|State Service Flag|
|pop. density:||156 people/km²|
|Minister-President:||Dieter Althaus[?] (CDU)|
Thuringia (German Thüringen) lies in central Germany and is among the smaller of the country's sixteen Bundesländer (federal states), with an area of 16,200 sq. km. and 2.45 million inhabitants. The capital is Erfurt.
Thuringia borders on (from the north and clockwise) the German states of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Bavaria and Hesse. The major cities include Erfurt (200,000), Gera (100,000), Jena (100,000), Weimar (60,000), Gotha[?] (50,000), Eisenach (44,200) and Suhl[?] (46,700).
The most conspicuous geographical feature of Thuringia is the Thuringia Forest (Thüringer Wald), a mountain chain in the southwest. In the northwest Thuringia includes a small part of the Harz mountains. The eastern part of Thuringia is generally plain. The Saale river runs through these lowlands from south to north.
Thuringia is divided into 17 districts:
Furthermore there are six independent towns, which don't belong to any district:
Named after the Thuringian people who occupied it around 300 AD, Thuringia came under Frankish domination in the 6th century, forming a part (from 1130 a landgravate) of the subsequent Holy Roman Empire.
After the extinction of the reigning Liudolfing line of counts in 1247 and the War of the Thuringian Succession (1247-64), the western half became independent under the name of Hesse, never to become a part of Thuringia again. Most of the remaining Thuringia came under the rule of the Wettin dynasty of nearby Meissen, the nucleus of the later duchy and kingdom of Saxony. With the division of the house of Wettin in 1485, Thuringia went to the senior Ernestine branch of the family, which subsequently subdivided the area into a number of smaller states.
The Thuringian states within the German Empire were Saxony-Weimar, Saxony-Meiningen, Saxony-Altenburg, Saxony-Coburg-Gotha, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and the two principalities of Reuß.
In the Weimar Republic these mini states were dissolved. The state of Thuringia was established in 1920 by merging the above territories; only the southernmost parts of Saxony-Coburg-Gotha voted to join Bavaria. The city of Erfurt, although enclosed by Thuringian territory, remained a part of Prussia. The capital of Thuringia during the Weimar Republic was Weimar.
There was again a state of Thuringia under Soviet occupation (after 1946), but broken up into three districts in 1952 under an East German administrative restructuring. It was restored on Germany's reunification in 1990.