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Seven maps that help explain Bavaria

The largest state in Germany, Bavaria was also its own kingdom for many years. Here's a breakdown of the Bundesland using maps.

Seven maps that help explain Bavaria
Munich is Bavaria's capital and the largest city in the state. Depositphotos/tomloel

Bavaria may be the home of all things considered stereotypically German: beer gardens, Lederhosen, Volksmusik and the Nuremberg Christmas Market. Even the famous Reinheitsgebot, or beer purity law that only allows the use of three ingredients (water, barley and hops) has origins in Bavaria.

READ ALSO: Why beer means so much to the Germans

The state's history stretches back well over 2000 years, from Celtic tribes to the Holy Roman Empire, creating a proud and traditional culture that attracts visitors from all over the world. 

Here are the basics. 

Location in Germany

Bavaria is located in the southeast corner of Germany and takes up around a fifth of the country's land mass. Baden-Württemberg forms a border on the west, Hesse to the northwest, and Thuringia and Saxony are in the north. Munich, with a population of nearly 1.5 million, is the state capital and the third-largest in Germany overall.

The state is bordered internationally by the Czech Republic to the east, Austria to the southeast, Lichtenstein to the south and Switzerland to the southwest. 

Source: Depositphotos/artalis

History

This is a look at the kingdom of Bavaria around 900 AD. Numerous families controlled the duchy throughout this time, but the area lost large tracts of land around 975, coinciding with the founding of Austria.

Source: Johann Christoph von Aretin/Alois Senefelder via Wikimedia

Even earlier, Bavaria was controlled by Celtic tribes and then the Roman Empire. After the period of duchy control showed on this map, Bavaria was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire, then became an independent kingdom, was part of Prussia's German Empire, and was finally incorporated into the Bundesrepublik in 1949. 

Geography

Source: Von Grundkarte TUBS via Wikimedia

The Bavarian alps form the border between Germany and Austria. This mountain range is also home to Germany's tallest mountain, the Zugspitze near the Austrian border. The famous Garmisch-Partenkirchen ski resort is located here as well, although there are many other options for skiing in the state. 

Cultural heritage

This map shows a selection of Bavaria's most well-known castles. Neuschwanstein Castle, located far south near the Bavarian Alps, is one of the most famous castles in Europe.

READ ALSO: 10 surprising facts you should know about Neuschwanstein Castle

 
It was built by King Ludwig II, who was sometimes referred to as the Märchenkönig (Fairy Tale King) because of his extravagant palaces. Nymphenburg Palace in Munich and Burghausen Castle (which is longest castle complex in the world, according to Guinness) are among the other famous Bavarian attractions. 
 
Population
 
 
Source: Wikimedia
 
Bavaria's power comes mostly from its land mass. Since it is not densely populated, it is only through its large size that it retains its place as the second most populous German state, behind only NRW. 
 
 
Bavaria has a large number of Catholics and is has the second-lowest population of nonreligious individuals in all of Germany. The state is known as rather conservative and has a CSU majority (the CSU is the Bavarian sister party to Germany's CDU). 
 
 
A wealthy state
 
Source: Statistik und Arbeitsmarktberichterstattung der Bundesagentur für Arbeit 
 
Unlike NRW, which has high unemployment due to the weakening of the coal and steel industry, the western state of Bavaria has retained its wealth, especially in comparison to eastern German states. In 2018, Bavaria contributed the most to poorer eastern states through a yearly process known as the Länderfinanzausgleich, or “state financial equalization.” 
 
Weißwurstäquator
 
Finally, we arrive at the “White Sausage Equator,” a tongue-in-cheek term used to describe the cultural difference between Southern Bavaria and Northern or Central Germany. The border is named after the traditional Bavarian Weißwurst, a staple dish in the region.
 
Source: By NordNordWest via Wikimedia (Screenshot)
 
The most commonly referenced border follows the Danube river. However, others put the border farther north along the Main river, at another famous dialect border called the Speyer line, or at the 49th parallel latitude. Finally, another description of this “cultural border” forms a ring around Munich. 
 

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LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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