Identification. The Free State (Freistaat) of Bavaria, the largest state in Germany, is divided into seven regions. Upper and Lower Bavaria and the Upper Palatinate form "Old Bavaria," the original homeland of the Bavarian tribes and the core area of the Grand Duchy of Bavaria. Upper, Middle, and Lower Franconia and Swabia became part of the state after 1803.
Location. Bavaria is bounded to the northwest by the German state of Hesse, due north by the territory that was the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), to the east by the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic and Austria, to the south by Austria, and to the west by the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg. Its location is 47°16′ by 50°34′ N and 8°58′ by 13°50′ E. The landscape consists of plateaus and moderately sized northern mountain ranges, the alpine foothills (Alpenvorland), and the Alps to the south, culminating in the Zugspitze at 2,963 meters. One-third of the state is Forested. The continental climate is generally severe, except for the Main and Danube basins. Average temperatures range from a high of 18° C in July to a low of —2° C in January, while extremes are common (32° C in the summer to —18° C in winter). Spring begins in April, and Bavaria has relatively long periods of frost (from 90 to 150 days, depending on proximity to the Alps). Mountain areas experience cool, wet summers and more precipitation in general, with an annual average in excess of 178 centimeters.
Demography. In 1986, the population of Bavaria was 11,026,490, with 85 percent living in communities of 2,500 or more. In 1900 61.7 percent of the population lived in Villages of less than 2,000 inhabitants.
linguistic Affiliation. High German is the official Language of the state. The North or Middle version of the Bavarian dialect is spoken as well, while South Bavarian is spoken in the South Tirol of Italy. Local variations are common: often, the dialect spoken in one village may be difficult to understand in a neighboring village. The nearest related dialects are Franconian and Swabian, spoken by the Franks and Swabians in Bavaria and neighboring German states.