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Deutschland: Bundesländer
Germany's 16 Federal States

Die 16 Bundesländer der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

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Also see: Germany Today and Austria Today

Most of Germany's 16 Bundesländer (states) are relatively new creations, formed after 1945. Throughout history the borders of Germany's political divisions have constantly changed, but after World War II, old provinces were rearranged to create new ones. For example, Baden and Württemberg were joined to form a new Bundesland called Baden-Württemberg, one of several "hyphenated" Länder. Only Bavaria, Saxony, and the city-states of Bremen and Hamburg predate the states created in 1945. Even Berlin was soon split in half with the creation of East Germany in 1949. Below you'll find the 16 German states listed alphabetically in German (with English names if different from the German) with their capital cities (Landeshauptstädte) and a brief summary. - Also see our Map of Germany.

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Baden-Württemberg
Hauptstadt: Stuttgart. Baden-Württemberg is one of Germany's most prosperous states with automakers Daimler Chrysler and Porsche centered around Stuttgart, precision engineering in the Black Forest, oil refining around Karlsruhe, and industry in Mannheim and Heidelberg. There are important universities in Heidelberg (1386) and Freiburg.

Bayern (Bavaria, Freistaat Bayern)
Hauptstadt: München (Munich). Bavaria is the largest German state. The "Free State of Bavaria" is also Germany's oldest political entity with a history going back to at least the 6th century. Germany's tallest peak, the Zugspitze, is located in the Bavarian Alps.

Berlin
Hauptstadt: Berlin. Long a symbol of Germany's division, Berlin is now the dynamic capital city of reunited Germany. Since reunification, Berlin has once again become Germany's main cultural, artistic, and political center.

Brandenburg
Hauptstadt: Potsdam. Brandenburg, one of Germany's most thinly populated states (2.5 million), surrounds Berlin. Because of its small population, there have been proposals to merge Berlin and Brandenburg into one state, with Potsdam as the capital, but a 1996 referendum rejected that idea. However, the two states' broadcast services (SFB/ORB) were merged into Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) in 2003.

Bremen (Freie Hansestaat Bremen)
Hauptstadt: Bremen. One of Germany's three city-states (Berlin and Hamburg are the other two), Bremen is the second oldest city republic still in existence (after San Marino) and was first mentioned in 782. In 1358 Bremen became a member of the Hanseatic League (Hanse).

Hamburg (Freie und Hansestaat Hamburg)
Hauptstadt: Hamburg. One of Germany's three city-states (Berlin and Bremen are the other two), Hamburg is Germany's second largest city and the country's biggest port.

Hessen (Hesse)
Hauptstadt: Wiesbaden. Hesse is home to the Rhein-Main region of business and industry. The state's largest city, Frankfurt am Main, has often been called Germany's "secret capital" because of its banking, transportation industry (Frankfurt, aka "Bankfurt," has one of Europe's busiest airports and is a major rail hub), and general economic power. The state of Hesse was created in 1945/46 by combining parts of two historic political entities, Hesse-Darmstadt and Hesse-Nassau.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania)
Hauptstadt: Schwerin

Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony)
Hauptstadt: Hannover (Hanover)

Nordhrein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia)
Hauptstadt: Düsseldorf

Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate)
Hauptstadt: Mainz

Saarland
Hauptstadt: Saarbrücken. "Das Saarland" is Germany's smallest and newest state. Named for the Saar River (die Saar), the Saarland was part of France until 1957. Germany's "Rhode Island" has a population of just 1.1 million.

Sachsen (Saxony, Freistaat Sachsen)
Hauptstadt: Dresden

Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt)
Hauptstadt: Magdeburg.

Schleswig-Holstein
Hauptstadt: Kiel. The two parts of Germany's northernmost state were first united in 1386, but since the 19th century they have changed hands between Denmark, Austria, and Germany. Schleswig-Holstein has been a Bundesland since 1946. The Kiel Canal (der Nord-Ostsee-Kanal) is an important links for shipping between the Baltic and North Seas. Kiel (pop. 244,000) is home to the annual "Kieler Woche" regatta every summer.

Thüringen (Thuringia, Freistaat Thüringen)
Hauptstadt: Erfurt. Until 1945, Thuringia's capital was Weimar, a city closely identified with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and of course the Weimar Republic after World War I. The state became a Freistaat in 1921, but was dissolved in 1952 when East Germany created 15 districts to replace the former five eastern Länder.

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