stock exchange in Bremen. The most important commercial goods that are handled in the port are cotton, tobacco, coffee and tea. The city’s wide-ranging industry includes machine, road, aerospace and space vehicle construction, the food and beverage industry as well as the electrotechnical, chemical and oil processing industries.

The historic old town of the Hanseatic city of Bremen was badly damaged in the Second World War. However, many historical buildings and entire districts have now been rebuilt or restored. Attractions for many tourists include the 11th century cathedral, the Gildehaus (built 1537–1594), the Gothic town hall with its renaissance facade, the Roland column on the market, the Böttcherstraße, which was designed by various architects from 1924 to 1931 as a museum and shop street and the petty-bourgeois, listed Schnoor district.

Bremen joined the Hanseatic League in 1358 and became a Free Imperial City in 1646. Since 1802, Bremen was therefore called the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. The establishment of Bremerhaven in 1927 consolidated the city’s position as an important seaport.


The port city of Bremerhaven with 118,300 residents is located 65 km north of Bremen on the right bank of the Outer Weser. In addition to shipping companies, the port facilities include a large container port, a fishing port and the “Columbusbahnhof” passenger port with modern passenger facilities. The most important cargo handled are automobiles. The most important branches of Bremerhaven’s port-oriented industry are shipbuilding and fish processing. In the city there is a university, the Institute for Marine Research, the ALFRED-WEGENER Institute for Polar and Marine Research, a North Sea Aquarium and the German Maritime Museum.

Free Hanseatic City of Bremen

Tagged with: