The town of Altena in Germany is best known to tourists for its 12th century stronghold, and for producing suits of chain mail armour for medieval knights.

Fitting symbols for a place now fighting back against rural exodus.

This was the town in the former West Germany that suffered biggest drop in its population, by over 40 percent in 40 years.

This is slowly changing, as the local government helps organise who helps whom, and as the people of Altena, both young and old, work together to stop the countryside from emptying further.

Rural exodus is a vicious circle: as people leave, the town collects less tax money and then cannot pay for social services.

In Altena, for example, unpaid volunteers drive the town bus.

Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer reports from Altena.

Source: Al Jazeera