Münster (German pronunciation: [ˈmʏnstɐ] ( listen)) is an independent city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the northern part of the state and is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region. It is also capital of the local government region Regierungsbezirk Münster. The city is best known as the location of the Anabaptist rebellion during the Protestant Reformation, as the site of the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia ending the Thirty Years' War in 1648, and as the bicycle capital of Germany.
Münster gained the status of a Großstadt (major city) with more than 100,000 inhabitants in 1915. Currently there are around 270,000 people living in the city, with about 48,500 students, only some of whom are recorded in the official population statistics as having their primary residence in Münster.
Münster's economy is mainly based on service companies and public administration. Münster is also the seat of eight universities and colleges as well as of important courts such as the constitutional court and the higher administrative court for North Rhine-Westphalia.
The city was founded in 793 by Frisian Ludger, who was consecrated as the first bishop of the Münster diocese in 805. His successors held power over the largest clerical territory within the Holy Roman Empire until 1803.