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Industry in MEDCs


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The Ruhr is a heavily industrialised area of western Germany named after the river that flows through the region. It is the centre of Germany's manufacturing industry and includes the cities of Essen and Dortmund.

Case study: heavy industry in the Ruhr


Heavy industry in Germany

Heavy industry in Germany

  • Natural resources such as coal, iron ore and limestone enabled the iron and steel industry to develop in the Ruhr. The chemical and textile industries also grew due to good transport links and available workforce.
  • Canals and rivers such as the Rhine were used for transport and power.
  • The area developed industrially in the 1930s and 1940s to supply arms for Germany.
  • Up until the 1970s the factories and associated services were an important source of employment for people in the region.

Problems and issues

  • The decline in the Ruhr's importance as a heavy industrial area has caused job losses in steelworks and coal mines. Many people have left the area, eg cities such as Dortmund, due to economic and associated social problems.
  • The environmental legacy of the heavy industry in the area includes waste tips from coal mining, air and water pollution.
  • Many of the original raw materials are exhausted, there are high labour costs and old, outdated machinery. This has led to cheaper steel being imported from south east Asia where labour costs are lower. This is one of the drawbacks of globalisation for MEDC industry.
  • Many of the problems and changes in the Ruhr have also been experienced in other industrial regions in the EU such as South Wales.

The Ruhr today

  • There is still a large workforce living in the area that have had to learn new skills as industries have changed.
  • New industries, eg electronics, are moving in to replace the traditional heavy industries.
  • Much of the derelict land has been improved to provide a more pleasant living and working environment.
  • The Ruhr has good access to much of the EU and is once again an attractive location for industry.


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