Bavaria is the largest federal state in Germany and the second largest by population. It is located in the southeast of the Federal Republic.
The state capital Munich is by far the largest metropolitan area in the state. Bavaria has a share in several large landscapes. The northern and eastern parts of the country with the heavily forested Bavarian Forest belong to the German low mountain range threshold. South of the Danube, the mostly flat, undulating, glacial foothills extends to the Alps. A powerful agriculture, a growth-oriented industry and a diversified service sector contribute to the economic growth of Bavaria. There is an inland waterway connection to the North Sea and the Black Sea via the Main-Danube Canal.
The federal state or the Free State of Bavaria is located in the south of the Federal Republic of Germany (Fig. 1). With 70548 km² Bavaria is the largest of all German federal states in terms of area and with around 12.5 million residents (2011) in terms of population after North Rhine-Westphalia. The state borders on Thuringia in the north and, for a short distance, on Saxony, in the east on the Czech Republic, in the south-east and south on Austria, in the west on Baden-Württemberg and in the north-west on Hesse. The capital Munich is centrally located in Upper Bavaria on the Isar.
In 1945 Bavaria, with the exception of Lindau and the Palatinate, became part of the American zone. While the Palatinate was incorporated into Rhineland-Palatinate in 1946, the Thuringian enclave Ostheim became part of Bavaria in 1945. In 1946 a new constitution came into force. Bavaria has been a state of the Federal Republic of Germany since 1949.
Bavaria has a share in the low mountain range threshold, the southern German layer level country, the Alpine foothills and the Alps. The landscape north of the Danube, which is characterized by the low mountain ranges, includes the heavily wooded red sandstone mountains of the Spessart in the northwest and the volcanically shaped Rhön in the extreme northwest. To the south and south-east, the Swabian-Franconian layered stepland connects with the Hassberge, Steigerwald and Frankenhöhe. The Middle Franconian Basin around Nuremberg is formed by the Franconian Alb and the Nördlinger Ries basin, a meteorite crater,framed. To the northeast of the Franconian Alb lie the Franconian Forest and the Fichtel Mountains in the northeast, followed by the Upper Palatinate Forest, the Bavarian Forest and the Bohemian Forest to the south and southeast.
The Danube between Ulm and Passau forms the clear border to the south against the Alpine foothills, which were shaped by ice age deposits. The fertile hill country south of the Danube, which is interrupted by boggy lowlands and gravel meadows of the Alpine rivers, is joined further to the south by an area characterized by terminal and ground moraines, in which numerous lakes, including Chiemsee, Ammersee, Starnberger See, Staffelsee, Tegernsee and Schliersee. The rugged ridges and high plateaus of the Northern Limestone Alps rise over the Molasse and Flysch ridge from the Allgäu to the Bavarian to the Berchtesgaden Alps. Here is Germany’s highest mountain, the 2962 m high Zugspitze.
Bavaria has two national parks, the Bavarian Forest National Park and the Berchtesgadener Land National Park.
The Danube drains most of Bavaria with its tributaries Iller, Lech, Isar and Inn from the south and Wörnitz, Altmühl, Naab and Regen from the north. In the northwest this task is taken over by the Main with its tributaries Regnitz and Tauber.
The climate of Bavaria is something coined because of the altitude and the great distance to the sea rough and continental than that of most other states. Climatic favored areas are the Main Valley with its neighboring Gaulandschaften, the Danube lowlands and the Lake Constance area in the southwest. The Fichtel Mountains, the Bavarian Forest and the Alps are humid and snowy.
Large parts of Bavaria, such as the Upper Palatinate and Lower Bavaria, are quite sparsely populated. There are only a few pronounced metropolitan areas for a federal state of this size. The Munich area, however, is one of the most attractive agglomerations in Germany despite high prices and expensive rents. Other metropolitan areas are the Nuremberg-Fürth-Erlangen area and the area around the major cities of Augsburg, Regensburg, Würzburg and Neu-Ulm.