“You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe.” - Donald Rumsfeld
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Hannover on the River Leine, is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg (later described as the Elector of Hannover). At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Electorate was enlarged to become a Kingdom with Hannover as its capital.
From 1868 to 1946 Hannover was the capital of the Prussian Province of Hannover and afterwards of the Hannover administrative region until that was abolished in 2005. It is now the capital of the Land of Lower Saxony. Since 2001 it has been part of the Hannover district (Region Hannover), which is a municipal body made up of the former district (Landkreis Hannover) and city of Hannover. With a population of 518,000, Hannover is a major centre of Northern Germany and the country's thirteenth largest city.
Hannover hosts annual commercial trade fairs such as the Hanover Fair and the CeBIT. Every year Hannover hosts the Schützenfest Hannover, the world's largest marksmen's festival, and the Oktoberfest Hannover, the second largest festival of its kind in Germany. In 2000, Hannover hosted the world fair Expo 2000. The Hannover fairground, due to numerous extensions, especially for the Expo 2000, is the largest in the world. Hannover is 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 both the east-west (Berlin–Ruhr area) and north-south (Hamburg–Munich, etc.) directions.
The New Town Hall (German: Neues Rathaus) or New City Hall in Hannover, is a city hall and was opened on July 20, 1913, after having been under construction for 12 years. It is a magnificent, castle-like building of the era of Wilhelm II in eclectic style at the southern edge of the inner city (outside of the historic city centre of Hannover). The building is embedded in the 10 hectare Maschpark. The Old Town Hall is no longer used as the main seat of administration, but houses businesses and the registry office.