Maybe you already managed to take a closer look at the group of gnomes presented in the center of the roundabout. Surely you noticed there is a Lady gnome surrounded by 16 other gnomes and recognised her. Not merely because of her famous gesture, but because of that too. This time not in front of the belly, but behind her back 😊
Yes, you are right! It is Angela Merkel, the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany doing her famous ‘Merkel - Raute’ amidst a group of 16 gnomes with colourful pointy hats representing the 16 ‘Bundesländer’, the federal states of Germany. Let’s have a closer look at how they came about, their names and a few words about their characteristics.
After World War II, during the occupation time from 1945-1949, most of the West German federal states emerged. Often the state borders resemble those from the time of occupation. The political reason for splitting up Germany in all these smaller federal states by the occupying powers was to keep Germany weak.
In the Eastern part of Germany a completely new state was established. It was called the German Democratic Republic and initially also consisted of several smaller federal states. In 1952 the Soviet Union abolished them all.
The East German federal states as you know them today were founded in 1990, the year of the German reunification, which we are going to celebrate on the 3rd of October for the 30th time.
The Federal Republic of Germany of today consists of 16 federal states. Three of them call themselves ‘Freistaat’ (free state) which refers to the abolition of monarchy in former times. Other 3 federal states are called ‘Stadtstaat’ (City-state) consisting mainly of one large town.
Here they all are in alphabetical order:
Baden-Württemberg: a merger of former Baden with the neighbouring Württemberg. Home of the first car production.
Bayern: free state on the territory of the former Bavarian kingdom and the largest in terms of area.
Berlin: city-state with over 3.6 Million inhabitants, the most densly populated state and seat of the German government.
Brandenburg: the core of former Prussia, embracing Berlin in its entirety.
Bremen: city-state together with its sister town Bremerhaven and the smallest in terms of area and population.
Hamburg: city-state, leading member of the former ‘Hanse’ and second biggest city in Germany.
Hessen: lies in the middle of Germany. The Rhein-Main conurbation has the highest industrial density after the Ruhr area.
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: the most sparsely populated federal state with the longest coast line and the home of Angela Merkel.
Niedersachsen: a merger of several north-western states, second largest in terms of area with borders to 9 other federal states.
Nordrhein-Westfalen: the largest federal state in terms of population and home of the former West-German capital Bonn.
Rheinland-Pfalz: formed in 1947 from parts of former Prussia, Bavaria and Hessen, home to some of the most famous wine regions.
Saarland: smallest in terms of area after the city-states, incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany in 1957.
Sachsen: free state and with Leipzig, one of the leading exhibition sites in Germany. Gnomes production started there in the late 19th century. 😊
Sachsen-Anhalt: the home of Martin Luther and the beginning of the reformation, famous also for the Rotkäppchen sparkling wine.
Schleswig-Holstein: the most northern federal state and the only one with vast coastlines on the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
Thüringen: free state and birthplace of the ‘Bauhaus’ with a high density of cultural sites and famous for the ‘Thüringer Bratwurst’.
Have a closer look at the roundabout, guess which gnome’s hat represents which federal state and find some celebrities from each state. Discuss with your colleagues and friends and have fun.
Be aware that there is a difference between the banner, flag and coat of arms, and there is a lot to learn about the regulations involved. But we are pretty sure you don’t want to hear about them now and refer you to the link below for more information about our federal constituency.
If you want to learn more see https://www.deutschland.de/en
all pictures of the gnomes and the roundabout: ©Hubert Rauscher
★ all the design and realisation of the gnomes by Elena Strobl ★