Jena is located in eastern central Germany in the state of Thuringia. It lies 43 miles to the southwest of Leipzig and is surrounded by some of the most heavily forested land in Germany. The city has a population of just over 100,000, however, together with the neighboring cities of Weimar and Erfurt it makes up the central metropolitan area of the state of Thuringia, with a joint population of around 500,000. The city is a renowned center of education and research and many academic expatriates in Jena are drawn by the outstanding Friedrich Schiller University. New expats in Jena can get a feel for the city layout by climbing to the top of the city’s tallest building, the Jen Tower, and visiting its viewing platform and sky restaurant. The more modestly proportioned 13th century Rathaus, meanwhile, has an intricate astronomical clock with the famous “Snatching Hans”. InterNations is an online platform and community for expats living in Jena and across the world. With numerous forums and discussion boards available, InterNations is not only a place to meet and connect on, but also a good source of information for the new expat in Jena.
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Jena is very well connected for a smaller city and lies at the crossroads of the A4 and A9 Autobahnen, as German highways are called. It is also a crossing point for both east to west and north to south trains, the latter running from Berlin to Munich every hour. And Leipzig-Halle International Airport is 50 miles to the northeast. Expats moving to Jena will find a pleasant cityscape with a historic city center and substantial residential suburbs. Education is one of the keystones of the Jena economy and good schools, colleges and universities are plentiful. Expatriates in Jena can always pick the brains of other international residents on the InterNations forums to find our which areas and schools are best.
Jena has a high-tech economy with many research establishments in the area. Industries like biotechnology, IT and pharmaceuticals are all major employers. Jena, though, is perhaps best known as a center for advanced optics, a position that has earned it the nickname “City of Lights”. Jena is undoubtedly one of the most important economic centers of eastern Germany and has a young, well-educated population. This is an ideal profile for expats in Jena. InterNations provides a host of resources for this community, with many forums and discussion boards where new arrivals can connect with other global minds and learn about their new home. Expat Magazine, meanwhile, is a great source of advice on how to best enjoy the expatriate lifestyle.