This article is about the capital of Germany. For other articles with similar names, see Berlin (disambiguation).


Location in Germany and Europe
Coordinates :
52°31′07″N, 13°24′30″E
Time zone :
Flag Coat of arms
Flag of Berlin
Coat of Arms of Berlin
Basic information
Area 891.82  km² City
5,370  km² Metro Area
Population 3,399,511 (06/2006)
3,675,000 Urban Area
4,262,480 Metro Area
Density 3,812/km²
Elevation 34 - 115 m
Country Germany
State Berlin
Subdivisions 12 Bezirke
Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit since 2001
Governing Parties SPD / Linkspartei

Berlin is the capital city and one of the sixteen states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is the heart of the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan region, located in northeastern Germany. With a population of 3.4 million, Berlin is the country's largest city, and the second most populous city in the European Union.

Berlin is one of the most influential centers in European politics, culture and science.[1][2] The city serves as an important hub of continental transportation and is home to some of the most prominent universities, sport events, orchestras and museums.[3] Its economy is based on the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of media and life science corporations, convention venues, research institutes, and creative industries.[4][5][6]

The rapidly evolving metropolis enjoys an international reputation for its festivals, contemporary architecture, nightlife and avant-garde arts.[7] Being a major tourist center and home to people from over 180 nations,[8] Berlin is a focal point for individuals who are attracted by its liberal lifestyle, urban eclecticism and artistic freedom.[9][10][11]

First documented in the 13th century, Berlin became successively the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia (from 1701), the German Empire (1871-1918), the Weimar Republic (1919-1932) and the Third Reich (1933-1945). After World War II, the city was divided. East Berlin became the capital of the GDR (East Germany), while West Berlin remained a West German enclave surrounded by the Berlin Wall from 1961-1989.[12] Following the reunification in 1990, the city regained its status as the capital of all Germany.




The name Berlin, which is pronounced /bə(r)ˈlɪn/ in English and /bɛɐˈliːn/ in German, is of uncertain origin, but may be related to the Old Polabian stem berl-/birl- "swamp".[13]

 Frederick the Great was the enlightened Prussian King.
Frederick the Great was the enlightened Prussian King.

The first written mention of towns in the area of present-day Berlin dates from the late 12th and early 13th century. The suburb of Spandau is first mentioned in 1197, and Köpenick in 1209, though these areas did not join Berlin until 1920. The central part of Berlin can be traced back to two towns: Cölln (on the Fisher Island) is first mentioned in a 1237 document, and Berlin (across the Spree in what is now called the Nikolaiviertel) in one from 1244. From the beginning, the two cities formed an economic and social unit. In 1307, the two cities were united politically. Over time, the twin cities came to be known simply as Berlin, the larger of the pair.

The brown bear has been used as a symbol of Berlin since the thirteenth century. A seal used in 1280 shows two upright bears facing each other with the red Brandenburg eagle in the center.[citation needed]

In 1415 Frederick I became the elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, which he ruled until 1440. Subsequent members of the Hohenzollern family ruled until 1918 in Berlin, first as electors of Brandenburg, then as kings of Prussia, and finally as German emperors. In 1448 citizens rebelled in the “Berlin Indignation” against the construction of a new royal palace by Elector Frederick II Irontooth. This protest was not successful, however, and the citizenry lost many of its political and economic privileges. In 1451 Berlin became the royal residence of the Brandenburg electors, and Berlin had to give up its status as a free Hanseatic city. In 1539 the electors and the city officially became Lutheran.


17–19th century

Napoleon conquering Berlin in 1806, marching through the Brandenburg Gate.
Napoleon conquering Berlin in 1806, marching through the Brandenburg Gate.

The Thirty Years' War between 1618 and 1648 had devastating consequences for Berlin. A third of the houses were damaged and the city lost half of its population. Frederick William, known as the “Great Elector”, who had succeeded his father George William as ruler in 1640, initiated a policy of promoting immigration and religious toleration. With the Edict of Potsdam in 1685, Frederick William invited the French Huguenots to Brandenburg. More than 15,000 Huguenots came, of whom 6,000 settled in Berlin. Around 1700, approximately twenty percent of Berlin's residents were French, and their cultural influence was great. Many other immigrants came from Bohemia, Poland, and Salzburg.

With the coronation of Frederick I in 1701 as king, Berlin became the capital of the kingdom of Prussia. In 1740 Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great (1740-1786) came to power. Berlin became, under the rule of the philosophically-oriented Frederick II, center of the Enlightenment. The Industrial Revolution transformed Berlin during the 19th century; the city's economy and population expanded dramatically, and it became the main rail hub and economic center of Germany. Additional suburbs soon developed and increased the area and population of Berlin. In 1861, outlying suburbs including Wedding, Moabit, and several others were incorporated into Berlin. In 1871, Berlin became capital of the newly founded German Empire.


20th century

In this Soviet photograph from May 2, 1945, Red Army soldiers are raising the Soviet flag on the roof of the Reichstag.
In this Soviet photograph from May 2, 1945, Red Army soldiers are raising the Soviet flag on the roof of the Reichstag.
The Berlin Wall in 1986, brightly painted on the western side. Those trying to cross the so-called death strip on the eastern side were at risk of being shot.
The Berlin Wall in 1986, brightly painted on the western side. Those trying to cross the so-called death strip on the eastern side were at risk of being shot.

At the end of World War I in 1918, the Weimar Republic was proclaimed in Berlin. In 1920, the Greater Berlin Act united dozens of suburban cities, villages, and estates around Berlin into a greatly expanded city and established Berlin as a separate administrative region. After this expansion, Berlin had a population of around 4 million. 1920s Berlin was an exciting city known for its liberal subcultures, including homosexuals and prostitution and well known for its fierce political street fights. This is portrayed in the 1972 film Cabaret, set in 1931.

The Nazi Party came to power in 1933 and started World War II in 1939. Nazi rule destroyed Berlin's Jewish community, which numbered 170,000 before the Nazis came to power. After the pogrom of Kristallnacht in 1938, thousands of the city's German Jews were imprisoned in the nearby Sachsenhausen concentration camp or, in early 1943, were shipped to death camps, such as Auschwitz. During the war, large parts of Berlin were destroyed in the 1943–45 air raids and during the Battle of Berlin. After the end of the war in Europe in 1945, Berlin received large numbers of refugees from the Eastern provinces. The victorious powers divided the city into four sectors, analogous to the occupation zones into which Germany was divided. The sectors of the Western Allies (the United States, the United Kingdom, and France) formed West Berlin, while the Soviet sector formed East Berlin.[14]

The Cold War border sign at Checkpoint Charlie
The Cold War border sign at Checkpoint Charlie

All four allies retained shared responsibility for Berlin. However, the growing political differences between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union led the latter, which controlled the territory surrounding Berlin, to impose the Berlin Blockade, an economic blockade of West Berlin. The allies successfully overcame the Blockade by airlifting food and other supplies into the city from 24 June 1948 to 11 May 1949.[15] In 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in West Germany, while the Marxist-Leninist German Democratic Republic was proclaimed in East Germany.

The founding of the two German states increased Cold War tensions. West Berlin was surrounded by East German territory. East Germany, however, proclaimed East Berlin (which it described only as "Berlin") as its capital, a move that was not recognized by the western powers. Although half the size and population of West Berlin, it included most of the historic center. The tensions between east and west culminated in the construction of Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin and other barriers around West Berlin by East Germany on 13 August 1961 and were exacerbated by a tank standoff at Checkpoint Charlie on 27 October 1961. West Berlin was now de facto a part of West Germany with a unique legal status, while East Berlin was de facto a part of East Germany.

The Bundeskanzleramt is the seat of the German chancellor since 2001
The Bundeskanzleramt is the seat of the German chancellor since 2001

Berlin was completely separated. It was possible for Westerners to pass from one to the other only through strictly controlled checkpoints. For most Easterners, travel to West Berlin or West Germany was no longer possible. In 1971, a Four-Power agreement guaranteed access across East Germany to West Berlin and ended the potential for harassment or closure of the routes.

In 1989 pressure from the East German population brought a transition to capitalism in East Germany, and its citizens gained free access across the Berlin Wall, which was subsequently mostly demolished. Not much is left of it today; the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain near the Oberbaumbrücke over the Spree preserves a portion of the Wall. In 1990 the two parts of Germany were reunified as the Federal Republic of Germany, and Berlin became the German capital according to the unification treaty. In 1999 the German parliament and government began their work in Berlin.



The urban pool "Badeschiff" at River Spree in summer
The urban pool "Badeschiff" at River Spree in summer

Berlin is located in eastern Germany, about 110 kilometers (65 miles) west of the border with Poland. Berlin's landscape was shaped by ice sheets during the last ice age. The city center lies along the river Spree in the Berlin-Warsaw Urstromtal (ancient river valley), formed by water flowing from melting ice sheets at the end of the last Ice Age. The Urstromtal lies between the low Barnim plateau to the north, and the Teltow plateau to the south. In Spandau, Berlin's westernmost borough, the Spree meets the river Havel, which flows from north to south through western Berlin. The course of the Havel is more like a chain of lakes, the largest being the Tegeler See and Großer Wannsee. A series of lakes also feeds into the upper Spree, which flows through the Großer Müggelsee in eastern Berlin.[16]

Map of natural and built environment in the city
Map of natural and built environment in the city

Substantial parts of present-day Berlin extend onto the low plateaus on both sides of the Spree Valley. Large parts of the boroughs Reinickendorf and Pankow lie on the Barnim plateau, while most of the boroughs Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Tempelhof-Schöneberg, and Neukölln lie on the Teltow plateau. The borough of Spandau lies partly within the Berlin Urstromtal and partly on the Nauen Plain, which stretches to the west of Berlin. The highest elevations in Berlin are the Teufelsberg in the borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and the Müggelberge in the borough of Treptow-Köpenick. Both hills have an elevation of about 115 meters (377 feet). The Teufelsberg is in fact an artificial pile of rubble from the ruins of World War II.



Berlin has a temperate/mesothermal climate (Cfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system. The mean annual temperature for Berlin-Dahlem (a location within Steglitz-Zehlendorf) is 9.4°C (48.9°F) and its mean annual precipitation totals 578 mm (22.8 inches). The warmest months are June, July, and August, with mean temperatures of 16.7 to 17.9°C (62.1 to 64.2°F). The coldest are December, January, and February, with mean temperatures of −0.4 to 1.2°C (31.3 to 34.2°F).[17] Berlin's built-up area creates a microclimate, with heat stored by the city's buildings. Temperatures can be 4°C higher in the city than in the surrounding areas.

Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Mean daily maximum temperature (°C) 2.9 4.2 8.5 13.2 18.9 21.6 23.7 23.6 18.8 13.4 7.1 4.4
Mean daily minimum temperature (°C) −1.9 −1.5 −1.3 4.2 9.0 12.3 14.3 14.1 10.6 6.4 2.2 −0.4
Mean total rainfall (mm) 42.3 33.3 40.5 37.1 53.8 68.7 55.5 58.2 45.1 37.3 43.6 55.3
Mean number of rain days 10.0 8.0 9.1 7.8 8.9 9.8 8.4 7.9 7.8 7.6 9.6 11.4


The city has seen major investments and rebuilding efforts since 1990
The city has seen major investments and rebuilding efforts since 1990

The city's appearance today is predominantly shaped by the key role it played in Germany's history in the 20th century. Each of the national governments based in Berlin—the 1871 German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, East Germany, and now the reunified Germany—initiated ambitious construction programs, each with its own distinctive character. Berlin was devastated by bombing raids during World War II and many of the old buildings that escaped the bombs were eradicated in the 1950s and 1960s in both West and East. Much of this destruction was initiated by municipal architecture programs to build new residential or business quarters and main roads. Berlin's unique recent history has left the city with an eclectic array of architecture and sights.

Neighborhoods still reveal whether one is in the former eastern or western part of the city. In the eastern part, many Plattenbauten can be found, reminders of Eastern Bloc ambitions to create complete residential areas with fixed ratios of shops, kindergartens (nurseries) and schools. Another difference between former east and west is in the design of little red and green men on pedestrian crossing lights (Ampelmännchen in German); the eastern versions received an opt-out during the standardization of road traffic signs after reunification and have survived to become a popular icon in tourist products. The eastern Ampelmännchen design is now used widely in the western part of the city as well.

However, there used to be considerable differences between the Eastern and Western boroughs throughout Berlin's history. Particularly in the 19th century the Eastern parts developed into "working class" areas, sometimes slums (e.g. Prenzlauer Berg), while the Western boroughs saw large development of expensive residential areas, as in Lichterfelde, Dahlem or Grunewald. Even dimensions of the historic streets and former country roads differ in Eastern and Western parts of Berlin. While wide and usually tree lined streets and avenues are typical in the wealthy Western parts, historic streets in Eastern areas tend to be narrow and without any green.


Urban centers

The Brandenburg Gate is considered as a symbol of Berlin and Germany
The Brandenburg Gate is considered as a symbol of Berlin and Germany

The Brandenburg Gate is a world-wide known symbol of Berlin, and nowadays of Germany. It also appears on German euro coins. The Reichstag building is the traditional seat of the German Parliament, renovated in the 1950s after severe World War II damage. The building was again remodeled by British architect Norman Foster in the 1990s and features a glass dome over the session area, which is open to the public free of charge and allows parliamentarians to be viewed from above, as well as magnificent views of the city.

Gendarmenmarkt, a neoclassical square in Berlin whose name dates back to the Napoleonic occupation of Berlin, is bordered by two similarly designed cathedrals, the French Cathedral with its observation platform and the German Cathedral. The Konzerthaus (Concert Hall), home of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, stands between the two cathedrals.

Weltzeituhr (lit: World Time Clock) at Alexanderplatz
Weltzeituhr (lit: World Time Clock) at Alexanderplatz

The Berliner Dom, a Protestant cathedral and the third church on this site, is located on the Spree Island across from the site of the Berliner Stadtschloss and adjacent to the Lustgarten. A large crypt houses the remains of some of the earlier Prussian royal family. The Cathedral of St. Hedwig is Berlin's Roman Catholic cathedral.

The Nikolaiviertel is the historical core of Berlin. Its church dates from the 13th century. This area was much remodeled during the East German period due to the World War II raids on the city and although not authentic, has become a busy tourist site. Adjacent to this area is the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall) with its distinctive red-brick architecture. The previously built-up part in front of it, is the Neptunbrunnen, a fountain featuring a mythological scene.

West of the center, Schloss Bellevue is the residence of the German President. Schloss Charlottenburg, which was burnt out in the Second World War and largely destroyed, has been rebuilt and is the largest surviving historical palace in Berlin.

The Fernsehturm (TV tower) at Alexanderplatz in Mitte is the highest building in the city at 368 m. Built in 1969 it is visible throughout most of the central districts of Berlin. The city can be viewed from its 204-m high observation floor. Starting here the Karl-Marx-Allee is heading east, an avenue lined by monumental resident buildings, designed in the Socialist Classicism Style of the Stalin era.

The East Side Gallery is an open-air exhibition of art painted directly on the last parts of the Berlin Wall. It is the largest still existing evidence of the city's historical division and has recently undergone a restoration.

The New Synagogue was built in 1866
The New Synagogue was built in 1866

Unter den Linden is a tree lined east-west avenue from the Brandenburg Gate to the site of the former Berliner Stadtschloss, it was Berlin's premier promenade. Many Classical buildings line the street and a part of Humboldt University is located there. Berlin's legendary street of the Roaring Twenties is the Friedrichstraße, it combines twentieth Century tradition with the modern architecture of today's Berlin.

Potsdamer Platz is an entire quarter built from scratch after 1995 and was not rebuilt as it was divided by the Wall.[18] To the West of Potsdamer Platz is the Kulturforum, which houses the Gemäldegalerie, and is flanked by the Neue Nationalgalerie and the Philharmonic. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe a Holocaust memorial is situated to the north.[19]

The area around Hackescher Markt is home to the fashionable culture, with countless clothing outlets, clubs, bars, and galleries. This includes the Hackesche Höfe, a conglomeration of buildings around several courtyards, reconstructed around 1996. Oranienburger Straße and the nearby New Synagogue were the center of Jewish culture before 1933, and regains being it today.

People walking inside the Reichstag glass dome
People walking inside the Reichstag glass dome

The Rathaus Schöneberg, where John F. Kennedy made his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner!" speech is situated in Tempelhof-Schöneberg.

The Kurfürstendamm is home to some of Berlin's luxurious stores with the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at its eastern end on Breitscheidplatz. The church was destroyed in World War II and left in ruins. Near by on Tauentzienstraße is KaDeWe, claimed to be continental Europe's largest department store.

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

The Straße des 17. Juni, another East-West avenue connecting the Brandenburg Gate and Ernst-Reuter-Platz, was extensively widened during the Nazi period as part of the East-West-Axis. Its current name commemorates the uprisings in East Berlin of 17 June 1953. Approximately half-way from the Brandenburg Gate is the Großer Stern, a circular traffic island on which the Siegessäule (Victory Column) is situated. The monument was built to Prussia's victories and was relocated in 1938–39 from its previous position in front of the Reichstag. The site is annually used to be the center stage for the Love Parade.

Weißensee Cemetery is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe. The writers Micha Josef Berdyczewski and Stefan Heym as well as the philosopher Hermann Cohen are buried there. Städtischer Friedhof III in Friedenau is the final resting place of Marlene Dietrich as well as composer Ferruccio Busoni and photographer Helmut Newton.



The Reichstag is the old and new site of  the German parliament.
The Reichstag is the old and new site of the German parliament.

Berlin is the national capital of the Federal Republic of Germany and is the seat of the President of Germany, whose official residence is Schloss Bellevue.[20] Since German reunification on 3 October 1990 it has been one of the three city states, together with Hamburg and Bremen, among the present sixteen states of Germany. The Bundesrat ("federal council") is the representation of the Federal States (Bundesländer) of Germany and has its seat at the former Prussian Herrenhaus (House of Lords). Though most of the ministries are seated in Berlin, some of them, as well as some minor departments, are seated in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany.


City state

The city and state parliament is the House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus), which currently has 141 seats. Berlin's executive body is the Senate of Berlin (Senat von Berlin). The Senate of Berlin consists of the Governing Mayor (Regierender Bürgermeister) and up to eight senators holding ministerial positions, one of them holding the official title "Mayor" (Bürgermeister) as deputy to the Governing Mayor. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) took control of the city government after the 2001 state election and won another term in the 2006 state election.[21]

The Governing Mayor is simultaneously lord mayor of the city (Oberbürgermeister der Stadt) and prime minister of the federal state (Ministerpräsident des Bundeslandes). The office of Berlin's governing mayor is in the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall). Presently (April 2006), this office is held by Klaus Wowereit of the SPD.[22][23] The city's government is based on a coalition between the SPD and Die Linke. PDS, a party formed by a merger of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) (the successor to the former East German communist party), which renamed itself in 2005 for cooperation with the Electoral Alternative for Labor and Social Justice.

The annual state budget of Berlin in 2006 exceeded € 20.5 billion, with a budget deficit of € 1.8 billion.[24] Mainly due to reunification-related expenditures, Berlin as a German state has accumulated more debt than any other city in Germany, with the most current estimate being € 63.0 billion in December 2006.[25]



Map of Berlin's twelve boroughs and their localities
Map of Berlin's twelve boroughs and their localities

Berlin is subdivided into twelve boroughs (Bezirke), but before Berlin's 2001 administrative reform there were 23. Each borough is subdivided into a number of localities (Stadtteile), which represent the traditional urbanized areas that inhabitants identify with. Some of these have been rearranged several times over the years. At present the city of Berlin consists of 95 such localities. The localities often consist of a number of city neighborhoods (usually called Kiez in colloquial German) representing small residential areas.

Each borough is governed by a borough council (Bezirksamt) consisting of five councilors (Bezirksstadträte) and a borough mayor (Bezirksbürgermeister). The borough council is elected by the borough assembly (Bezirksverordnetenversammlung). The boroughs of Berlin are not independent municipalities. The power of borough governments is limited and subordinate to the Senate of Berlin. The borough mayors form the Council of Mayors (Rat der Bürgermeister), led by the city's Governing Mayor, which advises the Senate.

The localities have no government bodies of their own, even though most of the localities have historic roots in older municipalities that predate the formation of Greater Berlin on 1 October 1920. The subsequent position of locality representative (Ortsvorsteher) was discontinued in favor of borough mayors.


Sister cities

Town twinning between Berlin and other cities began in 1987, excluding that with Los Angeles which began in 1967. East Berlin's partnerships were canceled at the time of German reunification and later partially reestablished. West Berlin's partnerships had previously been restricted to the borough level.[26] During the Cold War era, the partnerships had reflected the different powers blocs, with West Berlin partnering with capitals in the West, and East Berlin mostly partnering with cities from the Warsaw Pact and its allies.



People at the open-air festival "MyFest" in Kreuzberg
People at the open-air festival "MyFest" in Kreuzberg

As of June 2006, Berlin has 3,399,511 registered inhabitants[27] in an area of 891.82 square kilometers (344.31 mi²). Thus, the population density of the region amounts to 3,812 inhabitants per square kilometer (9,857/square mile). Berlin residents' average age is 41.9 years (as of 2004) compared to Germany's 42.1 years (as of 2005).[28]

Berlin's population fluctuations, 1880 to 2005
Berlin's population fluctuations, 1880 to 2005

As of June 2006, 463,723 (13.9%) residents are of foreign nationality, coming from 183 different countries.[29] The largest groups by nationality are citizens from Turkey (116,665), Poland (42,889), Serbia and Montenegro (24,337), Russia (14,065), Italy (14,026), United States (12,735), France (11,776), Croatia (11,378), Vietnam (11,513), Bosnia and Herzegovina (10,463), Greece (10,102), UK (9,396).

As of 2005, the largest religious groupings are No religion 60%, Evangelical 23% (757,000), Roman Catholic 9% (312,000), Muslim 6% (213,000), Jewish 0.4% (12,000)[30] .



The ICC and the Berlin Funkturm are part of the city´s fairgrounds
The ICC and the Berlin Funkturm are part of the city´s fairgrounds

Before the reunification of Germany and the two Berlin parts in 1990, the city of West Berlin received substantial subsidies from the West German state to compensate for its geographic isolation from West Germany. Many of those subsidies were phased out after 1990. The reduced financial support for the city and its gradual economic decline have produced fiscal difficulties for Berlin's city government and forced it to cut funding for various programs.[31] The current unemployment rate remains therefore above the German average (9.7%) at 16.0% as of December 2006.[32]

The gross state product of Berlin totaled €79.6 ($95.5) billion in 2005[33] and compares with €77.4 billion in 1995. Among the 20 largest employers are the railway company Deutsche Bahn AG, the hospital company Charité, Siemens, the local public transport company BVG, the service provider Dussmann and the Piepenbrock Group. DaimlerChrysler manufactures cars and BMW motorcycles in Berlin. BayerSchering Pharma and Berlin Chemie are major pharmaceutical companies headquartered in the city. The Science and Business Park of Berlin-Adlershof is among the 15 biggest scientific and technological parks world-wide and expanding model in modern city planning.[30][34]

Core and fast-growing sectors are communications, life sciences, mobility and services with information and communication technologies, media and music, advertising and design, biotechnology and environmental services, transportation and medical engineering.[35] [34] The city of Berlin is among the top five congress cities in the world and is home to Europe's biggest convention center in the form of the Internationales Congress Centrum (ICC).[5] It contributes to the rapidly increasing tourism sector which encompasses 580 , 87 000 beds and numbers around 15.7 million overnight stays, 7 million hotel guests and 140 million one-day-visitors in 2006, making the city the third most visited city in the European Union.[36][37]

Area in km² Population in million (2006) GDP/nominal in billion (2005)[33] GDP/nominal per capita (2005)[33]
Flag of Berlin Berlin 892 3.40 € 79,6 / $ 95,5 € 23 480 / $ 28 176
Brandenburg 29 478 2.55 € 48,1 / $ 57,7 € 18 716 / $ 22 459
Germany 357 050 82.44 € 2 241 / $ 2 689 € 27 164 / $ 32 596
EU25 3 976 372 463.50 € 11 251 / $ 13 502 € 24 459 / $ 29 350

The Euro / Dollar currency relation is estimated at (€:$ , 1:1.2), Due to different sources the figures can be considered a rough calculation.



The Sony Center and newly built corporate offices
The Sony Center and newly built corporate offices

Berlin is the home of many television and radio stations—international, national as well as regional.[38] The public broadcaster RBB has its headquarters there as well as the commercial broadcasters N24 and SAT.1. German international public broadcaster Deutsche Welle has its TV production unit in Berlin. Additionally, most national broadcasters have a studio in the city.

Berlin has Germany's largest number of daily newspapers, with numerous local broadsheets (Berliner Zeitung, Der Tagesspiegel), and three major tabloids, as well as national dailies of varying sizes, each with a different political affiliation, such as Die Welt, Junge Freiheit, junge Welt, Neues Deutschland, and die tageszeitung. In addition, several weekly papers publish here, and Berlin has three alternative weeklies focusing on culture and entertainment. The Exberliner, a monthly magazine, is Berlin's only English-language periodical. Berlin is also the headquarters of two major German-language publishing houses: Walter de Gruyter and Springer, each of which publishes books, periodicals, and multimedia products.

Berlin is an important center in the German film industry. It is home to more than one thousand film and television production companies, 270 movie theaters, and around 300 national and international co-productions are filmed in the region every year.[30] The long existing Babelsberg Studios and the production company UFA are located outside Berlin in Potsdam. The city is also home of the European Film Academy and the German Film Academy, and is host of the Berlin Film Festival.[39][40]



Statue of Alexander von Humboldt outside Humboldt University
Statue of Alexander von Humboldt outside Humboldt University

The Berlin capital region is one of Europe's most prolific centers of higher education and research. With four universities, numerous private, professional and technical colleges (Fachhochschulen), offering students a wide range of disciplines.[41]

Around 140,000 students attend the universities and professional or technical colleges.[27] The three largest universities alone account for around 110,000 students. These are the Freie Universität Berlin (Free University of Berlin) with 40,840 students, the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin with 36,423 students, and the Technische Universität Berlin with 31,547 students. The Universität der Künste has about 4,300 students.

The city has a high concentration of research institutions, such as Fraunhofer-, and Max Planck Society, which are independent of, or only loosely connected to its universities. A total number of 62,000 scientists are working in research and development.[30]

In addition to the libraries affiliated with the various universities, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is a major research library. It has two main locations, one near Potsdamer Platz on Potsdamer Straße and one on Unter den Linden. There are 108 public libraries to be found in the city.[30]

The Französisches Gymnasium Berlin has a long existing tradition
The Französisches Gymnasium Berlin has a long existing tradition

Berlin has 878 schools teaching 340,658 children in 13,727 classes (for 2004/2005) and 56,787 trainees in businesses and elsewhere.[30] The city has a six-year primary education program. After completing primary school, students progress to one of four types of secondary school for six further years: Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium, or Gesamtschule.

Berlin has a unique bilingual school program embedded in the "Europaschule". Children get taught the curriculum in German and a foreign language starting in grammar school and later in secondary school. Throughout nearly all boroughs a range of 9 major European languages in 29 schools can be chosen.[42] One of them the Französisches Gymnasium Berlin, which was founded in 1689 for the benefit of Huguenot refugees, offers (German/French) instruction. Among its former students is Wernher von Braun.[43] Another is the John F. Kennedy School a bilingual German-American public school located in Zehlendorf.



Alte Nationalgalerie houses works from Classicism and Romanticism
Alte Nationalgalerie houses works from Classicism and Romanticism

Berlin is noted for its numerous cultural institutions, many of which enjoy international reputation.[3][44] The cultural diversity and tolerance remain from the time when West Berlin took pride in its role as a "free city" with the motto "something for everyone."

Berlin has a rich and diverse art scene, and it is home to hundreds of art galleries. The city is host to the Art Forum annual international art fair. Young Germans and international artists continue to settle in the city,[45] and Berlin has established itself as a center of youth and popular culture in Europe.[46] [47] Signs of this expanding role were the 2003 announcement that the annual Popkomm, Europe's largest music industry convention, would move to Berlin after 15 years in Cologne.[48] Shortly thereafter, the Universal Music Group and MTV also decided to move its European headquarters and main studios to the banks of the River Spree in Friedrichshain.[49] Since 2005, Berlin has been listed as a UNESCO City of Design.[6]


Nightlife, festivals

Berlin has one of the most diverse and vibrant nightlife scenes in Europe.[50] After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 many buildings in Mitte, the former city center of East Berlin were renovated. Many had not been rebuilt since World War II. Illegally occupied by young people, they became a fertile ground for all sorts of underground and counter-culture gatherings. It is also home to many nightclubs, including Kunst Haus Tacheles, techno clubs Tresor, WMF, Ufo, E-Werk, the infamous Kitkatclub and Berghain.

The annual "Karneval der Kulturen" celebrations
The annual "Karneval der Kulturen" celebrations

Former West Berlin was also home to several well-known nightclubs. SO36 in Kreuzberg originally focused largely on punk music but today has become a popular venue for dances and parties of all kinds. SOUND, located from 1971 to 1988 in Tiergarten and today in Charlottenburg, gained notoriety in the late 1970s for its popularity with heroin users and other drug addicts as described in Christiane F.'s book Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo.[51] The Linientreu, near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, has been well known since the 1990s for techno music. The LaBelle discotheque in Friedenau became famous as the location of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing.[52]
Berlin's annual Karneval der Kulturen, a multi-ethnic street parade, and Christopher Street Day celebrations, Central Europe's largest gay-lesbian pride event, are openly supported by the city's government.[53] Berlin is also well known for the techno carnival Love Parade and the cultural festival Berliner Festspiele, which include the jazz festival JazzFest Berlin.


Museums, galleries

The Ishtar Gate of Babylon at Pergamon Museum
The Ishtar Gate of Babylon at Pergamon Museum

Berlin is home to 153 museums.[30] The ensemble on the Museum Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is situated in the northern part of the Spree Island between the Spree and the Kupfergraben.[3] As early as 1841 it was designated a “district dedicated to art and antiquities” by a royal decree. Subsequently, the Altes Museum (Old Museum) in the Lustgarten displaying the bust of Queen Nefertiti[54], and the Neues Museum (New Museum), Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), Pergamon Museum, and Bode Museum were built there. While these buildings once housed distinct collections, the names of the buildings no longer necessarily correspond to the names of the collections they house.

The Jewish Museum designed by Daniel Libeskind
The Jewish Museum designed by Daniel Libeskind

Apart from the Museum Island, there is a wide variety of museums. The Gemäldegalerie (Painting Gallery) focuses on the paintings of the "old masters" from the 13th to the 18th centuries, while the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery, built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) specializes in 20th-century European painting. In spring 2006, the expanded Deutsches Historisches Museum re-opened in the Zeughaus with an overview of German history through the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The Bauhaus Archiv is an architecture museum. The Jewish Museum has a standing exhibition on 2,000 years of German-Jewish history. The Egyptian Museum of Berlin, across the street from Charlottenburg Palace, is home to one of the world's most important collections of Ancient Egyptian artifacts. The German Museum of Technology in Kreuzberg has a large collection of historical technical artifacts. The Humboldt Museum of Natural History near Berlin Hauptbahnhof has the largest mounted dinosaur in the world, and the best preserved specimen of an archaeopteryx.
In Dahlem, there are several museums of world art and culture, such as the Museum of Indian Art, the Museum of East Asian Art, the Ethnological Museum, the Museum of European Cultures, as well as the Allied Museum (a museum of the Cold War), the Brücke Museum (an art museum). In Lichtenberg, on the grounds of the former East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi), is the Stasi Museum.Checkpoint Charlie, remains the site and a museum about one of the crossing points in the Berlin Wall. The museum, which is a private venture, exhibits a comprehensive array of material about people who devised ingenious plans to flee the East. The Beate Uhse Erotic Museum near Zoo Station claims to be the world's largest erotic museum.


Performing arts

Berliner Philharmonie is home to the renowned orchestra
Berliner Philharmonie is home to the renowned orchestra

Berlin is home to more than 50 theaters.[30] The Deutsches Theater in Mitte was built in 1849–50 and has operated continuously since then except for a one-year break (1944–45) due to World War II. The Volksbühne on Rosa Luxemburg Platz was built in 1913–14, though the company had been founded already in 1890. The Berliner Ensemble, famous for performing the works of Bertolt Brecht, was established in 1949 not far from the Deutsches Theater. The Schaubühne was founded in 1962 in a building in Kreuzberg, but moved in 1981 to the building of the former Universum Cinema on Kurfürstendamm.

Berlin has three major opera houses: the Deutsche Oper, the Berlin State Opera, and the Komische Oper. The Berlin State Opera on Unter den Linden is the oldest; it opened in 1742. Its current musical director is Daniel Barenboim. The Komische Oper, which has traditionally specialized in operettas, is located not far from the State Opera just off Unter den Linden. It originally opened in 1892 as a theater and has been operating under its current name since 1947. The Deutsche Oper opened in 1912 in Charlottenburg. During the division of the city from 1961 to 1989 it was the only major opera house in West Berlin.

Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Tiergarten
Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Tiergarten

There are seven symphony orchestras in Berlin. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world;[55] it is housed in the Berliner Philharmonie near Potsdamer Platz on a street named for the orchestra's longest-serving conductor, Herbert von Karajan.[56] The current principal conductor is Simon Rattle, who took over in 2002 from Karajan's successor, Claudio Abbado.[57] The Konzerthausorchester Berlin was founded in 1952 as the orchestra for East Berlin, since the Philharmonic was based in West Berlin. Its current principal conductor is Lothar Zagrosek.

The Haus der Kulturen der Welt is presenting various exhibitions dealing with intercultural issues and stages world music and conferences.[58]



Zoologischer Garten Berlin, the older of the two zoos in the city, was founded in 1844, and presents the most diverse range of species in the world.[59] Tierpark Friedrichsfelde, founded in 1955 in the grounds of Schloss Friedrichsfelde in the Borough of Lichtenberg, is Europe's largest zoo in terms of square meters.

Berlin's botanical gardens include the Botanic Museum Berlin, the largest botanical garden in Europe. Tiergarten is Berlin's largest park and was designed by Peter Joseph Lenné.[60] In Kreuzberg the Viktoriapark provides a good viewing point over the southern part of inner city Berlin. Treptower Park beside the Spree in Treptow has a monument honoring the Soviet soldiers killed in the 1945 Battle of Berlin. The Volkspark in Friedrichshain, which opened in 1848, is the oldest park in the city. Its summit is man-made and covers a World War II bunker and rubble from the ruins of the city; at its foot is Germany's main memorial to Polish soldiers.



The renovated Olympiastadion
The renovated Olympiastadion

Berlin hosted the 1936 Olympics and was the host city for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final.[61][62] The annual Berlin Marathon and the annual Golden League event ISTAF for athletics are also held here.[63] The WTA Tour holds the Qatar Total German Open annually in the city. Founded in 1896, it is one of the oldest tennis tournaments for women. The FIVB World Tour has chosen an inner-city site near Alexanderplatz to present a beach volleyball Grand Slam every year.

Berlin is home to Hertha BSC Berlin, a football team in the Bundesliga, and the basketball team ALBA Berlin (known as the "Berlin Albatrosses"), which won the national championships every year from 1997 to 2003. Berlin is also home to the American football team Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe as well as the Eisbären Berlin of the German Ice Hockey League, an ice hockey team which was founded in the East German era.

Club Sport Founded League Venue Head Coach
Hertha BSC Berlin Soccer 1892 Bundesliga Olympiastadion Falko Götz
1. FC Union Berlin Soccer 1966 Regionalliga Nord Alte Försterei Christian Schreier
ALBA Berlin Basketball 1991 BBL Max-Schmeling-Halle Henrik Rödl
Eisbären Berlin Ice hockey 1954 DEL Wellblechpalast Pierre Pagé
Berlin Thunder American football 1999 NFL Europe Olympiastadion Rick Lantz
SCC Berlin Volleyball 1911 DVB Sporthalle Charlottenburg Michael Warm
Füchse Berlin Handball 1891 2. Bundesliga (Handball) Max-Schmeling-Halle Jörn Uwe Lommel


Berlin Hauptbahnhof is the city's central railway station, opened in 2006
Berlin Hauptbahnhof is the city's central railway station, opened in 2006

Berlin developed a complex transportation and energy-supply infrastructure before World War II. After the war, West Berlin was cut off from the surrounding territory and had to develop independent infrastructures. Meanwhile, the government of East Germany purposely constructed rail lines and motorways that allowed traffic to bypass West Berlin. The political reunification of East and West Berlin has led to the reintegration of Berlin's transportation and energy-supply with the infrastructures of the surrounding region. Crossing 979 bridges, 5334 kilometers of roads run through Berlin, of which 66 kilometers are motorways. In 2004, 1.428 million motor vehicles, including 6800 taxis, were registered in the city.[30]Long-distance rail lines connect Berlin with all of the major cities of Germany and with many cities in neighboring European countries. Regional rail lines provide access to the surrounding region of Brandenburg and eastern Germany.



The U-Bahn passes the Oberbaumbrücke
The U-Bahn passes the Oberbaumbrücke

Public transport within Berlin is provided by the S-Bahn (331.5 km net length/ 356.8 million passengers in 2005) —operated by S-Bahn Berlin GmbH—and by the U-Bahn (144.2 km/ 456.8 million), Straßenbahn (187.7 km/ 171.3 million), Bus (1626 km/ 407.1 million), and ferries—operated by the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, or BVG.[27] The S-Bahn is a mostly overground urban railway system. The U-Bahn is the city's mainly underground rail system. The Straßenbahn or tram (trolley) system operates almost exclusively in the eastern part of the city. Buses provide extensive service linking outlying districts with the city center and to the U-Bahn and S-Bahn. Almost all means of public transport— U- & S- Bahn, trams, buses and most ferries—can be accessed with the same ticket. There is usually no need to show or scan one's ticket, except on buses; however, plain clothes transit authorities officials frequently conduct random checks in which they board a vehicle and demand that everyone on board show their ticket. Anyone who does not produce a valid ticket is given a 40 fine.[64]

The S-Bahn is the second urban railway system
The S-Bahn is the second urban railway system

The inner city is crossed from west to east by the elevated main line (Stadtbahn), which carries S-Bahn trains as well as regional and long-distance trains. This main line passes through most of the city's long-distance and regional train stations, including Berlin-Charlottenburg, Berlin Zoologischer Garten, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Friedrichstraße, Alexanderplatz, and Berlin Ostbahnhof.[65]

The second component of Berlin's rail network is the S-Bahn ring (Ringbahn) that forms a circle around the inner city and crosses the main line at Westkreuz (“west crossing”) and Ostkreuz (“east crossing”). A number of regional and regional express lines connect Berlin with the surrounding region. The city is also served by the freight rail yard at Seddin, south of Potsdam. There are useful online resources for getting around Berlin using public transport, such as the route planner[66] or a map of the current public transport network.

Tegel International Airport is Berlin's busiest airport
Tegel International Airport is Berlin's busiest airport

Berlin has three commercial airports—Tegel International Airport (TXL), Tempelhof International Airport (THF), and Schönefeld International Airport (SXF) serving 155 destinations (07/2006)- 118 of them in Europe. Schönefeld lies just outside Berlin's south-eastern border in the state of Brandenburg, while the other two airports lie within the city. Tempelhof handles shorter distance and commuter flights, and there are plans to close the airport and transfer its traffic to Schönefeld airport. There are longer-term plans to close Tegel as well. Schönefeld is currently undergoing expansion. Berlin's airport authority aims to transfer all of Berlin's air traffic in 2011 to a greatly expanded airport at Schönefeld, to be renamed Berlin Brandenburg International Airport.[67]



Heizkraftwerk Mitte
Heizkraftwerk Mitte

During the division of Berlin, the power grid of West Berlin was cut off from the power grid of the surrounding area in East Germany. West Berlin's electricity supply was provided by thermal power stations. To facilitate buffering during load peaks, accumulators were installed during the 1980s at some of these power stations. These were connected by static inverters to the power grid and were loaded during times of low power consumption and unloaded during times of high consumption. In 1993 the power connections to the surrounding areas (previously in East Germany) which had been capped in 1951 were restored. In the western districts of Berlin nearly all power lines are underground cables—only a 380 kV and a 110 kV line, which run from Reuter substation to the urban Autobahn, use overhead lines. The Berlin 380 kV electric line was constructed when West Berlin's electrical system was a totally independent system and not connected to those of East or West Germany. This has now become the backbone of the whole city's power system.

Berlin's power supply is mainly, although not exclusively, provided by the Swedish firm Vattenfall. The company has come under criticism for relying more heavily than other electricity producers in Germany on lignite as an energy source, because burning lignite produces harmful emissions. However, Vattenfall has announced a commitment to shift towards reliance on cleaner, renewable energy sources.[68]


Berlin quotations

Marlene Dietrich, born in Berlin-Schöneberg
Marlene Dietrich, born in Berlin-Schöneberg

"Ich bin ein Berliner." ("I am a Berliner")
(John F. Kennedy, President of the USA, 1963 while visiting Berlin)[69]

"Berlin ist arm, aber sexy." ("Berlin is poor, but sexy.")
(Klaus Wowereit, Governing Mayor, in a press interview, 2003)[70]

"Ihr Völker der Welt ... schaut auf diese Stadt!" ("Peoples of the world ... look at this city!")
(Ernst Reuter, Governing Mayor, in a speech during the Berlin blockade, 1948)[71]

"Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin" ("I still have a suitcase in Berlin")
(Marlene Dietrich, song by the actress and singer born in Berlin-Schöneberg)[72]

"“Berlin ist eine Stadt, verdammt dazu, ewig zu werden, niemals zu sein” ("Berlin is a city condemned forever to becoming and never being.")
(Karl Scheffler, author of Berlin: Ein Stadtschicksal, 1910)[73]

“Berlin combines the culture of New York, the traffic system of Tokyo, the nature of Seattle, and the historical treasures of, well, Berlin.”
(Hiroshi Motomura, US Law professor, 2004)[74]



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  • Bibliography
  • Gross, Leonard, The Last Jews in Berlin. Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1999. ISBN 0-7867-0687-2
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  • Gwertzman, M. Kaufman, The Collapse of Communism, 1990.
  • Read, Anthony, and David Fisher, Berlin Rising: Biography of a City. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994. ISBN 0-393-03606-5
  • Large, David Clay, Berlin. New York: Basic Books, 2001. ISBN 0-465-02632-X

External links

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