|Form of government||Parliamentary republic|
|Time zone||UTC + 1 CETUTC + 2 CEST (March to October)|
|Telephone area code||0049 (Source: ALLCITYCODES)|
With an area of 357,114 km², the Federal Republic of Germany is the fourth largest country in Europe(if Russia is not counted as a European country). It lies in the middle of Europe and borders a total of nine countries: in the west to the Netherlands,Belgium,Luxembourg and France to the west, Switzerland and Austria to the south, the Czech Republic and Poland to the east and Denmark to the north.
The natural area of Germany is divided into three large areas: the North German lowlands, the low mountain range threshold and in the south of the country the Alps with the Alpine foothills.
The North German lowland lies between the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas and the low mountain range. The predominantly flat landscape is characterized by damp lowlands, marshes and heaths, interrupted by hills (up to a maximum of 200 m high), valley zones and lake areas (such as the Mecklenburg Lake District). The East and North Frisian Islands (eg Sylt and Norderney) lie in front of the fertile marshland strip and the Wadden coast of the North Sea. Elbe, Weser, Eider and Ems flow here. The Baltic Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein consists partly of a sandy flat coast and partly of a rocky cliff. The largest German island is R¨¹gen. With some bays, the north German lowlands extend far into the low mountain region (Leipzig Bay, M¨¹nsterland Bay, Lower Rhine Bay with Cologne Bay).
The middle of Germany is occupied by the low mountain range, a number of several broken down mountain ranges and mountain countries. Heights of around 500 to 1,000 m are reached on average. Exceptions to this are the Feldberg in the Black Forest (1,493 m) and the Große Arber in the Bavarian Forest (1,456 m). In the north of the low mountain threshold is the Weserbergland (with the Teutoburg Forest, Wiehengebirge, among others) and the Harz (with the 1 142 m high Brocken). In the middle area is the Rhenish Slate Mountains (including Sauerland, Westerwald, Eifel, Hunsr¨¹ck and Taunus), the Hessian Mountains (including Vogelsberg, Rhön), Franconian Forest, Elster Mountains, Ore Mountains (Fichtelberg 1 214 m), Elbe Sandstone Mountains and Lusatian Mountains. In the south of the low mountain threshold are the outcrops of the Upper Rhine Plain (including Spessart, Odenwald, Palatinate Forest, Black Forest) and the eastern Bavarian border mountains (Fichtel Mountains, Upper Palatinate Forest and Bavarian Forest). Between mountain ranges and plateaus are basin landscapes such as B. the Thuringian Basin (between Harz and Thuringian Forest). Fertile, volcanic and loess soils lead to a rich forest population.
In the south of Germany is the foothills of the Alps, a wide, hilly plateau that rises from around 300 m on the Danube to around 800 m to the foot of the Alps. Germany has only a small share of the Alps, which is broken down into the Allgäu, Bavarian, Salzburg and Berchtesgaden Alps. The Zugspitze in the Bavarian Alps is the highest mountain in the country at 2,963 m.
The national surface of Germany falls from the Alps to the north to the North Sea, so the large rivers flow to the north. An exception is the Danube, which flows from west to east and connects southern Germany with south-eastern Europe. The longest river in the country is the Rhine with a total of around 1 320 km (thereof 865 km in German territory), followed by the Elbe with a total of 1 165 km (thereof 793 km in German territory) and the Danube with 2 858 km (647 km in Germany).
The country’s largest city is the capital Berlin with around 3.39 million residents, followed by Hamburg (1.73 million), Munich (1.25 million), Cologne (970,000), Frankfurt am Main (650,000) and Essen (590,000).
The climate in the north and west of Germany is influenced by oceanic influences with moderately warm summers and mild winters. The wind, usually blowing from the north or west, brings moist air masses to Germany. Subcontinental influences predominate in the east and south of the country, resulting in colder winters and warmer summers. In Hamburg in the north the average temperature in January is approx. 0 °C, in July 17 °C ; in Munich in the south the January average is -2 °C, in July 19 °C. The valleys of the Rhine, Moselle and Neckar are favorable in terms of climate, here the temperature rarely drops below freezing in winter and in July average temperatures of 20 °C are reached.
The rainfall is distributed all year round, the highest values are reached in the summer months. Up to 1,400 mm are measured annually on the western slopes of the low mountain ranges (Brocken in the Harz Mountains), while up to 2,000 mm (Zugspitze) are reached in the Alps. Values of 500 to 700 mm are measured in the northern German lowlands and the basins and valleys that lie in the rain shadow. The average annual values in Berlin are 590 mm, in Hamburg at 715 mm and in Munich at 955 mm.
Flora and fauna
Around a third of Germany’s land area is still forested today. The strongest share with over 50% is coniferous forests (especially spruce and pine), which have displaced the previously dominant mixed deciduous forest over large areas. Beech forests, birch, poplar, alder, ash, maple are also widespread; Elms and oaks also occur. It is estimated that around 60% of the total tree population has already been damaged by the forest dieback. In the Alps above the tree line, which is around 1,800 m, crippled trees (larches, pines) and alpine mats grow. Spruces predominate in the low mountain ranges, firs (Black Forest) grow in the south. The L¨¹neburg Heath with its heath plants is a specialty.
Germany is a densely populated industrial state, and the animal world is accordingly very restricted in its habitats. Above all, the reduction in forest stocks over centuries has meant that forest animals such as wisent, elk, wolf and bear have long been eradicated in the wild. There are still numerous deer, red deer, wild boar and foxes.
Thousands of migratory birds stop on the coasts of Germany in spring and autumn.
Many animal species are on the “red list” of endangered animal species, for example pond turtles, various lizard and snake species, white and black stork, fish and sea eagles, common raven, otter, wildcat and lynx. Some of these animals were successfully resettled and live under appropriate protection regulations or in one of the eleven German national parks. Chamois, marmots and ibex live in the Alpine regions. The capercaillie also occurs here.
With around 82.22 million residents, Germany is the most populous country in Europe after Russia. The area around the capital Berlin and the metropolitan areas in the west such as the Ruhr area, the Neckar region and the greater Frankfurt area are densely populated. Overall, around 86% of the population live in cities. While there are around 3,800 people per square kilometer in the state of Berlin, there are only 75 in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Outlying areas in the north and northeast of the country and in the central mountain regions are just as sparsely populated.
According to COUNTRYAAH, a good 91% of the population are Germans. The largest minority are Turks (2.5%) and immigrants from the area of the former Yugoslavia (381,000). Larger groups of Italians (548,000), Greeks (316,000) and Poles (292,000) also live in the country and smaller groups from the surrounding European countries. Minorities with certain special rights are the approximately 50,000 Danes in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, the approximately 12,000 Frisians and the group of Sorbs (Wenden, approximately 60,000) who live in Brandenburg and Saxony. Their language is in some places equal to the official language German and is also taught at school.
Around 67% of the population belong to the Christian faith, roughly equally between the Protestant (increasingly in northern Germany) and the Catholic church (especially in the south). The largest religious minority with around 3.1 million followers are the Muslims. Other religious minorities include Jehovah’s Witnesses (approximately 165,000) and Jews (approximately 98,000).
The standard of living and social network in Germany are very high when compared worldwide. With a per capita income of around $ 28,700, Germany is one of the ten most prosperous countries in the world. There is still a wealth gap in the country between the old and the new federal states.
Life expectancy is 76 years for men and 82 years for women. Since the birth rate is lower than the death rate, there is no natural population growth; Negative growth is prevented solely by the influx of foreigners. Literacy is almost complete.
The Federal Republic of Germany is a multi-party parliamentary democracy based on the Basic Law passed in 1949.
The head of state is the Federal President (Joachim Gauck since March 2012), who is elected by the Federal Assembly for a term of five years (one-time re-election possible). His tasks are primarily representative; he represents the Federal Republic of Germany under international law, but also has some important decision-making powers.
The Federal Chancellor (Angela Merkel, CDU since 2005), who is proposed by the Federal President and elected by Parliament, manages the state affairs. He is usually the representative of the strongest party in parliament or a corresponding coalition of several parties. The Chancellor proposes the cabinet ministers, who are then officially appointed by the Federal President.
The parliament in Germany is the German Bundestag, whose members (598 plus any overhang mandates) are elected by the people for four years (partly directly, partly via party lists). All laws passed by the Bundestag must be approved by the Bundesrat. The Federal Council has 69 members. It represents the interests of the federal states with representatives of the individual states.
The parties in the Bundestag with the largest number of members and voters are Christian Democrats / Christian Socialists (CDU / CSU), the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Die Linke und B¨¹ndnis 90 / Die Gr¨¹nen. Only parties that achieve more than 5% of the vote in the Bundestag elections will be admitted to the Bundestag (five percent blocking clause).
The individual federal states, which have their own parliaments and governments, are responsible for implementing federal laws, whereby federal law applies more than state law. The Federal Constitutional Court (based in Karlsruhe) monitors compliance with the laws and their compliance with the Basic Law. The judiciary is administered by independent judges. Appeals against judgments by the district and regional court can be lodged with the higher regional courts, the highest instance is the Federal Court of Justice.
The Federal Republic of Germany consists of 16 federal states: Baden-W¨¹rttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein (old federal states), Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia (new federal states).
Germany has been one of the leading industrial nations since the end of the 20th century. After the end of the Second World War, the two German states developed very differently: While the “economic miracle” took place in the West and the economy quickly recovered and modernized, East Germany lagged significantly behind. After German reunification, the monetary, economic and social union entered into force on July 1, 1990. The German Unity Fund and two solidarity pacts were agreed to finance the “Aufbau Ost”. Today, Germany’s economy is the largest economy in Europe in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) and the fourth largest in the world. In 2012 growth of 0.7% was achieved, the unemployment rate was 6.8%.
Just under 2% of all employed people in Germany are employed in agriculture, 1% of the gross domestic product is generated here. With the same demand, the supply of jobs has steadily decreased due to increasing productivity and the growth of other areas of the economy. Theoretically, agriculture can largely cover the population’s food needs. In addition to cereals, fodder plants (eg sugar and fodder beet, maize) and potatoes are cultivated. Relevant special crops are the cultivation of wine (in the Rhine catchment area) and the cultivation of hops for brewing beer (especially in the Bavarian Hallertau). The dairy industry plays a role in cattle farming, and the keeping of cattle, pigs and sheep.
Significant mineral resources in Germany are only coal and salt deposits. Iron ore, natural gas and oil are also mined in small quantities. Coal mining is mainly carried out in the Ruhr area, Saarland and the Aachen region, lignite is mined on the Lower Rhine, in Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. Germany imports almost two thirds of its primary energy.
One of the strengths of the German economy is the production of a wide variety of industrial goods and their export. At the top in a global comparison are the areas of metal production, chemical industry, automotive and mechanical engineering and electrical engineering products. Germany is also one of the leading nations in plant engineering, aerospace technology and in the defense industry. Traditional centers for industrial companies are the large port cities on the North and Baltic Seas, the Saarland, the Ruhr area, Berlin and Saxony, but today there is no longer a particularly regional concentration of industry. Modern industries and high-tech companies have increasingly settled in the formerly less industrialized south of Germany.
The German economy is strongly export-oriented. The most important export and import goods are machines and motor vehicles. The most important trading partners are above all the EU countries, but also the USA and China.
Germany is a popular travel destination, with around 23 million foreign tourists coming annually. The infrastructure is very well developed. Around 230,000 km of road, 35,000 km of rail and around 7,300 km of waterways are available for inland navigation. The largest seaport is Hamburg, Duisburg at the mouth of the Ruhr into the Rhine is the largest inland port system in the world, more than 20,000 ships are handled here every year. The largest international airport in Germany is located in Frankfurt am Main.
The currency has been the euro since 2002 (= 100 cents).