Hanover or Hannover, 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. Hanover is located 177 miles (285 km) west of Berlin, 94 miles (151 km) south of Hamburg, 392 miles (631 km) north of Munich, and 85 miles (137 km) east of Osnabrück.
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.
Hanover was an important road junction, railhead and production centre that was a target for strategic bombing during World War II, including the Oil Campaign. Targets included the AFA (Stöcken), the Deurag-Nerag refinery (Misburg), the Continental plants (Vahrenwald and Limmer), the United light metal works (VLW) in Ricklingen and Laatzen (today Hanover fairground), the Hanover/Limmer rubber reclamation plant, the Hanomag factory (Linden) and the tank factory M.N.H. Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen (Badenstedt). Forced labourers were used from the Hannover-Misburg subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp. The residential areas were also targeted and more than 6,000 people were killed in the Allied bombing raids. More than 90% of the city centre was destroyed in 88 bombing raids. After the war, the Aegidienkirche was not rebuilt and its ruins were kept as a war memorial.
The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Hanover in April 1945. The US 84th Infantry Division captured the city on 10 April 1945.
Hanover was in the United Kingdom zone of occupation of Germany after the war, and became part of the new state (Land) of Lower Saxony in 1946.
Today the City of Hanover is a Vice-President City of Mayors for Peace, an international Mayoral organization mobilizing cities and citizens worldwide to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2020.