Hesse is one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Known in German as Hessen, it is located at the center of the country, bordered by Thuringia to the east, Bavaria to the southeast, Baden-Wüttemberg to the south, Rhineland-Palatinate to the west, North Rhine-Westphalia to the northwest and Lower Saxony to the north.
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Hesse covers an area of 21,100 sq km (8,146 sq mi) and has a population of 6 million people. The River Rhine flows through the state which is still 42% forested. Hesse is subdivided into 21 districts and five independent cities (Darmstadt, Frankfurt am Main, Kessel, Offenbach am Main and Wiesbaden). The city of Frankfurt is located in Hesse, however, the state capital is Wiesbaden. The majority of Hesse’s population is concentrated in the Rhine Main Area.
Human habitation in Hesse goes back to the early Celtics, with evidence of early burials uncovered in Glauberg dating to the mid 5th century BC. The name Hesse came from a Germanic tribe which settled in the area in the 1st century BC. If we trace the history of the state, we find that its boundaries have changed over the centuries. In 1567, after the death of its ruler Philip the Magnanimous, Hesse was divided into four parts: Hessel-Kassel, Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Rheinfels and Hesse-Marburg. After 1605, only Hesse-Kassel and Hesse-Darmstadt remained, although they further branched out.
In 1806, Hesse-Kassel became an Electorate while Hesse-Darmstadt a Grand Duchy. In 1866, Hesse-Kassel was annexed by Prussia while Hesse-Darmstadt managed to hold on to its autonomy. After the Second World War, the Hessian territory to the east of the Rhine was occupied by France. It was later made the state of Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz). Hesse-Darmstadt and another former Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau were merged to form present-day Hesse.
The biggest airport in Hesse is Frankfurt am Main Airport (FRA), also known as Flughafen Frankfurt am Main or Rhein-Main-Flughafen. From there, you can take the subway to the Frankfurt Railway Station and connect to trains to other parts of Germany.
Hesse is a well-developed state with 24 expressways or Autobahn. The intersection of the A3 and A5 expressways, at Frankfurter Kreuz, is one of the busiest interchanges in Germany and in Europe.