The alpine regions of the south were Bavarian territory from medieval times on. In the 11th and 12th centuries many villages were founded in the mountains, one of those settlements was Berchtesgaden.
The northern portions on the Salzach River belonged to the bishopric principality of Salzburg. This state existend until the early 19th century and was a buffer state between Bavaria and Austria. In 1816 it was divided along the Salzach line and shared out between Bavaria and Austria. The western half is today part of the district of Berchtesgadener Land.
The district was established in 1972 by merging the former districts of Berchtesgaden and Laufen and the city of Bad Reichenhall.
This district comprises the southeastern tip of Bavaria. It consists of a high alpine countryside in the south, with mountains rising to more than 2500 m, and of a strip along the Salzach River. The city of Salzburg (Austria) is located on the opposite side of the Salzach, across from the town of Freilassing.
The very south is occupied by the Berchtesgaden National Park (210 km²) comprising the Watzmann massif (2713 m) and the Königssee, a lake of 5.2 km² surrounded by majestic mountains.
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