Frankfurt is beyond doubt the dominant city in a highly urbanised polycentric region currently called the Rhine-Main region, which includes Wiesbaden, Mainz, Darmstadt, Offenbach and many smaller towns with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants. The densely populated area is mainly constituted by the southern part of the federal state of Hessen, but includes parts of Rhineland-Palatinate (Mainz, Bingen) and a corner of Bavaria (Aschaffenburg). It extends approximately 100 km from east to west (Aschaffenburg-Bingen) and 80 km from north (Bad Nauheim) to south (Heppenheim), where there is a transition to the Rhine-Neckar region (Heidelberg, Mannheim, Ludwigshafen).
From the late nineteenth century until the 1950s, regional economic growth was mainly based on rather diversified manufacturing, the leading sectors being the chemical and pharmaceutical, automotive, mechanical and electrical appliances industries. Also, there was a tradition in financial services, transport and communications (Frankfurt), high-ranking administration (Darmstadt, Wiesbaden) and spas (Wiesbaden, Bad Homburg, etc.).
As a consequence of the post-war division of Germany, enterprises and central government institutions were transferred to the newly created Federal Republic, especially from Berlin and Leipzig. One should mention the central bank and the headquarters of the other leading banks, the headquarters of the state railways, the headquarters of industrial enterprises (Wella, Schott; former AEG), several insurance companies, department store corporations, publishers, national associations, the incipient producer services (accountancy, advertising, market research, engineering) and important fairs. This meant strengthening and diversification of the regional economy.
In Western Germany, the region was now in a central position and offered good accessibility by all means of transport. Foremost, it was linked to the world by a large-scale and modern airport, which the American forces had enlarged. Due to its excellent economic performance, the Rhine-Main region saw an outstanding