This is one of my history essays, and concerns the historic make-up of Prussia-turned-Germany.
There are five categories of territory, when you go back to the formation period (mid-1800s):
Kingdoms, Grand Duchies, Duchies (without the 'grand'), Principalities, and Free/Hanseatic cities.
If you bring this topic up with most Germans.....I'd take a humble guess that 90-percent will simply nod their head because they slept through that part of the history class while as a kid. And to be honest, in 2016.....none of this matters too much.
The kingdoms? Bavaria, Prussia, Saxony, and Wurttemberg. Prussia was the largest of these and had been around since 1701....as a kingdom. It should be noted.....that a fair chunk of what is Poland today.....was Prussia in this period.
The Grand Duchies? Baden, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Oldenburg and Sachsen-Weimar.
The Duchies? Brunswick, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Coburg/Gotha, Saxe-Altenburg, and Anhalt.
The Principalities? Lippe, Reuss-Gera, Reuss-Greiz, Schaumburg-Lippe, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, and Waldeck-Pyrmont.
The Free or Hanseatic cities? Lubeck, Hamburg, and Bremen.
In some ways, there's been roughly 160 to 180 years that these German divisions have existed inside of Prussia or Germany itself.
Somewhere in the early part of this Prussia consolidation process....a number of colonies were established, such as German New Guinea (1884), and Nambia (1906).
What you see today.....is really a patch-work episode with the only common theme being the Germanic language itself.