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Regional Research > Germany, after 1989 > Bavaria

Localization of the federal state (Bundesland) Bavaria within Germany



The Free State of Bavaria (Freistaat Bayern) is one of the 16 Federal States (Bundesländer) of Germany and is located in the south.

Coat of Arms


The Bavarian State coat of arms (small version) consists of white (silver) and blue lozenges leaning to the right of the shield upon which rests the people's crown. The people's crown, which appeared in the coat of arms in 1923 for the first time, represents the sovereignty of the people after the collapse of the royal crown. Today there are two versions of the State coat of arms:
Great Bavarian State coat of arms (grosses bayerisches Staatswappen), not shown here.
Small Bavarian State coat of arms (kleines bayerisches Staatswappen), see above.

National Colors

The national colors of Bavaria are white (silver) and blue.

General Information

The Free State of Bavaria (Freistaat Bayern) is located in the south of Germany and in the middle of Europe. Territory-wise its Germany's largest federal state (Bundesland). Its surrounded in the west and north-west by the German federal states Baden-Württemberg, Hesse (Hessen), in the east by Thuringia (Thüringen) and Saxony (Sachsen). In the east it shares borders with the Czech Republic, in the south with Austria.
Why is Bavaria also called a Free State (Freistaat Bayern)?

Capital: München
Area: 70,549 qkm
Inhabitants: 12,3 Mio.
Administrative Districts:  &nbsp 7
Counties: 71
Independent Cities: 25
Municipalities: 2,056

(Data: 08/2004)

Political Structure

Administrative Districts

Today Bavaria is subdivided into 7 Administrative Districts called Regierungsbezirke:

Counties and Independent Cities

The 7 Bavarian administrative districts consist of 71 counties (Landkreise) and 25 independent cities (Kreisfreie Stadt) and 2,056 municipalities (Gemeinden). Additionally there are 26 so-called Groß Kreisstädte (a special status) and 314 Verwaltungsgemeinschaften (administrative associations of municipalities).


Bavaria's current administrative structure:

Counties Independent cities
County Aichach-Friedberg Amberg
County Altötting Ansbach
County Amberg-Sulzbach Aschaffenburg
County Ansbach Augsburg
County Aschaffenburg Bamberg
County Augsburg Bayreuth
County Bad Kissingen Coburg
County Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen Erlangen
County Bamberg Fürth (Bayern)
County Bayreuth Hof (Bayern)
County Berchtesgadener Land Ingolstadt
County Cham Kaufbeuren
County Coburg Kempten (Allgäu)
County Dachau Landshut
County Deggendorf Memmingen
County Dillingen an der Donau München (Munich)
County Dingolfing-Landau Nürnberg (Nuremberg)
County Donau-Ries Passau
County Ebersberg Regensburg
County Eichstätt Rosenheim
County Erding Schwabach
County Erlangen-Höchstadt Schweinfurt
County Forchheim Straubing
County Freising Weiden in der Oberpfalz
County Freyung-Grafenau Würzburg
County Fürstenfeldbruck
County Fürth
County Garmisch-Partenkirchen
County Günzburg
County Haßberge
County Hof
County Kelheim
County Kitzingen
County Kronach
County Kulmbach
County Landsberg am Lech
County Landshut
County Lichtenfels
County Lindau (Bodensee)
County Main-Spessart
County Miesbach
County Miltenberg
County Mühldorf am Inn
County München
County Neuburg-Schrobenhausen
County Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz
County Neustadt an der Aisch-Bad Windsheim
County Neustadt an der Waldnaab
County Neu-Ulm
County Nürnberger Land
County Oberallgäu
County Ostallgäu
County Passau
County Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm
County Regen
County Regensburg
County Rhön-Grabfeld
County Rosenheim
County Roth
County Rottal-Inn
County Schwandorf
County Schweinfurt
County Starnberg
County Straubing-Bogen
County Tirschenreuth
County Traunstein
County Unterallgäu
County Weilheim-Schongau
County Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen
County Wunsiedel im Fichtelgebirge
County Würzburg

Structure before 1972/78

In 1972 and 1978 Bavaria had a major re-organization of the administrative system; a County-reform (Landkreisreform) and the Municipality-reform (Gemeindereform). Aim was to downsize the number of existing administrative counties (Landkreise) and municipalities (Gemeinden). Following this, many formerly independent places and municipalities became part of another municipality (and sometimes with this even became part of another county). Also some formerly existing counties were combined and the old county names ceased to exist. In some areas places even changed the Administrative District (Regierungsbezirk) they belonged too.

Bayern 2005     after 1972/78 before 1972 in 1817 (Kingdom of Bavaria)
Administrative Districts: 7 7 7 different structure (**)see here
Counties: 71 71 143 different structure
Municipalities: 2,056 4,406 7,004 over 40,000

Church Structure

Bavaria's population is to 67,2 % Roman-Catholic (römisch-katholisch), to 23,9 % protestant (evangelisch-lutherisch), with 3,8% others religions (andere Konfessionen), according to data from 1987.
Due to historically reasons the old-Bavarian areas called Altbayern: Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, Upper Palatinate are mainly Roman-Catholic, while e.g. Middle Franconia is primarily protestant as well as large parts of Upper Franconia.


Today the Ev.-Luth. Kirche in Bayern (Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Bavaria) has ca. 2,75 mio. members and is organized in 6 Kirchenkreise (church districts), ca. 68 Dekanate (deaneries) and 1,531 Kirchengemeinden (parishes).

Church book archive info see either:



Today the Röm.-Kath. in Bayern (Roman-Catholic Church of Bavaria) has ca. 7 mio. members and is organized in 7 dioceses (Bistümer). Information and addresses of all current day catholic parishes:

Church book archive info see either:

Jewish Communities


Historical Political Structure

Historical territories of Bavaria:
Historically Bavaria is one of the oldest German states. It dates back to about 500 A.D. and in the 6th century a Bavarian Duchy arose at the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. From 1180 until 1918 Bavaria was ruled by the House of Wittelsbach (Wittelsbach Dynastie), with inbetween changing territories.
Franconia (Franken) and Swabia (Schwaben) became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria only after 1806. The territory that is nowadays known as Franconia consisted a long time of many separate, former sovereign states, numerous ecclesiastical holdings and secular territories. For example, the Margravates (Principalities) Brandenburg-Ansbach and Brandenburg-(Kulmbach)-Bayreuth, also called: Principality beyond Gebürgs and Principality above Gebürgs were territories of the Franconian House of Hohenzollern. The situation in Swabia was similar.

Before 1623 Duchy of Bavaria (Herzogtum Bayern)
1623 Electorate of Bavaria, after 1628 incl. Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz)
1777 Electorate Bavaria (Kurfürstentum Bayern), incl. Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz) and Kurpfalz, incl. Duchies of Neuburg, Sulzbach, Jülich, Berg and Duchy Pfalz-Zweibrücken;
1803 Kurpfalzbayern
1806 Kingdom of Bavaria (Königreich Bayern), now incl. territories of Franconia (Franken) and Swabia (Schwaben)
1810 territory of the Kingdom changed, (without Palatinate Pfalz)
1816 territory of the Kingdom changed, (now again incl. Palatinate Pfalz)
1918, November 8 Free State of Bavaria (Freistaat Bayern). Abolishment of the monarchy.
1919, April 4 Räterepublik Baiern
1946, December 2 Free State of Bavaria (a Federal State of Federal Republic of Germany)
Maps, Territory development of Bavaria, 1777-1997, (Gebietsentwicklung Bayerns von 1777-1997, HDBG)

Administrative Organization


Genealogical Literature

Historical Literature

Gazetteers and Maps



Archives and Libraries




Ethnology and Local History


Historically Bavaria has 3 tribes (Stämme) and since the end of WW2 an additional so-called Fourth Tribe:

The Old Bavarians (die Altbayern)
They live in the administrative districts of Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria and the Upper Palatinate. With ca. 6,3 million the Altbayern constitute over half of the population of Bavaria.

The Franks (die Franken)
The tribe of the ca. 4,1 million Franken lives in the administrative districts of Middle Franconia, Upper Franconia and Lower Franconia, these areas have become part of the Bavarian State only in the early 19th century.

The Swabians (die Schwaben)
The tribe of nowadays ca. 1,7 million Schwaben lives in the administrative district of Swabia, they have also joined the Bavarian State only in the early 19th century.

The Fourth Tribe (die Sudetendeutschen)
A fourth ethnic group, the so-called Sudeten Germans (e.g. German Bohemians), who constituted the largest number of evicted people that made Bavaria their home after 1945, have joined the other three tribes. After WW2 the Sudeten Germans (as millions of other people from Eastern Europe) were forcefully evicted from their homelands of many centuries (e.g. Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia). The Free State of Bavaria took in totally ca. 1,9 million evicted people (German Bohemian over 1,0 million) and took them under its protection. At that time this constituted ca. 21 % of the total population of Bavaria. The Bavarian State Government regards the Sudeten Germans as one of the ethnic tribes of Bavaria, reads the Certificate of Investiture of Nov 5, 1962.

More information, see: The integration of the refugees and evicted people in Bavaria after 1945 (in German)
An online exhibition of the HDBG - Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte (House of the Bavarian History) - with many charts, maps and pictures.


Regional Food

Regional Landscapes

Bavaria has four main regional landscapes (Landschaften):

  • Bayerische Alpen
  • Alpenvorland
  • Ostbayerisches Mittelgebirge
  • Schwäbisch-fränkisches Schichtstufenland

Internet Links

Official Websites

  • Bavaria (in English, official homepage)
  • Bayern (in German, official homepage)

Genealogical Websites

  • Bavaria GenWeb Homepage
  • Bavaria - FAQ
  • Bavarian Surnames Index
  • FOKO - FAQ in English, Database of researched surnames and researchers contact/address data
  • FOKO Database direct Link
  • Ollig Archiv - Totenzettel / Sterbebilder Collection of special forms of Bavarian obituaries
    Click on left side on Totenzettel / Sterbezettel, see: alphabetisch sortierte Liste der Familiennamen (alphabetical sorted list of surnames). This online available collection contains currentyl over 20,000 persons with ca. 7,721 surnames. The main part of the collection comes from the Bavarian area. Available data: Familien- und Geburtsname (family or birth surname), additionally if available, Geburts- und Sterbedatum und Ort (birth/death date and place), Beruf (occupation), Ort der Bestattung (place of burial), Name und Ort der Druckerei (name and place of the company who printed the Sterbebilder).

Genealogical Mailinglists

Miscellaneous Websites

Administrative Districts in the Federal State Bavaria

Mittelfranken (Middle Franconia) | Niederbayern (Lower Bavaria) | Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria) | Oberfranken (Upper Franconia) |
Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate) | Schwaben (Swabia) | Unterfranken (Lower Franconia) |


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