Germany (Deutschland) is a Constitutional Monarchy, consisting of thirty states, known in German as Länder (singular Land). Since Land is the literal German word for "country", the term Reichsländer (imperial states; singular Reichsland) is commonly used colloquially, as it is more specific, though technically incorrect within the corpus of German law. Speaking of the relationship with each other, the states in Germany are called Bundesländer or (singular) Bundesland.
The citizens of the states form the nation of Germany, and have the right of abode within the states. The area covered by the 30 states is completely and solely the territory of Germany. The governments of the states form part of the government of Germany.
The cities of Lübeck and Hamburg are states in their own right, while the State of Bremen consists of two cities, Bremen and Bremerhaven. These three are termed Stadtstaaten (city states). The remaining 27 states are termed Flächenländer (area states). Berlin and Vienna are not city-states, but hold special status as, and have rights roughly equivalent to the city-states.
After the end of the First World War, the states were re-ordered under the direction of Chancellor Friedrich Höhne, with Sudeten German land being incorporated into the surrounding German states from Bohemia and Moravia. This settled the feeling that Germans were not being represented well within Bohemia, and also gave the Czech-speaking Germans their own distinct Land within the German Reich. Following the Second World War, Germany incorporated Belfort from France, and governed the Free County of Burgundy and Lorraine for a period of 10 years with the British and American allies. By 1949, the states of Germany were re-organized, merging several smaller states into their surrounding territories, and creating Thuringia. The Kaiser or Kaiserin still acts as an executive, but his power has gradually been reduced to the comparable executive powers of the American President.
The use of the term Länder (countries) comes from the Berlin constitution of 1919, before they were called Staaten (states). The addition of Bundes- (federal) is very common but not the correct term in the constitution of 1919 or the Basic Law of 1949 (which is Reichsländer). Three Länder actually call themselves Freistaat (free state, republic), Hannover (since 1949), the Rhineland (since 1990) and Thuringia (1994).
Many of the current states have the same names with territory substantially the same as their namesakes, the former sovereign countries (for example Bavaria and Saxony which have along with Bremen nearly the same territory as in 1871).
The 37 states, by reference to the numbers on the map above, are:
- Template:Country data Alsace (Elsaß)
- Template:Country data Baden
- Template:Country data Bavaria (Bayern)
- Template:Country data Berlin
- Template:Country data Bohemia (Böhmen)
- Template:Country data Brandenburg
- Template:Country data Bremen
- Template:Country data Carinthia (Kärnten)
- Template:Country data Carniola (Krain)
- Template:Country data East Prussia (Ostpreußen)
- Template:Country data Hamburg
- Template:Country data Hanover
- Template:Country data Hesse (Hessen)
- Template:Country data Liechtenstein
- Template:Country data Lorraine (Lothringen)
- Template:Country data Lower Austria (Niederösterreich)
- Template:Country data Lower Silesia (Niederschlesien)
- Template:Country data Lübeck
- Template:Country data Mecklenburg
- Template:Country data Moravia (Mähren)
- Template:Country data New East Prussia (Neuostpreußen)
- Template:Country data Pomerania (Pommern)
- Template:Country data Rhineland (Rheinland)
- Template:Country data Saarland-Palatinate (Saarland-Pfalz)
- Template:Country data Salzburg
- Template:Country data Saxony (Sachsen)
- Template:Country data Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt)
- Template:Country data Schleswig-Holstein
- Template:Country data South Prussia (Südpreußen)
- Template:Country data Styria (Steiermark)
- Template:Country data Thuringia (Thüringen)
- Template:Country data Tyrol (Tirol)
- Template:Country data Upper Austria (Oberösterreich)
- Template:Country data Upper Silesia (Oberschlesien)
- Template:Country data Vorarlberg
- Template:Country data West Prussia (Westpreußen)
- Template:Country data Westphalia (Westfalen)
- Template:Country data Württemberg
The description free state (Freistaat) is merely a historic synonym for republic—a description used by the three German states mentioned above. Today, Freistaat is associated emotionally with a more independent status, especially in the Rhineland. However, it has no legal meaning. All thirty-seven states are represented at the federal level in the Reichsrat (Federal Council), where their voting power merely depends on the size of their population.