Dietrich Fürst and Ansgar Rudolph
Hanover, the capital of the State of Lower Saxony, is situated in the north of Germany at the crossing point of some of Europe's most important railway and motorway connections. The city of Hanover has about half a million inhabitants. It is best known for having the biggest fairground in the world, where the world exhibition EXPO 2000 was held, and where the world's biggest fairs (e.g. CeBit and Hanover Messe Industrie) and many other events attract millions of visitors each year.
Besides its important administrative functions, Hanover was characterised in the past by its strong industries, such as the production of cars and railway vehicles, arms, building machines, chemical products and food. As a result of dramatic structural change in the second half of the twentieth century, the industrial sector has lost much of its importance for the regional economy. Evaluating such potentials as centrality and physical and scientific infrastructure, some experts consider the Hanover region to be one of the best business locations in Europe; however, compared to other metropolitan regions in Germany, its economic performance is only average.
The Hanover metropolitan area has a long tradition in spatial planning. Regional cooperation has been institutionalised in the Greater Hanover Association, a multipurpose district consisting of the city of Hanover and the surrounding county with 20 municipalities, representing altogether about 1.1 million inhabitants (figure 9.1). Its role in regional governance and the political activities to reform its legal constitution will be explained later. With the transfer of some county-level responsibilities to an above-county level, the administrative structure in the Hanover region differs from the normal administrative structure in Lower Saxony (see table 9.1). Administrative responsibilities, especially for spatial planning, vary in the German federal system.
Considerable statistical material on such regional trends as suburbanisation, traffic and the economy have been collected on this spatial level. However, in recent years it has become obvious that the interdependencies between the city of