Franconia (Franken) is a region of northern Bavaria, a state of Germany, that was formerly a separate kingdom (a duchy) of the Holy Roman Empire. The history of the area stretches back over a thousand years. Franconia encompasses three administrative regions of Bavaria: Lower Franconia (Unterfranken), Middle Franconia (Mittelfranken), and Upper Franconia (Oberfranken). Culturally Franconians identify themselves as being different from Bavarians. Within Franconia are the historically important city of Nuremberg, the UNESCO World Heritage town of Bamberg, and a huge range of outdoor activities in the Franconian Switzerland and Franconian lake district.