Deutschland, officially the Federal Republic of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe. It includes 16constituent states, covers an area of 357,021 square kilometers , and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. Its capital and largest city is Berlin. With about 82.0 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous member state of the European Union. After the United States, it is the second most popular human migration destination.
In the 21st century, Germany is a great power and has the world’s fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP, as well as the fifth-largest by PPP. As a global leader in several industrial and technological sectors, it is both the world’s third-largest exporter and importer of goods. Germany is a developed country with a very high standard of living sustained by a skilled and productive society. It upholds a social security and universal health care system, environmental protection and a tuition-free university education.
Germany was a founding member of the European Union in 1993. It is part of the Schengen Area, and became a co-founder of the Eurozone in 1999. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G8, the G20, and the OECD. The national military expenditure is the 9th highest in the world. Known for its rich cultural history, Germany has been continuously the home of influentialartists, philosophers, musicians, sportspeople, entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors.
Germany is in Western and Central Europe, with Denmark bordering to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria to the southeast, Switzerland to the south-southwest, France, Luxembourg and Belgium lie to the west, and the Netherlands to the northwest. It lies mostly between latitudes 47° and 55° N and longitudes 5° and 16° E. Germany is also bordered by the North Sea and, at the north-northeast, by the Baltic Sea. With Switzerland and Austria, Germany also shares a border on the fresh-water Lake Constance, the third largest lake in Central Europe.
Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate dominated by humid westerly winds. The country is situated in between the oceanic Western European and the continental Eastern European climate. 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 northwest and the north the climate is oceanic. Germany gets an average of 789 mm (31 in) of precipitation per year; there is no consistent dry season. Winters are cool and summers tend to be warm: temperatures can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).
The east has a more continental climate: winters can be very cold and summers very warm, and longer dry periods can occur. 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, with lower temperatures and more precipitation.
Germany has a social market economy with a highly skilled labour force, a large capital stock, a low level of corruption and a high level of innovation. It is the world’s third largest exporter of goods and has the largest national economy in Europe which is also the world’s fourth largest by nominal GDP and the fifth one by PPP.
Germany is part of the European single market which represents more than 508 million consumers. Several domestic commercial policies are determined by agreements among European Union (EU) members and by EU legislation. Germany introduced the common European currency, the Euro in 2002. It is a member of the Eurozone which represents around 338 million citizens. Its monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank, which is headquartered in Frankfurt, the financial centre of continental Europe.
Being home to the modern car, the automotive industry in Germany is regarded as one of the most competitive and innovative in the world, and is the fourth largest by production. The top 10 exports of Germany are vehicles, machinery, chemical goods, electronic products, electrical equipment’s, pharmaceuticals, transport equipment’s, basic metals, food products, and rubber and plastics.
With its central position in Europe, Germany is a transport hub for the continent. Like its neighbors in Western Europe, Germany’s road network is among the densest in the world. The motorway (Autobahn) network ranks as the third-largest worldwide in length and is known for its lack of a general speed limit.
Germany has established a polycentric network of high-speed trains. The Inter City Express or ICE network of the Deutsche Bahn serves major German cities as well as destinations in neighboring countries with speeds up to 300 km/h (186 mph).
The largest German airports are Frankfurt Airport and Munich Airport, both hubs of Lufthansa, while Air Berlin has hubs at Berlin Tegel and Düsseldorf. Other major airports include Berlin Schönefeld, Hamburg, Cologne/Bonn and Leipzig/Halle. The Port of Hamburg is one of the top twenty largest container ports in the world.
Energy and infrastructure
In 2008, Germany was the world’s sixth-largest consumer of energy, and 60% of its primary energy was imported. In 2014, energy sources were: oil (35.0%); coal, including lignite (24.6%); natural gas (20.5%); nuclear (8.1%); hydro-electric and renewable sources (11.1%). The government and the nuclear power industry agreed to phase out all nuclear power plants by 2021. It also enforces energy conservation, green technologies, emission reduction activities, and aims to meet the country’s electricity demands using 40% renewable sources by 2020. Germany is committed to the Kyoto protocol and several other treaties promoting biodiversity, low emission standards, water management, and the renewable energy commercialisation. The country’s household recycling rate is among the highest in the world — at around 65%. Nevertheless, the country’s greenhouse gas emissions were the highest in the EU in 2010. The German energy transition (Energiewende) is the recognised move to a sustainable economy by means of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Germany is the seventh most visited country in the world with a total of 407 million overnights during 2012. This number includes 68.83 million nights by foreign visitors. In 2012, over 30.4 million international tourists arrived in Germany. Berlin has become the third most visited city destination in Europe.
Germany is well known for its diverse tourist routes, such as the Romantic Road, the Wine Route, the Castle Road, and the Avenue Road. The German Timber-Frame Road (Deutsche Fachwerkstraße) connects towns with examples of these structures. There are 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany, including the old town cores of Regensburg, Bamberg, Lübeck, Quedlinburg, Weimar,Stralsund and Wismar. Germany’s most-visited landmarks include i e. Neuschwanstein Castle, Cologne Cathedral, Berlin Bundestag, Hofbräuhaus Munich, Heidelberg Castle, Dresden Zwinger, Fernsehturm Berlin and Aachen Cathedral. The Europa-Park near Freiburg is Europe’s second most popular theme park resort.
German is the official and predominant spoken language in Germany. It is one of 24 official and working languages of the European Union, and one of the three working languages of the European Commission. German is the most widely spoken first language in the European Union, with around 100 million native speakers.
Responsibility for educational supervision in Germany is primarily organised within the individual federal states. Optional kindergarten education is provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is compulsory for at least nine years. Primary education usually lasts for four to six years. Secondary education includes three traditional types of schools focused on different academic levels: the Gymnasium enrols the most gifted children and prepares students for university studies; the Realschule for intermediate students lasts six years and the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education. The Gesamtschule unifies all secondary education.
A system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung leads to a skilled qualification which is almost comparable to an academic degree. It allows students in vocational training to learn in a company as well as in a state-run trade school. This model is well regarded and reproduced all around the world.
Most of the German universities are public institutions, and students traditionally study without fee payment. The general requirement for university is the Abitur. However, there are a number of exceptions, depending on the state, the college and the subject. Tuition free academic education is open to international students and is increasingly common. According to an OECD report in 2014, Germany is the world’s third leading destination for international study.
Germany has a long tradition of higher education reflecting the global status as a modern economy. The established universities in Germany include some of the oldest in the world, with Heidelberg University (established in 1386) being the oldest. It is followed by the Leipzig University (1409), the Rostock University (1419) and the Greifswald University (1456). The University of Berlin, founded in 1810 by the liberal educational reformer Wilhelm von Humboldt, became the academic model for many European and Western universities. In the contemporary era Germany has developed eleven Universities of Excellence: Humboldt University Berlin, the University of Bremen, the University of Cologne, TU Dresden, the University of Tübingen, RWTH Aachen, FU Berlin, Heidelberg University, the University of Konstanz, LMU Munich, and the Technical University of Munich.
Population: 80,664,408 (July 2015 estimate))
|Size: 357,022 sq km (slightly smaller than the US State of Montana)|
|Bordering countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland|
|Coastline: 2,389 km • Forests and woodland cover 31% of the country|
|Climate: temperate and marine; cool, cloudy, wet winters and summers; occasional warm, occasional warm, mountain (föhn) wind; high relative humidity|
|Lowest point: Neuendorf bei Wilster (-3.54 m)|
|Highest point: Zugspitze (2,963 m)|
|Life expectancy at birth: 78.15 for males, 82.86 for females (2014 estimate)|
|Religions: Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Muslim 3.7%, unaffiliated or other 28.3%|
|Government type: federal republic|
|National capital: Berlin|
|Voting Age: 18|
|States: Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thüringen|
|Political parties: Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU), Free Democratic Party (FDP), Social Democratic Party (SPD), Alliance 90/Greens, Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), Left Party (Die Linke)|
|Currency: 1 euro (€) = 100 cents|
|Telephones: 47.02 million (land lines 2014) – 99.5 million (mobile 2014)|
|Internet users : 70.2 million (2014)|
|Railways: 43,468.3 km of track|
|Highways and roads: 231,581km|
|Airports (Total of all large and small airports with both paved and unpaved runways): 539|
|Roadways: 644,480 kilometers (12,800 km Autobahn) – includes local roads|