Jena (German pronunciation: [ˈjeːna]) is a German university town and the second largest city in Thuringia. Together with the nearby cities of Erfurt and Weimar, it forms the central metropolitan area of Thuringia with approximately 500,000 inhabitants, while the city itself has a population of nearly 110,000. Jena is a centre of education and research; the Friedrich Schiller University was founded in 1558 and has 21,000 students today and the Ernst-Abbe-Fachhochschule Jena counts another 5,000 students. Furthermore, there are many institutes of the leading German research societies.
Jena was first mentioned in 1182 and stayed a small town until the 19th century, when industry developed. For most of the 20th century, Jena was a world centre of the optical industry around companies like Carl Zeiss, Schott and Jenoptik (since 1990). As one of only a few medium-sized cities in Germany, it has some high-rise buildings in the city centre, like the Jen Tower. These also have their origin in the former Carl Zeiss factory. Between 1790 and 1850, Jena was a focal point of the German Vormärz as well as of the student liberal and unification movement and German Romanticism. Notable persons of this period in Jena were Friedrich Schiller, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Novalis and August Wilhelm Schlegel.
The city's economy is based on the high-technology industry and research. The optical and precision industry is the leading branch to date, while software engineering, other digital businesses and biotechnology are of growing importance. Furthermore, Jena is also a service hub for the surrounding regions.
Jena lies in a hilly landscape in the east of Thuringia, within the wide valley of the Saale river.
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