How Many States Are There In Germany?

In Germany there are 16 federal states or Bundesländers. They are:

Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thuringia.[i]

State of Germany map

Unlike the USA, the states are not necessarily created by dividing up land, for example, Brandenburg surrounds Berlin in the northeast and Lower Saxony surrounds Bremen to the northwest. Bremen also has a coastal area to the north as well, so is in fact two separate areas, but one state inside another state. Germany is a “federal system,” which means the state governments “partly take on their own state duties.”[ii]

Click on this beautiful picture of Germany to explore an interactive map of the German states.

Scenic image of Germany

The largest Bundesländer in area is Bavaria.[iii] The most populated Bundesländer is North Rhine-Westphalia, with more than 17 million people.[iv] For perspective, California had 39.24 million people as of 2021.[v]

“Bavaria is not only known for its mountains, but also for its lakes and water bodies. The State boasts more than 200 natural lakes and 1,880 bodies of surface water each with a surface area of more than three hectares. The largest lake, Chiemsee, covers some 80 square kilometres. Königsee and Walchensee are the two deepest lakes, each reaching depths of 190 metres.”[vi]

The smallest Bundesländer by area is Bremen. With only 420 square kilometers, it is about one tenth the size of California (423,970 square km), or just under one third the size of Los Angeles City Proper (1,210 square km).[vii] Bremen is also the smallest state by population.  There are 671,000 people living in Bremen compared to 815,201 in San Francisco as of 2021.[viii] Bremen gets its name from an Old Saxon word meaning ‘brim’ because it is a seaport city in the north of Germany.[ix]

Statue of Roland in Bremen, Germany

Bremen, Germany

Statue of Roland, Bremen, Germany.

© Bundesbildstelle/Press and Information Office of the Federal Government of Germany[x]

Hamburg is known for this colorful red dish called Labskaus.[xi] It dates back to the 16th century when sailors had to salt meat to preserve it for long voyages.[xii] Dresden is known for Stollen and for hosting an annual Stollen festival. The festival is based on a story dating to “1560, when the bakers of Dresden gifted each of the rulers of Saxony a Christmas Stollen cake weighing 16 kilograms!”[xiii] Today a giant Stollen cake that weighs about three or four tons (!) is paraded through the city before being cut and shared with festival goers.[xiv]

Labskaus a popular dish in Hamburg Germany

“Traditionally, Labskaus is made by boiling salted meat or corned beef and mincing it with onions, boiled potatoes and beetroot, which gives it its characteristic bright red hue. It is typically served with gherkins and pickled herring, topped with a fried egg, and is generally regarded by the strong-stomached as a good hangover cure.” [xv]

In addition to the Stollen festival there are many other popular festivals through out Germany.  Of course, the most popular is Oktoberfest, in Munich, the Bavarian capital. Apparently, Oktoberfest began as a royal wedding and now hosts “7 million people who consume almost 8 million liters of beer.”[xvi]

“The festival has been canceled just 26 times in its more than two centuries of existence. Most cancellations were due to war, but cholera outbreaks were to blame twice.”[xvii]

Oktoberfest in Munich Germany

Image source[xviii]


[i] “German States,” accessed March 17, 2023,

[ii] “German States.”

[iii] “The Free State of Bavaria – Bayerisches Landesportal,” accessed March 17, 2023,

[iv] “German States 2023,” accessed March 17, 2023,

[v] “U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: California,” accessed March 17, 2023,

[vi] “The Free State of Bavaria – Bayerisches Landesportal.”

[vii] “California,” in Wikipedia, March 16, 2023,; “Los Angeles,” in Wikipedia, March 15, 2023,

[viii] “German States 2023”; “U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: San Francisco City, California; San Francisco County, California,” accessed March 17, 2023,,sanfranciscocountycalifornia/PST045221.

[ix] “Bremen | Etymology, Origin and Meaning of Bremen by Etymonline,” accessed March 17, 2023,

[x] “Bremen | Germany, Population, Map, History, Facts, & Points of Interest | Britannica,” accessed March 17, 2023,

[xi] Wedia, “Regional Speciality Dishes in Germany,” IamExpat, accessed March 17, 2023,

[xii] Wedia.

[xiii] Wedia.

[xiv] Wedia.

[xv] Wedia.

[xvi] “10 Festivals in Germany Worthy of Your Bucket List – German Festivals & Events,” Bucket List Events, December 19, 2018,

[xvii] “Oktoberfest Festival to Take Place Again in Munich – DW – 04/29/2022.”

[xviii] “Oktoberfest Festival to Take Place Again in Munich – DW – 04/29/2022,”, accessed March 17, 2023,

4 thoughts on “How Many States Are There In Germany?

  1. Good Evening dear friend Lynda,

    Good Armchair Travel.
    In the past mostly in the ’60s and ’80s, I saw many popular and excellent WW2 English movies with German backgrounds.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and information.
    With regards and blessings,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Uma! I am learning so much about Germany. I’m glad you enjoyed the research as much as I did. I hope to go there one day sooner than later. For now we can enjoy the armchair travel! =) All My Best – Lynda

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good Morning dear friend Lynda,

    I wish you all the best and good luck in all your future endeavors.

    With regards and blessings,

    Liked by 1 person

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