The original population groups were mainly the Franks in the north, the Bavarians in the south and east, and the Swabians, who belong to the Alemanni, in the south-west. The population structure changed significantly during and after the Second World War due to the influx of 2.4 million displaced persons and refugees.
62.5% of the population belong to the Catholic Church, 22.5% to the Evangelical Lutheran regional church. The Bavarian teaching level has a good reputation nationwide. In Bavaria there are eleven universities (including three in Munich), a Catholic university in Eichstätt, two art academies, two universities of music, one university of television and film, three theological universities and several universities of applied sciences.
Economy and Transport
Along with Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria is one of the federal states with the strongest economic growth. The service sector, manufacturing and foreign trade are the main contributors to the rising gross domestic product. Until 1949, agriculture and forestry were the dominant economic sector, which was then superseded from the first place by the high-growth and high-tech industries.
The most important industrial locations with the production of road, space and air vehicles, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and electronics as well as the chemical industry are Munich, Augsburg, the Nuremberg-Fürth-Erlangen area, Ingolstadt and Regensburg. Bavaria occupies a leading position in the manufacture of ball bearings (Schweinfurt), porcelain (Upper Franconia and Upper Palatinate), pencils and toys (Nuremberg, Fichtelgebirge). The food industry, especially cheese-making, malthouses and breweries, is also important.
Bavaria is poor in natural resources. Rock salt is extracted near Berchtesgaden, graphite near Passau, kaolin in the Upper Palatinate and crude oil and natural gas in the Alpine foothills. Of particular importance for the energy supply are the five nuclear power plant blocks distributed over three locations, which cover almost a third of the electricity supply. Hydroelectric power plants provide about 14% of the electrical energy.
More than half of the country’s area is agricultural used. Bavaria thus has the largest usable agricultural area of all German federal states and has the most farms, including many large farms. The main crops are wheat, barley, sugar beet, fodder beet and potatoes. The main cultivation areas are the Gäulandschaften and the Lower Bavarian Tertiary Hills. The area under cultivation of hops has increased significantly, the cultivation of which is concentrated in the Hallertau, Spalt and Hersbruck cultivation areas. Viticulture (cultivation area Franconia) is practiced in the Lower Franconian Main Valley, in the valley of the Franconian Saale and on the western slope of the Steigerwald. In the so-called Knoblauchsland near Nuremberg, crops and horticulture are intensive. The most productive branch is the livestock industry, especially in the grassland areas of the Alpine foothills, with a focus on the Allgäu. Dairy products and supplies more than two thirds of all German cheese products.
Almost 35% of the country’s area is forested. The alpine region, the eastern Bavarian border mountains and the Spessart have the largest closed forest areas.
Tourism benefits from the diversity of the landscape , especially in Upper Bavaria, the Allgäu and the Bavarian Forest, but also in Franconia. Important centers of tourism are Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Oberstdorf, Berchtesgaden and Bad Reichenhall as well as Munich. There are also 45 spas and health resorts.
In terms of transport, Bavaria is well developed thanks to the railway and motorway networks. Important waterways are the Main, which can be navigated from Bamberg for ships up to 1350 t, the Danube from Kelheim and the Main-Danube Canal, which connects these two rivers. There is a free port in Deggendorf. Munich and Nuremberg have international airports.
The Rhine-Main-Danube Canal
The 3500 km long inland waterway, also known as the European Canal, connects the North Sea with the Black Sea. After the expansion of the Rhine and Lower Main, the Main above Aschaffenburg to Bamberg was expanded with 27 locks over a length of 297 km from 1926. In 1960 the construction of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal began, which connects the Main near Bamberg with the Danube near Kelheim. The 171 km long canal with 16 locks was opened in 1992. King LUDWIG I OF BAVARIA had its predecessor, the Ludwig Canal, built as early as 1836–1845 (Fig. 3).
The 72 km long northern section of the canal from Bamberg to Nuremberg was completed in 1972. The subsequent canal stretch east of Hilpoltstein reaches the main European watershed between the Rhine and the Danube and at 406 m above sea level the highest point in the German waterway network. South of the watershed, the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal leads through Sulztal, Ottmaringer Tal and Altmühltal to the Danube. The canal stretch from Hausen via Nuremberg to Dietfurt an der Altmühl must be fed artificially. The benefits of the system are seen in the raising and stabilization of the groundwater level as well as in the water level regulation, which largely avoids the risk of flooding. The backwater areas reduce the risk of night frost; they are also used for water sports.Altmühltal, Sulztal and Ottmaringer Tal.