Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria (German: Freistaat Bayern, ( listen)) is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of 70,548 square kilometres (27,200 sq mi), it is the largest 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, more than any of the three sovereign states on its borders. Bavaria's capital is Munich.
One of the oldest states of Europe, it was established as a duchy in the mid first 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). Modern Bavaria also includes parts of the historical regions of Franconia and Swabia.