Population: 4.5 Million (urban) 

Non-German Population: 848.400

Area: 891,3 km2.

There are 16 German States (Länder) and each of them have their own state government and particular duties. 

These include education, job training, and culture. School education, for example, can vary from state to state and should be considered when integrating children into Germany.

Germany (Deutschland) can be divided into three major geographical regions: the Northern Lowland or North German Plain, the Central Uplands, and the Alps running west to east across the country.

But each of the 16 German states has political control of a wide range of authorities which are not necessarily defined.

Below we will go more into the differences of the states as well as dive into a lot more detail for each of the states. 

If you are looking for a specific state then open the Table of Contents below and click on the state and you will be zoomed right to it. 

Table of Contents

The States Differences

The history, geography, culture, and cuisine vary considerably from state to state and is part of the adventure when moving to Germany. 

You will most likely be met by a jolly ’Moin-Moin’ greeting in the North, whereas a ‚Grüss-Gott’ would be your typical welcome in the South. 

Landscape-wise, you are spoilt for choice, with Rosamunde Pilcher style Islands and windswept beaches to Heidi and Peter Alm huts surrounded by cows with bells.

The largest Federal State is Bavaria (Bayern). The smallest is Bremen. Each one of the 16 States has a Capital and includes:

  • Three City States (Stadtstaaten): Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen.
  • Thirteen Area States (Flachenländer).
  • Three Free States (Freistaaten): Bavaria (Bayern) Saxony (Sachsen), Thuringia (Thüringen). The self-given name Free States is an old German term for Republic.


We have put together a comprehensive and informative insight into the 16 Federal States or Bundesländer and what makes them unique. 

How to Germany explains each Bundesland in detail; it includes a few facts and figures, rounding off with some little-known curiosities.

Our guide is updated regularly and is designed to help you to gain clarity on your chosen location. Before, during, and after your move.

Facts about the 16 German States

Let’s just very briefly look at the geography.

Germany shares its borders with nine neighboring European countries.

That is more countries than any other European State.

We have Denmark to the north, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, and France to the west, Switzerland and Austria to the south, and the Czech Republic and Poland to the east.

Since the German Reunification on October 3rd, 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany (or BRD) grew from 11 to 16 federal states.

At the time, the population increased from 62 to 78.2 million, a plus of 26%, and its territory by 43%, from 249,000 to 357,000 km2.

The five new former Eastern states included Bremen, Mecklenburg Vorpommern, Saxony (Sachsen), Saxon Anhalt and Thuringia (Thüringen).

Even today, there is still a differentiation between the new Eastern (Osten) federal states and the western (West) old federal states, using jargon to describe one another as either from the West – a ‚Wessi’ or from the East – an ‚Ossi’.

Oh and hey, read this quick article if you want to know why is it called a Federal State and not a Region?


Population: 4.5 Million (urban) 

Non-German Population: 848.400

Area: 891,3 km2.

One of Germany’s sixteen constituent states, Berlin is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg and contiguous with Potsdam, Brandenburg’s capital. Berlin, abbreviated BE,  is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population and its 3.6 million inhabitants make it the European Union’s most populous city.

A city full of contrasts: you’ll discover historical buildings next to modern architecture; a laid-back mentality that meets a fast-paced atmosphere; flourishing cultures from all over the world that clash with the Berliner Schnauze – Berlin nose. 

Main sites include the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag building, Potsdamer Platz, the memorial to the murdered jews of Europe, the Berlin Wall memorial, the East Side Gallery, the Berlin Victory Column, Berlin Cathedral, and the Berlin Television Tower, the tallest structure in Germany. 

BE is well known for its history and vibrance. Old and new architecture, festivals, nightlife, art galleries and a high quality of life. 

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Living in Berlin

Berlin City State is ranked 2nd best city to live in Germany and the average salary after taxes is $3122, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.8 months. 

The capital of Germany is constantly reinventing itself and you’ll see this mirrored by the people living in Berlin.

Berlin is home to world-renowned universities such as the Humboldt University, the Technical University, the Free University, the University of the Arts, ESMT Berlin, the Hertie School, and Bard College Berlin. They are also famous for their wide variety of English-taught programmes.

Berlin is also home to 3 World Heritage Sites: Museum Island; the palaces and parks of Potsdam and Berlin and modernism housing projects. Its Zoological Garden is the most visited zoo in Europe and one of the most popular worldwide. 

At first glance, Berlin might give off the impression of a grey, concrete jungle, but you’ll realise just how green it is with numerous parks, rivers and lakes covering one-third of Berlin.

While the exclusive boutiques and baroque architecture in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf create a Champs-Élysées feeling, Berlin Pankow boasts green areas, a relaxed character and magnificent streetscapes.

To get away from noise, you’ll also find a variety of co-working spaces, libraries, museums, and English-friendly cinemas.

Berlin cuisine has many influences but one of the most famous is the Berliner Currywurst. Said to have been invented in 1949 by Herta Heuwer from Königsberg, who was running a small snack stand in Charlottenburg at the time. It’s basically a sausage sliced and drowned in a spicy curry sauce. Some spicier than others. 

Due to the labour migration after World War II, the Berlin kitchen re-internationalised. Turkish immigrants are said to have invented the döner kebab in Kreuzberg in the 1970s, which is now considered one of the most typical Berlin snacks. Approximately 950 döner spits are eaten every day. 

Main Industries in Berlin

Its high living standard for relatively low costs evoked a vast startup ecosystem with endless opportunities to network. Berlin is a paradise for creatives and the city has seen the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene in both startups and large corporations. 

That’s why so many major companies are based in Berlin, including Zalando, HelloFresh, SAP and Flixbus. Opportunities are everywhere and expats that are seeking jobs or internships will be spoilt for choice. 

Babelsberg is also the world’s first large-scale movie studio complex and so Berlin is an increasingly popular location for international film productions.

Interesting facts about Berlin:

  • Berlin is nine times bigger than Paris.
  • The longest open-air gallery in the world. The East Side Gallery is 1,316 meters long and showcases over 100 murals from artists all over the world.
  • More museums than rainy days. There are 180 museums in Berlin and on average 106 rainy days.
  • Berlin’s transport system is so long that it actually travels 8.7 times around the planet Earth each day.
  • Berlin has more bridges than Venice. There are around 1,700 of bridges in Berlin. The most famous one and the prettiest is the Oberbaumbrücke. It is also known that Berlin has more waterways than Amsterdam, Stockholm and Venice together. 
  • The capital of the dog lovers. In 2011, Berlin was voted as the Germany’s most dog-friendly city, you can take your furry friend almost everywhere! 

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Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate)

Capital: Mainz 

Population: 4.1 Million 

Non-German Population: 481.495 * 

Area: 19.847 km2.

Situated in western Germany, Rhineland-Palatinate – Rheinland-Pfalz, abbreviated RP is the country’s 7th most populous federal state.

It’s bordered by the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Saarland, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse, as well as three foreign countries: France, Luxembourg and Belgium.

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Living in Rheinland-Pfalz

Rhineland-Palatinate is ranked 9th most expensive and 12th best state to live in Germany.

The average salary after taxes in Rhineland-Palatinate is $2389, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.9 months.

Known as the “State of roots and vines”, Rhineland-Palatinate’s lush, fertile landscape, upland plains and small, hilly mountain ranges, makes it an agricultural and winemaking paradise. This gives Rhineland-Palatinate its distinctive, picturesque landscape of forested land, meandering valleys and volcanic lakes. 

Along with Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate is the most forested federal state in Germany, a full 42 percent of its landmass is covered with trees. 

In addition to Riesling wine and Federweißer, Palatinate Saumagen –stuffed pig’s stomach, a meat dish made from pork, roast meat and potatoes and cooked like a boiled sausage in a pig’s stomach is a speciality from Rhineland-Palatinate. A little known fact; around 80 types of vegetables, fruit in abundance, chestnuts, nuts and even lemons, kiwis and melons grow in the states idyllic hilly landscape. 

Top 3 Expat Cities in Rheinland-Pfalz*

The 3 best cities to live in Rhineland-Palatinate are Kaiserslautern, Worms, and Koblenz.

More than 30% population of Rhineland-Palatinate live in cities with quality of life more than 70/100.


Nicknamed “K-Town”, Kaiserslautern is an international city with 99,292 inhabitants and home to people from over 140 nations. Around 45,000 Americans also live in the city and surrounding district, making it the largest American military community in Europe.

Kaiserslautern’s large botanical gardens feature a Japanese-style garden. Another unusual feature is the Waschmühle, also known as “Wesch”, an enormous 160-metre (520 ft) public swimming pool that is the largest in Europe. 

The city offers a lively inner city and good opportunities for leisure, sports and shopping. The city zoo also boasts a collection of over 103 species that guests will love learning more about and seeing up close.

Modern-day Kaiserslautern is a centre of information and communications technology, home to a well-known university, a technical college and many international research institutes located throughout the city.


The city might not have the most attractive name , but Worms has played a pivotal role in European history. From its foundation by Charlemagne in the 4th century to witnessing Martin Luther’s refusal to recant his Protestant beliefs. 

Worms is famed for its history and its wine and situated in the southwest of Germany on the Upper Rhine, a couple of hours drive southwest of Frankfurt. 

A comparatively small city, Worms has a population of around 82,000, and is known today as the home of the sweet Liebfraumilch white wine, drunk around the world. 

Worms hosts the annual Backfischfest – Baked Fish Festival, Rhineland-Palatinate’s biggest wine festival and fair.  

The city has a number of beautiful medieval churches, and is home to the University of Applied Sciences, which offers its renowned Aviation Management and Air Traffic Management programmes, both of which are available in English. 

The university has around 4,000 students, and the city is an affordable place to live for those studying.

The economy of Worms is based mainly on the services industry, chemical production and woodwork, all of which provide jobs across the city and region. Shipping is also a major source of employment, with around 450,000 tons of shipping passing through the city each year.


Another former Roman outpost and with 106,700 inhabitants, Koblenz was named “Confluentes” for its strategically important location between the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. That area has been transformed today into the larger than life “Deutsches Eck” – German corner monument. A popular starting point to explore the Rhine and Moselle Valleys. 

The symbol of Koblenz, the Schangel-Stadt, is seen on municipal signs and even manhole covers throughout the city, and you may recognise the famous fountain of a little boy which spurts water onto unsuspecting passers-by! 

Koblenz is split by the two rivers into the old town – Aldstadt and new town – Neustadt. 

The old town dates from medieval times, with narrow streets, timbered houses, quaint shops and street cafés, whilst the new town has broad streets, frontage along the Rhine and the Löhr shopping centre. 

Expats living in Koblenz will find the city is easily accessible on foot, with a park and ride system in operation.

Main Industries in Rheinland-Pfalz

Rhineland-Palatinate leads all German states with an export rate around 50%. 

One of Europe’s high-tech regions, with above-average economic power, the city boasts a high quality of life and a focus on export activities. 

Important sectors are the wine-growing, chemical, pharmaceutical, and auto parts industries. Distinctive regional industries include gemstones, ceramics and glass, and leather.

Interesting facts about Rheinland-Pfalz:

  • Rhineland-Palatinate is both Germany’s most important producer of wine, and established in 1935, the country’s oldest tourist wine tasting route. 85 kilometres of Palatine countryside, taking in a number of spectacular sights and tasting rooms, of course.
  • One of Germany’s largest beer breweries, Bitburger, is located here.
  • The slate cliffs along the river in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a World Heritage Site, are lined with castles and ruins. Every year on the last Sunday in June, cars are banned from driving on a 120 km stretch of road from Bingen to Koblenz. This is when cyclists and skaters can enjoy the route, which ends in a big party celebrated by 150,000 visitors on both shores of the Rhine.
  • The Rhineland-Palatinate State capital is home to a carnival, the Mainzer Fassenacht or Fastnacht, which dates back to the 16th century. The climax of the carnival is the Rose Monday procession. A lovingly preserved tradition in Mainz are the "Schwellköpp" - oversized papier-mâché heads known as "swollen heads" that exaggeratedly represent typical Mainz characters and weigh up to 25 kilos.
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