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a state in southwest Germany
Saarland is bounded on the north and east by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, on the south by France, and on the west by France and Luxembourg. The capital and largest city is Saarbrücken. Other major cities are Neunkirchen, Völklingen, Sulzbach, and Dudweiler. It has an area of 994 sq mi (2,574 sq km), and a population of approximately 1,056,000.
The main economic activities are coal mining and steel processing. Other important industries are the production of chemicals, machinery, glass, and ceramics. Agriculture is of minor importance; the chief crops are cereals and potatoes.
Saarland is governed by a Cabinet, headed by a Minister-President. The Cabinet is responsible to a popularly elected unicameral Diet.
History in Brief
Before World War I, the Saar belonged to Germany. The Treaty of Versailles gave France the use of the Saar coal mines for 15 years in payment for French losses. The League of Nations governed the Saar during the French occupation. The governing body included one French citizen, one German, and three persons of other nationalities. Germany protested, and in 1930 the League ordered an end to the allied control. A plebiscite was held in the territory on January 13, 1935, with 90% of the people voting to become part of Germany.
France regained control of the Saar after World War II, taking over its defense and foreign relations and controlling its heavy industries. The Saar also joined in a customs and currency union with France.
The Saar was allowed partial self-government in 1947. In October, 1955, the people voted against transferring the responsibilities of defense and foreign relations from France to the Western European Union. On December 18, 1955, they elected a Parliament pledged to unite the Saar with West Germany. By agreement between France and West Germany, this union took place on January 1, 1957.
This page was last updated on 02/09/2017.