Leipzig is one of the largest cities in the federal state of Saxony, Germany. It is situated at the confluence of a number of rivers at the southerly end of the Northern German Plain. Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing. After World War II, Leipzig became a major urban centre within the Communist German Democratic Republic but its cultural and economic importance declined.