city and port, Lower Saxony Land (state), northwestern Germany. It lies on Jade Bay (Jadebusen), a North Sea inlet on the coast of East Friesland (Ostfriesland). Founded in 1853 by William I (Wilhelm I) on land bought by Prussia from Oldenburg, it was given its present name in 1869. In 1937 it was united with Rustringen and returned to Oldenburg Land. As the principal naval base for the Prussian (later German) navy, it suffered heavy damage in World War II, and its naval installations were demolished or dismantled after 1945. A reorientation of its industry (formerly based on naval construction) followed, though the city continues to serve as a naval base. There is now an oil harbour connected by pipeline with Cologne, and industries include ship repair, metalworking, and the manufacture of machinery, cranes, ships, chemicals, paints, clothing, and chocolate. It is also a major tourist and health resort (mud baths). Wilhelmshaven features an aquarium and several museums dedicated to the history and marine life of the North Sea coast and to shipping. Pop. (2003 est.) 84,586.
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