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A region named Germania, inhabited by several Germanic peoples, was documented before AD 100. During the Migration Age, the Germanic tribes expanded southward, and established successor kingdoms throughout much of Europe. Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation while southern and western parts remained dominated by Roman Catholic denominations, with the two factions clashing in the Thirty Years' War. Occupied during the Napoleonic Wars, with the rising of Pan-Germanism inside the German Confederation resulted in the unification of most of the German states into the German Empire in 1871 which was Prussian dominated. After the German Revolution of 1918–1919 and the subsequent military surrender in World War I, the Empire was replaced by the Weimar Republic in 1918, and partitioned in the Versailles Treaty. Amidst the Great Depression, the Third Reich was proclaimed in 1933. The latter period was marked by Fascism and the Second World War. After 1945, Germany was divided by allied occupation, and evolved into two states, East Germany and West Germany. In 1990 Germany was reunified.
It has the world's fourth largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth largest by purchasing power parity. It is the second largest exporter and third largest importer of goods. The country has developed a very high standard of living and a comprehensive system of social security. Germany has been the home of many influential scientists and inventors, and is known for its cultural and political history.
Fact about Germany:
Germany is a country in central Europe and a member of the European Union
Official Name of Germany:
Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany)
Germany Population:81,471,834 (July 2011 est.)
Major cities - population:
BERLIN (capital) 3.438 million (2009)
Hamburg 1.786 million (2009)
Munich 1.349 million (2009)
Cologne 1.001 million (2009)
Longest Rivers in Germany:Rhine 865 km, Elbe 700 km, Danube 647 km (in Germany)
Highest Mountain in Germany:Zugspitze 2963 m
357,022 sq km
52 31 N, 13 24 E
Border Countries of Germany:
Austria 784 km, Belgium 167 km, Czech Republic 815 km, Denmark 68 km, France 451 km, Luxembourg 138 km, Netherlands 577 km, Poland 456 km, Switzerland 334 km
Time Zone of Germany:
The local time zone is Central European Time (MEZ or MET, one hour in advance of GMT, i.e., MEZ = GMT+1) with daylight savings time in the summer (MESZ = GMT+2).
Note: The shift from Bonn to Berlin will take place over a period of years with Bonn retaining many administrative functions and several ministries
German States / Bundesländer:
Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia
Bamberg, Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Frankfurt am Main, Freiburg im Breisgau, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Munich, Münster, Leipzig, Regensburg, Stuttgart
Euro (since 2002-01-01, "book money" since 1999-01-01)
(former currency: Deutsche Mark, 1 DM = 100 Pfennig, 1 EUR = 1.95583 DM)
ISO Country Codes:
Where is Germany:
Central Europe, bordering the North Sea and the Baltic Sea between the Netherlands and Poland, south of Denmark
temperate and marine; cool, cloudy, wet winters and summers; occasional warm mountain (foehn) wind
coal, lignite, natural gas, iron ore, copper, nickel, uranium, potash, salt, construction materials, timber, arable land
Flag of Germany:
Names of Germany:
The English word "Germany" derives from the Latin Germania, which came into use after Julius Caesar adopted it for the peoples east of the Rhine. In other languages it has various names.
The German term "Deutschland" is derived from Old High German duit, "people, race, nation," from Proto-Germanic. *theudo "popular, national" from Proto-Indo-European base *teuta- "people".
Daylight Saving Time:
+1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Geography of Germany:
Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Alps (highest point: the Zugspitze at 2,962 metres / 9,718 feet) in the south to the shores of the North Sea (Nordsee) in the north-west and the Baltic Sea (Ostsee) in the north-east. The forested uplands of central Germany and the lowlands of northern Germany (lowest point: Wilstermarsch at 3.54 metres / 11.6 feet below sea level) are traversed by such major rivers as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe. Glaciers are found in the Alpine region, but are experiencing deglaciation. Significant natural resources are iron ore, coal, potash, timber, lignite, uranium, copper, natural gas, salt, nickel, arable land and water.
Climate of Germany:
Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate in which humid westerly winds predominate. The climate is moderated by the North Atlantic Drift, the northern extension of the Gulf Stream. This warmer water affects the areas bordering the North Sea; consequently in the north-west and the north the climate is oceanic. Rainfall occurs year-round, especially in the summer. Winters are mild and summers tend to be cool, though temperatures can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).
The east has a more continental climate; winters can be very cold and summers very warm, and long dry periods are frequent. Central and southern Germany are transition regions which vary from moderately oceanic to continental. In addition to the maritime and continental climates that predominate over most of the country, the Alpine regions in the extreme south and, to a lesser degree, some areas of the Central German Uplands have a mountain climate, characterized by lower temperatures and greater precipitation.
Transport in Germany:
As a densely populated country in a central location in Europe and with a developed economy, Germany has a dense and modern transportation infrastructure.
The first highway system to have been built, the extensive German Autobahn network famously features sections where no speed limit is in force. The country's most important waterway is the river Rhine. The largest port is that of Hamburg. Frankfurt Airport is a major international airport and European transportation hub. Air travel is used for greater distances within Germany but faces competition from the state-owned Deutsche Bahn's rail network. High-speed trains, called ICE connect cities for passenger travel. Many German cities have rapid transit systems and Public transport is available in most areas.
Since German reunification substantial efforts have been necessary to improve and expand the transportation infrastructure in what had previously been East Germany.
Road and automotive transport of Germany:
High-speed vehicular traffic has a long tradition in Germany given that the first freeway (Autobahn) in the world, the AVUS, and the world's first automobile were developed and built in Germany. Germany possesses one of the most dense road systems of the world. German motorways have no blanket speed limit. However, posted limits are in place on many dangerous or congested stretches as well as where traffic noise or pollution poses a problem.
The German government has had issues with upkeep of the roads in the country, having had to revamp the eastern portions transport system since the unification of Germany between the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). With that, numerous construction projects have been put on hold in the west, and a vigorous reconstruction has been going on for almost 20 years. However ever since the European Union formed an over all streamlining and change of route plans have occurred as faster and more direct links to former Soviet bloc countries now exist and are in the works, with intense co-operation among European countries.
Roads by Germany:
Germany has approximately 650,000 km of roads, of which 231,000 km are non-local roads. The road network is extensively used with nearly 2 trillion kilometers travelled by car in 2005, in comparison to just 70 billion km travelled by rail and 35 billion km travelled by plane.
The national roads in Germany are called Bundesstraßen (federal roads). Their numbers are usually well known to the road users, as they appear (written in black digits on a yellow rectangle with black border) on direction traffic signs and in street maps. A Bundesstraße is often referred to as "B" followed by its number, for example "B 1", one of the main east-west routes. More important routes have lower numbers. Odd numbers are usually applied to east-west oriented roads, and even numbers for north-south routes. Bypass routes are referred to with an appended "a" (alternative) or "n" (new alignment), as in "B 56n".
Other main public roads are maintained by the Bundesländer (states), called Landesstraße (country road) or Staatsstraße (state road). The numbers of these roads are prefixed with "L", "S" or "St", but are usually not seen on direction signs or written in maps. They appear on the kilometre posts on the roadside. Numbers are unique only within one state.
The Landkreise (districts) (number prefix "K") and municipalities are in charge of the minor roads and streets within villages, towns and cities.
Total number of cars: 53,600,000
Cars per 100 capita: 65
Companies in Germany:
- Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley (British), Bugatti (French), Lamborghini (Italian, Škoda Auto (Czech), SEAT (Spanish), Volkswagen, Porsche
- Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz, Smart, Maybach
- BMW, Rolls-Royce (British), MINI (British)
- Opel (owned by GM)
Rail transport in Germany:
total: 40,826 km, including
at least 14,253 km electrified and
14,768 km double- or multiple-tracked (1998)
Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) is the major German railway infrastructure and service operator. Though Deutsche Bahn is a private company, the government still holds all shares and therefore Deutsche Bahn can still be called a state-owned company. Since its reformation under private law in 1994, Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) no longer publishes details of the tracks it owns; in addition to the DB AG system there are about 280 privately or locally owned railway companies which own an approximate 3,000 km to 4,000 km of the total tracks and use DB tracks in open access.
There are significant differences between the financing of long-distance and short-distance (or local) trains in Germany. While long-distance trains can be run by any railway company, the companies also receive no subsidies from the government; instead, the long-distance trains receive no direct subventions for current operations. Local trains however are subsidised by the German states, which pay the operating companies to run these trains. This resulted in many private companies offering to run local train services as they can provide cheaper service than the state-owned Deutsche Bahn. Track construction is entirely and track maintenance partly government financed both for long and short range trains.
The InterCityExpress or ICE is a type of high-speed train operated by Deutsche Bahn in Germany and large cities in neighbouring countries, such as Zurich, Vienna, Copenhagen, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. The rail network throughout Germany is extensive and provides excellent services in most areas. On regular lines, at least one train every two hours will call even in the smallest of villages. Nearly all larger metropolitan areas are served by S-Bahn, U-Bahn, Strassenbahn and/or bus networks
International freight trains:
While Germany and most of contiguous Europe use standard gauge (1435 mm), differences in signalling, rules and regulations, electrification voltages, etc. tend to hamstring freight operations across borders. These obstacles are slowly being overcome, with international (in- and outgoing) and transit (through) traffic being responsible for a large part of the recent uptake in rail freight volume.
In some areas of Germany an urban railway called S-Bahn is in operation. These trains usually connect larger agglomerations to the suburban areas, although in the case of the Rhein-Ruhr S-Bahn these also serve as a method of interurban transport between large cities.
Cities with pure U-Bahn systems are:
Frankfurt am Main (U-Bahn)
Cities with Stadtbahn systems can be found in the article Trams in Germany.
Flights to Germany:
Frankfurt International Airport is Germany's largest airport and a major transportation hub in Europe. Frankfurt Airport ranks among the world's top ten airports. It is one of the airports with the largest number of international destinations served worldwide. Depending on whether total passengers, flights or cargo traffic are used as a measure, it ranks first, second or third in Europe alongside London Heathrow Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Germany's second most important international airport is Munich. Other major airports are Berlin Tegel, Berlin Schönefeld, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne-Bonn, Leipzig/Halle.
Both airports in Berlin will be consolidated at a site adjacent to Schönefeld Airport, which will become Berlin Brandenburg Airport, to open on 3 June 2012.
Airports — with paved runways:
- over 3,047 m: 14
- 2,438 to 3,047 m: 61
- 1,524 to 2,437 m: 67
- 914 to 1,523 m: 56
- under 914 m: 122 (1999 est.)
Airports — with unpaved runways:
- over 3,047 m: 2
- 2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
- 1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
- 914 to 1,523 m: 55
- under 914 m: 226 (1999 est.)
59 (1999 est.)
Air Berlin became second largest airline in recent years by absorbing LTU and dba.
Charter carrier include Condor, TUIfly and Germania. In addition there are several regional carrier such as OLT and Cirrus Airlines as well as cargo operator such as Lufthansa Cargo and Air Cargo Germany.
Water transport in Germany:
crude oil 2,500 km (1998)
Ports and harbours:
Berlin, Bonn, Brake, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Cologne, Dortmund, Dresden, Duisburg, Emden, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Kiel, Lübeck, Magdeburg, Mannheim, Oldenburg, Rostock, Stuttgart
The port of Hamburg is the largest sea-harbour in Germany and ranks #2 in Europe, #7 worldwide (2004), in total container traffic.
total: 4759 ships (with a volume of 1,000 gross register tons (GRT) or over) totaling 6,395,990 GRT/8,014,132 metric tons deadweight (DWT)
Ships by type:
bulk carrier 2, cargo ship 181, chemical tanker 12, container ship 239, Liquified Gas Carrier 2, multi-functional large load carrier 5, passenger ship 2, petroleum tanker 8, rail car carrier 2, refrigerated cargo 2, roll-on/roll-off ship 13, short-sea passenger 7 (1999 est.)
Germany has established a high level of gender equality, promotes disability rights, and is legally and socially tolerant towards homosexuals. Gays and lesbians can legally adopt their partner's biological children, and civil unions have been permitted since 2001. Germany has also changed its attitude towards immigrants; since the mid-1990s, the government and the majority of Germans have begun to acknowledge that controlled immigration should be allowed based on qualification standards. Germany has been named the world's second most valued nation among 50 countries in 2010. A global opinion poll for the BBC revealed that Germany is recognized for having the most positive influence in the world in 2011.
Biodiversity of Germany::
Plants and animals are those generally common to middle Europe. Beeches, oaks, and other deciduous trees constitute one third of the forests; conifers are increasing as a result of reforestation. Spruce and fir trees predominate in the upper mountains, while pine and larch are found in sandy soil. There are many species of ferns, flowers, fungi, and mosses. Wild animals include deer, wild boar, mouflon, fox, badger, hare, and small numbers of beavers.
The national parks in Germany include the Wadden Sea National Parks, the Jasmund National Park, the Vorpommern Lagoon Area National Park, the Müritz National Park, the Lower Oder Valley National Park, the Harz National Park, the Saxon Switzerland National Park and the Bavarian Forest National Park. More than 400 registered zoos and animal parks operate in Germany, which is believed to be the largest number in any country. The Zoologische Garten Berlin is the oldest zoo in Germany and presents the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.
Sport in Germany:
Germany is one of the leading motor sports countries in the world. Constructors like BMW and Mercedes are prominent manufacturers in motor sport. Additionally, Porsche has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, an annual endurance race held in France, 16 times, and Audi has won it 9 times. Formula One driver Michael Schumacher has set many motor sport records during his career, having won more Formula One World Drivers' Championships and more Formula One races than any other driver; he is one of the highest paid sportsmen in history.
Historically, German sportsmen have been successful contenders in the Olympic Games, ranking third in an all-time Olympic Games medal count, combining East and West German medals. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, Germany finished fifth in the medal count, while in the 2006 Winter Olympics they finished first. Germany has hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice, in Berlin in 1936 and in Munich in 1972. The Winter Olympic Games took place in Germany once in 1936 in the twin towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen.
History of Germany:
Germanic tribes and Frankish Empire:
In the 3rd century a number of large West Germanic tribes emerged: Alamanni, Franks, Chatti, Saxons, Frisii, Sicambri, and Thuringii. Around 260, the Germanic peoples broke into Roman-controlled lands. After the invasion of the Huns in 375, and with the decline of Rome from 395, Germanic tribes moved further south-west. Simultaneously several large tribes formed in what is now Germany and displaced the smaller Germanic tribes. Large areas (known since the Merovingian period as Austrasia) were occupied by the Franks, and Northern Germany was ruled by the Saxons and Slavs.
Holy Roman Empire:
Under the Hohenstaufen emperors (1138–1254), the German princes increased their influence further south and east into territories inhabited by Slavs, preceding German settlement in these areas and further east (Ostsiedlung). Northern German towns grew prosperous as members of the Hanseatic League. Starting with the Great Famine in 1315, then the Black Death of 1348–50, the population of Germany plummeted. The edict of the Golden Bull in 1356 provided the basic constitution of the empire and codified the election of the emperor by seven prince-electors who ruled some of the most powerful principalities and archbishoprics.
Martin Luther publicised his 95 Theses in 1517, challenging the Roman Catholic Church and initiating the Protestant Reformation. A separate Lutheran church became the official religion in many German states after 1530. Religious conflict led to the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), which devastated German lands. The population of the German states was reduced by about 30%. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) ended religious warfare among the German states, but the empire was de facto divided into numerous independent principalities. From 1740 onwards, 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.
German Confederation and Empire:
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. Bismarck successfully waged war on Denmark in 1864. Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 enabled him to create the North German Federation (Norddeutscher Bund) and to exclude Austria, formerly the leading German state, from the federation's affairs. After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the German Empire was proclaimed 1871 in Versailles, uniting all scattered parts of Germany except Austria (Kleindeutschland, or "Lesser Germany"). With almost two thirds of its territory and population, Prussia was the dominating constituent of the new state; the Hohenzollern King of Prussia ruled as its concurrent Emperor, and Berlin became its capital. In the Gründerzeit period following the unification of Germany, Bismarck's foreign policy as Chancellor of Germany under Emperor William I secured Germany's position as a great nation by forging alliances, isolating France by diplomatic means, and avoiding war. Under Wilhelm II, however, Germany, like other European powers, took an imperialistic course leading to friction with neighbouring countries. As a result of the Berlin Conference in 1884 Germany claimed several colonies including German East Africa, German South-West Africa, Togo, and Cameroon. Most alliances in which Germany had previously been involved were not renewed, and new alliances excluded the country.
The assassination of Austria's crown prince on 28 June 1914 triggered World War I. Germany, as part of the Central Powers, suffered defeat against the Allies in one of the bloodiest conflicts of all time. An estimated two million German soldiers died in World War I. The German Revolution broke out in November 1918, and Emperor Wilhelm II and all German ruling princes abdicated. An armistice ended the war on 11 November, and Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. The treaty was perceived in Germany as a humiliating continuation of the war, and is often cited as an influence in the rise of Nazism.
Weimar Republic and Third Reich:
In 1935, Germany reacquired control of the Saar and in 1936 military control of the Rhineland, both of which had been lost in the Treaty of Versailles. In 1938 and 1939, Austria and Czechoslovakia were brought under German control and the invasion of Poland was prepared through the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact and Operation Himmler. On 1 September 1939 the German Wehrmacht launched a blitzkrieg on Poland, which was swiftly occupied by Germany and by the Soviet Red Army. The UK and France declared war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II. As the war progressed, Germany and its allies quickly gained control of much of continental Europe though plans to occupy the United Kingdom failed. On 22 June 1941, Germany broke the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact and invaded the Soviet Union. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor led Germany to declare war on the United States. The Battle of Stalingrad forced the German army to retreat on the Eastern front. In September 1943, Germany's ally Italy surrendered, and German troops were forced to defend an additional front in Italy. D-Day opened a Western front, as Allied forces advanced towards German territory. On 8 May 1945, the German armed forces surrendered after the Red Army occupied Berlin.
In what later became known as The Holocaust, the Third Reich regime had enacted policies directly subjugating many dissidents and minorities. Millions of people were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, including a sizeable number of Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Poles and other Slavs, including Soviet POWs, people with mental and/or physical disabilities, homosexuals, and members of the political opposition. World War II was responsible for more than 40 million dead in Europe. The Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals were held after World War II. The war casualties for Germany are estimated at 5.3 million German soldiers millions of German civilians; and losing the war resulted in large territorial losses; the expulsion of about 15 million Germans from the eastern areas of Germany and other countries; mass rape of German women; and the destruction of multiple major cities.
East and West Germany:
West Germany, established as a federal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy", was allied with the United States, the UK and France. The country enjoyed prolonged economic growth beginning in the early 1950s (Wirtschaftswunder). West Germany joined NATO in 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957. East Germany was an Eastern bloc state under political and military control by the USSR via the latter's occupation forces and the Warsaw Pact. Though East Germany claimed to be a democracy, political power was exercised solely by leading members (Politburo) of the communist-controlled Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), supported by the Stasi, an immense secret service, and a variety of sub-organisations controlling every aspect of society. A Soviet-style command economy was set up; the GDR later became a Comecon state. While East German propaganda was based on the benefits of the GDR's social programmes and the alleged constant threat of a West German invasion, many of her citizens looked to the West for freedom and prosperity. The Berlin Wall, built in 1961 to stop East Germans from escaping to West Germany, became a symbol of the Cold War.
Tensions between East and West Germany were reduced in the early 1970s by Chancellor Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik. In summer 1989, Hungary decided to dismantle the Iron Curtain and open the borders, causing the emigration of thousands of East Germans to West Germany via Hungary. This had devastating effects on the GDR, where regular mass demonstrations received increasing support. The East German authorities unexpectedly eased the border restrictions, allowing East German citizens to travel to the West; originally intended to help retain East Germany as a state, the opening of the border actually led to an acceleration of the Wende reform process. This culminated in the Two Plus Four Treaty a year later on 12 September 1990, under which the four occupying powers renounced their rights under the Instrument of Surrender, and Germany regained full sovereignty. This permitted German reunification on 3 October 1990, with the accession of the five re-established states of the former GDR (new states or "neue Länder").
Berlin Republic and the EU:
Based on the Berlin/Bonn Act, adopted on 10 March 1994, Berlin once again became the capital of the reunified Germany, while Bonn obtained the unique status of a Bundesstadt (federal city) retaining some federal ministries. The relocation of the government was completed in 1999. Since reunification, Germany has taken a more active role in the European Union and NATO. Germany sent a peacekeeping force to secure stability in the Balkans and sent a force of German troops to Afghanistan as part of a NATO effort to provide security in that country after the ousting of the Taliban. These deployments were controversial since, after the war, Germany was bound by domestic law only to deploy troops for defence roles. In 2005, Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany as the leader of a grand coalition.