Land and (federal) state

This is one of those thorny issues that stop me from writing up a guide to DE>EN legal translation. If you read to the end you will also realize that enough is enough. Germany is divided into sixteen Länder, sometimes called Bundesländer. I think it is customary in US English to call them states or federal states. I have been heard to say that Germany is a federal state so its constituent parts can't be, but I am feeling so confused now that I can't remember if I believe that. In British English I think Land (plural Länder) is often used, sometimes in italics. The capital L marks it as foreign; the plural is a problem. But even here, I suspect that state is becoming the more common term. The problem doesn't end there, because these entities have different titles: Freistaat Bayern, Freistaat Sachsen, Freistaat Thüringen, and possibly Stadtstaat for Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin. I don't really like to write Free State of Bavaria, but it's often done. There's a wonderful illustration of the dreadful longwindedness and complexity of discussions on translation in the Talk section of the Wikipedia article on States of Germany. Do these sections get deleted? I assume not, but here's a taster:
The article states right in the beginning "Germany is a federal republic made up of 16 states formally known in German as Bundesländer ("Federal States"; singular Bundesland), or more commonly, Länder (singular Land)." As far as my information goes, that is actually totally incorrect. The term "Bundesländer" is used in common parlance, however legally speaking it does not even exist and is misleading and wrong actually. The sentence should be the other way around. I took a look into the Grundgesetz, Chapter II is titled "Der Bund und die Länder", in the english version it says "The Federation and the Länder" ...
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