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.
Discover the 16 states of Germany with me, and find your personal hightlight for your next holiday.
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.
Baden-Württemberg Bavaria Berlin Brandenburg Bremen Hamburg Hessen Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Lower Saxony North Rhine-Westphalia Rhineland-Palatinate Saarland Saxony Saxony-Anhalt Schleswig-Holstein Thuringia
Size: 70,551 km²
Bavaria is the largest state in Germany, and one of the oldest in Germany.
After WW II Bavaria rehabilitated from an agrarian to an industrial state. Audi, BMW, Siemens and some major insurance companies are based in Bavaria.
Size: 35,751 km²
Baden-Württemberg is one of the most prosperous German states and 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.
Size: 21,114 km²
Hessen is one of the smaller German states, but a fine one. What else can I say, Hessen is where I live :).
Hessen is home of the Grimm Brothers, and Hanau is the start of the German fairy tale road that goes north to Bremen.
Kassel is the major centre in north Hessen, famous for the "Documenta", an exhibition of modern art. The Documenta takes place every 5 years.
The 13th Documenta opens on the 9th of June 2012.
North Hessen is the fairy-tale country. It was in Kassel where the Brothers Grimm collected many of their tales.
Visit the Sababurg in the Reinhardswald forest, it is the home of Sleeping Beauty.
If you've got some time, you can discover the country following the Grimm Trail in the Kasseler land.
Size: 18,418 km²
Saxony is the economical leader of the five "new" states of Germany. Silicon Saxony is not just a nickname, it is an association of nearly 300 companies in the electronics and microsystems industry, including science and consulting organisations.
Dresden has been known as Elb-Florenz (Florence on the river Elbe) because of its baroque architecture and art collections.
Size: 16,172 km² Population: 2,261,236 Capital: Erfurt
Thuringia is a state where you can delve into German culture and history.
Discover towns where famous German people were born, or lived for many years. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Erfurt, Jena, Weimar), Friedrich Schiller (Weimar, Meiningen, Jena), Johann Sebastian Bach (Eisenach) and Martin Luther (Wartburg, Erfurt, Eisenach) have left their traces in Thuringia.
The Rennsteig is a famous ridge walk in the Thuringian forest. At the end of the day a hearty Thuringian Bratwurst is waiting for you.
Size: 34,086 km²
Germany's westernmost and most populous state also includes the largest metropolitan area, the Rhine-Ruhr region. The subdivision Ruhr (Ruhrgebiet) is also known as the Ruhrpott and the Revier. Since the 19th century, coal mining and the steel industry have been the major industries for more than a century.
Coal mining declined in the 1960s. Many of the industrial sites are now home to museums and event locations. Actually, Ruhr was the European Capital of Culture 2010.
Apart from industrial cities, North-Rhine Wesphalia has lovely regions to spend a holiday. The Münsterland is a cycling paradise, and the Sauerland is a favourite holiday region all around the year.
Size: 19,853 km²
Rhineland-Palatinate is Germany's wine state. 80 to 90 % of Germany's wine exports are grown along the rivers Rhine, Mosel and Ahr.
The most beautiful part of the middle Rhine valley is situated in Rhineland-Palatinate. Explore medieval castles overlooking the river, enjoy a wine sample tour in small villages with beautiful half-timbered houses.
In the industry sector Rhineland-Palatinate is home of the largest chemical company in the world (BASF), one of the largest breweries, and car manufacturers.
Size: 2,568 km²
The Saarland is the smallest German state, both in area and population.
The area consisted of several territories, ruled by different sovreigns for centuries. The region became part of France during the French revolution, but only until Napoleon's defeat. 1870 the French invaded the Saar region again, this was the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War 1870/71. The back and forth continued until Saarland joined the Federal Republik of Germany in 1957.
With its history, and the fact of being close to France, many people in Saarland speak French fairly good.
Size: 15,799 km²
Schleswig-Holstein is the land between the seas. Bordered by the North Sea in the west, and the Baltic Sea in the east, it is the ideal holiday destination for everyone who loves to sail and surf.
Size: 23,185 km²
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the state with the least population density.
The "land of thousand lakes" offers great holiday resorts and unspoiled nature. Rügen and Usedom, are both beautiful islands in the Baltic Sea, and favourite destinations.
Old cities and towns like Rostock, Schwerin and Greifswald have beautiful buildings in the "Hanseatic style", and are worth a visit.
Size: 20,447 km²
The chemical industry plays a major role in the industrial sector, while the food industry counts on the best soil in Germany around Magdeburg. The oldest German chocolate factory is in Halle. The state is also famous for its Baumkuchen.
The Harz mountains and beautiful old towns like Wernigerode, Osterode and Quedlinburg are favourite tourist spots.
Size: 47,625 km²
Lower Saxony is the second largest state in Germany. The country rises from the flat plains in the north to the beginning of the German central highlands in the south of the state.
Size: 404 km²
Although Bremen is considered a city state, it actually consists of two enclaves, Bremen and Bremerhaven. Both cities are surrounded by the state of Lower Saxony, both are located on the river Weser.
Bremerhaven is an important container port and home of the German Maritime Museum.
The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen (Freie Hansestadt Bremen) is a very old city with a long history in trading. The Old Town (Altstadt) is the main attraction for visitors with the impressive Town Hall and the Cathedral St. Petri lining the market place.
The statues of "Roland" and the "Bremer Stadtmusikanten" (from Grimm's fairy-tales) can be seen on the market square.
Size: 755 km²
Hamburg's official name, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg (Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg) refers to Hamburg's status in history. The city was a member of the Hanse, and a free imperial city during the Holy Roman Empire.
Size: 891 km²
Berlin is the capital city of Germany, and one of the 3 city states in Germany as well. Located in the north-east, only 70 km from the Polish border, it is also Germany's largest city.
Politics, culture, sports, recreation and a vibrant nightlife - you can get all that in our thriving capital.
Size: 29,480 km²
Brandenburg's capital Potsdam, just 24 km south-west of Berlin, was the residence of Prussian kings until 1918. Sanssouci Palace and the surrounding park are a major attraction, and the largest UNESCO world heritage site in Germany.
Brandenburg has the second least population density of all German states. A friend of mine who used to lived here, called it the German Outback.
So it is no surprise that nature parks and biospheres are a big draw for visitors to Brandenburg. The Spreewald, about 100 km south-east of Berlin, is listed as a biosphere reserve by the UNESCO.