Germany

Useful informations
LocationCentral Europe
NeighborhoodFrance, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland, Poland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Baltic Sea, North Sea
Area357,168 km2
Density227 persons/km2
CapitalBerlin
CurrencyEuro (EUR; €)

Germany’s national anthem is called Deutschlandlied, which was written by Joseph Haydn and the motto is “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit” which translates to “Unity and Justice and Freedom”. The country is organized as a federal parliamentary republic, which consists in 16 Lands, and its total population reaches almost 81,5 million persons. Other important German population in Europe can be found in Russia ( about 400,000 ), Switzerland ( 266,000 ), Netherlands ( 179,000 ), France ( 130,700 ) and the United Kingdom ( 92,000 ). The official currency in Germany is the Euro ( EUR ).

Germany is a member of lots of organizations such as: UN, NATO, one of the six founding members of the nowadays European Union, G8, G20 and OCDE. The country is also part of the Schengen Space and constantly takes the leadership role in the European Union. The Unity Day is celebrated on the 3rd of October every year, as West Germany reunified with East Germany on 3 October 1990.

The national flag of Germany is the official symbol of the state and consists of three horizontal bands of equal size in black, red and yellow. In German, the three colors of the flag are named “Schwarz-rot-gelb”. The tricolor first appeared in the early 19th century and gained prominence during the 1848 revolution. The Frankfurt Parliament of 1848-1850 proposed the tricolor as the flag for a united and democratic German state. With the formation of the Weimar Republic after World War I, the tricolor was adopted as the national flag of Germany. Following World War II, it was designated as the flag of both West Germany and of East Germany. The two flags were identical until 1959 when socialist symbols were added to that of East Germany. Since the reunification of 3 October 1990, the black-red-yellow tricolor has remained the flag of Germany.

The Germanic Tribes – It is considered that the etnogenesis of the germanic tribes occurred during the Nordic Bronze Age, or at the latest, during the Pre-Roman Iron Age. Starting from southern Scandinavia and northern Germany, the germanic tribes extended their territory to the south, east and west, in the first century BC. They came in contact with the Celtic tribes of Gaul, the Iranian tribes and the Baltic and Slavic tribes in Eastern Europe. Not much is known about the early history of the germanic tribes.

Restauration and Revolution ( 1814-1871 ) – Following the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1814 it was organized the Congress of Vienna where the German Confederation ( Deutsche Bund ), a league made up of 39 states was founded. The disagreement with the political ideas of restauration led to the strengthening of the liberal movements which demanded unity and freedom. These requests, however, were followed by new measures of repression made up by Austrian politician, Klemens von Metternich. Zollverein, a tariff union, has contributed decisively to the economic unification of the German states. During this period, many Germans were influenced by the principles of the French Revolution, while nationalism was a rising force, especially among young intellectuals. For the first time, the black-red-yellow colours were chosen to represent the movement and later they became the official colours of the German flag.

The German Empire ( 1871-1918 ) – The modern state now known as Germany was unified in 1871 when the German Empire was established with the Kingdom of Prussia as a constituent. After the victory against the french in the Franco-Prussian War, the German Empire was proclaimed at Versailles on 18 January 1871. The Hohenzollern dynasty of Prussia ruled the new Empire, whose capital was at Berlin. The Empire was a unification of all German states which were dismembered, the only exception being Austria ( Kleindeutsche Lösung or Lower Germany ). Since 1884, Germany has begun a process of colonization of several countries outside Europe.

German Imperialism extended beyond its borders and joined other European powers, demanding their share of Africa. The Congo Conference from Berlin ( 1884-1885 ), mediated by Bismarck divided Africa among European powers. Taking advantage of a favorable political situation ( friendship with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy, Russia and a deal with France ), Germany has established the following protectorates: South-Western German Africa ( 1884 ), Togo and Cameroon ( 1884 ), East German Africa ( 1885 ), including the German colonies of the southern areas: Kaiser Wilhelmland ( acquired from New Guinea in 1880 ), Bismarck Archipelago, Marshall Island. The quarrel between the imperialist domination of Africa and other areas caused tensions between the great powers, which, by accumulation, were one of the reasons that contributed to the outbreak of WWI.

The Third Reich ( 1933-1945 ) – In almost all of this period, the German state was officially called Deutsches Reich ( German Empire ), the colloquial name being Drittes Reich ( The Third Reich ) or Nazi-Deutschland ( Nazi Germany ). On the 27th of February 1933, the headquarters of the Reichstag ( German Parliament by then ), located in the building with the same name even nowadays, was burned. This was the pretext for the decrees of urgency that repealed the fundamental civil rights. A decision of the Parliament gave Hitler unrestricted legislative power. Only the Social Democratic Party (SPD) voted against it, while the Communist members of the Parliament were imprisoned. Using his power to destroy any actual or potential resistance, within a few months, Hitler established a centralized totalitarian state.

During the Third Reich, the Nazi German government has applied various policies against minorities and dissidents, which later would be known as the Holocaust. During this time they killed about 17 million people, including 6 million Hebrews and a significant number of Gypsies, Poles and other Slavs, Soviet prisoners of war, the mentally ill, homosexuals and political opposition members. The Second World War and the Nazi genocide were responsible for more than 40 million deaths in Europe. After the end of the Second World War, the Nürnberg trials of German war criminals took place.

Recent political events – From 1998 to July 2005, the Federal Chancellor was Gerhard Schröder (SPD) and headed a cabinet of coalition between the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens ( Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen ). On 21 July 2005, Federal President, Horst Köhler dissolved the Bundestag, following a vote of distrust that he received from Chancellor Schröder. On 18 September 2005 there were held early federal election, after which it came to power a great coalition between the parliamentary groups CDU / CSU (so-called “Christian Union”) and SPD, with Angela Merkel (CDU) as chancellor.

Landforms
On Germany’s territory, there are three large natural units which succeed one after another, from north to south: the North German Plain, the Hercinic Massifs of Middle Germany and the Bavarian Alps with its plateaus. The North German Plain is a sector of the Great North European Plain, and it is flat to the west of Berlin, also crossed by two rows of hills, more or less parallel. Gradually, the plain passes through a mountainous area of middle height.

Climate
Germany has a temperate climate with an average annual temperature of 9°C. The average temperature in January ranges from -6°C to 1°C (depending on its place and altitude), while the average temperature of July between 16°C and 20°C. Rainfall is higher in the south, where there are about 1,980 mm per year, mostly in the form of snow.

Flora
   The natural vegetation is represented by the coniferous forests (over ¼ of the area is covered by forests of pine, beech, oak; in the Harz Mountains the hardwood forests are predominating, while in the Thuringian Forest and the Erzgebirge, there are lots of conifers). In the north, as in the central parts, the Central-European species are predominating, while towards the south, the Eastern European species can be found.

Fauna
The fauna is quite varied and includes characteristic elements to both northern European and eastern or south-eastern European: deer, marten, wild cat, bison, hamster, thrush nightingale, dwarf owl, black woodpecker. Other wild animals include: roe deer, wild boar, mouflon (a subspecies of wild sheep), fox, badger, hare, and small numbers of the Eurasian beaver.

The 14 national parks in Germany include the Jasmund National Park, the Vorpommern Lagoon Area National Park, the Müritz National Park, the Wadden Sea National Parks, the Harz National Park, the Hainich National Park, the Black Forest National Park, the Saxon Switzerland National Park, the Bavarian Forest National Park and the Berchtesgaden National Park. In addition, there are 14 Biosphere Reserves, as well as 98 nature parks. More than 400 registered zoos and animal parks operate in Germany, which is believed to be the largest number in any country. The Berlin Zoo, opened in 1844, is the oldest zoo in Germany, and presents the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.

Language
German is the official and predominantly spoken language in Germany. It is one of the 23 official languages of the European Union, as well as one of the three working languages of the European Commission, along with English and French. Recognized minority native languages are Danish, Sorbian, Romani and Frisian. They are officially protected by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Most used immigrant languages are Turkish, Polish, Balkan languages and Russian.

Religion
Christianity is the largest religious denomination in Germany, with 52 million adherents (64%). 26,5 million are Protestants (32.3%), while 25,5 million are Catholics (31.0%). The second largest religion is Islam with about 4,3 million adherents (5%), followed by Buddhism and Judaism, both with around 200,000 believers (some 0.25%). Hinduism has 90,000 believers (0.1%) and Sikhism 75,000 (0.09%). Other religious communities in Germany have fewer than 50,000 (or less than 0.05%) adherents. About 24,4 million Germans (29.6%) have not declared their religion, considering themselves atheists or agnostics.

World Heritage
On UNESCO’s list there can be found 37 cultural objectives and 3 natural objectives in Germany:

Cultural Objectives:

  • Aachen Cathedral
  • Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch
  • Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar and Dessau
  • Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe
  • Berlin Modernism Housing Estates
  • Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey
  • Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust at Brühl
  • Classical Weimar
  • Collegiate Church, Castle and Old Town of Quedlinburg
  • Cologne Cathedral
  • Fagus Factory in Alfeld
  • Frontiers of the Roman Empire
  • Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz
  • Hanseatic City of Lübeck
  • Historic Centres of Stralsund and Wismar
  • Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg
  • Margravial Opera House Bayreuth
  • Maulbronn Monastery Complex
  • Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System
  • Monastic Island of Reichenau
  • Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin
  • Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski
  • Old town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof
  • Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin
  • Pilgrimage Church of Wies
  • Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps
  • Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier
  • Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus
  • Speyer Cathedral
  • St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim
  • Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen
  • Town of Bamberg
  • Upper Middle Rhine Valley
  • Völklingen Ironworks
  • Wartburg Castle
  • Würzburg Residence with the Court Gardens and Residence Square
  • Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen

   Natural Objectives:

  • Messel Pit Fossil Site
  • Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany
  • Wadden Sea

Demographics
With a population of about 82 million, Germany is the most populous country in the European Union. The fertility rate is one of the lowest in Europe, with only 1,41 children per woman. The biggest urban agglomeration is in the Rhein-Ruhr region conurbation (12 million), including Düsseldorf (the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia) and the cities of Köln, Essen, Dortmund, Duisburg and Bochum.

As in many developed countries, the birth rate is lower in Germany than the mortality rate. In 2011, per 1.000 inhabitants there were 8 births and 10,4 deaths. The rural population represents 9% of the country, while the urban population is about 91%. After World War II, 15 million ethnic Germans were expelled or fled from Germany‘s eastern territories of nowadays Poland, Lithuania and Russia. A smaller number of ethnic Germans from Yugoslavia, Hungary and Romania were displaced or fled during and immediately after the end of the war. The displaced population was integrated in the two German states established in 1949, the FRG and the GDR.

Economy

Germany has the largest national economy in Europe, the 4th in the world by nominal GDP, and 5th in the world by purchasing power parity, according to data from 2008. Since the inception of the industrial era, Germany was a leader, innovator and beneficiary of an increasingly globalized economy. Germany leads the world in exports, exporting goods worth 1,133 trillion $ in 2006 (including the Euro zone countries), and generates a trade surplus of 165 billion $. The success of the German economy is very meritorious, considering that these positive results are obtained given the fact that in Europe alone there are six economies more efficient than the German one, while German workers, which are exceling in terms of labor productivity when they are compared with other workers of the developed world (OECD), however, they work the least if they are compared to workers of other economies of the OECD (except for the Netherlands), while German children spend less time in school than children of many of their neighbouring countries.

According to some analysts, the recent success of Germany lies in the common currency, the Euro, which made German products cheaper than they were before the adoption of the common currency in Europe. The services sector contributes to about 70% of the total GNP, the industry sector contributes to about 29, 1% and 0,9% is the result of the agriculture sector. Most products come from the engineering sector, including: automobiles, machinery, metallurgical and chemical products. Germany is the largest producer of wind turbines and solar energy technologies operating in the world. The biggest international trade fairs and congresses are held each year in German cities such as Hannover, Frankfurt and Berlin.

Among the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the world, organized by top revenue companies, there are 37 companies based in Germany. In 2007, the largest of these were: Daimler, Volkswagen, Allianz (the most profitable company), Siemens, Deutsche Bank (the second company regarding profitability), E.ON, Deutsche Post, Deutsche Telekom, Metro Cash & Carry, and BASF. Among the companies with the most employees, Deutsche Post, Robert Bosch GmbH and Edeka are in the top. Companies and at the same time, famous German brand products across the globe are: Adidas, Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Nivea, Porsche, SAP, Volkswagen and many others.

 

Transportation

Germany is a major transport hub, due to its central location. This can be seen in many modern transport networks. The extensive network of its highways (Autobahn) ranks it 3rd worldwide by total length and is characterized by lack of speed limit on most roads. Road transport ensures over 650,000 km of roads and highways, the most important being the highway “Hansalinie” linking the city-ports of Hamburg and Bremen Ruhr.

Fluvial navigation is done either on the main arteries basins or channels. Navigable rivers are the Elbe, Saale, Oder, Rhine, Ems, Weser, Danube, Main, Neckar, Moselle and the main channels: Elbe-Havel, Ludwigskanal. The main river ports are Duisburg , Köln, Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Dresden, Riesa and Magdeburg. Maritime transport is conducted in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. The main port and the 2nd in Europe is Hamburg with a traffic of 63 million tons making it 7th in the world, Wilhelmhaven, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Rostock, Emden, Lübeck, Warnemunde, Wismar and Strelsund. There are ports located in Kiel canal. Germany has over 8.000 km of navigable arteries. The Rhine-Main-Danube canal connects Rotterdam (North Sea) with the Black Sea.

For air transport, huge passenger flow is recorded in airports like Berlin, Frankfurt, München or Hamburg. The biggest air operator is Lufthansa, who recently bought the low-cost operator Germanwings. Air Berlin is also an important air operator.

 

People

Discover some of the most popular persons who live / lived in Germany.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer

He is best known for his 1818 work “The World as Will and Representation”, in which he characterizes the phenomenal world as the product of a blind, insatiable, and malignant metaphysical will. Proceeding from the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant, Schopenhauer developed an atheistic metaphysical and ethical system that has been described as an exemplary […]

Oskar Schindler

Oskar Schindler

Was a German industrialist, spy, and member of the Nazi Party who is credited with saving the lives of 1.200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories, which were located in occupied Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. He is the subject of the 1982 novel Schindler’s […]

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche

Was a German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history. later in his philosophical thinking. He studied philosophy at the University of Leipzig. Arthur Schopenhauer’s book, “Welt als Wille und Vorstellung” (“The World as Will and Representation”) will be […]

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Culinary

Discover some of the traditional receips from Germany.

Hacker Pschoo

Hacker – Pschorr Oktoberfestbier

The name Hacker-Pschorr comes from a Munich brewing tradition crafted over centuries, a tradition since 1417.

Rote Grutze

Rote Grütze

Ingredients: 500g fruits (raspberry, red and black currants, blackberry and blueberry) 100g sugar 40 ml red wine The seed pods from ½vanilla A pinch of salt 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch Lightly sweetened Whipped Cream (for topping) 3 tablespoons of quark mixed with a teaspoon of powdered sugar.   Steps: In a saucepan with […]

Saxon Potato Soup

Saxon Potato Soup – Saxon KartoffelnSuppe

Ingredients: 2,5kg potatoes 750g carrots and root celery (peeled) 300g onions 100g shalots 3 or 4 pieces of garlic 400g bacon 350g Räucherling (cold-smoked pork fillet) 100g Butaris 1 bunch of Parsley ½ bunch of Thyme Majoram (crushed) Salt and black Pepper   Steps: Boil the potatoes in water until they are thoroughly cooked. Don’t […]

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