Economic Development

Kaiserslautern Looks Beyond U.S. Air Base

Kaiserslautern's historic old town conceals the city's fading prospects.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Kaiserslautern region is in economic decline but opinion is split over whether the Ramstein base is a cost or benefit to the local economy.

  • Facts


    • About 60,000 Americans make up the Kaiserslautern Military Community – the largest U.S. population center in Europe.
    • According to U.S. data, the KMC provides an economic boost to the area of more than €1 billion ($1.1 billion).
    • Many locals disagree, and cite the area’s high unemployment and the U.S. military’s isolationism as major local problems.
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The German city of Kaiserslautern and the region around it has long pinned its economic fortunes on the huge U.S. Air Force base at Ramstein.

But on this day it’s eerily quiet in the fog that blankets this corner of the southwestern state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The weather has put the brakes on air traffic at the United States’ biggest and busiest foreign airbase, about 15 kilometers (10 miles) from Kaiserslautern. In good weather, more than 40 planes a day would land and take off from Ramstein’s two runways, transporting troops and materiel all over the world.

About 60,000 American citizens make up the Kaiserslautern Military Community, and more than half of them are military personnel. Nowhere else in Europe are there as many Americans living in one place as in so-called K-Town.

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