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Germany Travel Guide:

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History   Geography    People    Economy    Communications    Transportation

 

 

History   Top of Page
  As Europe's largest economy and most populous nation, Germany remains a key member of the continent's economic, political, and defense organizations. European power struggles immersed the country in two devastating World Wars in the first half of the 20th century and left the country occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union in 1945. With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR). The democratic FRG embedded itself in key Western economic and security organizations, the EC, which became the EU, and NATO, while the Communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German unification in 1990. Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds to bring eastern productivity and wages up to western standards. In January 2002, Germany and 11 other EU countries introduced a common European currency, the euro.  
Geography   Top of Page
Location Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, between the Netherlands and Poland, south of Denmark  
Geographic Coordinates 51 00 N, 9 00 E  
Area Total:  357,021 sq km
Land:  349,223 sq km
Water:  7,798 sq km
 
Area - Comparative Slightly smaller than Montana  
Land Boundaries Total: 3,621 km
Border countries: Austria 784 km, Belgium 167 km, Czech Republic 646 km, Denmark 68 km, France 451 km, Luxembourg 138 km, Netherlands 577 km, Poland 456 km, Switzerland 334 km  
 
Coastline 2,389 km  
Climate Temperate and marine; cool, cloudy, wet winters and summers; occasional warm foehn wind  
Terrain Lowlands in north, uplands in center, Bavarian Alps in south  
Elevation Extremes Lowest point: Neuendorf bei Wilster -3.54 m
Highest point: Zugspitze 2,963 m
 
Natural Resources Iron ore, coal, potash, timber, lignite, uranium, copper, natural gas, salt, nickel, arable land  
Geography Note Strategic location on North European Plain and along the entrance to the Baltic Sea  
Natural hazards Flooding  
People   Top of Page
Population 82,422,299 (July 2006 est.)  
Age Structure 0-14 years: 14.1% (male 5,973,437/female 5,665,971)
15-64 years: 66.4% (male 27,889,936/female 26,874,858)
65 years and over: 19.4% (male 6,602,478/female 9,415,619) (2006 est.) 
 
Nationality Noun: German(s)
Adjective: German
 
Ethnic Groups German 91.5%, Turkish 2.4%, other 6.1% (made up largely of Serbo-Croatian, Italian, Russian, Greek, Polish, Spanish)  
Religions Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Muslim 3.7%, unaffiliated or other 28.3%  
Language German  
Literacy Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 99% (1977 est.)
 
Government   Top of Page
Country Name Conventional long form: Federal Republic of Germany
Conventional short form: Germany
Local short form: Deutschland
Former: German Empire, German Republic, German Reich
Local long form: Bundesrepublik Deutschland
 
Government Type Federal republic  
Capital Berlin  
Administrative Divisions 16 states (Laender, singular - Land); Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bayern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thueringen  
Independence 18 January 1871 (German Empire unification); divided into four zones of occupation (UK, US, USSR, and later, France) in 1945 following World War II; Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or West Germany) proclaimed 23 May 1949 and included the former UK, US, and French zones; German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) proclaimed 7 October 1949 and included the former USSR zone; unification of West Germany and East Germany took place 3 October 1990; all four powers formally relinquished rights 15 March 1991  
Flag Description Three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and gold  
Economy   Top of Page
Overview Germany's affluent and technologically powerful economy has turned in a weak performance throughout much of the 1990s and early 2000s. The modernization and integration of the eastern German economy continues to be a costly long-term problem, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $70 billion. Germany's ageing population, combined with high unemployment, has pushed social security outlays to a level exceeding contributions from workers. Structural rigidities in the labor market - including strict regulations on laying off workers and the setting of wages on a national basis - have made unemployment a chronic problem. Growth in 2002 and 2003 fell short of 1%. Corporate restructuring and growing capital markets are setting the foundations that could allow Germany to meet the long-term challenges of European economic integration and globalization, particularly if labor market rigidities are further addressed. In the short run, however, the fall in government revenues and the rise in expenditures have raised the deficit above the EU's 3% debt limit.  
Currency Euro  
Currency Code EUR  
Communications   Top of Page
Telephone System General assessment: Germany has one of the world's most technologically advanced telecommunications systems; as a result of intensive capital expenditures since reunification, the formerly backward system of the eastern part of the country, dating back to World War II, has been modernized and integrated with that of the western part
 
Internet Country Code .de  
Transportation   Top of Page
Railways total: 47,201 km
standard gauge: 46,948 km 1.435-m gauge (19,674 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 229 km 1.000-m gauge (16 km electrified); 24 km 0.750-m gauge (2005)
 
Roadways total: 231,581 km
paved: 231,581 km (including 12,200 km of expressways) (2005)
 
Waterways 7,467 km
note: Rhine River carries most goods; Main-Danube Canal links North Sea and Black Sea (2005)
 
Ports and Terminals Bremen, Bremerhaven, Brunsbuttel, Duisburg, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Mainz, Rostock, Wilhelmshaven.  
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