Germany is divided into 16 federal states (Länder), each responsible for the government of its own state, some of which look back over a long tradition. Germany has always been divided into states but over the course of the centuries the map has often changed its appearance. The states that exist today were established after 1945 but have in part retained their old ethnic traditions and characteristics as well as their historical boundaries.
Before German unification in 1990 the Federal Republic consisted initially of ten states, and later, after the reintegration of Saarland as of January 1, 1957, of 11 states, which were established in the zones occupied by the Western Powers (USA, Great Britain, France). In the Soviet-occupied zone, too, at the end of the War five states were formed in the territory which later became the GDR, but in 1952 these were transformed into a total of 14 districts (Bezirke). After the first free elections on March 18, 1990, it was decided to create five new states on GDR territory, very much along the lines of those that existed in the days before 1952. On October 3, 1990, the GDR and hence the states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg- Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia acceded to the Federal Republic. At the same time, East Berlin was united with West Berlin.
Copyright: Magazine "Deutschland"