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Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a State of Germany, located in the southeast of the country. It is the largest German state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany. Bavaria is Germany's second most populous state (after North Rhine-Westphalia) with almost 12.5 million inhabitants. Bavaria's capital is Munich.
One of the oldest states of Europe, it was established as a duchy in the mid 1st millennium. In the 17th century, the Duke of Bavaria became a Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. The Kingdom of Bavaria existed from 1806 to 1918, and Bavaria has since been a free state (republic).
Bavaria is a predominantly Catholic state with a distinct culture.