Basic Facts & Famous Travel Destinations
The 16 German states couldn't be more diverse!
From the rugged alpine scenery in the south to the lakes and sea shores in the north, well-known and secret holiday destinations abound.
Fascinating traditions and delicous foods vary throughout the country, facts that amaze first-time visitors again and again.
Although not all states are internationally know as tourist destination, there are always places worthwhile to visit. Discover the 16 federal states of Germany with me, and find your personal highlight for your next vacation.
Recent History - The States of Germany post WWII
The modern German states were built after World War II during the allied occupation.
The states in West Germany joined and formed the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) in 1949. Only 7 of the 16 new states existed before: Bavaria, Bremen, Hamburg, Baden and Saarland in the west, Saxony and Thuringia in Eastern Germany.
All other states were amalgamations of formerly much smaller states and Prussian provinces.
In 1952 three south-western states (Baden, Württemberg-Hohenzollern and Württemberg-Baden) merged to form Baden-Württemberg. Five years later, France returned the Saarland to Germany.
Berlin was not a state until the German reunification on 3rd October 1990. Berlin was under the sovereignty of the allies, USA, Great Britain, France and the Soviet-Union.
There are 13 area states in Germany (Flächenländer), and 3 city states (Stadtstaaten), Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen. The latter actually consists of Bremen and Bremerhaven.
Head of a state is the Ministerpräsident in the area states, and the Bürgermeister in the city states.
Bayern - Bavaria
Size: 70, 551 km² - Population: 12, 494, 781 - Capital: Munich
Bavaria is the largest state in Germany, and one of the oldest as well.
After WW II Bavaria rehabilitated from an agrarian to an industrial state. Audi, BMW, Siemens and some major insurance companies are based in Bavaria.
Alpine scenery on the way to Berchtesgaden
The culture of Bavaria is distinct, and Bavarians love to be different. They are proud of their traditions, wear their Tracht (Lederhosen and Dirndl) and perform their folk music (Volksmusik) on special occasions.
The most famous Volksfest in Germany, you know it, is the .
The Catholic religion is also an important part of Bavarian culture. Bavarians are extremely proud that the former pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Alois Ratzinger) was born in their state.
There are a lot of jokes about the German-Bavarian relations, some are even rather nasty.
Nevertheless, Bavaria is another favourite holiday destination for Germans and international travellers around the year. After all, Bavaria has a small portion of the Alps within its territory, most enjoyed among ski enthusiasts, hikers and mountaineers.
Apart from the alpine region, other favourite Bavarian tourist attractions include
- Munich, of course, the capital of Bavaria attracts thousands of visitors every year.
- Picturesque towns along the romantic road like Würzburg, Dinkelsbühl and Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
- Franconia - the region covers most of the northern & central parts of Bavaria. Bamberg, Nuremberg & Bayreuth are well-loved destinations, along with the above mentioned towns on the northern section of the Romantic Road.
- The most famous castle in Bavaria is definitely Neuschwanstein, but there are many more!
Size: 35, 751 km² - Population: 10, 744, 383 - Capital: Stuttgart
Winter in the black forest
Baden-Württemberg is one of the most prosperous German states and considered one of the Four Motors of Europe.
Despite world concerns like Daimler AG, SAP and Robert Bosch AG, mid-sized companies are the backbone of the economy.