Germany Finding Cultural Areas
It is sometimes hard to pinpoint a place of origin for an ancestor because what seems to be a village name is in reality, not. Ancestors may have given a cultural area as a point of reference, i.e. they came from Odenwald, Probstei or Allgäu. In such a case one might want to try using the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency database at http://geonames.nga.mil/ggmagaz/geonames4.asp and conduct a GNS search. Typing in “Probstei” for instance, will give five options to search by latitude and longitude as well as feature types. Choosing “Probstei region” gives the co-ordinates of 54˚25’00” N and 010˚20’00”E. With these measurements one can consult a good map in order to locate the Probstei by figuring the degrees. Another option would be to consult Map quest online, choosing International, Germany and the button for latitude and longitude (Karte suchen nach Breiten- und Längengraden). Entering in the appropriate spaces degrees, minutes and seconds will find the applicable map. Enlarging the image will show details.
This procedure does not define the cultural area as such, it just shows its approximate location. To define a cultural area, Google (Image search) will usually provide a map with such features.
The above described procedure works also for topographical features such as lakes, rivers, mountains and places.
A list of German cultural areas can be obtained online through genealogy.net, choosing regional and then geographical regions.