North Rhine-Westphalia, commonly shortened NRW, is the most populous state of Germany, with a population of approximately 18 million, and the fourth largest by area. Its capital is Düsseldorf; the biggest city is Cologne. Four of Germany's ten biggest cities—Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, and Essen—are located within the state, as well as the biggest metropolitan area of the European continent, Rhine-Ruhr.
An outward-looking, European-minded place, several of its cities have played a decisive role in European history. North Rhine-Westphalia also has its share of scenic beauty, along the mighty Rhine, in the charming Siebengebirge and in the wooded, peaceful Sauerland.