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Seven maps that explain the German state of Baden-Württemberg

Baden-Württemberg has low unemployment and high creativity. Plus, the state holds the record for longest lifespans in all of Germany. Here are a few maps to explain.

Seven maps that explain the German state of Baden-Württemberg
Stuttgart is the capital of Baden-Württemberg. Source: Deposhitphotos/DarioSz

Baden-Württemberg is a wealthy state home to Daimler-Benz, thrifty Swabians and the Black Forest.

And, since the Bundesland also houses the EU's most innovative population, there is seemingly nothing the German state can't do…

Except, of course, speak standard German – The state's motto is “Wir können alles. Außer Hochdeutsch.” (“We can do everything. Except standard German.”)

Let's start with geography. 

Location in Germany

Baden-Würrtemberg is Bavaria's western neighbour and covers southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the states Rhineland Palatinate to the northwest, Hessen to the north, and Bavaria to the east. France and Switzerland form the international borders to the south, and Austria lies on the other side of Lake Constance. 

Source: Depositphotos/Dovla982

Rivers and Lakes

The Rhine creates the western border of the state and also flows into a tributary called the Neckar. Most major cities in Baden-Württemberg lie along the Neckar, including Mannheim, Heilbronn and Stuttgart.

Lake Constance, or Der Bodensee, forms the only border with Austria, although exact boundaries within the lake are not defined. 

Source: Ssch/kjunix via Wikimedia


The map below shows three states from 1949 to 1952 which would eventually combine to become Baden-Württemberg. After the end of World War II, the region of Württemberg-Baden was under United States control while Württemberg-Hohenzollern and Baden belonged to the French. 


Source: Flosch via Wikimedia

All three states became part of the Bundesrepublik in 1949, but merged through a narrow public vote to form the larger state in 1952. 

High standard of living

Baden-Württemberg, despite having much fewer natural resources than a coal-rich region like North Rhine-Westphalia, has one of the strongest economies in Europe. The map below shows per capita GDP for Germany in 2018. Germany's southwestern states clearly have the economic advantage. 

Baden-Württemberg also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. 

Source: Radom1967 via Wikimedia

Life expectancy

Because of this high quality of life, babies born in these regions are expected to live longer, according to German statistics from 2016 and 2018. The stats are based on the current liveability conditions of the regions. 

Although the gap in life expectancy between eastern and western Germany has dropped drastically over the last decades, eastern German states still have lower predictions. Saxony-Anhalt is at the bottom for both men and women's life expectancy, while Bavaria and Hesse join Baden-Württemberg to round out the top three for women's life expectancy.  

Graph prepared for The Local by Statista.


Most of Swabia's undefined borders, which include Stuttgart, are within Baden-Württemberg. Parts of the region also reach into Bavaria. Swabians have their own cultural heritage and accompanying stereotypes: They are often considered uptight and miserly by other Germans, but also diligent and inventive.

Boasting the most registered patents per capita in the nation, Baden-Württemberg certainly holds up its Swabian roots. 


Modern-day Swabia (shown in red) bridging the states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Photo: Quahadi via Wikimedia Commons.

Everything, except standard German

Here's a map, including Switzerland and Austria, of the different dialects spoken in southern Germany.

The Alemannic dialects, including Swabian, dominate the Baden-Württemberg area. Source: Brichtig via Wikimedia 

The Swabian dialect has its own unique characteristics, like using “le” instead of the standard German “chen” or “lein.” Additionally, the language incorporates more nasal tones for “m” and “n” sounds, giving the language a distinctive sound. 

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For members


Reader question: Can I get a retirement visa for Germany?

Unlike in EU countries such as Portugal or Spain, Germany does not have a visa specifically for pensioners. Yet applying to live in the Bundesrepublik post-retirement is not difficult if you follow these steps.

Reader question: Can I get a retirement visa for Germany?
Two pensioners enjoying a quiet moment in Dresden in August 2020. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

Due to its quality of life, financial security and health care, Germany snagged the number 10 spot in the 2020 Global Retirement Index. So just how easy is it to plant roots in Deutschland after your retirement?

Applying for a residency permit

As with any non-EU or European Economic Area (EEA) national looking to stay in Germany for longer than a 90-day period, retirees will need to apply for a general resident’s permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) under which it will be possible to select retirement as a category. 

READ ALSO: How does Germany’s pension system measure up worldwide?

This is the same permit for those looking to work and study in Germany – but if you would like to do either after receiving a residency permit, you will need to explicitly change the category of the visa.

Applicants from certain third countries (such as the US, UK, Australia, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Canada, and New Zealand) can first come to Germany on a normal tourist visa, and then apply for a residency permit when in the country. 

However, for anyone looking to spend their later years in Germany, it’s still advisable to apply at their home country’s consulate at least three months in advance to avoid any problems while in Germany.

Retirement visas still aren’t as common as employment visas, for example, so there could be a longer processing time. 

What do you need to retire in Germany?

To apply for a retirement visa, you’ll need proof of sufficient savings (through pensions, savings and investments) as well as a valid German health insurance. 

If you have previously worked in Germany for at least five years, you could qualify for Pensioner’s Health Insurance. Otherwise you’ll need to apply for one of the country’s many private health insurance plans. 

Take note, though, that not all are automatically accepted by the Ausländerbehörde (foreigners office), so this is something you’ll need to inquire about before purchasing a plan. 

READ ALSO: The perks of private health insurance for expats in Germany

The decision is still at the discretion of German authorities, and your case could be made stronger for various reasons, such as if you’re joining a family member or are married to a German. Initially retirement visas are usually given out for a year, with the possibility of renewal. 

Once you’ve lived in Germany for at least five full years, you can apply for a permanent residency permit, or a Niederlassungserlaubnis. To receive this, you will have to show at least a basic knowledge of the German language and culture.

READ ALSO: How to secure permanent residency in Germany

Taxation as a pensioner

In the Bundesrepublik, pensions are still listed as taxable income, meaning that you could be paying a hefty amount on the pension from your home country. But this is likely to less in the coming years.

Tax is owed when a pensioner’s total income exceeds the basic tax-free allowance of €9,186 per year, or €764 per month. From 2020 the annual taxable income for pensioners will increase by one percent until 2040 when a full 100 percent of pensions will be taxable.

American retirees in Germany will also still have to file US income taxes, even if they don’t owe any taxes back in the States. 

In the last few years there has been a push around Germany to raise the pension age to 69, up from 65-67, in light of rising lifespans.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Could people in Germany still be working until the age of 68?