Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Federal Republic of Germany
Flag of Germany Coat of arms of Germany
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
(German for "Unity and Justice and Freedom”)
Anthem: Das Lied der Deutschen (3rd stanza)
also called Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Capital Berlin
Largest city Berlin
Official language German 1
Government Federal Republic
 - President Horst Köhler
 - Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU)
 - Holy Roman Empire 843 (Treaty of Verdun) 
 - German Confederation June 8 1815 
 - Prussian rule January 18 1871 
 - Federal Republic May 23 1949 
 - Reunification October 3 1990 
Accession to EU March 25, 1953
(West Germany)
 - Total 357,050 km² (63rd)
137,858 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 2.416
 - 2005 estimate 82,438,000 (14th)
 - 2000 census n/a
 - Density 230.9/km² (50th)
598.5/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $2.522 trillion (5th)
 - Per capita $30,579 (17th)
GDP (nominal) 2005 estimate
 - Total $2.797 trillion (3rd)
 - Per capita $33,854 (19th)
HDI  (2004) 0.932 (high) (21st)
Currency Euro (€)2 (EUR)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Internet TLD .de 3
Calling code +49
1 Danish, Low German, Sorbian, Romany and Frisian are officially recognized and protected as minority languages by the ECRML.
2 Prior to 1999 (introduction of the euro as legal tender) and 2002 (introduction of the euro as physical notes and coins): Deutsche Mark.
3 The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.

Germany (German: Deutschland IPA: [ˈdɔɪtʃlant]), officially the Federal Republic of Germany (, IPA: [ˈbʊndəsrepubliːk ˈdɔɪtʃlant]), is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered on the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea, on the east by Poland and the Czech Republic, on the south by Austria and Switzerland, and on the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Germany is a democratic parliamentary federal republic of 16 states (Bundesländer). The country previously consisted of several sovereign states with their own history, culture, and religious affiliation. Germany was first unified as a nation-state amidst the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.

The Federal Republic of Germany is a member state of the United Nations, NATO, the G8 and the G4 nations, and is a founding member of the European Union. It has the largest population and largest economy of all European Union member states.[1] As a modern great power,[2][3] Germany is both the world's third largest economy (after the United States and Japan) and its largest exporter of goods.[4]




Map of Germany
Map of Germany

The state now known as Germany was unified as a modern nation-state only in 1871, when the German Empire was forged, with the Kingdom of Prussia as its largest constituent. This began the German Reich, usually translated as empire, but also meaning kingdom, domain or realm.


Early history of the Germanic tribes (100 BC – AD 300)

The ethnogenesis of the Germanic tribes is assumed to have occurred during the Nordic Bronze Age, or at the latest, during the Pre-Roman Iron Age. From southern Scandinavia and northern Germany, the tribes began expanding south, east and west in the first century BC, coming into contact with the Celtic tribes of Gaul and Iranian, Baltic, and Slavic tribes in Eastern Europe. Little is known about early Germanic history, except through their interactions with the Roman Empire and archaeological finds.[5]

Under Augustus, the Roman General Publius Quinctilius Varus began to invade Germany, and it was in this period that the German tribes became familiar with Roman tactics of warfare while maintaining their national identity. In AD 9, three Roman legions led by Publius Quinctilius Varus were crushed by the Cheruscan leader Arminius (Hermann) in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Germany, as far as the Rhine and the Danube, thus remained outside the Roman Empire. By AD 100, the time of Tacitus' Germania, Germanic tribes settled along the Rhine and the Danube (the Limes Germanicus), occupying most of the area of modern Germany. The 3rd century saw the emergence of a number of large West Germanic tribes: Alamanni, Franks, Chatti, Saxons, Frisians, Sicambri, and Thuringii. Around 260, the Germanic peoples broke through the Limes and the Danube frontier.[6]

See also: List of meanings of countries' names

The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (843-1806)

The prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire. From a 1341 parchment
The prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire. From a 1341 parchment

The medieval empire stemmed from a division of the Carolingian Empire in 843, which was founded by Charlemagne on December 25 800, and existed in varying forms until 1806, its territory stretching from the Eider River in the north to the Mediterranean coast in the south. Often referred to as the Holy Roman Empire (or the Old Empire), it was officially called the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation ("Sacrum Romanum Imperium Nationis Germanicæ") starting in 1448, to adjust the title to its then reduced territory.

Under the reign of the Ottonian emperors (919–1024), the duchies of Lorraine, Saxony, Franconia, Swabia, Thuringia, and Bavaria were consolidated, and the German king was crowned Holy Roman Emperor of these regions in 962. Under the reign of the Salian emperors (1024–1125), the Holy Roman Empire absorbed northern Italy and Burgundy, although the emperors lost power through the Investiture Controversy. Under the Hohenstaufen emperors (1138–1254), the German princes increased their influence further south and east into territories inhabited by Slavs. Northern German towns grew prosperous as members of the Hanseatic League.

The edict of the Golden Bull in 1356 provided the basic constitution of the empire that lasted until its dissolution. It codified the election of the emperor by seven prince-electors who ruled some of the most powerful principalities and archbishoprics. Beginning in the 15th century, the emperors were elected nearly exclusively from the Habsburg dynasty of Austria.

The monk Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses questioning the Roman Catholic Church in 1517, thereby sparking the Protestant Reformation. A separate Lutheran church was acknowledged as the new sanctioned religion in many states of Germany in 1530. Religious conflict led to the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), which devastated German lands. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) ended religious warfare in Germany, but the empire was de facto divided into numerous independent principalities. From 1740 onwards, the dualism between the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and the Kingdom of Prussia dominated German history. In 1806, the Imperium was overrun and dissolved as a result of the Napoleonic Wars.[7]


Restoration and revolution (1814-71)

Frankfurt Parliament in 1848/49
Frankfurt Parliament in 1848/49

Following the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Congress of Vienna convened in 1814 and founded the German Confederation, a loose league of 39 sovereign states. Disagreement with restoration politics partly led to the rise of liberal movements, demanding unity and freedom. These, however, were followed by new measures of repression on the part of the Austrian statesman Metternich. The Zollverein, a tariff union, profoundly furthered economic unity in the German states. During this era, many Germans had been stirred by the ideals of the French Revolution and nationalism became a more significant force, especially among young intellectuals. For the first time, the colours of black, red and gold were chosen to represent the movement, which later became the national colours.[8]

In light of a series of revolutionary movements in Europe, which successfully established a republic in France, intellectuals and commoners started the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. The monarchs initially yielded to the revolutionaries' liberal demands. King Frederick William IV of Prussia was offered the title of Emperor, but with a loss of power; he rejected the crown and the proposed constitution, leading to a temporary setback for the movement. Conflict between King William I of Prussia and the increasingly liberal parliament erupted over military reforms in 1862 and the king appointed Otto von Bismarck the new Prime Minister of Prussia. Bismark successfully waged war on Denmark in 1864. Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 enabled him to create the North German Confederation and to exclude Austria, formerly the leading German state, from the affairs of the remaining German states.


Second German Empire (1871-1918)

Foundation of modern Germany, Versailles, 1871. Bismarck is in white in the middle. Painting by Anton Alexander von Werner, 1877
Foundation of modern Germany, Versailles, 1871. Bismarck is in white in the middle. Painting by Anton Alexander von Werner, 1877

After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the German Empire (Deutsches Kaiserreich) was proclaimed in Versailles on January 18 1871. The Hohenzollern dynasty of Prussia ruled the new empire, whose capital was Berlin. The empire was a unification of all the scattered parts of Germany except Austria — Kleindeutschland, or "Lesser Germany". Beginning in 1884, Germany began establishing several colonies outside of Europe.

In the Gründerzeit period following the unification of Germany, Emperor William I's foreign policy secured Germany's position as a great nation by forging alliances, isolating France with diplomatic means, and avoiding war. Under William II, however, Germany, like other European powers, took an imperialistic course leading to friction with neighbouring countries. Most alliances in which Germany had been previously involved were not renewed, and new alliances excluded the country. Specifically, France established new relationships by signing the Entente Cordiale with the United Kingdom and securing ties with the Russian Empire. Aside from its contacts with Austria-Hungary, Germany became increasingly isolated.

Imperial Germany (1871-1918)
Imperial Germany (1871-1918)

The assassination of Austria's crown prince on July 28 1914 triggered World War I. Germany, as part of the unsuccessful Central Powers, suffered defeat against the Allied Powers in one of the bloodiest conflicts of all time. The German Revolution broke out in November 1918, and Emperor William II and all German ruling princes abdicated. An armistice putting an end to the war was signed on November 11 and Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. Its negotiation, contrary to traditional post-war diplomacy, excluded the defeated Central Powers. The treaty was perceived in Germany as a humiliating continuation of the war by other means and its harshness is often cited as having facilitated the later rise of Nazism in the country.[9]


Weimar Republic (1919-33)

Subdivisions of Germany in 1925. Map showing borders of Germany from 1919 until 1937.
Subdivisions of Germany in 1925. Map showing borders of Germany from 1919 until 1937.

After the success of the German Revolution in November 1918, a republic was proclaimed. The Weimar Constitution came into effect with its signing by President Friedrich Ebert on August 11, 1919. The German Communist Party was established by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1918, and the German Workers Party, later known as the National Socialist German Workers Party or Nazi Party, was founded in January 1919.

Suffering from the Great Depression, the harsh peace conditions dictated by the Treaty of Versailles, and a long succession of more or less unstable governments, the political masses in Germany increasingly lacked identification with their political system of parliamentary democracy. This was exacerbated by a wide-spread right-wing (monarchist, völkisch, and Nazi) Dolchstoßlegende, a political myth which claimed that Germany lost World War I because of the German Revolution, not because of military defeat. On the other hand, radical left-wing communists, such as the Spartacist League, had wanted to abolish what they perceived as "capitalist rule" in favour of a Räterepublik. Paramilitary troops were set up by several parties and there were thousands of politically motivated murders. The paramilitary intimidated voters and seeded violence and anger among the public, which suffered from high unemployment and poverty. After a succession of unsuccessful cabinets, President Paul von Hindenburg, seeing little alternative and pushed by right-wing advisors, appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany on January 29, 1933.


Third Reich (1933–45)

Adolf Hitler with Benito Mussolini in Axis-occupied Yugoslavia
Adolf Hitler with Benito Mussolini in Axis-occupied Yugoslavia

On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag was set on fire. Some basic democratic rights were quickly abrogated afterwards under an emergency decree. An Enabling Act gave Hitler's government full legislative power — only the Social Democratic Party of Germany voted against it; the Communists were not able to present a viable opposition as many of their deputies had already been murdered or imprisoned.[10][11] A centralized totalitarian state was established by a series of moves and decrees making Germany a single-party state. Industry was closely regulated with quotas and requirements in order to shift the economy towards a war production base. In 1936, German troops entered the demilitarized Rhineland and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policies proved inadequate. Emboldened, Hitler followed from 1938 onwards a policy of expansionism to establish Greater Germany. To avoid a two-front war, Hitler concluded the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with the Soviet Union, and broke it.

In 1939, the growing tensions from nationalism, militarism, and territorial issues led to the Germans launching a blitzkrieg on September 1 against Poland, followed two days later by declarations of war by Britain and France, marking the beginning of World War II. Germany quickly gained direct or indirect control of the majority of Europe. On June 22, 1941, Hitler broke the pact with the Soviet Union by opening the Eastern Front and invading the Soviet Union. Shortly after Japan attacked the American base at Pearl Harbor, Germany declared war on the United States. Although initially the German army rapidly advanced into the surprised Soviet Union, the Battle of Stalingrad marked a major turning point in the war. Subsequently, the German army commenced retreating on the Eastern front, followed by the eventual defeat of Germany. On 8 May 1945, Germany surrendered after the Red Army occupied Berlin.

In what later became known as The Holocaust, the Third Reich regime enacted governmental policies directly subjugating many parts of society: Jews, Slavs, Roma, homosexuals, freemasons, political dissidents, priests, preachers, religious opponents, and the disabled, amongst others. During the Nazi era, about 11 million people were murdered in the Holocaust, including between 4 and 6 million Jews.

German occupation zones in 1946 after territorial annexations in the East. The Saarland (in stripes) became a protectorate of France between 1947 and 1956
German occupation zones in 1946 after territorial annexations in the East. The Saarland (in stripes) became a protectorate of France between 1947 and 1956

Division and reunification (1945-90)

The war resulted in the death of several million German soldiers and civilians, in total nearly ten million; large territorial losses; the expulsion of about 15 million Germans from other countries; and the destruction of multiple major cities. Germany and Berlin were partitioned by the Allies into four military occupation zones. The sectors controlled by France, the United Kingdom, the United States were merged on May 23 1949, to form the democratic nation of the Federal Republic of Germany; on October 7 1949, the Soviet Zone established the German Democratic Republic. In English, the two states were known informally as "West Germany" and "East Germany".

West Germany, established as a liberal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy", was allied with the United States, the UK and France. The country eventually came to enjoy prolonged economic growth beginning in the early 1950s (Wirtschaftswunder). The recovery occurred largely because of the previously forbidden currency reform of June 1948 and U.S. assistance through the Marshall Plan aid.[12] Led by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, West Germany joined NATO in 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1958. Across the border, East Germany was at first occupied by, and later (May 1955) allied with, the USSR. An authoritarian country with a Soviet-style command economy, East Germany soon became the richest, most advanced country in the Warsaw Pact, but many of its citizens looked to the West for political freedoms and economic prosperity.[13] The Berlin Wall, built in 1961 to stop East Germans from escaping to West Germany, became a symbol of the Cold War. However, tensions between East and West Germany were somewhat reduced in the early 1970s by Chancellor Willy Brandts Ostpolitik, which included the de facto acceptance of Germany's territorial losses in World War II.

The Berlin Wall that had partitioned Berlin in front of the Brandenburg Gate shortly after the opening of the wall
The Berlin Wall that had partitioned Berlin in front of the Brandenburg Gate shortly after the opening of the wall

During the summer of 1989, in the face of a growing migration of East Germans to West Germany via Hungary and mass demonstrations, East German authorities unexpectedly eased the border restrictions in November 1989, allowing East German citizens to travel to the West. This led to the acceleration of the process of reforms in East Germany that concluded with German reunification on October 3 1990. Under the terms of the treaty between West and East Germany, Berlin again became the capital of the reunited Germany.

Since reunification, Germany has taken a leading role in the European Union and NATO. Germany sent a peacekeeping force to secure stability in the Balkans and sent a force of Bundeswehr troops to Afghanistan as part of a NATO effort to provide security in that country after the ousting of the Taliban.[14]



 U.S. President George W. Bush giving a speech in the Bundestag in Berlin.
U.S. President George W. Bush giving a speech in the Bundestag in Berlin.

Germany is a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic republic. The German political system operates under a framework laid out in the 1949 constitutional document known as the Grundgesetz ("Basic Law"). Amendments to the Grundgesetz require a two-thirds majority of both chambers of parliament; the articles guaranteeing fundamental rights, a democratic state, and the right to resist attempts to overthrow the constitution are valid in perpetuity and cannot be amended.[15] The Grundgesetz remained in effect, with minor amendments, after German reunification in 1990.

The Chancellor is the head of government and exercises executive power. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and a bicameral parliament, comprised of the Bundestag ("Federal Diet") and Bundesrat ("Federal Council"). The Bundestag is elected through direct elections; the members of the Bundesrat represent the governments of the 16 federal states and are members of the state cabinets, which appoint them and can remove them at any time.

Since 1949, the party system has been dominated by the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany[16] although smaller parties, such as the liberal Free Democratic Party (which has had members in the Bundestag since 1949) and the Alliance '90/The Greens (which has controlled seats in parliament since 1983) have also played important roles.

The German head of state is the President of Germany, elected by the Bundesversammlung (federal convention), an institution consisting of the members of the Bundestag and an equal number of state delegates. The second highest official in the German order of precedence is the President of the Bundestag, who is elected by the Bundestag itself. He is responsible for overseeing the daily sessions of the body. The third-highest official and the head of government is the chancellor. He or she is nominated by the President of Germany and elected by the Bundestag. If necessary, he or she can be removed by a constructive motion of no confidence of the Bundestag, with constructive referring to the fact that the Bundestag has to elect a successor in such a case.


Legal system

The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany in Karlsruhe
The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany in Karlsruhe

The Judiciary of Germany is independent of the executive and the legislative branches. Germany has a civil or statute law system that is based on Roman law with some references to Germanic law. Legislative power is divided between the Federation and the individual federated states. Criminal law and private law are codified on the national level in the Strafgesetzbuch and the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch respectively. Many of the fundamental matters in administrative law remain in the jurisdiction of the individual federated states, though most states follow the 1976 Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz (Administrative Proceedings Law) in important points of administrative law. Germany's supreme court system is specialized. For civil and criminal cases, the highest court of appeal is the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice), located in Karlsruhe. The courtroom style is inquisitorial. The Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court), also located in Karlsruhe, is the German Supreme Court responsible for constitutional matters, with power of judicial review. It acts as the highest legal authority and ensures that legislative and judicial practice conforms to the Constitution. It acts independently of the other state bodies, but cannot act on its own behalf.


Foreign relations

Chancellor Angela Merkel meeting with French president Jacques Chirac and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Chancellor Angela Merkel meeting with French president Jacques Chirac and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Germany has played a leading role in the European Union since its inception and has maintained a strong alliance with France since the end of World War II. The alliance was especially close in the late 1980s and early 1990s under the leadership of Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl and Socialist François Mitterrand. Germany is at the forefront of European states seeking to advance the creation of a more unified and capable European political, defence and security apparatus.[17]

Since its establishment on May 23, 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany kept a notably low profile in international relations, because of both its recent history and its occupation by foreign powers.[18] During the Cold War, Germany's partition by the Iron Curtain made it a symbol of East-West tensions and a political battleground in Europe. However, Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik was a key factor in the détente of the 1970s.[19] In 1999 Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government defined a new basis for German foreign policy by taking a full part in the decisions surrounding the NATO war against Yugoslavia and by sending German troops into combat for the first time since World War II.[20]

The Federal Republic of Germany and the United States have been close allies since the end of the World War II.[21] The Marshall Plan, the continued U.S. support during the rebuilding process after World War II, and the significant influence of American culture in Germany have crafted a strong bond between the two countries, although Schröder's very vocal opposition to the Iraq war signalled the end of Atlanticism and a relative cooling of German-American relations.[22] The two countries are also deeply interdependent economically; 8.8% of German exports are U.S.-bound and 6.6% of German imports originate from the U.S.[23] Other signs of the close ties include the continuing position of German-Americans as the largest ethnic group in the U.S.[24] and the status of Ramstein Air Base, close to the city of Kaiserslautern as the largest U.S. military community outside the U.S.[25]



A German infantryman stands at the ready with his G36 during a practice exercise in 2004. U.S. troops watch in the background. All rifles in photo are equipped with blank firing adapters. (Photo: U.S. Navy)
A German infantryman stands at the ready with his G36 during a practice exercise in 2004. U.S. troops watch in the background. All rifles in photo are equipped with blank firing adapters. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, is a defence force with Heer (Army), Marine (Navy), Luftwaffe (Air Force), Zentraler Sanitätsdienst (Central Medical Services) and Streitkräftebasis (Joint Service Support Command) branches. Military Service is compulsory for men at the age of 18 and conscripts serve nine-month tours of duty. In 2003, military spending constituted 1.5% of the country's GDP.[26] In peacetime, the Bundeswehr is commanded by the Minister of Defence, currently Franz Josef Jung. If Germany goes to war, which according to the constitution is allowed only for defensive purposes, the Chancellor becomes commander in chief of the Bundeswehr.[27]

As of October 2006 the German military had almost 9,000 troops stationed in foreign countries as part of various international peacekeeping forces, including 1,180 troops stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina; 2,844 Bundeswehr soldiers in Kosovo; 750 soldiers stationed as a part of EUFOR in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and 2,800 German troops making up the largest contingent of the NATO-led ISAF force in Afghanistan.[14]


Administrative divisions

Germany is divided into 16 states (in German called Länder, singular Land; commonly Bundesländer, singular Bundesland). It is further subdivided into 439 districts (Kreise) and cities (kreisfreie Städte) (2004).

States of Germany
States of Germany
In English In German
State Capital State Capital
1 Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart
2 (Free State of) Bavaria Munich (Freistaat) Bayern München
3 Berlin Berlin Berlin Berlin
4 Brandenburg Potsdam Brandenburg Potsdam
5 (Free Hanseatic City of) Bremen Bremen (Freie Hansestadt) Bremen Bremen
6 (Free and Hanseatic City of) Hamburg Hamburg (Freie und Hansestadt) Hamburg Hamburg
7 Hesse Wiesbaden Hessen Wiesbaden
8 Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Schwerin Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Schwerin
9 Lower Saxony Hanover Niedersachsen Hannover
10 North Rhine-Westphalia Düsseldorf Nordrhein-Westfalen Düsseldorf
11 Rhineland-Palatinate Mainz Rheinland-Pfalz Mainz
12 Saarland Saarbrücken Saarland Saarbrücken
13 (Free State of) Saxony Dresden (Freistaat) Sachsen Dresden
14 Saxony-Anhalt Magdeburg Sachsen-Anhalt Magdeburg
15 Schleswig-Holstein Kiel Schleswig-Holstein Kiel
16 (Free State of) Thuringia Erfurt (Freistaat) Thüringen Erfurt

Geography and climate

Altitude levels
Altitude levels

Germany has the largest population in Europe, after the European parts of Russia, and is seventh in area. The territory of Germany covers 357,021 km² (137,850 mi²), of which land makes up 349,223 km² (134,835 mi²) and water makes up 7,798 km² (3,010 mi²). Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Alps (highest point: the Zugspitze at 2,962 m (9,718 ft)) in the south to the shores of the North Sea (Nordsee) in the north-west and the Baltic Sea (Ostsee) in the north-east. Between lie the forested uplands of central Germany and the low-lying lands of northern Germany (lowest point: Wilstermarsch at 3.54 metres (11.6 ft) below sea level), traversed by some of Europe's major rivers such as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe.[26] Because of its central location, Germany shares borders with more European countries than any other country on the continent. Its neighbours are Denmark in the north, Poland and the Czech Republic in the east, Austria and Switzerland in the south, France and Luxembourg in the south-west and Belgium and the Netherlands in the north-west.

The scenery in the Alps of southern Bavaria
The scenery in the Alps of southern Bavaria

Most of Germany has a cool, temperate climate in which humid westerly winds predominate. The climate is moderated by the North Atlantic Drift, which is the northern extension of the Gulf Stream. This warmer water affects the areas bordering the North Sea including the peninsula of Jutland in north Germany and the area along the Rhine, which flows into the North Sea. Consequently in the north-west and the north, the climate is oceanic; rainfall occurs year round with a maximum during summer. Winters there are mild and summers tend to be cool, though temperatures can exceed 30 °C (86 °F) for prolonged periods. In the east, the climate is more continental; winters can be very cold, summers can be very warm, and long dry periods are often recorded. Central and the southern Germany is a transition region which varies from moderately oceanic to continental. The maximum temperature can exceed 30 °C (86 °F) in summer.[28][29]



Frankfurt am Main — popularly referred to as "Mainhattan"  — is Germany's financial centre.
Frankfurt am Main — popularly referred to as "Mainhattan" — is Germany's financial centre.

Germany is the largest economy in Europe and the third largest economy in the world, behind the United States and Japan.[30][26] It is ranked fifth in the world in terms of purchasing power parity.[31] The export of goods is an essential part of the German economy and one of the main factors of its wealth. According to the World Trade Organization, Germany is the world's top exporter with $912 billion exported in 2005 (Germany's exports to other Eurozone countries are included in this total).[4] It is second in imports only to the United States and has a large trade surplus (160.6 billion euros in 2005).[4][32] In the trade of services (tourism, financial services, engineering, etc) it ranks second behind the United States.[4] Most of the country's exports are in engineering, especially in automobiles, machinery, and chemical goods.[26] In terms of total capacity to generate electricity from wind power, Germany is first in the world and it is also the main exporter of wind turbines.[33]

Although problems created by the German Reunification of 1990 have begun to diminish,[34] the standard of living remains higher in the western half of the country. Germans continue to be concerned about a relatively high level of unemployment, especially in the former East German states where unemployment tops 18%.[34] In spite of its extremely good performance in international trade, domestic demand has stalled for many years because of stagnating wages and consumer insecurity. Germany's government runs a restrictive fiscal policy and has cut numerous regular jobs in the public sector.[35] But while regular employment in the public sector shrank, "irregular" government employment such as "one euro" jobs (temporary low-wage positions), government supported self-employment, and job training increased.[36]



Population of Germany over time. Note that for years before 1990, the values of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic are combined. The federal statistics office estimates the population will shrink to approximately 75 million by 2050
Population of Germany over time. Note that for years before 1990, the values of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic are combined. The federal statistics office estimates the population will shrink to approximately 75 million by 2050[37]

Germany is the most populated European country with over than 20 millions inhabitants more than France and the United Kingdom, however the country is facing major demographic change. Its fertility rate of 1.39 children per mother is one of the lowest in the world,[26] and the federal statistics office estimates the population will shrink to approximately 75 million by 2050.[37] Chemnitz is thought to be the city with the lowest birth rate in the world.[38] Germany has a number of larger cities, the most populous being Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt and Stuttgart. By far the largest conurbation is the Rhine-Ruhr region, including the Düsseldorf-Cologne district and the cities of Essen, Dortmund, Duisburg and Bochum.

Protestants (concentrated in the north and east) and Roman Catholics (concentrated in the south and west) each comprise about 31% of the population. The current Roman Catholic Pope, Benedict XVI, was born in Bavaria. In total, more than 55 million people officially belong to a Christian denomination. Non-religious people including atheists and agnostics amount to 28.5% of the population and are especially numerous in the former East Germany.[39] About three million Muslims[40] live in Germany. Most are Sunnis and Alevites from Turkey but there are a small number of Shiites.[41] Germany has Western Europe's third-largest Jewish population.[42] In 2004, twice as many Jews from former Soviet republics settled in Germany as in Israel, bringing the total Jewish population to more than 200,000 compared to 30,000 prior to German reunification. Large cities with significant Jewish populations include Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich.[43]

As of December 2004, about 7 million foreign citizens were registered in Germany and 19% of the country's residents were of foreign or partially foreign descent. Most were from Turkey (2.3 million)[44] or from European states such as Italy, Serbia, Greece, Poland, and Croatia.[45] In its State of World Population 2006 report, the United Nations Population Fund lists Germany as hosting the third-highest percentage of international migrants worldwide, about 5% or 10 million of all 191 million migrants.[46] Since 2000, due to gradual modifications to Germany's traditionally rather unrestricted laws on asylum and immigration, the number of immigrants seeking asylum or claiming German ethnicity (mostly from the former Soviet Union) has been declining steadily.[47] Immigrants to Germany often face integration issues among other difficulties.[48] There has also been a recent surge in right-wing nationalist crimes. According to former Interior Minister Otto Schily, the number of these crimes rose in recent years, though this trend does not necessarily indicate a rise in membership in right-wing groups.[49]



The University of Würzburg.
The University of Würzburg.

Responsibility for educational oversight in Germany lies primarily with the states while the federal government only has a minor role. Optional kindergarten education is provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is compulsory for twelve years. Primary education usually lasts for four years and public schools are not stratified at this stage.[50] In contrast, secondary education includes four types of schools based on a pupil's ability as determined by teacher recommendations: the Gymnasium includes the most gifted children and prepares students for university studies; the Realschule has a broader range of emphasis for intermediary students; the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education, and the Gesamtschule or comprehensive school combines the three approaches.[50] In order to enter a university, high school students are required to take the Abitur examination, however students possessing a diploma from a vocational school may also apply to enter. A special system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung allows pupils in vocational training to learn in a company as well as in a state-run school.[50] Although Germany has had a history of a strong educational system, recent PISA student assessments demonstrated a weakness in certain subjects. In the test of 31 countries in the year 2000, Germany ranked 21st in reading and 20th in both mathematics and the natural sciences, prompting calls for reform.[51]

In the annual league of top-ranking universities compiled by Shanghai Jiaotong University in 2004, Germany came 4th overall, with 7 universities in the top 100. The highest ranking German university, at number 45, was the Technical University of Munich.[52] Most German universities are state-owned and until recently did not charge for tuition; a 2006 education reform measure calls for fees of around €500 per semester from each student.[53]



German philosopher Immanuel Kant
German philosopher Immanuel Kant

Germany is often called das Land der Dichter und Denker (the land of poets and thinkers).[54] German culture began long before the rise of Germany as a nation-state and spanned the entire German speaking world. From its roots, culture in Germany has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular. As a result, it is difficult to identify a specific German tradition separated from the larger context of European high culture.[55] German literature can be traced back to the Middle Ages and the works of writers such as Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Various German authors and poets have won great renown including Goethe and Schiller. The collections of folk tales published by the Brothers Grimm popularized German folklore on the international level. Germany's influence on philosophy is historically significant and many notable German philosophers have helped shape western philosophy since the Middle Ages. Leibniz's contributions to rationalism, Kant's establishment of German idealism, Marx's formulation of Communist theory, and Nietzsche's development of Perspectivism were especially influential.

Germany claims some of the world's most renowned classical music composers, including Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart. As of 2006, Germany is the fifth largest music market in the world[56] and has influenced pop and rock music through artists such as Kraftwerk. Numerous German painters have enjoyed international prestige through their work in diverse artistic currents. Grünewald and Dürer were important artists of the Renaissance, Friedrich of Romanticism, and Ernst of Surrealism. Architectural contributions from Germany include the Carolingian and Ottonian styles, which were important precursors of Romanesque. The region later became the site for significant works in styles such as Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. Germany was particularly important in the early modern movement, especially through the Bauhaus movement founded by Walter Gropius. German cinema dates back to the very early years of the medium with the work of Skladanowsky. It was particularly influential during the years of the Weimar Republic with German expressionists such as Wiene and Murnau. New German Cinema directors such as Schlöndorff and Herzog, and films such as Good Bye Lenin! (2003), have enjoyed international success.

Germany has been the home of some of the most prominent researchers in various scientific fields.[57] The work of Albert Einstein and Max Planck was crucial to the foundation of modern physics, which Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger developed further.[58] They were preceded by such key physicists as Hermann von Helmholtz, Joseph von Fraunhofer, and Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, among others. Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays, an accomplishment that made him the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.[59] Heinrich Rudolf Hertz's work in the domain of electromagnetic radiation were pivotal to the development of modern telecommunication.[60] Wilhelm Wundt is credited with the establishment of psychology as an independent empirical science through his construction of the first laboratory at the University of Leipzig in 1879.[61] Alexander von Humboldt's work as a natural scientist and explorer was foundational to biogeography.[62] Numerous important mathematicians were born in Germany, including Gauss, Hilbert, Riemann, Weierstrass and Weyl. Germany has been the home of many famous inventors and engineers, such as Johannes Gutenberg, who is credited with the invention of movable type printing in Europe; Hans Geiger, the creator of the Geiger counter; and Konrad Zuse, who built the first computer.[63] German inventors, engineers and industrialists such as Zeppelin, Daimler, Diesel, and Benz helped shape modern automotive and air transportation technology.[64][65]

Opened in 2005: the Allianz Arena, one of the world's most modern football stadiums.
Opened in 2005: the Allianz Arena, one of the world's most modern football stadiums.

Sport forms an integral part of German life, as demonstrated by the fact that 27 million Germans are members of a sports club and an additional twelve million pursue such an activity individually.[66] Football is by far the most popular sport, and the German Football Federation (Deutscher Fussballbund) with more than 6.3 million members is the largest athletic organisation in the country.[66] It also attracts the greatest audience, with hundreds of thousands of spectators attending Bundesliga matches and millions more watching on television. The other two most popular sports in Germany are marksmanship and tennis represented by the German Marksmen’s Federation and the German Tennis Federation respectively, both including more than a million members. Other popular sports include handball, volleyball, basketball, and ice hockey.[66] Germany has historically been one of the strongest contenders in the Olympic Games. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, Germany finished sixth overall,[67] whereas in the 2006 Winter Olympics Germany finished first.[68]


See also



  1. Germany Foreign Direct Investment Magazine. Jan. 5, 2005. Retrieved 2006, 12-07
  2. Levy, Jack S. 1983. War in the Modern Great Power System, 1495–1974. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.
  3. Singer, J. David, and Melvin Small. 1972. The Wages of War, 1816–1965: A Statistical Handbook. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Germany still the export achiever CNN. Dec. 6, 2005. Retrieved 2006, 11-28
  5. Jill N. Claster: Medieval Experience: 300-1400. NYU Press 1982, p. 35. ISBN 0814713815
  6. The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 12, p. 442. ISBN 0521301998
  7. Fulbrook, Mary: A Concise History of Germany, Cambridge University Press 1991, p. 97. ISBN 0521540712
  8. Martin, Norman. German Confederation 1815-1866 (Germany) Flags of the World. Oct. 5, 2000. Retrieved 2006, 12-07
  9. Stephen J. Lee: Europe, 1890-1945. Routledge 2003, p. 131. ISBN 0415254558
  10. Roderick Stackelberg, Hitler's Germany: origins, interpretations, legacies. Routledge 1999, p. 103. ISBN 0415201144
  11. Scheck, Raffael. Establishing a Dictatorship: The Stabilization of Nazi Power Colby College. Retrieved 2006, 12-07
  12. Henderson, David. German Economic "Miracle" Retrieved 2006, 12-07
  13. Colchester, Nico. D-mark day dawns Financial Times. Jan. 1, 2001. Retrieved 2006, 12-07
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  15. Article 79 of the Grundgesetz
  16. Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union U.S. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2006, 12-07
  17. Declaration by the Franco-German Defence and Security Council May 13, 3004. Retrieved 2006, 12-03
  18. Glaab, Manuela. German Foreign Policy: Book Review Internationale Politik. Spring 2003. Retrieved 2007, 01-03
  20. Germany's New Face Abroad Deutsche Welle. Oct. 14, 2005. Retrieved 2006, 12-03
  21. Background Note: Germany U.S. Department of State. July 6, 2006. Retrieved 2006, 12-03
  22. Ready for a Bush hug?, The Economist, July 6 2006. Retrieved 2006, 12-31
  23. U.S.–German Economic Relations Factsheet U.S. Embassy in Berlin. May 2006. Retrieved 2006, 12-03
  24. German Still Most Frequently Reported Ancestry U.S. Census Bureau June 30, 2004. Retrieved 2006, 12-03
  25. Kaiserslautern, Germany Overview U.S. Military. Retrieved 2006, 12-03
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4
  27. Grundgesetz für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland Retrieved 2006, 11-30
  28. German Climate Handbuch Deutschland. Retrieved 2006, 11-30
  29. German Climate and Weather World Travels. Retrieved 2006, 11-30
  30. Tran, Mark. German slump points to sluggish eurozone The Guardian. May 15, 2003. Retrieved 2006, 12-31
  31. Rank Order - GDP (purchasing power parity) CIA Factbook 2005. Retrieved 2006, 12-31
  32. German trade surplus hits record BBC. Feb. 8, 2006. Retrieved 2007, 01-03
  33. Wind Power Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (Germany) Retrieved 2006, 11-30
  34. 34.0 34.1 Berg, S., Winter, S., Wassermann, A. The Price of a Failed Reunification Spiegel Online International. Sep. 5, 2005. Retrieved 2006, 11-28
  35. The German Economy is at the Cyclical Peak Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Retrieved 2006, 11-28
  36. Weber, Tim. German unemployment weighs on voters BBC. Sep. 16, 2005. Retrieved 2006, 11-28
  37. 37.0 37.1 In 2050 every 3rd person will be 60 or older in Germany Federal Statistical Office Germany Jun. 6, 2003. Retrieved 2006, 12-10
  38. German births decline to new low BBC. Aug. 15, 2006. Retrieved 2006, 12-07
  39. (German) Religionen in Deutschland: Mitgliederzahlen Religiosenwissenschaftlicher Medien- und Informationsdienst. Nov. 4, 2006. Retrieved 2006, 11-30
  40. Pope Benedict to meet Muslims in Germany. Deccan Herald from Reuters 2005, 08-21. Retrieved 2007, 01-01
  41. Germany Retrieved 2006, 11-30
  42. Blake, Mariah. In Nazi cradle, Germany marks Jewish renaissance Christian Science Monitor. Nov. 10,2006. Retrieved 2006, 11-30
  43. The Jewish Community of Germany European Jewish Congress. Retrieved 2006, 11-30
  44. Bernstein, Richard. A Quiz for Would-Be Citizens Tests Germans' Attitudes New York Times. March 29, 2006. Retrieved 2006, 11-30
  45. Foreign population on 31 December 2004 by country of origin Federal Statistical Office Germany Jan. 24, 2006. Retrieved 2007, 01-01
  46. State of World Population 2006 United Nations Population Fund. 2006. Retrieved 2007, 01-01
  47. (German) Erstmals seit 1990 weniger als 600 000 Ausländer zugezogen (in German), German Federal Statistics Bureau (Statistiches Bundesamt Deutschland), July 6 2006. Retrieved on 2007, 01-01.
  48. Integration Debate Rages in Wake of Honor Killing Conviction Deutsche Welle. Apr. 17, 2004. Retrieved 2006, 12-31
  49. 31,800 Islamist radicals in Germany: Schily Retrieved 2006, 11-30
  50. 50.0 50.1 50.2
  51. Experts: Germany Needs to Step up School Reforms Deutsche Welle. Apr. 12, 2006. Retrieved 2006, 12-04
  52. Top 500 World Universities Shanghai Jiao Tong University. 2006. Retrieved 2006, 12-04
  53. Tuition Fees in Germany German Academic Exchange Service. Retrieved 2006, 11-30
  54. Wasser, Jeremy. Spätzle Westerns Spiegel Online International. Apr. 6, 2006. Retrieved 2006, 12-06
  55. Federal Republic of Germany: Culture. Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2006. Retrieved 2007, 01-02
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  57. Back to the Future: Germany - A Country of Research German Academic Exchange Service (2005, 02-23). Retrieved 2006, 12-08
  58. Roberts, J. M. The New Penguin History of the World, Penguin History, 2002. Pg. 1014. ISBN 0141007230
  59. The Alfred B. Nobel Prize Winners, 1901-2003 History Channel from The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2006. Retrieved 2007, 01-02
  60. Historical figures in telecommunications. International Telecommunication Union. Jan. 14, 2004. Retrieved 2007, 01-02
  61. Kim, Alan. Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Jun. 16, 2006. Retrieved 2007, 01-02
  62. The Natural History Legacy ofAlexander von Humboldt (1769 to 1859) Humboldt Field Research Institute and Eagle Hill Foundation. Retrieved 2007, 01-02
  63. Horst, Zuse. The Life and Work of Konrad Zuse Everyday Practical Electronics (EPE) Online. Retrieved 2007, 01-02
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  65. The Zeppelin U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. Retrieved 2007, 01-02
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  68. Turin 2006 Medal Table International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 2006, 12-28

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