State (Land): North Rhine-Westphalia is a state (Land) in Western Germany. It is called NRW because it is often called that. Over 17.9 million people live in the state. It is the country's most populous state by far. If you don't include the city states, it's also the most crowded state in Germany. When it comes to size, it is the fourth-largest state in Germany. It has an area of 34,084 square miles.
Thirty of the 81 municipalities in Germany with more than 100,000 people live in North Rhine-Westphalia. These include Cologne, which has over 1 million people, the state capital Dusseldorf, Dortmund and Essen, which have about 600,000 people each, and other cities mostly in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area, which is the largest urban area in Germany and the fourth largest in Europe. Because the Rhine-Ruhr is at the heart of the European Blue Banana, it is very close to other big cities and metropolitan areas in Europe, like the Randstad and the Flemish Diamond.
North Rhine-Westphalia was formed in 1946 after World War II when the British military administration in Allied-occupied Germany took over the Prussian provinces of Westphalia and the northern part of Rhine Province (North Rhine), as well as the Free State of Lippe. It became a state of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, and it was called North Rhine-Westphalia for short. The city of Bonn was the federal capital until 1990 and the seat of government until 1999.
Culturally, North Rhine-Westphalia is not one big area. There are big differences between the Rhineland region on the one hand, and the regions of Westphalia and Lippe on the other. As of 2019, the state has the largest economy in Germany by GDP, but it isn't as rich as the rest of the country.