Wuppertal (German pronunciation: [ˈvʊpɐtaːl] (About this sound listen)) is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, in and around the Wupper valley, east of Düsseldorf and south of the Ruhr. With a population of approximately 350,000, it is the largest city in the Bergisches Land. Wuppertal is known for its steep slopes, its woods and parks, and its suspension railway, the Wuppertal Schwebebahn. It is the greenest city of Germany, with two-thirds green space of the total municipal area. From any part of the city, it is only a ten-minute walk to one of the public parks or woodland paths.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Wupper valley was one of the largest industrial regions of continental Europe. The increasing demand for coal from the textile mills and blacksmith shops encouraged the expansion of the nearby Ruhrgebiet. Wuppertal still is a major industrial centre, being home to industries such as textiles, metallurgy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics, automobiles, rubber, vehicles and printing equipment.
Aspirin originates from Wuppertal, patented in 1897 by Bayer, as is the Vorwerk-Kobold vacuum cleaner.
The Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy and the European Institute for International Economic Relations are located in the city.
From July 5, 1933 to January 19, 1934, the Kemna concentration camp was established in Wuppertal. It was one of the early Nazi concentration camps, created by the Third Reich to incarcerate their political opponents after the Nazi Party first gained power in 1933. The camp was established in a former factory on the Wupper in the Kemna neighborhood of the Barmen part of Wuppertal. Wuppertal is famous as an important place of resistance in Germany. The Barmen Declaration or the Theological Declaration of Barmen was a document adopted by Christians in Nazi Germany who opposed the Deutsche Christen philosophy. In the opinion of the delegates to the Synod that met in Wuppertal-Barmen in May 1934, the German Christians had corrupted church government by making it subservient to the state and had introduced Nazi ideology into the German Protestant churches that contradicted the Christian gospel.
During World War II, about 40% of buildings in the city were destroyed by Allied bombing, as were many other German cities and industrial centres. However, a large number of historic sites have been preserved, such as:
Ölberg, literally “Oil mountain”, Germany’s largest original working class district, is protected as a historic monument. The name came about during the 1920s as the district continued using oil lamps while the surrounding bourgeois residential quarters were electrified. In traditional use, the name "Ölberg" refers to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
Brill is one of Germany’s largest districts of Gründerzeit villas, i.e. middle class mansions built by industrial entrepreneurs during the second half of the 19th century.
The US 78th Infantry Division captured Wuppertal against scant resistance on April 16, 1945. Wuppertal became a part of the British Zone of Occupation, and subsequently part of the new state of North Rhine-Westphalia in West Germany.
In football, Wuppertal's most popular club is Wuppertaler SV who currently play in the Regionalliga West, the fourth tier of the German football league system. Playing their home games at the city's Stadion am Zoo, the club, which enjoyed its last season in a nationwide division during the 2009–10 season, looks back on a rich and eventful history since its establishment as the result of a 1954 merger between the two main Wuppertal clubs SSV 04 Wuppertal and TSG Vohwinkel 80. The club spent a total of seven seasons in the top flight of German football, three of which in the Bundesliga, which they were promoted to during 1972. In their first season in the nationwide first division, the club reached a remarkable fourth place and qualified for the UEFA Cup for the first and only time in its history. After a first-round defeat by Polish side Ruch Chorzów and another two widely unsuccessful Bundesliga campaigns, the club disappeared from the top flight again, though, and has yet to return.
During 2004, the club merged with local rivals SV Borussia Wuppertal to form Wuppertaler SV Borussia, though the name change remained the only visible attribute of the merger with the club's colours and crest remaining unaltered. The additional "Borussia" was scrapped again during 2013 due to fans' demand amidst a change of leadership which was brought about to lead the club through necessary insolvency proceedings which have been completed as of September 2014.
Another noteworthy Wuppertal football club is Cronenberger SC from the district of Cronenberg. Their greatest success to date is reaching the 1952 German amateur football championship final which they lost 5–2 against VfR Schwenningen. Today, they play one tier below WSV in the Oberliga Nordrhein.
Famous players include Günter Pröpper who scored 39 of WSV's 136 Bundesliga goals and West Germany international Horst Szymaniak, as well as Cronenberg's Herbert Jäger who represented Germany at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki during his stay with the club.
The politics of North Rhine-Westphalia takes place within a framework of a federal parliamentary representative democratic republic. The two main parties, as on the federal level, the centre-right Christian Democratic Union and the centre-left Social Democratic Party. From 1966 to 2005, North Rhine-Westphalia was continuously governed by the Social Democrats or SPD-led governments.
The state's legislative body is the Landtag ("state diet"). It may pass laws within the competency of the state, e.g. cultural matters, the education system, matters of internal security, i.e. the police, building supervision, health supervision and the media; as opposed to matters that are reserved to Federal law.
North Rhine-Westphalia uses the same electoral system as the Federal level in Germany: "Personalized proportional representation". Every five years the citizens of North Rhine-Westphalia vote in a general election to elect at least 181 members of the Landtag. Only parties who win at least 5% of the votes cast may be represented in parliament.
The Landtag, the parliamentary parties and groups consisting of at least 7 members of parliament have the right to table legal proposals to the Landtag for deliberation. The law that are passed by the Landtag is delivered to the Minister-President, who, together with the ministers involved, is required to sign it and announce it in the Law and Ordinance Gazette.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Westphalia was known as Land von Kohle und Stahl or the land of coal and steel. In the post-World War II recovery, the Ruhr was one of the most important industrial regions in Europe, and contributed to the German Wirtschaftswunder. As of the late 1960s, repeated crises led to contractions of these industrial branches. On the other hand, producing sectors, particularly in mechanical engineering and metal and iron working industry, experienced substantial growth. Despite this structural change and an economic growth which was under national average, the 2007 GDP of 529.4 billion euro (21.8 percent of the total German GDP) made the land the economically most important in Germany, as well as one of the most important economical areas in the world. Of Germany’s top 100 corporations, 37 are based in North Rhine-Westphalia. On a per capita base, however, North Rhine-Westphalia remains one of the weaker among the Western German states. As of June 2014, the unemployment rate is 8.2%, second highest among all western German states.
North Rhine-Westphalia attracts companies from both Germany and abroad. In 2009, the state had the most foreign direct investments (FDI) anywhere in Germany. Around 13,100 foreign companies from the most important investment countries control their German or European operations from bases in North Rhine-Westphalia.
In February 2014 North Rhine-Westphalia was ranked as the European Region of the Future in the 2014/15 list by FDi Magazine.
There have been many changes in the state's economy in recent times. Among the many changes in the economy, employment in the creative industries is up while the mining sector is employing fewer people. Industrial heritage sites are now workplaces for designers, artists and the advertising industry. The Ruhr region has – since the 1960s – undergone a significant structural change away from coal mining and steel industry. Many rural parts of Eastern Westphalia, Bergisches Land and the Lower Rhine ground their economy on "Hidden Champions" in various sectors.