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States of Germany information

German states
CategoryFederated state
Areas419.4 km2 (161.92 sq mi) (Bremen) –
70,549.4 km2 (27,239.29 sq mi) (Bavaria)
  • State government
  • Borough, District, Amt, Governmental district

The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen states (German: Länder, sing. Land; colloquially also (sing.) Bundesland/(pl.) Bundesländer, "Federate State/s").[1][2] Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen (with its seaport exclave, Bremerhaven) are called Stadtstaaten ("city-states"), while the other thirteen states are called Flächenländer ("area states") and include Bavaria, Saxony, and Thuringia which describe themselves as Freistaaten ("free states").

The Federal Republic of Germany ("West Germany") was created in 1949 through the unification of the three western zones previously under American, British, and French administration in the aftermath of World War II. Initially, the states of the Federal Republic were Baden (until 1952), Bavaria (in German: Bayern), Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse (Hessen), Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen), Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz), Schleswig-Holstein, Württemberg-Baden (until 1952), and Württemberg-Hohenzollern (until 1952). West Berlin, while still under occupation by the Western Allies, viewed itself as part of the Federal Republic and was largely integrated and considered a de facto state. In 1952, following a referendum, Baden, Württemberg-Baden, and Württemberg-Hohenzollern merged into Baden-Württemberg. In 1957, the Saar Protectorate joined the Federal Republic as the state of Saarland.

The next change occurred with German reunification in 1990, in which the territory of the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) became part of the Federal Republic, by accession of the re-established eastern states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), Saxony (Sachsen), Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt), and Thuringia (Thüringen), and the reunification of West and East Berlin into a city state. A referendum in 1996 to merge Berlin with surrounding Brandenburg failed to reach the necessary majority vote in Brandenburg, while a majority of Berliners voted in favour.

Federalism is one of the entrenched constitutional principles of Germany. According to the German constitution, some topics, such as foreign affairs and defence, are the exclusive responsibility of the federation (i.e., the federal level), while others fall under the shared authority of the states and the federation. The states retain residual or exclusive legislative authority for all other areas, including "culture", which in Germany includes not only topics such as the financial promotion of arts and sciences, but also most forms of education and job training (see Education in Germany). Though international relations including international treaties are primarily the responsibility of the federal level, the constituent states have certain limited powers in this area: in matters that affect them directly, the states defend their interests at the federal level through the Bundesrat ("Federal Council"), and in areas where they have the legislative authority they have limited powers to conclude international treaties "with the consent of the federal government".[3]

  1. ^ Christian Tomuschat, David P. Currie (April 2010). "Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany" (PDF). Deutscher Bundestag Public Relations Division. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  2. ^ House of Commons of the United Kingdom (28 February 1991). "House of Commons debates (Welsh affairs)". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  3. ^ Leonardy, Uwe (1998). "Länder Power-Sharing in International Relations and European Affairs". The institutional structures of German federalism. Working papers / Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, London Office (electronic ed.). Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

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