The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region (German: Metropolregion Rhein-Ruhr) is the largest metropolitan region in Germany with over 11 million inhabitants. It is of polycentric nature and the only megacity in Germany. It covers an area of 7,110 square kilometers and lies entirely within the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region spreads from Dortmund-Bochum-Essen-Duisburg (Ruhr Area) in the north, to the urban areas of the cities of Mönchengladbach, Düsseldorf (the state capital), Wuppertal, Cologne (the region's largest and Germany's fourth largest city), and Bonn in the south. The location of the Rhine-Ruhr at the heart of the European blue banana makes it well connected to other major European cities and metropolitan areas like Amsterdam and the Randstad, the Flemish Diamond and Frankfurt/Rhine-Main Region.
There are many different sub-definitions of what belongs to the Rhine-Ruhr area, but the metropolitan area itself has officially defined borders with Hamm in the east, Mönchengladbach in the west and Bonn in the south and the small city Wesel as its northernmost point. The northern border is similar to the border of the Ruhr Area.
The table below shows an unofficial summary of regions. In the official definition the metropolitan area is much smaller.
|Ruhr Metropolitan Region||4,435 km²||5,172,745|
|Düsseldorf Metropolitan Region||2,404 km²||2,944,700|
|Cologne/Bonn Metropolitan Region||2,920 km²||2,818,178|
|Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region||9,759 km²||10,935,623|
|Larger Urban Zone||major cities||area||population|
|Ruhr Larger Urban Zone||4,434 km²||5,172,745|
|Düsseldorf Larger Urban Zone||1,200 km²||1,525,774|
|Mönchengladbach Larger Urban Zone||170 km²||258,251|
|Wuppertal Larger Urban Zone||168 km²||351,050|
|Cologne Larger Urban Zone||1,627 km²||1,899,930|
|Bonn Larger Urban Zone||1,295 km²||918,248|
|Rhine-Ruhr Region||8,894 km²||10,125,998|
Historically, most of the Ruhr area was for the most part characterized by heavy industry since the age of industrialisation in the late 19th and early 20th century. Since the Middle Ages, Cologne, Dortmund and other cities were important regional trading cities, but during the 19th century the city of Düsseldorf grew to become the administrative center of the region and since 1945 its political capital.
Today, the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region accounts for roughly 15% of the GDP of the German economy, which would place it as the 3rd largest GRP of metropolitan area in the European Union and the 16th largest GDP in the world. Despite this size, the Rhine-Ruhr region as a whole often lacks international competitiveness from the lack of a unified presentation, in which cities and urban areas within it, often pursue a separate investment policy against each other.
From within, Düsseldorf and Cologne are by far the largest economic centers, with specialisation in financial/high tech and insurance/multi media services respectively. Other major economic centers are Bonn, Dortmund and Essen. The region is home to twelve Fortune Global 500 companies, among them E.ON AG, Düsseldorf, Deutsche Post AG, Bonn, Metro AG, Düsseldorf, Deutsche Telekom AG, Bonn, ThyssenKrupp AG, Essen/Duisburg, RWE AG, Essen, Bayer AG, Leverkusen, Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH, Duisburg, Evonik Industries, Essen, Arcandor AG, Essen, Hochtief AG, Essen and the Henkel Group, Düsseldorf.
The metro area boasts the two international airports of Cologne/Bonn and Düsseldorf International and several regional/national airports like Dortmund Airport, Düsseldorf-Mönchengladbach Airport and Weeze Airport. The city of Cologne is also connected to Frankfurt Airport via the 1 hour Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed rail line.
Commercial airports 
|Airport||IATA code||ICAO code||annual passenger traffic|
|Düsseldorf International Airport||DUS||EDDL||20,34 Mio. (2011)|
|Cologne Bonn Airport||CGN||EDDK||9,62 Mio. (2011)|
|Dortmund Airport||DTM||EDLW||1,82 Mio. (2011)|
North Rhine-Westphalia has the densest network of Autobahns in Germany and the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr is the region's rapid transit system which interconnects all cities and their respective local U- and S-Bahn systems (Rhein-Ruhr S-Bahn).
The region is host to numerous large events, comprising fun fairs and cultural events like the Cologne and Düsseldorf carnivals, the Cologne Comedy Festival, Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, and the RuhrTriennale, as well as gamescom and other trade fairs at koelnmesse - Cologne Trade Fair and Messe Düsseldorf. With a capacity of up to 20,000 people, Kölnarena and Westfalenhallen are amongst the largest indoor arenas in Germany.
The region is home to a total of 13 Bundesliga football clubs, of which five are active in the season of 2012/13. The most successful among them are Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach, 1. FC Köln, FC Schalke 04 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Signal Iduna Park, the stadium of Borussia Dortmund, is the biggest stadium in Germany.
Several tourist destinations within the region attract over 12 million tourists per year. Cologne Cathedral, Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces at Brühl and the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex at Essen are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Other sights include Schloss Benrath near Düsseldorf and several anchor points of the European Route of Industrial Heritage.
NRW Forum, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Museum Koenig, Museum Ludwig, Romano-Germanic Museum, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Neanderthal Museum and Deutsches Museum Bonn are some of the most famous examples.
The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region is home to nine universities and over 30 partly postgraduate colleges, with a total of over 300.000 students. Largest and oldest university is the University of Cologne (Universität zu Köln), originally founded in 1388 AD. Other universities include:
- the University of Bochum,
- the University of Bonn,
- the German Sport University Cologne,
- the Dortmund University of Technology,
- the University of Duisburg-Essen,
- the University of Düsseldorf,
- the FernUniversität Hagen and
- the University of Wuppertal.
The following register lists all municipalities that officially belong to Rhine-Ruhr area. Demographically, these municipalities include 20 cities (German: ″Kreisfreie Städte″), each with more than 100,000 inhabitants, and 11 districts (German: "Kreis"), each with a population of more than 250,000 inhabitants. Some districts only belong partly to Rhine-Ruhr area. In such a case only the municipalities that belong to the metro area are listed.
|Cities independent of a Kreis|
31. December 2009
|Mülheim an der Ruhr (MH)||167.471||91,29||1,834.49|
See also 
- Amtliche Bevölkerungszahlen von Information und Statistik Nordrhein-Westfalen (German)
- http://www2.bezreg-duesseldorf.nrw.de/static/download/chef/raumplanung/versionenglish.pdf Comparative Analysis of the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region, Düsseldorf Regional Government, August 2002
- http://www.raumplanung.uni-dortmund.de/rlp/Personal/Blotevogel/original/2006_Blotevogel_MetropolregionRheinRuhr.pdf Metropolitane Funktionen der Städte in der Metropolregion Rhein-Ruhr
- "Please create a screen name to access this feature". CNN.
Further reading 
- Knapp, Wolfgang (1998). The Rhine-Ruhr area in transformation: Towards a European metropolitan region?. European Planning Studies.
- Dieleman, Frans M. (1998). Randstad, Rhine-Ruhr and Flemish diamond as one polynucleated macro-region?. Blackwell Publishing.
- Blotevogel, Hans H. (1998). The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region: Reality and discourse. European Planning Studies.