The traditional symbol of Westphalia is the Westphalian Steed: a white horse on a red field. It is derived from the Saxon Steed in the coat of arms of the medieval Duchy of Saxony which most of today's Westphalia was part of. In official contexts the coat of arms of Westphalia is being used by the Westphalia-Lippe Regional Association, which represents these two historic parts of North Rhine-Westphalia.
In addition to these historic, lingual and religious aspects, there are some regional differences in culture and mentality. That is why many of the citizens of North Rhine-Westphalia rather see themselves either as "Rhinelanders", "Westphalians" or "Lippers" rather than as "North Rhine-Westphalians".
Around 1 A.D. there were numerous incursions through Westphalia and perhaps even some permanent Roman or Romanized settlements. The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest took place near Osnabrück, which at this time was a place of settlement of the Westphalians, who were a part of the Germanic tribe of the Saxons. Some of the tribes who fought at this battle came from the area of Westphalia.
Charlemagne is thought to have spent considerable time in Paderborn and nearby parts. His Saxon Wars also partly took place in what is thought of as Westphalia today. Popular legends link his adversary Widukind to places near Detmold, Bielefeld, Lemgo, Osnabrück and other places in Westphalia. Widukind was buried in Enger, which is also a subject of a legend.
As a result of the Protestant Reformation, there was no dominant religion in Westphalia. Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism were on a relatively equal footing. Lutheranism was strong in the eastern and northern parts with numerous free churches. Münster and especially Paderborn were considered to be Catholic. Osnabrück was divided almost equally between Catholicism and Protestantism.
Prussian Westphalia edged in red, the Kingdom of Westphalia edged in green with the territorial overlap of former Minden-Ravensberg, pasted over today's borders with North Rhine-Westphalia in dark grey.
After World War II in 1946, the present state of North Rhine-Westphalia was created by the British military government from the former Prussian Province of Westphalia and the northern half of the former Prussian Rhine Province. The old governmental districts of 1816 stayed in place. When in 1947 the former Free State of Lippe with its capital Detmold joined North Rhine-Westphalia, the "Governmental District of Minden" was enlarged by this territory and renamed "Governmental District of Detmold". In total, North Rhine-Westphalia is subdivided into five governmental districts (Regierungsbezirke). Westphalia today consists of the old governmental districts of Arnsberg and Münster and of Detmold except of the District of Lippe which is a separate historical region and state part of North Rhine-Westphalia. Inhabitants of the region call themselves Westphalians and their home region Westphalia even though there is no administrative division by that name.