Objective History: Brandenburg

The historic principality of Brandenburg originated as a margravate, or mark that was an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire Brandenburg was the nucleus of the dynastic power on which the kingdom of Prussia was founded and it was merged administratively with that kingdom in 1701 It became a province of Prussia in 1815 and remained such after the unification of Germany 1871 and until the end of World War II After the war that part of Brandenburg west of the Oder River was constituted as a separate state upon the dissolution of Prussia by the Allies in 1947 In 1952, however, Brandenburg’s old administrative identity was lost when the East German states were dissolved into new Bezirke (districts) The state of Brandenburg was re-created primarily out of the former East German districts of Potsdam, Frankfurt and Cottbus in the process of the unification of East and West Germany in 1990. Subsequent efforts to merge the separate administrative entities of Berlin and Brandenburg into a single state have so far been unsuccessful The landscape of present-day Brandenburg is very much the product of glaciation Most of the state consists of a sandy plain that is interspersed with numerous fertile areas and stretches of pine and fir forests Because of its sandy soils, it was formerly popularly known as the “sandbox of the Holy Roman Empire.” It is, however, traversed by tributaries of the Elbe and Oder rivers The major industrial resource in Brandenburg is lignite, which is mined in the Lusatia field located in the southeastern part of the state and in neighbouring Saxony Brandenburg is one of Germany’s least densely populated states It is mostly inhabited by ethnic Germans and a small indigenous Slavic group Brandenburg has a modest-sized tourist sector that largely serves Germans most notably Berliners, rather than foreign visitors In addition to the Lower Oder Valley National Park, primary natural attractions include the lovely Spreewald in the southeast and the lake country in the north In the city of Potsdam, more than 500 hectares of beautiful parks containing gardens and 150 historic buildings including a Prussian imperial residence, the New Palace the dramatic Sanssouci Palace; and the Cecilienhof in which the World War II Potsdam Conference was held have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site

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