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State Service Flag

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Area:18,338 km²
Inhabitants:4,600,000 (2000)
pop. density:251 inh./km²
ISO 3166-2:DE-SN
Minister-President:Georg Milbradt (CDU)
Ruling party:CDU
With an area of 18,400 sq. km. and a population of 4.6 million, Saxony (German Sachsen) is tenth largest in area but sixth in population among Germany's sixteen federal states. Created upon Germany's reunification in 1990, it occupies the approximate area of the former kingdom (1806-1918) of the same name. The capital is Dresden.

In the early Middle Ages the term "Saxony" referred to a different region, occupying today's states of Lower Saxony and Bremen and the northern (Westphalian) part of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Saxons, after whom the area was named, had migrated from the area of present-day Schleswig-Holstein during the second quarter of the 1st millennium AD. See the history section below for more details.

Table of contents
1 Geography
2 History
3 List of Minister-Presidents of Saxony
4 External links


Saxony borders on (from the east and clockwise) Poland, the Czech Republic and the German states of Bavaria, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. Its capital is Dresden, and the other principal cities are Leipzig, Chemnitz and Zwickau. Since 1989 the state and its urban centres have lost population through migration to the former West Germany.

The main axis of Saxony is the Elbe river, crossing the state from southeast to northwest. Another important river, located west of the Elbe, is the Mulde. The Neiße (Nysa) river forms the Polish border.

The portions in the east of Saxony are the southern parts of the historical region of Lusatia (Lausitz) and are called Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz); the minority of the Sorbs live in the region, which is bilingual today.

The countryside rises gradually from north to south, culminating in the mountain ranges along the Czech border. The Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) extend from Bavaria to the Elbe river. The Elbe itself has cut a majestic gorge in order to pass the mountains of the Elbsandsteingebirge. Further east the mountains are less high and form a hilly countryside called the Lausitzer Bergland.

See also List of places in Saxony.

Saxony is divided into 3 Regierungsbezirke - Chemnitz, Dresden, Leipzig - which are subdivided into 22 districts:

  1. Annaberg
  2. Aue-Schwarzenberg
  3. Bautzen
  4. Chemnitzer Land
  5. Delitzsch
  6. Döbeln
  7. Freiberg
  8. Kamenz
  1. Leipziger Land
  2. Löbau-Zittau
  3. Meißen
  4. Mittlerer Erzgebirgskreis
  5. Mittweida
  6. Muldentalkreis
  7. Niederschlesischer Oberlausitzkreis, belonged to Lower Schlesien (mainly Poland today) before the war.
  1. Riesa-Großenhain
  2. Sächsische Schweiz climbing area
  3. Stollberg
  4. Torgau-Oschatz
  5. Vogtlandkreis
  6. Weißeritzkreis
  7. Zwickauer Land

Furthermore there are seven independent towns, which don't belong to any district:

  1. Chemnitz middle southern Saxony
  2. Dresden capital
  3. Görlitz in the very easty
  4. Hoyerswerda didn´t belong to Saxony until 1945.
  5. Leipzig another bigger city
  6. Plauen western saxony
  7. Zwickau western saxony


For the origins of the Saxon tribes see Saxons.

Foundation of the first Saxon state

The first Duchy of Saxony emerged about 700 in a region, which is completely different from the present state of Saxony: It was located in today's Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. In the 10th century the dukes of Saxony were at the same time kings (or emperors) of the Holy Roman Empire (Ottonian or Saxon Dynasty).

In 1137 Saxony was passed to the Welfen dynasty. It reached its peak under duke Henry the Lion, but after his death it began to shrink. In 1180 large portions west of the Elbe had to be ceded to the bishops of Cologne (these lands later formed the duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg). The small remains were passed to an Ascanian dynasty and were divided in 1260 into the two mini states of Saxony-Lauenburg and Saxony-Wittenberg.

Foundation of the second Saxon state

Saxony-Lauenburg was later called Lauenburg and had nothing to do anymore with the history of Saxony.

Saxony-Wittenberg (in present Saxony-Anhalt) became subject to the margravate of Meißen (ruled by the Wettin dynasty) in 1423. A new powerful state was established, occupying large portions of present Saxony, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt. Although the centre of this state was far southeast of the former Saxony, it was soon called Upper Saxony and then only Saxony, while the former Saxon territories were now called Lower Saxony.

A collateral line of the Wettin princes diverged in 1485. This line received what later became Thuringia and founded several tiny states there (see Thuringia for more details). The remaining state became even more powerful. In the 18th century Saxony was known for great cultural achievements, but was politically inferior to Prussia and Austria, which pressed Saxony from either sides.

Saxony in the 19th and 20th centuries

With the abolition of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, Saxony became a Kingdom, and Elector Frederick Augustus III became King Frederick Augustus I. Frederick Augustus made the mistake of remaining loyal to Napoleon I for too long, and he was taken prisoner and his territories declared forfeit by the allies in 1813, with the intention of their being annexed by Prussia. Ultimately, the opposition of Austria, France, and Britain resulted in Frederick Augustus being restored to his throne at the Congress of Vienna, but Saxony was forced to cede the northern part of the Kingdom to Prussia. These lands became the Prussian province of Saxony, which is today incorporated in Saxony-Anhalt.

What was left of the Kingdom of Saxony was roughly identical with the present federal state. After 1918 Saxony was a state in the Weimar Republic, the Nazi era and under Soviet occupation. It was dissolved in 1952, but reestablished in 1990 upon the German reunification. Today Saxony also includes a little part of Silesia around the town of Görlitz which remained German after the war and for obvious reasons of unviability as a separate state, was incorporated into Saxony.

See also:

List of Minister-Presidents of Saxony

  1. 1945 - 1947: Rudolf Friedrichs
  2. 1947 - 1952: Max Seydewitz
  3. 1990 - 2002: Kurt Biedenkopf (CDU)
  4. since 2002: Georg Milbradt (CDU)

External links

States of Germany
Baden-Württemberg | Bavaria | Berlin | Brandenburg | Bremen | Hamburg | Hesse | Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania | Lower Saxony | North Rhine-Westphalia | Rhineland-Palatinate | Saarland | Saxony | Saxony-Anhalt | Schleswig-Holstein | Thuringia