Hanover or Hannover[nb 1] (German: Hannover (help·info), [haˈnoːfɐ]), on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg (later described as the Elector of Hanover). At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Electorate was enlarged to become the capital of the Kingdom of Hanover.
In addition to being the capital of Lower Saxony, Hanover was the capital of the administrative area Regierungsbezirk Hannover (Hanover region) until Lower Saxony's administrative regions were disbanded at the beginning of 2005. Since 2001 it is part of the Hanover district (Region Hannover), which is a municipal body made up from the former district (Landkreis Hannover) and city of Hanover (note: although both Region and Landkreis are translated as district they are not the same).
With a population of 522,686 (31 December 2010) the city is a major centre of northern Germany, known for hosting annual commercial trade fairs such as the Hanover Fair and the CeBIT. Every year Hanover hosts the Schützenfest Hannover, the world's largest marksmen's festival, and the Oktoberfest Hannover, the second largest Oktoberfest in the world. In 2000, Hanover hosted the world fair Expo 2000. The Hanover fairground, due to numerous extensions, especially for the Expo 2000, is the largest in the world. Hanover is also of national importance because of its universities and medical school, its international airport, and its large zoo. The city is also a major crossing point of railway lines and highways (Autobahnen), connecting European main lines in east-west-direction (Berlin - Ruhr area) and north-south-direction (Hamburg - Munich et al.).
Hanover was founded in medieval times on the south bank of the river Leine. Its original name Honovere may mean "high (river)bank", though this is debated (cf. das Hohe Ufer). Hanover was a small village of ferrymen and fishermen that became a comparatively large town in the 13th century due to its position at a natural crossroads. As overland travel was relatively difficult, its position on the upper navigable reaches of the river helped it to grow by increasing trade. It was connected to the Hanseatic League city of Bremen by the Leine, and was situated near the southern edge of the wide North German Plain and north-west of the Harz mountains, so that east-west traffic such as mule trains passed through it. Hanover was thus a gateway to the Rhine, Ruhr and Saar river valleys, their industrial areas which grew up to the southwest and the plains regions to the east and north, for overland traffic skirting the Harz between the Low Countries and Saxony or Thuringia.
In the 14th century the main churches of Hanover were built, as well as a city wall with three city gates. The beginning of industrialization in Germany led to trade in iron and silver from the northern Harz mountains, which increased the city's importance.
In 1636 George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, ruler of the Brunswick-Lüneburg principality of Calenberg, moved his residence to Hanover. The Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg were elevated by the Holy Roman Emperor to the rank of Prince-Elector in 1692, and this elevation was confirmed by the Diet in 1708. Thus the principality was upgraded to the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, colloquially known as the Electorate of Hanover after Calenberg's capital (see also: House of Hanover). Its electors would later become monarchs of Great Britain (and from 1801, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland). The first of these was George I Louis, who acceded to the British throne in 1714. The last British monarch who ruled in Hanover was William IV: Salic law, which required succession by the male line, forbade the accession of Queen Victoria in Hanover. As a male-line descendant of George I, Queen Victoria was herself a member of the House of Hanover. Her descendants, however, bore her husband's titular name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Three kings of Great Britain, or the United Kingdom, were at the same time Electoral Princes of Hanover.
During the time of the personal union of the crowns of the United Kingdom and Hanover (1714–1837), the monarchs rarely visited the city. In fact, during the reigns of the final three joint rulers (1760–1837), there was only one short visit, by George IV in 1821. From 1816 to 1837 Viceroy Adolphus represented the monarch in Hanover.
During the Seven Years' War the Battle of Hastenbeck was fought on July 26, 1757, near the city. The French army defeated the Hanoverian Army of Observation, leading to the city's occupation as part of the Invasion of Hanover. It was recaptured by Anglo-German forces led by Ferdinand of Brunswick the following year.
After Napoleon imposed the Convention of Artlenburg (Convention of the Elbe) on July 5, 1803, about 30,000 French soldiers occupied Hanover. The Convention also meant the disbanding of the army of Hanover. George III did not recognize the Convention of the Elbe. As a result of this, a great number of soldiers from Hanover eventually emigrated to Great Britain, leading to the formation of the King's German Legion, which was the only German army to fight throughout the entire Napoleonic wars against the French. They later played an important role in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 elevated the electorate to the Kingdom of Hanover. The capital town Hanover expanded to the western bank of the Leine and has grown considerably since then.
In 1837, the personal union of the United Kingdom and Hanover ended as William IV's heir in the United Kingdom was female (Queen Victoria). According to Salic Law Hanover could only be inherited by males. As a consequence, Hanover passed to William IV's brother, Ernest Augustus, and remained a kingdom until 1866, when it was annexed by Prussia during the Austro-Prussian war. Despite having defeated Prussia at the Battle of Langensalza, the city of Hanover became a Prussian provincial capital. After the annexation, the people of Hanover opposed the Prussian regime.
However, for Hanoverian industry, the new connection with Prussia meant an improvement in business. The introduction of free trade promoted economic growth, and also led to the recovery of the Gründerzeit (founders' era). In the period from 1871 to 1912 the population of Hanover grew from 87,600 to 313,400.
In 1872 the first horse railway was inaugurated, and from 1893 an electric tram was developed.
In 1887 Emile Berliner invented the record and the gramophone.
The upswing in Hanover started with the era of urban Director Heinrich Tramm. From 1891–1918 he was director of the city of Hanover, and fundamentally shaped the look of the city up to the turn of the century (The "Tramm Era"). The large square at the front of the New Town Hall, the Trammplatz, is named after him.
The city was enlarged in 1869, and again in 1882 by adding Königsworther Platz and the Welfengarten. In 1891 the municipalities of Herrenhausen, Hainholz, Vahrenwald were added. In 1907 the municipalities of Stöcken, Gutsbezirk Mecklenheide, Bothfeld, Klein-Buchholz, Groß-Buchholz, Kirchrode, Döhren and Wülfel were incorporated into Hanover.