Franconia (German: Franken) is a region in Germany, characterised by its culture and language, and may be roughly associated with the areas in which the East Franconian dialect group, colloquially referred to as "Franconian" (German: "Fränkisch"), is spoken. There are several other Franconian dialects, but only the East Franconian ones are colloquially referred to as "Franconian". "Core Franconia" is constituted by the three administrative regions of Lower, Middle, and Upper Franconia (largest cities: Würzburg, Nuremberg, and Bamberg, respectively) of the state of Bavaria. Also part of the cultural region of Franconia are the adjacent Franconian-speaking regions of the otherwise Thuringian and Upper Saxon-speaking state of Thuringia (South Thuringia, south of the Rennsteig ridge; largest city: Suhl), the Franconian-speaking parts of Heilbronn-Franconia (largest city: Schwäbisch Hall) in the state of Baden-Württemberg, and small parts of the state of Hesse. Those parts of the region of Vogtland lying in the state of Saxony (largest city: Plauen) are sometimes regarded as Franconian as well, because the Vogtlandian dialects are mostly East Franconian. The inhabitants of Saxon Vogtland, however, mostly do not consider themselves as "Franconian". On the other hand, the inhabitants of the Hessian-speaking parts of Lower Franconia west of the Spessart mountains (largest city: Aschaffenburg) do consider themselves as "Franconian". Heilbronn-Franconia's largest city of Heilbronn and its surrounding areas being South Franconian-speaking, those are only sometimes regarded as Franconian. Franconia's largest city and unofficial capital is Nuremberg, which is contiguous with Erlangen and Fürth, with which it forms a large conurbation. The German word Franken—Franconians—also refers to the ethnic group, which is mainly to be found in this region. They are to be distinguished from the Germanic tribe of the Franks, and historically formed their easternmost settlement area. The origins of Franconia lie in the settlement of the Franks from the 6th century in the area probably populated until then mainly by the Elbe Germanic people in the Main river area, known from the 9th century as East Francia (Francia Orientalis). In the Middle Ages the region formed much of the eastern part of the Duchy of Franconia and, from 1500, the Franconian Circle. In the course of the restructuring of the south German states by Napoleon after the demise of the Holy Roman Empire, most of Franconia was awarded to Bavaria.


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