Germania

Germania (/ɜːrˈmniə/ jur-MAY-nee-ə, Latin: [ɡɛrˈmaːnia]), also called Magna Germania (English: Great Germania), Germania Libera (English: Free Germania) or Germanic Barbaricum to distinguish it from the Roman provinces of the same name, was a large historical region in north-central Europe during the Roman era, which was associated by Roman authors with the Germanic peoples. The region stretched roughly from the Middle and Lower Rhine in the west to the Vistula in the east. It also extended as far south as the Upper and Middle Danube and Pannonia, and to the known parts of Scandinavia in the north. Archaeologically, these peoples correspond roughly to the Roman Iron Age of those regions. While apparently dominated by Germanic peoples, Magna Germania was also inhabited by Celts.

Map of Magna Germania in the early 2nd century AD, by Alexander George Findlay

The Latin name Germania means "land of the Germani", but the etymology of the name Germani itself is uncertain. During the Gallic Wars of the 1st century BC, the Roman general Julius Caesar encountered peoples originating from beyond the Rhine. He referred to these people as Germani and their lands beyond the Rhine as Germania. In subsequent years, the Roman emperor Augustus sought to expand across the Rhine towards the Elbe, but these efforts were hampered by the victory of Arminius at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD. The prosperous provinces of Germania Superior and Germania Inferior, sometimes collectively referred to as Roman Germania, were subsequently established in northeast Roman Gaul, while territories beyond the Rhine remained independent of Roman control.

From the 3rd century AD, Germanic peoples moving out of Magna Germania began encroaching upon and occupying parts of Roman Germania. This contributed to the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, after which territories of Roman Germania were captured and settled by migrating Germanic peoples. Large parts of Germania subsequently became part of the Frankish Empire and the later Kingdom of Germany. The name of Germany in English and many other languages is derived from the name Germania.