Administrative region (German Land) of northeast Germany; area 29,476 sq km/11,381 sq mi; population (2003 est) 2,651,200. The capital is Potsdam, and other major towns include Cottbus, Brandenburg, and Frankfurt-an-der-Oder. Drained by the Havel, Spree, and Oder rivers, the region has many lakes and pine forests. The German capital Berlin is situated within Brandenburg but is an autonomous administrative unit. The main industries are iron and steel, paper, pulp, metal products, and semiconductors.
Berlin's rail links to the northwest and southwest pass through Brandenburg, and these have been completely modernized. Energy utilities from Brandenburg, Saxony, and Saxony-Anhalt have founded a regional telecommunications company, Regiotel.
Founded as Branibar by the Slavic tribe the Havelli, the area became a bishopric in 948 and was inherited by Albert the Bear in 1150 from its last Wendish prince. The Spree Forest, in Lower Lusatia, is inhabited by Slavic-speaking Wends, remnants of the population that inhabited Brandenburg at the time of its acquisition by Albert the Bear. The Hohenzollern rulers who took control of Brandenburg in 1415 later acquired the powerful duchy of Prussia. When Germany was united in 1871, Brandenburg became one of its provinces. At the end of World War II, Brandenburg lost over 12,950 sq km/5,000 sq mi of territory when Poland advanced its frontier to the line of the Oder and Neisse rivers. The remainder, which became a region of East Germany, was abolished as an administrative unit in 1952 (divided into the districts of Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, Potsdam, and Cottbus). When Germany was reunited in 1990, Brandenburg was reinstated as a Land of the Federal Republic. In 1997 the citizens of Brandenburg voted against an amalgamation with Berlin to create a new Land.
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