The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Capital: Munich (München)
Area: 70,553 km²
Inhabitants: 12.401.000 (08/2003)
pop. density: 164 inh./km²
ISO 3166-2: DE-BY
Minister-president: Edmund Stoiber (CSU)
Ruling party: CSU
Federal states of Germany: Bavaria

With an area of 70,553 km² and 12.4 million inhabitants, the Free State of Bavaria (German Bayern or Freistaat Bayern) forms the southernmost of the 16 Bundesländer of Germany. Its capital is Munich.



Bavaria shares international borders with Austria and the Czech Republic. Neighbouring states within Germany are Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, Thuringia and Saxony. Two major rivers flow through the state, the Danube (Donau) and the Main.

The major cities in Bavaria are Munich, Nuremberg, Augsburg, Regensburg, Würzburg, Ingolstadt, Fürth and Erlangen.

See also: List of places in Bavaria.


Bavaria has a unicameral Landtag, or state parliament, elected by universal suffrage. Until December 1999, there was also a Senat, or Senate, whose members were chosen by social and economic groups in Bavaria, but following a referendum in 1998, this institution was abolished. The head of government is the Minister-president.

Bavaria has long been a bastion of conservative politics in Germany, with the CSU having almost a stranglehold on power since its inception in 1946.


Bavaria is divided into 7 administrative regions called Regierungsbezirke

  1. Oberfranken (Upper Franconia)
  2. Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia)
  3. Unterfranken (Lower Franconia)
  4. Schwaben (Swabia)
  5. Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate)
  6. Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria)
  7. Niederbayern (Lower Bavaria)

These administrative regions consist of 71 districts (called Kreise) and 25 independent towns:

Map of Bavaria


  1. Aichach-Friedberg
  2. Altötting
  3. Amberg-Sulzbach
  4. Ansbach
  5. Aschaffenburg
  6. Augsburg
  7. Bad Kissingen
  8. Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen
  9. Bamberg
  10. Bayreuth
  11. Berchtesgadener Land
  12. Cham
  13. Coburg
  14. Dachau
  15. Deggendorf
  16. Dillingen
  17. Dingolfing-Landau
  18. Donau-Ries
  19. Ebersberg
  20. Eichstätt
  21. Erding
  22. Erlangen-Höchstadt
  23. Forchheim
  24. Freising

  1. Freyung-Grafenau
  2. Fürstenfeldbruck
  3. Fürth
  4. Garmisch-Partenkirchen
  5. Günzburg
  6. Haßberge
  7. Hof
  8. Kelheim
  9. Kitzingen
  10. Kronach
  11. Kulmbach
  12. Landsberg
  13. Landshut
  14. Lichtenfels
  15. Lindau
  16. Main-Spessart
  17. Miesbach
  18. Miltenberg
  19. Mühldorf
  20. Munich (München)
  21. Neuburg-Schrobenhausen
  22. Neumarkt
  23. Neustadt (Aisch)-Bad Windsheim
  24. Neustadt (Waldnaab)

  1. Neu-Ulm
  2. Nürnberger Land
  3. Oberallgäu
  4. Ostallgäu
  5. Passau
  6. Pfaffenhofen
  7. Regen
  8. Regensburg
  9. Rhön-Grabfeld
  10. Rosenheim
  11. Roth
  12. Rottal-Inn
  13. Schwandorf
  14. Schweinfurt
  15. Starnberg
  16. Straubing-Bogen
  17. Tirschenreuth
  18. Traunstein
  19. Unterallgäu
  20. Weilheim-Schongau
  21. Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen
  22. Wunsiedel
  23. Würzburg

Independent towns:

  1. Amberg
  2. Ansbach
  3. Aschaffenburg
  4. Augsburg
  5. Bamberg
  6. Bayreuth
  7. Coburg
  8. Erlangen
  9. Fürth

  1. Hof
  2. Ingolstadt
  3. Kaufbeuren
  4. Kempten
  5. Landshut
  6. Memmingen
  7. Munich (München)
  8. Nuremberg (Nürnberg)
  9. Passau

  1. Regensburg
  2. Rosenheim
  3. Schwabach
  4. Schweinfurt
  5. Straubing
  6. Weiden
  7. Würzburg


Several German dialects are spoken in Bavaria. In the administrative regions to the north the Franconian dialect is prevalent, in Swabia the local dialect is Swabian, a thread of the Alemannic dialect family. In the Upper Palatinate people speak the Northern Bavarian dialect that can vary regionally. In Upper and Lower Bavaria (Middle) Austro-Bavarian is the predominant dialect.


Main article: History of Bavaria

The first known mention of the Bavarian name was made by the Franks ca. 520. Saint Boniface completed the people's conversion Christianity in the early 8th century. Bavaria resisted the Protestant Reformation, and remains strongly Roman Catholic.

Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor gave Bavaria to the Wittelsbach family, which ruled from 1180 to 1918. It became a kingdom in 1806, and in 1815 the Rhenish Palatinate was annexed to it. It managed to preserve its independence by playing off the rivalries of Prussia and Austria, but defeat in the 1866 Austro-Prussian War led to its incorporation into the German Empire. In the early 20th century Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Henrik Ibsen, and other notable artists were drawn to Bavaria, notably to the Schwabing district of Munich, but the region was devastated by World War I.

Socialist premier Kurt Eisner, who deposed Ludwig III, was assassinated in 1919 leading to a violently suppressed communist revolt. Extremist activity on the right also increased, notably the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, and Bavaria became a Nazi stronghold under the Third Reich. As a manufacturing center, Munich was heavily bombed during World War II and occupied by U.S. troops.

Since World War II, Bavaria has been rehabilitated into a prosperous industrial hub. A massive reconstruction effort restored much of Munich's historic core, and the city played host to the 1972 Summer Olympics. More recently, state minister-president Edmund Stoiber was the CDU/CSU candidate for chancellor in the 2002 federal election, and native son Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

See also: List of rulers of Bavaria, List of Premiers of Bavaria


The many famous Bavarians include:

The motorcycle and automobile makers BMW (the name stands for Bayerische Motoren-Werke, or "Bavarian Motor Works") and Audi, Grundig (consumer electronics) and Siemens AG (electricity, telephones, informatics, medical instruments)have a Bavarian industrial base.

A famous annual festival is called Oktoberfest or October Festival. It is the largest public beer festival in the world, celebrated since 1811 during the last two weeks of September.

Population and area

Regierungsbezirk    population(2002)    area/km²        communities
Lower Franconia ..   1,344,300  10.9%    8,532  12.1%     308  15.0%
Upper Franconia ..   1,112,655   9.0%    7,231  10.2%     214  10.4%
Middle Franconia .   1,703,869  13.8%    7,246  10.3%     210  10.2%
Upper Palatinate .   1,088,929   8.8%    9,690  13.7%     226  11.0%
Swabia ...........   1,776,465  14.3%    9,992  14.2%     340  16.5%
Upper Bavaria ....   4,169,657  33.7%   17,53ally. In Upper and Lower Bavaria (Middle) Austrro-Bavarian  is the predominant dialect.
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