As we move through our summer recess, here is the second in a series of articles about the German states. This article will feature the State of Bavaria:
Bavaria is the largest of the modern-day states of Germany. Historically, Bavaria includes the earliest-known settlement of Iron Age Celtic Tribes. Theses tribes were a part of the conquest of the Roman Empire in the first century B.C. By the sixth century A.D., Bavaria became a duchy after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Following, it became a part of the Holy Roman Empire and was recognized as an independent kingdom. Later, it joined the Prussian-led German Empire but still retained its title of kingdom and finally became a state of the Federal Republic of Germany. Bavaria has a unique culture, largely due to its Catholic majority and conservative traditions. The Bavarian pride in culture centers on language, cuisine, architecture, festivals like Oktoberfest and elements of Alpine symbolism. The state has the second largest economy among the German states, which affords it a rather wealthy status.
Bavarians have often emphasized a separate national identity and considered themselves as Bavarians first, Germans second. Today, modern Bavarians predominately recognize themselves as part of Germany. An interesting fact today is that Bavaria has two official flags – one with a blue and a white stripe, the other is made up of blue and white diamonds. Bavaria shares international borders with Austria, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. Neighboring states are Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse, Thuringia and Saxony. Two major rivers flow through Bavaria. They are the Donau (Danube) and the Main. The major cities are Munich (Muenchen), Nuremberg (Nuernberg), Augsburg, Regensburg, Wuerzburg, Ingolstadt, Fuerth and Erlangen.
The Constitution of Bavaria was enacted on December 8, 1946. The state has a unicameral landtag (legislature). Unicameral simply means that there is one and only one house in their legislature. Up until December of 1999, their legislature also had a senat (Senate) which consisted of members chosen by social and economic groups in Bavaria. By way of a referendum, this institution was abolished. The Bavarian State Government consists of the minister-president, 11 ministers and six secretaries of State. The minister-president, the head of State, is elected for a term of five years by the state legislature. With the approval of the state legislature, he appoints the remaining members of the state government.
The economy of Bavaria is one of the largest of any region in Germany or Europe. Its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 2007 exceeded in American dollars $600 billion. Only 20 countries in the world have a larger GDP. Some of the noteworthy companies found in Bavaria are BMW (Bayerische Motoren-Werke), Siemens, Rohde & Schwarz, Audi, Munich Re, Allianz, Infineon, MAN SE, Wacker Chemie, Puma, Adidas and Ruf.