Baden-Württemberg is third largest German state both in terms of area and population. It was created in December 1951 by the merger of the states of Württemberg-Baden, Württemberg-Hohenzollern and South Baden. Its capital is Stuttgart.
Baden-Württemberg borders on (clockwise from the North) the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Bavaria, Switzerland, and Alsace in France.
It has a surface area of 35,752 km² (slightly bigger than Belgium), a population of 10,741,000 inhabitants (almost exactly like Belgium). It is divided into 35 districts (Kreise) and 9 independent cities (Stadtkreise).
The Danube, Europe's longest river (outside Russia) has its source in the Black Forest, in the south of Baden-Württemberg.
People in Baden-Württemberg speak four distinct dialects of Upper German : South Franconian (in the northwest, around Heidelberg, Heilbronn and Karlsruhe), Swabian (most of the center and east, including Stuttgart, Ulm and Hohenzollern), Low Alemanic (west and south, from Alsace to Lake Constance) and High Alemanic (in the south-western corner, near Basel and Winterthur).
Famous people from Baden-Württemberg include (chronologically): the mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, the poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller, the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the engineer and industrialist Gottlieb Daimler, the aircraft manufacturer Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the car engineer Karl Benz, the industrialist and engineer Robert Bosch, the poet and novelist Hermann Hesse, the physicist Albert Einstein, the fashion designer Hugo Boss, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the tennis player Boris Becker and the tennis player Steffi Graf.
The region was settled in ancient times by various Germanic tribes known collectively as the Swabians (also called Suebi or Suevi or Alamanni). Conquered by Julius Caesar, the area became part of the Roman Province of Gallia Belgica, then to its subdivision of Germania Superior (with its capital in Moguntiacum, present-day Mainz).
Originally a loose confederation of unrelated tribes, the Alamanni underwent coalescence during the 3rd century, and were ruled by kings throughout the 4th and 5th centuries. In 406, some of them joined the Alans and Vandals in the invasion of the crumbling Roman Empire. They crossed the Pyrenees and settled in the Roman province of Gallaecia, were accepted by Emperor Honorius as foederati, and created their own Suebian kingdom of Gallaecia.
In 496, those who had stayed in Swabia were defeated by Clovis I, King of the Franks, at the Battle of Tolbiac. In the 6th and 7th centuries, Swabia became a Frankish duchy, one of the original stem duchies of Germany.
Following the Treaty of Verdun of 843 splitting Charlemagne's Empire between his three grandsons, Swabia was granted to Louis the German, King of East Francia (the precursor of the Holy Roman Empire).
In the 10th century, the Duchy of Swabia comprised most of Baden-Württemberg (except the north), as well as Alsace and northern Switzerland. The region of Heidelberg belonged to Franconia.
Later in medieval times what is now Baden-Württemberg belonged notably to the Palatinate of the Rhine, the Margraviate of Baden, the Duchy of Württemberg, the Duchy of Fürstenberg, the County (then Principality) of Hohenzollern (several subdivisions), as well as various Habsburg fiefs.
The Habsburg family originated in southern Swabia, in present day Switzerland, and progressively expanded their domain until becoming the most powerful monarchy on the continent. The Hohenzollern went on to become Burgraves of Nuremberg, Margraves (then Duke-Electors) of Brandenburg, Dukes (then Kings) of Prussia, and eventually Emperors of Germany.
Napoleon elevated Baden to the Grand Duchy, and Württemberg to a Kingdom. Both became his allies against Prussia. In 1871, the Grand Duchy of Baden and the Kingdom of Württemberg joined the new German Empire.