Germany is one of the leading industrialized nations on earth. It has the fourth largest economic gross national product in the world.
There is much diversity in the growth patterns of regional and sectoral development in the western German states. Initially, growth favored the traditional centers of mining and heavy industry - the Ruhr Valley, the Hannover-Braunschweig-Saltzgitter-Peine area, and the trade centers of Hamburg and Bremen. Since the 1960s, however, Rhine-Main, Rhine-Neckar, Munich, Nuremberg-Erlangen, and Stuttgart have emerged as major industrial centers (chemical products, electrical products, electronics, machinery, road vehicles), outstripping other areas such as the northern coastal states of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony (except for Hannover, Hamburg, and Bremen) and the west central state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The principal branch of the economy in both parts of Germany is industry. The industrialized areas of eastern Germany are most concentrated in the states of Berlin, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, and southern Brandenburg. Traditional mainstays are machine building (machine tools, textile machines, printing equipment, farm machinery), shipbuilding, the manufacture of road and rail vehicles, mining equipment, electrical products, optical products, and the chemical textile industry. The chemical industry of eastern Germany is most concentrated in Saxony-Anhalt (Leuna, Schkopau, Bitterfeld, Wolfen, Zeitz, Wittenberg) and in Schwedt/Oder, although some lignite factories and other concerns were shut down in 1990 due to excessive pollution. The iron-working industry is centered in Brandenburg and in Riesa, while nonferrous metallurgy is centered in Hettstedt (Saxony-Anhalt) and Freiberg (Saxony). Heavy machine building is concentrated in the city of Magdeburg, general machine building in Saxony and Berlin, and automotive manufacturing in Eisenach, Zwickau, Zschopau, Suhl, and Ludwigsfelde. The Baltic coast region (Mecklenburg-West Pomerania) is active in shipbuilding. Electrical and electronics factories are located in Berlin, Saxony, Thuringia, and Stassfurt, and the towns of Jena, Rathenow, Erfurt, and Sömmerda are centers of precision optical manufacturing. Textile and clothing are manufactured in Saxony, Thuringia, and Lower Lusatia (Brandenburg). The glass industry is centered in Jena, the Thuringian Forest, and Lower Lusatia, the ceramic industry in Meissen and Thuringia, and woodworking in the Erz Mountains and Thuringian Forest.