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Land (state) of Germany. The country's second largest state in size, Lower Saxony occupies an important band of territory across the northwestern part of the country. It is bordered by the North Sea and the German states of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg to the north and by the states of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania to the northeast, Saxony-Anhalt to the east, Thuringia and Hessen to the south, and North Rhine-Westphalia to the southwest. The Netherlands borders Lower Saxony to the west. The state of Bremen, formed by the cities of Bremerhaven (at the mouth of the Weser) and Bremen (40 miles [64 km] up the river), is an enclave within Lower Saxony. Lower Saxony was established on Nov. 1, 1946, by the British military government, which merged the former Prussian province of Hanover with the states of Braunschweig, Oldenburg, and Schaumburg-Lippe. Its capital is Hannover. Area 18,385 square miles (47,616 square km). Pop. (2006 est.) 7,982,685.