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Federal Republic of Germany
and largest city
|Government||Federal parliamentary constitutional republic|
|2 February 962|
|18 January 1871|
|23 May 1949|
|3 October 1990|
|357,021 km2 (137,847 sq mi) (63rd)|
• Water (%)
• 2013 estimate
• 2011 census
|225/km2 (582.7/sq mi) (58th)|
The Federal Republic of Germany, also called Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland or just Deutschland), is a country in Central Europe. The country's full name is sometimes shortened to the FRG (or the BRD, in German).
To the north of Germany are the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the country of Denmark. To the east of Germany are the countries of Poland and the Czech Republic. To the south of Germany are the countries of Austria and Switzerland. To the west of Germany are the countries of France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The total area of Germany is 137,847 square miles and has warm weather most of the year. In June 2013, Germany had a population of 80.6 million people. After the United States, Germany is the second most popular country for migration in the world.
Before it was called Germany, it was called Germania. In the years A.D. 900 until 1806, Germany was part of the Holy Roman Empire.
From 1949 to 1990, Germany was made up of two countries called the Federal Republic of Germany (inf. West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (inf. East Germany). During this time, the capital city of Berlin was divided into a west and an east part. On 13 August 1961, East Germany started building the Berlin Wall between the two parts of Berlin. West Germany was one of the countries that started the European Union.
Germany gained importance as the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which was the first Reich, a word translated as empire. It was started by Charlemagne who became the first Holy Roman Emperor in 800 AD, and it lasted until 1806, the time of the Napoleonic Wars.
The second Reich was started with a treaty in 1871 in Versailles. The biggest state in the new German Empire was Prussia. The Kings of Prussia were also "German Emperors", but they did not call themselves "Emperors of Germany". There were many other kingdoms, duchies and republics in the Empire, but not Austria. Germany stayed an empire for 50 years.
The treaty of unification was made after Germany won the Franco-Prussian War with France in 1871. In World War I, Germany joined Austria-Hungary, and again declared war on France. The war became slow in the west and was fought in trenches. Many men were killed on both sides without winning or losing. In the Eastern Front the soldiers fought with the Russian Empire and won there after the Russians gave up. The war ended in 1918 because the Germans could not win in the west and gave up. Germany's emperor also had to give up his power. France took Alsace from Germany and Poland got the Danzig corridor. After a revolution, the Second Reich ended and the democratic Weimar Republic began.
After the war, there were a lot of problems with money in Germany because of the Peace Treaty of Versailles (which made Germany pay for the costs of World War I) and the worldwide Great Depression.
The Third Reich was Nazi Germany; it lasted 12 years, from 1933 to 1945. It started after Adolf Hitler became the head of government. On 23 March 1933, the Reichstag (parliament) passed the Enabling Act, which let Hitler's government command the country without help from the Reichstag and the presidency. This gave him total control of the country and the government. Hitler in effect became a dictator.
Hitler wanted to unify all Germans in one state, and did this by annexing places where Germans lived, such as Austria and Czechoslovakia; Hitler also wanted the land in Poland that Germany had owned before 1918. Poland refused to give it to him. The invasion of Poland started World War II on 1 September 1939. In the beginning of the war, Germany was winning. It managed to take over much of Europe. However, Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941 and, after the Battle of Kursk, the German Eastern Front began a slow retreat until war's end. On 8 May 1945, Germany gave up after Berlin was captured, Hitler had killed himself a week earlier. Because of the war, Germany lost a lot of German land east of the Oder-Neiße line, and for 45 years, Germany was split into West Germany and East Germany.
In 1989 there was a process of reforms in East Germany, which lead to the opening of the Berlin Wall and to the end of socialist rule in Germany. This events are known as the Wende or the Friedliche Revolution (Peaceful Revolution) in Germany. After that, East Germany joined West Germany in 1990. The new Germany is a part of the European Union.
Germany is a constitutional federal democracy. Its political rules come from the 'constitution' called Basic Law (Grundgesetz), written by West Germany in 1949. It has a parliamentary system, and the parliament elects the head of government, the Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler). The current Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel, is a woman who used to live in East Germany.
The people of Germany vote for the parliament, called the Bundestag (Federal Assembly), every four years. Government members of the 16 States of Germany (Bundesländer) work in the Bundesrat (Federal Council). The Bundesrat can help make some laws.
|President||Joachim Gauck||Independent||18 March 2012|
|Chancellor||Angela Merkel||CDU||22 November 2005|
|Other government parties||SPD, CSU|
The judiciary branch (the part of German politics that deals with courts) has a Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court). It can stop any act by the law-makers or other leaders if they feel they go against Germany's constitution.
Germany is one of the largest countries in Europe. It stretches from the North Sea and Baltic Sea in the north to the high mountains of the Alps in the south. The highest point is the Zugspitze on the Austrian border, at 2,962 metres (9,718 ft).
Germany's northern part is very low and flat (lowest point: Neuendorf-Sachsenbande at −3.54 m or −11.6 ft). In the middle, there are low mountain ranges covered in large forests. Between these and the Alps, there is another plain created by glaciers during the ice ages.
In Germany there are sixteen states (Bundesländer):
In these states there are 301 Kreise (districts) and 114 independent cities, which do not belong to any district.
Germany has one of the world's largest technologically powerful economies. Bringing West and East Germany together and making their economy work is still taking a long time and costing a lot of money. Germany is the largest economy in Europe. In September 2011, the inflation rate in Germany was 2.5%. The unemployment rate of Germany was 5.5% as of October 2011.
There are at least seven million people from other countries living in Germany. Some have political asylum, some are guest workers (Gastarbeiter), and some are their families. A lot of people from poor or dangerous countries go to Germany for safety.
About 50,000 ethnic Danish people live in Schleswig-Holstein, in the north. About 60,000 Sorbs (a Slavic people) live in Germany too, in Saxony and Brandenburg. About 12,000 people in Germany speak Frisian; this language is the closest living language to English. In northern Germany, people outside towns speak Low Saxon.
Many people have come to Germany from Turkey (about 1.9 million Turks and Kurds). Other small groups of people in Germany are Croats (0.2 million), Italians (0.6 million), Greeks (0.4 million), Russians, and Poles (0.3 million). There are also some ethnic Germans who lived in the old Soviet Union (1.7 million), Poland (0.7 million), and Romania (0.3 million). These people have German passports, so they are not counted as foreigners. A lot of these people do not speak German at home.
Christianity is the biggest religion; Protestants are 38% of the people (mostly in the north) and Catholics are 34% of the people (mostly in the south). There are also many Muslims, while the other people (26.3%) are either not religious, or belong to smaller religious groups. In the eastern regions, the former territory of the GDR (known as the DDR in German), only one fifth of the population is religious.
Germany has one of the world's highest levels of schooling, technology, and businesses. The number of young people who attend universities is now three times more than it was after the end of World War II, and the trade and technical schools of Germany are some of the best in the world. German income is, on average, $25,000 a year, making Germany a highly middle class society. A large social welfare system gives people money when they are ill, unemployed, or similarly disadvantaged. Millions of Germans travel outside of their country each year.
Germany's constitution says that all people can believe in any religion they want to, and that no one is allowed to discriminate against somebody because of the person's religion.
In ancient times Germany was largely pagan. Roman Catholicism was the biggest religion in Germany up to the 15th century, but a major religious change called the Reformation changed this. In 1517, Martin Luther said that the Catholic Church used religion to make money. Luther started Protestantism, which is as big as the Catholic religion in Germany today. Before World War II, about two-thirds of the German people were Protestant and one-thirds were Roman Catholic. In the north and northeast of Germany, there were a lot more Protestants than Catholics. Today, about two-thirds of German people (more than 55 million people) call themselves Christian, but most of them do not practice it. About half of them are Protestants and about half are Roman Catholics. Most German Protestants are members of the Evangelical Church in Germany. The previous Pope, Benedict XVI, was born in Germany.
Before World War II, about one percent of the country's people were German Jews. Today, Germany has the fastest-growing group of Jewish people in the world. Many of them are in Berlin. Ten thousand Jews have moved to Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall; many came from countries that were in the Soviet Union. Schools teaching about the horrible things that happened when the Nazis were in power, as well as teaching against the ideas of the Nazis, has helped to make Germany very tolerant towards other people and cultures, and now many people move there from countries that may not be so tolerant.
About three million Muslims live in Germany, 3.7% of the total population. The country also has a large atheist and agnostic population, and there are also Jain, Buddhist and Zoroastrian communities. The 20th century has also seen a neopagan revival.
Germany has a long history of poets, thinkers, artists, and so on. There are 240 supported theaters, hundreds of orchestras, thousands of museums and over 25,000 libraries in Germany. Millions of tourists visit these attractions every year.
Germany has created a high level of gender equality, disability rights, and accepts homosexuality. Gay marriage is somewhat legal in Germany. Germany was rated the second most valuable country in the world, and a global poll showed that Germany has the most positive influence on the world.
Germany is also known for their food. Their food varies from region to region. For example, in the southern regions, such as Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, they share their type of food with Switzerland and Austria. Everywhere in Germany, meat is eaten as a sausage. Even though wine use is increasing, the national alcoholic drink is beer. The number of Germans who drink beer is one of the highest in the world. German restaurants are also rated the second-best, with France rated first place.
Football is the most popular sport in Germany. The national team has won the FIFA World Cup 4 times (1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014), and appears in the finals a lot. The team also has had the most Euro titles than any other country. The top football league in Germany is Bundesliga. Also, the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund) is the largest in the world. Some of the world's best Footballers came from Germany. These would include Miroslav Klose, Oliver Kahn, Gerd Müller, Michael Ballack, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franz Beckenbauer, and so on. Plus, many tournaments have taken place in Germany. The most recent was the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. The Audi Cup takes place in Germany every year in Munich.
Lastly, Germany is one of the best countries in the Olympic Games. Germany is the third in the list of the most Olympic Games medals in history (mixed with West and East Germany medals). The country finished first place in the 2006 Winter Olympics, and second in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Germany got fifth place in the 2008 Summer Olympics.
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- Deutschland.de - Topical multilingual website about Germany
- Statistikportal.de - Website statistical data
- Bundesregierung Deutschland - Website of the German Federal Government
- Bundespräsident - Website of the German President
- Bundeskanzlerin.de - Official Website of the first female Bundeskanzler, Angela Merkel (German)
- Bundeskanzlerin.de - Official Website of the first female Bundeskanzler, Angela Merkel (English)
- Bundestag - Website of the German Parliament
- City Panoramas - Panoramic Views and Virtual Tours of German Cities and Towns
- Axel Boldt, A Subjective Comparison of Germany and the United States
- Allemagne in easy French
- WorldFlicks in Germany: photos and interesting places on Google Maps