Imperial Germany industrialized rapidly, and by 1890 it was
Europe's foremost industrial power. Employment in the industrial
and mining sectors had surpassed employment in agriculture by the
turn of the century. Industrial development followed upon a
significant growth in population, which increased from 40.9
million in 1870 to 49.5 million in 1890 and 67.8 million in 1914.
During this period, Germans migrated to the urban and industrial
areas west of the Elbe River, swelling the population of the
Rhineland, Westphalia, and Saxony.
German industrialization was sparked by the railroad building
of the 1840s and the subsequent development of coal mining. Coal
mining created new industrial districts, most significantly in
the Ruhr and the Saar. Iron ore extraction and iron and steel
production accompanied the development of coal mining. Germany's
acquisition of Alace-Lorraine in 1871, an area rich in iron ore,
made possible the doubling of steel output between 1880 and 1900.
Electrochemicals, however, occupied first place in German
industry. Large salt and potassium deposits encouraged chemical
manufacture, including, by the 1880s, pharmaceuticals, dyestuffs,
fertilizers, and ammunition. Germany also developed its
hydroelectric power and in the decade before World War I produced
50 percent of the world's electrical equipment.
Data as of July 1987