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Ruhr River in Germany; its valley is Germany's manufacturing heartland. The River Ruhr rises in the Rothaargebirge Mountains, and flows w for 235km (146mi) to join the River Rhine at Duisburg. Major cities on its banks include Essen, Dortmund, and Mülheim. In the 19th century, the Krupp and Thyssen families intensively mined the region's high-quality coking coal and developed massive steelworks. Between 1923 and 1925, France and Belgium occupied the Ruhr in order to compel Germany to pay the agreed war reparations. During World War II, its many armaments factories marked it out as a major Allied target, and more than 75% of the region was destroyed. The post-war decline in demand for coal led to a shift to light industry and the region regained prosperity.