1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bremen (state)

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BREMEN, a free state in the German empire, bearing the title Freie Hansestadt Bremen. It falls into three distinct parts: (1) the largest portion, with the city of Bremen, lying on both banks, but chiefly on the right, of the lower course of the Weser, surrounded by the Prussian province of Hanover and the grand duchy of Oldenburg, and consisting in the main of lowland country intersected by canals and dykes; (2) the town and district of Vegesack, lying separate from, but immediately north of the main portion, on the right bank of the river; (3) the port of Bremerhaven, 46 m. down the Weser, at its mouth. Of the whole territory, which has an area of 99 sq. m., about one-half is meadow and grazing land, one-quarter under tillage, and the remainder occupied by a little woodland, some unprofitable sandy wastes, the bed of the Weser and the towns. Market gardening, the rearing of cattle, for which the district is widely famed, and fishing, form the chief occupations of the rural population. The climate is mild, but the rainfall (26.9 in. annually on the average) is relatively considerable. The population is shown as follows:—

1900. 1905.
Bremen, city 186,822 214,953
Vegesack 3,943 4,130
Bremerhaven 20,315 24,159
Rural districts  37,327 20,431
Total 248,407 263,673

Of the inhabitants, who belong to the Lower Saxon (Nieder-Sachsen) race and in daily intercourse mostly speak the Low German (Plattdeutsch) dialect, about two-thirds are natives of the state and one-third immigrants from other parts of Germany, chiefly from Hanover and Oldenburg. About 93% are Protestants, 6% Roman Catholics, and only ½% Jews. The form of government is that of a republic, under a constitution proclaimed on the 8th of March 1849, revised on the 21st of February 1854, the 17th of November 1875, and the 1st of January 1894. The sovereignty resides jointly in the senate and the Burgerschaft, or Convent of Burgesses. The senate, which is the executive power, is composed of sixteen life members, elected by the convent, on presentation by the senate. Of these ten at least must be lawyers and three merchants. Two of the number are nominated by their colleagues as burgomasters, who preside in succession for a year at a time and hold office four years, one retiring every two years. The Burgerschaft consists of 150 (formerly 300) representatives, chosen by the citizens for six years, and forms the legislative body. Fourteen members are elected by such citizens of Bremen (city) as have enjoyed a university education, forty by the merchants, twenty by the manufacturers and artisans, and forty-eight by the other citizens. Of the remaining representatives, twelve are furnished by Bremerhaven and Vegesack and sixteen by the rural districts. As a member of the German empire, the state of Bremen has one voice in the Bundesrat and returns one member to the Imperial diet (Reichstag). Formerly Bremen was a free port, but from the 1st of October 1888 the whole of the state, with the exception of two small free districts in Bremen and Bremerhaven respectively, joined the German customs union. The state has two Amtsgerichte (courts of first instance) at Bremen and Bremerhaven respectively, and a superior court, Landgericht, at Bremen, whence appeals lie to the Oberlandesgericht for the Hanseatic towns in Hamburg. The judges of the Bremen courts are appointed by a committee of members of the senate, the Burgerschaft and the bench of judges. By the convention with Prussia of the 27th of June 1867, the free state surrendered its right to furnish its own contingent to the army, the recruits being after that time drafted into the Hanseatic infantry regiment, forming a portion of the Prussian IX. army corps.