The State and its Inhabitants

The people of Bavaria

Girl, ©

Tradition and the future

Tradition is very important in Bavaria. So is the future. The people in Bavaria know that they are living in one of Europe's oldest cultural landscapes with a history stretching back over more than fifteen centuries and at the same time in one of the most modern states of Europe. In Bavaria tradition and the future go hand in hand.

Bavaria is a way of life. Cheerful and relaxed, sometimes rather obstinate, but never losing sight of reality. Genuine conviviality and unforced ‘Gemütlichkeit' are among the Bavarians' virtues, as are liberal-mindedness and tolerance. "Live and let live" - that is what the much-praised ‘Liberalitas Bavarica' means. Perhaps life in Bavaria is a little less hectic than elsewhere. But the people here have more perseverance and can still distinguish clearly between the important things in life and the really important things. Bavarians live according to the principle: "Learn a lot from other people, but do not copy everything they do." Maybe that is why Bavaria has always managed to keep up with the times and nevertheless preserve its own unmistakable identity.

Bavaria's traditions are still very much alive. The numerous folk costume associations, groups fostering old customs, and traditional music bands in Bavaria are a genuine expression of its inhabitants' love of their home country. Many people here do voluntary work to support and preserve old Bavarian customs. Such fostering of tradition is a matter of course in Bavaria, and it goes without saying that traditional Bavarian clothing such as the ‘Dirndl' is perfectly acceptable in polite society.

Bavaria's "four tribes"

The three "tribes", the old Bavarians, the Franconians, and the Swabians, all differ from each other in language, customs, mentality and way of life. They were joined after 1945 by more than two million refugees, who brought their own traditions and culture with them.

The old Bavarians (from the area of the mediaeval duchy of Bavaria, the southern part of modern Bavaria). They live in the regions Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria and the Upper Palatinate and number around 6.4 million people, thus forming just over half the population of Bavaria. A cosmopolitan attitude, perseverance and an innate feeling for the arts make this people well-known and loved far beyond the border of the state.

The Franconians. The 4.1 million Franconians from the regions Upper, Middle and Lower Franconia have been part of the Bavarian federation since the start of the 19th century. They are characterised by a strong sense of community, organisational talent, and cheerfulness. They are also very quick on the uptake.

The Swabians. The Swabians' attitude to life could be characterised by the motto "Work is its own reward". The approximately 1.8 million Bavarian Swabians living in the region of the same name are said to be thrifty and tend to understatement.

The "fourth tribe". These three tribes have been joined by the Sudeten Germans, the so-called "fourth tribe", who comprise the majority of the refugees who made their home in Bavaria after 1945. The State of Bavaria has taken them under its wing. "The Bavarian State Government considers the Sudeten Germans to be one tribe among the tribes of Bavaria," says the Document of Patronage of 5 November 1962. In gratitude for their new home, these "New Bavarians" played a considerable part in the rebuilding of Bavaria after the Second World War.

Population structure in Bavaria

Total number of inhabitants 12,443,893
Men 6,088,805
Women 6,355,088

Age structure in percent

Under 15 years  15.5%
Between 15 and 65 years 68.0%
Over 65 years 16.5%

Religion in percent

Roman Catholic 67.2%
Protestant churches
(including the Free Evangelical Church) 
Other religious denominations 3.6%