The Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast. 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 12.5 million inhabitants. Bavaria's capital and largest city is Munich, the third largest city in Germany.
Bavaria is one of the oldest continuously existing states in 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 of the German Nation. 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, Upper Palatinate and Swabia.