People in Baden-Wurttemberg are not keen to talk in superlatives, even though the state continually sets records. The region around Stuttgart, Karlsruhe and Tübingen is one of those in the EU where the most research is conducted. Baden-Wurttemberg is the German leader for patent registrations in terms of population, and famed for its inventors, such as Gottlieb Daimler, Carl Benz and Robert Bosch. Not only companies such as Bosch, Daimler, Porsche and Boss, but also small and medium-sized businesses such as Fischer (dowels), Stihl (saws) and Würth (screws) export their goods worldwide. Yet here, there is more to life than just work: Nowhere else in the country do so many starred chefs ply their trade. And the local wines are so good as to be an inside tip.

Capital: Stuttgart
Population: 10,716,644
Surface area: 35,751 km2



The “beer state” of Bavaria also produces fine wine in the Franconia region. The Oktoberfest, Neuschwanstein Castle and the magnificent Alpine scenery attract more foreign tourists than does any other federal state. Yet the slogan “Laptop and Lederhose” demonstrates that there is more to Bavaria than just a lively tradition. Its economy, which is stronger than that of Sweden, boasts global brands such as BMW, Audi, Siemens, MAN and Airbus Defence and Space. The state capital Munich commands top rankings in comparison with other German and international cities. And even outside Munich, Germany’s largest state is thriving: the annual Wagner Festival in Bayreuth is sold out every year, as is the Passion Play in Oberammergau, held once every ten years.

Capital: Munich
Population: 12,691,568
Surface area: 70,550 km2



Once a year, during the Berlinale film festival, the world of the silver screen focuses its attention on Berlin. And the city’s inhabitants are used to global interest. After all, the people of Berlin have lived in a capital city since 1458. However, there is also a shady side to the city’s history: the rule of the National Socialists and the East German regime, which built a wall right through the heart of the city. Since German unification in 1990, Berlin has once again been the undivided capital city. The Museum Island, the Berlin Philharmonic and more than 50 theaters ensure the city is unique in terms of cultural life. The “academic capital” boasts 39 universities and institutes of higher education, while also being home to businesses such as Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, while ITB, the worlds leading travel trade show, accentuates the slogan “Berlin is worth seeing”.

Capital: Berlin
Population: 3,469,849
Surface area: 892 km2


Brandenburg surrounds the capital city of Berlin and benefits from the latter’s “gin and martini belt”. However, with its numerous lakes and forests it also has several trump cards of its own. With the Hohenzollern castles, and in particular Sanssouci Castle, which is included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List, the heart of the Kingdom of Prussia possesses jewels of courtly architecture. Indeed Potsdam is considered one of Germany’s most beautiful cities, featuring many architectural highlights. Today the citizens of Brandenburg boast Hollywood productions in the film-producing town of Babelsberg, the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt an der Oder and more than 300 foreign companies, including the German HQ of Ebay.

Capital: Potsdam
Population: 2,457,872
Surface area: 29,654 km2



The Hanseatic city of Bremen arose through classic maritime trading, in particular with coffee. In the smallest of the federal states (divided into the city of Bremen, and Bremerhaven, some 60 kilometers to the north) the port accounts for every fifth job. The largest private employer, however, is Daimler; and the ports turn around 2.3 million vehicles annually. The state’s cultural life is also influenced by commerce: The Überseemuseum (Overseas Museum) and the Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum (Maritime Museum) attract visitors from all over the country. The merchants’ wealth led to the birth of a truly beautiful architectural ensemble: the town hall market square with its Baroque and Renaissance buildings, a tribute to the city’s rich history, which began when it was awarded market rights back in 888.

Capital: Bremen
Population: 661,888
Surface area: 419 km2



In the city and state of Hamburg it is the port that is the power-house of the economy, though with Airbus, Otto Versand and Beiersdorf also located here, this is not immediately apparent. The tanker terminals, mean that almost all the major oil-refining companies are represented in the port. For pleasure-seekers, there is the entertainment district of St. Pauli. Yet Hamburg’s reputation as a media and science center is of greater importance to its inhabitants. The need for culture is satisfied by renowned institutes such as the Kunsthalle and more than 30  theaters – including the state opera company with world ballet star John Neumeier. On a national basis Hamburg leads the way when it comes to musicals, which every month bring thousands of visitors thronging to the city.

Capital: Hamburg
Population: 1,762,791
Surface area: 755 km2



Frankfurt am Main is really the only city in Germany that has an international feel to it: The tallest buildings in Germany, the largest airport (alongside Paris Charles de Gaulle) and the most banks in continental Europe (including the European Central Bank). And the list of superlatives does not stop there; for example, there is the railroad station and the interstate intersection, both of which boast the highest volume of traffic in Germany. All this, despite the fact that the city has a mere 730,000 inhabitants and is not even the capital of Hesse. The elegant city of Wiesbaden has claim to that title. Otherwise the state of Hesse is rather unassuming, with a densely forested upland range of mountains, blessed with Riesling in the Rheingau region, and industry throughout. Opel in Rüsselsheim and VW near Kassel are the major industries, whereas ESA in Darmstadt is responsible for much of the European space program.

Capital: Wiesbaden
Population: 6,093,888
Surface area: 21,115 km2


Lower Saxony

The state of Lower Saxony has the shipbuilders in Papenburg to thank for its regular global TV appearances – every time the Meyer shipyard pilots a new luxury liner down the narrow River Ems. Yet the major industry in this state, which stretches from the holiday islands on the North Sea coast to the Harz Mountains, is the auto industry, including such names as Volkswagen in Wolfsburg and Continental in Hanover, which is likewise the hub for the vast operations of TUI Deutschland, one of Europe’s largest tourism corporation. Furthermore, twice a year the eyes of the world focus on the state capital: for the Hanover Industrial Trade Fair and CeBIT, the world’s largest IT trade fair. Indeed, Hanover has been an international city for a long time now, after all between 1714 and 1837 the rulers of Hanover were also the kings of England.

Capital: Hannover
Population: 7,826,739
Surface area: 47,615 km2


Mecklenburg-West Pomerania

It need not be from outer space, even from a plane Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, with more than 2,000 lakes, numerous waterways and lush green inbetween looks particularly attractive. Together with its 350-kilometer-long Baltic coastline, this Northeastern state is the major venue for water sports enthusiasts in the whole of Central Europe. Small wonder, then, that tourism is so important in this federal state. To make certain this remains the case, large parts of the state has been declared a nature conservation area. Away from the tourist centers, wind farms on the Baltic coast and small and medium-sized companies in the nutrition industry are the growth sectors in this, the country’s most thinly populated state. Northern Europe’s two oldest universities and several innovative R&D facilities make the state one of the dynamic regions for high-tech, bio-tech and medi-tech.

Capital: Schwerin
Population: 1,599,138
Surface area: 23,214 km2


North Rhine-Westphalia

No state in Germany has more inhabitants than North Rhine-Westphalia, and there is a correspondingly large number of cities: Cologne, with its Gothic cathedral, Bonn, the Federal Republic’s first capital city, Düsseldorf, the fashion-conscious state capital, Aachen, under the rule of Charlemagne the capital of Europe, Duisburg with Europe’s largest inland port, the silk town of Krefeld, the linen town of Bielefeld, not to mention Essen and Dortmund, two major cities in the Ruhr region. They bear witness to the changes Germany’s largest industrial area has seen: coal mining and steel production are more and more replaced by bio-chemicals and high-tech. Yet “NRW”, as the state is referred to, not only has one of Europe’s most highly concentrated research networks, its five UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites make it one of the most important cultural regions.

Capital: Düsseldorf
Population: 17,638,098
Surface area: 34,110 km2



The Rhine valley between Bingen and Koblenz, a gem that is for the most part located in Rhineland-Palatinate, is a key item on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. A center of wine and sparkling wine production, the state is also referred to as “Wineland-Palatinate”. Yet from an early date it has been committed to advanced technology, a prime example being chemicals giant BASF. The state has always been innovative, be it on a very longterm basis thanks to Johannes Gutenberg, who invented the first printing press with moveable type in Mainz, or on a more temporary basis with the work of Karl Marx from Trier. Culture and joie-de-vivre are celebrated in all the larger German cities that have Roman history. The festivals staged each year, far more than 50 in total, attest to this.

Capital: Mainz
Population: 4,011,582
Surface area: 19,854 km2



Saarbrücken’s film festival for German-speaking up-and-coming talent has been the launching pad for many a career, as Franka Potente and Til Schweiger have proved. The state has over the last 200 years changed nationality eight times and the French influence is highly evident. Mining is now no longer the key industry, with steel and car-making competing with IT for the number one slot. The steel industry bequeathed a fascinating attraction: Völklingen Ironworks, which is included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. The state’s most famous name, however, has to be that of Villeroy & Boch, a global player in the porcelain market.

Capital: Saarbrücken
Population: 989,035
Surface area: 2,569 km2



Meissen may well be a small town but, thanks to its porcelain, is as well known as the state capital Dresden and Leipzig, the trade-fair city. The Free State is one of the most dynamic economic regions in East Germany, in particular in IT; precision watch-making and car-making are typical of this new gearing, symbolized by the restored Frauenkirche in Dresden’s Baroque center. As in the past, Saxony’s culture is highly influential in the world of music, represented by the Semper opera house in Dresden and the 800-year old Thomaner Choir in Leipzig, where Johann Sebastian Bach was once a cantor. Is he the greatest Saxon ever? Bach at least has a serious rival – in the person of Richard Wagner.

Capital: Dresden
Population: 4,055,274
Surface area: 18,420 km2



In honor of its most famous former inhabitant, Georg Friedrich Handel, every year Halle stages a major festival. However, the composer plays second fiddle to Martin Luther, the reformer from Eisleben who transformed the Christian world. As such the town of Wittenberg is one of the most popular tourist spots in a state that boasts a wealth of castles but is also renowned for its chemicals industry. Alongside Magdeburg, Halle is one of the areas in former East Germany that has attracted the most foreign investors since unification. Today, Total maintains a refinery in Leuna, Dow Chemical has a production facility in Schkopau, as does Bayer in Bitterfeld. While nature enthusiasts are drawn to the 1141-meter high Brocken mountain, with its myth-shrouded peak: on the eve of every May 1st witches congregate here to dance.

Capital: Magdeburg
Population: 2,235,548
Surface area: 20,451 km2



The most feared mythical figure in Schleswig-Holstein is “Blanker Hans”, who stands for the destructive forces of the sea. After all, the most northern of the federal states is bordered by two seas, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Since time immemorial, ship-building and fishing have been correspondingly important. Nowadays, however, the main source of income is the service industry, though tourism is also an important economic factor. The North Sea island of Sylt is a fashionable holiday destination. Kiel, the state capital and the Hanseatic city of Lübeck, now immortal thanks to Thomas Mann, vie for the status of most important city. Alongside Puttgarden they are the state’s most important ferry ports for the Scandinavia routes. Parallel to developments in Eastern Europe the state also benefits from the Baltic Sea economic region.

Capital: Kiel
Population: 2,830,864
Surface area:  15,802 km2



The mountains in the Thuringian Forest provide a backdrop for one of Germany’s most beautiful trails, the 168-kilometer long Rennsteig. It is just as much a trademark of the state as its long thin sausages, the historic Wartburg and the Weimar poets Goethe and Schiller. However, Thuringia not only has a culinary and literary tradition, it was always a state of researchers. Zeiss and Schott founded the modern optics industry in Jena; Jenoptik is nowadays one of the most important companies there. Erfurt, the state capital, is proud of the flourishing biotechnology and microelectronics solar technology there, in addition to the excellent educational opportunities offered by four institutes of higher education.

Capital: Erfurt
Population: 2,156,759
Surface area:  16,202 km2