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Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

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Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

State of Germany
Schwerin Castle, seat of the state parliament
Coat of arms

Coordinates: 53°37′00″N 12°42′00″E / 53.61667°N 12.70000°E / 53.61667; 12.70000

Country Germany
Capital Schwerin
 • Minister-President Erwin Sellering (SPD)
 • Governing parties SPD / CDU
 • Votes in Bundesrat 3 (of 69)
 • City 23,174 km2 (8,948 sq mi)
Population (2009-11-1)[1]
 • City 1,652,000
 • Density 71/km2 (180/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code DE-MV
Vehicle registration formerly: MP (1945–1947), SM (1948–1953)[2]
GDP/ Nominal €35.78 billion (2010)
NUTS Region DE8

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern [ˈmeːklənbʊʁk ˈfoːɐ̯pɔmɐn] (also known as Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in English, or nicknamed MeckPomm or MV) is a federal state in northern Germany. The capital city is Schwerin. The state was formed through the merger of the historic regions of Mecklenburg and Vorpommern after World War II, dissolved in 1952 and recreated prior to the German reunification in 1990.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is the sixth largest German state by area, and the least densely populated. The coastline of the Baltic Sea, including islands such as Rügen and Usedom, as well as the Mecklenburg Lake District, feature many holiday resorts and unspoilt nature, making Mecklenburg-Vorpommern one of Germany's leading tourist destinations. Three of Germany's fourteen national parks are in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, in addition to several hundred nature conservation areas.

Major cities include Rostock, Schwerin, Neubrandenburg, Stralsund, Greifswald and Wismar. The University of Rostock (est. 1419) and the University of Greifswald (est. 1456) are amongst the oldest in Europe. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was the site of the 33rd G8 summit in 2007.


Due to its lengthy name, the state is often abbreviated as MV or (colloquially) shortened to MeckPomm. In English, it is sometimes translated as Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania or literally Mecklenburg-Cispomerania.

The full name in German is pronounced [ˈmeːklənbʊɐ̯k ˈfoɐ̯pɔmɐn]. Sometimes, Mecklenburg is pronounced [ˈmɛklənbʊɐ̯k]. This is because the digraph marks a preceding short vowel in High German. Mecklenburg however is within the historical Low German language area, and the "c" appeared in its name during the period of transition to Standard, i.e. High German usage (Low German authors wrote the name Meklenborg or Męklenborg, depicting proper Low German pronunciation, which itself was a syncope of Middle Low German Mekelenborg). The introduction of the "c" is explained as follows: Either the "c" signals the stretched pronunciation of the preceding "e" (Dehnungs-c), or it signals the pronunciation of the subsequent "k" as an occlusive [k] to prevent it from falsely being rendered as a fricative [χ] following a Low German trend.[3] Another explanation is that the "c" comes from a mannerism in High German officialese of writing unnecessary letters, a so-called Letternhäufelung (lit.: letter accumulation).


In the aftermath of World War II and the German re-unification in 1990, the state was constituted from the historic states of Mecklenburg and Vorpommern, both of which had long and rich independent histories.


Human settlement in the area of modern Mecklenburg and Vorpommern began after the Ice Age, about 10,000 BC. About two thousand years ago, Germanic peoples were recorded in the area. Most of them left during the Migration Period, heading towards Spain, Italy and France, leaving the area relatively deserted. In the 6th century Polabian Slavs populated the area. While Mecklenburg was settled by the Obotrites, Vorpommern was settled by the Veleti (later Liuticians) and the Rani.

Along the coast, Vikings and Slavs established trade posts like Reric, Ralswiek and Menzlin. In the 12th century, Mecklenburg and Vorpommern were conquered by Henry the Lion and incorporated into the Duchy of Saxony, joining the Holy Roman Empire in the 1180s. All of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was settled with Germans in the Ostsiedlung process, starting in the 12th century.


Main article: Mecklenburg

In the late 12th century, Henry the Lion, Duke of the Saxons, conquered the Obotrites, subjugated its Nikloting dynasty, and Christianized its people. In the course of time, German monks, nobility, peasants and traders arrived to settle here. After the 12th century, the territory remained stable and relatively independent of its neighbours; one of the few German territories for which this is true. Mecklenburg first became a duchy of the Holy Roman Empire in 1348. Though later partitioned and re-partitioned within the same dynasty, Mecklenburg always shared a common history and identity. The states of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz became Grand Duchies in 1815. After World War I and the abdication of the German Kaiser, the monarchy was abolished and a republican government of Mecklenburg was established.


Main article: History of Pomerania

Vorpommern, litererally Fore-Pomerania, is the smaller, western part of the former Prussian Province of Pomerania; the eastern part became part of Poland after the end of World War II.

In the Middle Ages, the area was ruled by the Pomeranian dukes as part of the Duchy of Pomerania. Pomerania was under Swedish rule after the Peace of Westphalia from 1648 until 1815 as Swedish Pomerania. Pomerania then became a province of Prussia in 1815. It remained a Prussian province until 1945.


In May 1945, the armies of the Soviet Union and the Western allies met east of Schwerin. Following the Potsdam Agreement, the Western allies handed over Mecklenburg to the Soviets. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was established on July 9, 1945, by order No. 5 of Red Army Marshal Georgy Zhukov, head of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD), as the Province of Mecklenburg and West Pomerania (zapadnoi Pomeranii).[4]

During the war, the make-up of Mecklenburg and Vorpommern's population changed due to wartime losses and the influx of evacuees (mainly from the Berlin and Hamburg metropolitan areas that were subject to air raids). After the war, people who fled and were expelled from the former eastern territories of Germany east of the Oder-Neisse line settled in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (and elsewhere in Germany), increasing the population by 40%. Before the war, Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania had a population of 1,278,700, of whom many perished during the war and others moved west in the course of the Red Army's advance. In 1947, some 1,426,000 refugees from the former eastern parts of Germany were counted. Most of them settled in rural communities, but the urban population also increased, most notably in Schwerin from 65,000 (1939) to 99,518 (January 1947), in Wismar from 29,463 to 44,173, and in Greifswald from 29,488 to 43,897.[5]

On June 5, 1946, a law enacted by the Soviets constituted a provisional German administration (Beratende Versammlung, English: consulting assembly) under Soviet supervision on June 29, 1946. After the rigged elections of October 20, 1946, a Landtag replaced the Beratende Versammlung and created the constitution of January 16, 1947, for the Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. On April 18, 1947, the state's name was shortened to Land Mecklenburg. The GDR regime attempted to downplay the fact that Germany had made significant concessions to Poland after the war, including a ban on the use of any terms referring to these former territories. Mecklenburg was a constituent state of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) upon its formation in 1949. In 1952, the East Berlin government abandoned "states" in favour of districts (German: Bezirke). As a result of this, Mecklenburg and Vorpommern were replaced by three districts covering roughly the same area: Bezirk Rostock, Bezirk Schwerin and Bezirk Neubrandenburg. These were commonly known as the Nordbezirke (northern districts)) under the highly centralised GDR government. The changes also erased the historical border between Mecklenburg and Pomerania from the maps. The East German government developed the shipyards in the old Hanseatic ports (the largest being in Rostock and Stralsund), and also established a nuclear power plant in Lubmin near Greifswald.

Prior to German reunification in 1990, the postwar eastern states were reconstituted, including the use of the full historic term Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Since 1990, the state has undergone dramatic changes.


Map of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, showing locations, heights and waters.
Constituent regions and districts of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, including the border of the historical Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania regions.

Location and urban areas

Sixth-largest in area and fourteenth in overall population among Germany's sixteen Bundesländer (federal states), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is bounded to the north by the Baltic Sea, to the west by Schleswig-Holstein, to the southwest by Lower Saxony, to the south by Brandenburg, and to the east by the West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's state capital is Schwerin. The largest city is Rostock with approximately 205,000 people. Other major cities include Greifswald, Güstrow, Neubrandenburg, Stralsund and Wismar.


Since 4 September 2011, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is divided into six Kreise (districts) and two independent urban districts:

  1. Landkreis Rostock
  2. Ludwigslust-Parchim
  3. Mecklenburgische Seenplatte
  4. Nordwestmecklenburg
  5. Vorpommern-Greifswald
  6. Vorpommern-Rügen


  1. Rostock (HRO)
  2. Schwerin (SN)


The state's Baltic Sea coast features several islands, most notably Germany's two biggest islands Rügen and Usedom, but also a number of smaller islands such as Hiddensee and Poel. The southern part of the state is marked by a multitude of lakes, the largest of which is Lake Müritz.

The "state of a thousand lakes" (German: Land der tausend Seen) is mainly characterised by its unspoilt nature. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's varied coastline also has many peninsulas such as Fischland-Darß-Zingst, lagoons and islands. Due to its clean air and idyllic setting, medical tourism[6] has become a notable tourism sector in the region.[6]

A total of 283 nature reserves, 110 landscape reserves and three of Germany's 14 national parks (see below) are scattered all over the state. Many lakes used for fishing and watersports (swimming, sailing, canoeing) are located in the Mecklenburg Lake District. As the state has Germany's longest coastline (2000km) and some of its largest islands and lakes, it is a popular place for windsurfing and sailing, e.g. the Hanse Sail event in Rostock.

National parks

Name Established Size (km²) Map Picture
Jasmund National Park 1990 30
Müritz National Park 1990 318
Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park 1990 805


Over the centuries, Mecklenburg and Vorpommern have developed and maintained strong regional cultures. It can generally be described as North German and has similar linguistic and historic characteristics to other north German states, such as Schleswig-Holstein. People in Vorpommern, as a result of that territory being a former province of Prussia, tend to look slightly more towards Berlin and Brandenburg than people in Mecklenburg would.


The cities are characterised by a certain "Hanseatic" style also found in other parts of northern Germany (e.g. Lübeck) as well as in countries bordering the Baltic Sea like Estonia (e.g. Tallinn) or Latvia (e.g. Riga). A common feature of many towns in Mecklenburg and Vorpommern are red Brick Gothic churches and houses dating back to the Middle Ages. Also stepped and tailed gables are a typical feature of the Hanseatic old towns, such as Stralsund, Wismar and Greifswald.

The old towns are usually built around one or several market places with a church or the town hall. Often towns were founded at the Baltic Sea, one of the many lakes or a river for logistical and trade motives.

Rural areas of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern are often characterized by Brick Gothic village churches and agricultural heritage, like brick homesteads, windmills, thatched roof houses and manor houses or castles.

Museums, art and theatres

The largest publicly funded theatres in the state are the Mecklenburg State Theatre, the Rostock People's Theatre, the Theatre of West Pomerania, with venues in Stralsund, Putbus and Greifswald, and the Mecklenburg State Theatre of Neustrelitz with venues in Neubrandenburg and Neustrelitz. All four theatres offer both drama and musical theatre as well as orchestral music. Other important theatres are the Ernst Barlach Theatre of Güstrow, the Mecklenburg State Theater of Parchim, the Anklam Theatre and the Wismar Theatre. There are also many small theatres on the Baltic coast and in individual artist's villages and resorts (e.g. the popular concert pavilion at the Baltic Sea). Since its growing importance for summer tourism, open air theatres and festivals become more common again as well, such as the Störtebeker Festival on the island of Rügen.

Theatre Visitors
Mecklenburg State Theatre, Schwerin 170,681
West Pomeranian Theatre and Symphony Orchestra, Greifswald/Stralsund 140,902
Neustrelitz/Neubrandenburg Theatre and Orchestre 120,042
Rostock People's Theatre 119,758
West Pomeranian State Theatre, Anklam 71,825
Mecklenburg State Theatre, Parchim 14,773

Since 1993, the Störtebeker Festival has taken place in Ralswiek on the island of Rügen. It is Germany's most successful open-air theatre.

Notable museums include, for example, the Schwerin State Museum and the Pomeranian State Museum at Greifswald. The German Maritime Museum with its Ozeaneum in Stralsund is the most popular museum in northern Germany. Furthermore, the German Amber Museum in Ribnitz-Damgarten, Rostock's Abbey of the Holy Cross and Rostock Art Gallery are of national importance. The oldest museum in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is Stralsund's Cultural History Museum, the smallest is the Professor Wandschneider Sculpture Museum in Plau am See.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is home to many cultural events throughout the year. During summer, many open air concerts and operas are open to visitors. The Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival (Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) attracts a sizeable audience by performing classical concerts in parks, churches and castles.

Caspar David Friedrich, a famous romanticist painter born in Greifswald, immortalised parts of the state in several of his paintings.


Today the vast majority of people speak Standard German, a few centuries ago most people spoke Low German (German: Plattdeutsch or Niederdeutsch).

Food and drinks

Like most German regions, Mecklenburg and Vorpommern have their own traditional dishes, often including fish, beef and pork. Rostock has its own type of bratwurst called Rostocker Bratwurst. An unusual food from Western Pomerania is Tollatsch. Rote Grütze is a popular dessert. The largest brewery produces Lübzer Pils.


Religion in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern - 2010
religion percent
Roman Catholics
Other or none

The majority (79.4%) of the citizens of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are irreligious or unaffiliated. As of 2010 the 17.3% are members of the Evangelical Church in Germany and 3.3% of the Catholic Church.[8]

Following the Christian Reformation, led in Germany by Martin Luther, as well as a period of Swedish rule, the traditional faith in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is Protestantism, specifically Lutheranism. There are also a number of Catholics and people of other faiths. Both confessions are split at the old border; Mecklenburg belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mecklenburg and the Archdiocese of Hamburg, West Pomerania forms the Pomeranian Evangelical Church (some parts however belonging to Brandenburg in this respect) or belongs to the Archdiocese of Berlin. As to the Protestants, a union to form a North Church (together with the North Elbians) is in progress. More than three quarters of the population are religiously unaffiliated.


(University of Applied Sciences)

Universities and colleges

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has two of the oldest universities of Germany, and indeed Europe:

Also, there are four colleges / technological universities.

  • Baltic College Güstrow
  • Fachhochschule für öffentliche Verwaltung, Rechtspflege und Polizei Güstrow (University of Administration, Judicature and Police in Güstrow)
  • Hochschule Neubrandenburg (University of Applied Sciences)
  • Fachhochschule Stralsund (University of Applied Sciences)
  • Hochschule Wismar (University of Applied Sciences: Technology, Business and Design)
  • Rostock University of Music and Theatre


The state's school system is centralised. There are two main types of schools, Regionalschule (for the majority of pupils) and Gymnasium (for the top 30% of each year's students, leading to the university entrance qualification "Abitur"). Besides, there are also independent schools, comprehensive schools and trade schools.


Article 20 of the State Constitution states that the Landtag is the "site of political decision-making".[9] The Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Landtag is elected democratically by the citizens of the state who sit for one 5-year legislative period at a time.[9] At least four parties must form the Landtag. The seat of Landtag is located at Schwerin Castle in Schwerin.[9] The essential functions of the Landtag is to elect the Minister-President of the state; to discuss and decide on laws which have been proposed by the government, by a people's initiative or a petition for a referendum initiated directly by the people; and to control the state government.[9]


The executive is led by a cabinet, in turn led by a Minister-President, who is the official head of government. The election to determine the Minister-President is held no later than four weeks after the newly elected Landtag starts.[9]

Main article: List of Ministers-President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern


The last election of the Landtag took place on 4 September 2011. As a result of the 2006 election, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is governed by a Grand coalition of SPD and CDU.[10] Whether re-elected Erwin Sellering is going to continue this coalition after the Social Democrats' victory in the 2011 election is currently subject to negotiations.

2011 preliminary election results

Official preliminary results from the election of 4 September 2011 as of 5 September 2011 (without part of Rügen, where election is postponed for two weeks due to the death of a candidate):[11]

e • d Preliminary summary of the 2011 election results for the Landtag of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Party Ideology Vote % (change) Seats (change) Seat %
Social Democratic Party (SPD) Social democracy 35.7% (+3.7%) 28 (+5)
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Christian democracy 23.1% (-5.7%) 18 (-4)
Die Linke (formerly The Left Party.PDS) Democratic socialism 18.4% (+1.6%) 14 (+1)
Alliance '90/The Greens (Die Grünen) Green politics 8.4% (+5.0%) 6 (+6)
National Democratic Party (NPD) Far-right politics 6.0% (-1.3%) 5 (-1)
Free Democratic Party (FDP) Classical liberalism 2.7% (-6.9%) 0 (-7)
All Others 5.7% (+1.8%) 0 (±0)
Total 100.0%   71 100.0%


The labour market

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is the least densely populated and least industrial German state, being the sixth largest in size, but only 14th in population. The unemployment rate has gone down to 10,7% (September 2012).[12] Formerly, it has been negatively affected by the breakdown of non-competitive former GDR industries after the German reunification in the 1990s. Now it is the lowest in more than 15 years while the economy is growing and the number of jobs is increasing continually. Growing sectors are biotechnology, information technology, life sciences, maritime industry and tourist services.

In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, approximately 732,200 people were gainfully employed in 2008 with 657,100 of them were white and blue collar workers.[13] About 4,200 new jobs were created in 2007.[13] Employees worked an average of 1,455 hours a year.[13] The number of self-employed did not change in 2008.[13] Three out of every four of all people in work are employed in the service sector.[13]


Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is the top destination for inner-German tourism and gains importance for international tourism. The main tourist regions are:

As a relict of its rich history, nearly 2,000 castles, palaces and Festpiele MV (a classical music festival).

Medical tourism[6] based on the clean air and idyllic settings by the Baltic Sea has a growing importance to the regional tourism industry.[6]


Main sporting attractions include the German football league games of F.C. Hansa Rostock and the international sailing event Hanse Sail. Had the bid for the 2012 summer Olympics in Leipzig been successful, the sailing competitions would have taken place off the coast of Rostock.

Notable people



See also

Germany portal


External links

  • Official state portal (German, English, Polish)
  • Official tourism website (German, English, Chinese, Japanese, Swedish)
  • Geographic data related to OpenStreetMap

Coordinates: 53°37′N 12°42′E / 53.617°N 12.700°E / 53.617; 12.700

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