Germany Fact File
Germany states: Baden-Wurttemberg • Bavaria • Berlin Brandenburg • Bremen • Hamburg Hesse • Lower Saxony • Mecklenburg-West Pomerania • North Rhine-Westphalia Rhineland-Palatinate • Saarland • Saxony Saxony-Anhalt • Schleswig-Holstein Thuringia (Thuringen).
Norman Foster's new dome of the Reichstag, Berlin (below left). The gable of the Hamlin Leisthaus (below right). View from Philosophenweg onto Heidelberg with Alte Brucke and castle (above center). Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, built by Ludwig II, late-nineteenth century (right page bottom).
Official name Federal Republic of Germany
Form of government Federal republic with two legislative bodies (Federal Council and Federal Assembly)
Area 357,021 sq km (137,846 sq miles)
Time zone GMT + 1 hour
Projected population 2015 80,673,000
Population density 233.2 per sq km (603.9 per sq mile)
Life expectancy 77.8
Infant mortality (per 1,000) 4.7
Official language German
Other languages Turkish, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Spanish, Danish, Frisian, Sorbian
Literacy rate 99 %
Religions Protestant 34.1 %, Roman Catholic 33.4% unaffiliated or other 32.5%
Ethnic groups German 91.0%, Turkish 2.5%, Croatian, Bosnian and Serb 1.6%, Italian 0.7%, Greek 0.4%, Polish 0.3%, other 3.5%
Economy Services 64%, industry 34.5%, agriculture 1.5%
GNP per capita US$ 26,600
Climate Temperate, with cool, wet winters (colder in east and south) and mild summers
Highest point Zugspitze 2,962 m (9,718 ft)
Map reference Pages 288-89
Landlocked except for two stretches of coast along the North and Baltic Seas, Germany shares land borders with nine countries. Poland is located to the east; the Czech Republic to the southeast; Austria and Switzerland to the south; France to the southwest; and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west. Germany's coastlines are separated by the Jutland Peninsula, at the southern end of which Germany borders Denmark.
Germany industry, commerce, and culture
Germany industry, commerce, and culture
The area currently occupied by Germany was roughly defined in the tenth century ad when Duke Conrad became king of the German-speaking eastern part of the Frankish Empire, which had been established several centuries earlier by Charlemagne and had dissolved into several parts after his death. Several kings
brought about substantial changes in the territory of the German Empire. Especially during the reign of the Saxon Emperor Otto I (ad 936-973), Germany's territory was extended eastward. In 1273, however, the accession of the Austrian Rudolf of Habsburg to the throne ushered in a long period of Austrian domination. The rise of Protestantism under Martin Luther during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as well as the Counter-Reformation of the Catholic Church flamed nationalist as well as religious passions and fueled several insurgencies, unrests and wars, such as the peasants' revolt in 1524, which were savagely suppressed. At the same time the territorial princes used the unrests to lead campaigns to enlarge their spheres of influence and their territories. The climax of this century of wars was the Thirty Years War of l6l8—48 in which, amid wholesale devastation, German states achieved the right to religious, if not political, autonomy and the emperor lost his de facto dominance over the empire.
Austria, home of the Habsburg dynasty of emperors and up until that time the leading power, was substantially weakened by the long years of war and this encouraged individual German states such as Saxony, Hanover, Bavaria, and Brandenburg/Prussia to increase their power. During the eighteenth century, under the leadership of Frederick II the Great, Prussia developed into a major European power, gaining control of much of present-day Poland, formerly ruled by Austria. At the end of the eighteenth century, Napoleon's armies overran both Austria and Prussia, which effectively brought the German Empire to an end in 1806. After Napoleon's defeat in 1815 Prussia became the dominant force in a German Confederation, a loose union of German princedoms. This confederation, however, was still nominally under Austrian—the emperor's—control. In 1866, under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck, the Prussians defeated the Austrian Habsburgs, driving them out of Germany. Bismarck was also instrumental in bringing about the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. The Prussian victory, which culminated in the coronation of Wilhelm I of Prussia as German emperor in Versailles, consolidated Prussia as the leading European power and brought northern and southern Germany together to form a unified German Empire (Reich). Now the king of Prussia was emperor of Germany as well.
Germany's expansionist ambitions and its aggressive arms build-up during the last years of the nineteenth century in combination with the manifold rivalries between the various European powers led to international tensions that finally erupted in the First World War. At the end of the war, in 1918, Germany found itself along with its allies Austria and Turkey, defeated and its emperor, Wilhelm II, in exile. All other German kings and princes were forced to abdicate as well. In 1919, the Weimar Republic, with a president and legislature elected by universal suffrage, ruling a German territory that was substantially smaller than the pre-war state had been. However, popular resentment was fanned by the loss of German territory and the harsh regime of reparations that were imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. This resentment was exacerbated by a high rate of unemployment, soaring inflation in the 1920s and the onset of serious economic depression at the end of the decade. Extremist groupings to the left and right of the political spectrum thrived and battled over their ideological differences in bloody street fights. In 1933 Adolf Hitler was elected chancellor as head of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party (NSDAP), promising to return the country to its former level of influence and power. The "Fiihrer" soon eliminated all democratic organs, ruthlessly pursued his goals and cruelly suppressed any opposition. Eventually, Hitler plunged Europe into the Second World War when he invaded Poland in September 1939. Especially the Jews suffered from his reign of terror: More than six million Jewish people troughout Europe were murdered and maltreated in concentration and labor camps before the war ended in 1945.
At the end of the war a defeated and devastated Germany was divided into two principal zones, the western half administered by Britain, France, and the United States, and the eastern part under Soviet control (Poland and the Soviet Union had first incorporated large parts of eastern Prussia into their territories). In 1949 this resulted in the creation of two separate states: the Federal Republic of Germany in the west, under a democratically elected government and firmly embedded in the western alliances; and the Democratic Republic of Germany under a central, Soviet-dominated communist government in the east. Thus divided, the two Germanies became a focal point for Cold War tensions in Europe over the next 40 years. Control of the city of Berlin, in East German territory, was divided between the two countries. East Berlin was sealed off when communist authorities constructed a wall between the two parts of the city in 1961.
As the Soviet Union faltered in the late 1980s, waves of unrest in East Germany led to the collapse of its government and the reunification of the whole country in October 1990, with Berlin as its capital. In December, elections including the entire country were held. Germany's political system is based on the 1949 West German constitution, which stipulates a parliament elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term with a president, elected by both houses of the parliament for a five-year term, as titular head of state.
Physical features and land use Germany is divided into many different land-forms. The southern part of the country is generally mountainous and heavily forested. In the southwestern region east of the Rhine River which forms the border with France, is the vast expanse of rugged wooded peaks that constitute the Black Forest, an extension of Switzerland's Jura Mountains. Further east the thickly wooded Bavarian Plateau rises out of the Danube Valley, leading to the spectacular peaks of the Alps along the border between Austria and Germany in the far southeast.
The central part of Germany is also a highland area, part of a chain of mountains and hills that extends from France as far east as the Carpathians. These, too, are heavily wooded, particularly in the more mountainous regions. The valleys are often fertile and undulating and extensively planted with crops and vines. The highest and most rugged peaks are found in the Harz Mountains in the north of these central uplands. In the northern part of the central uplands, where the country slopes toward the northern plain, there are areas of fertile soil that support crops such as wheat, barley, and sugar beet.
Northern Germany is an extensive lowland plain that covers about one-third of the country's area. Part of the North European Plain that stretches eastward into Russia, it is a region of fertile pasture and croplands, sandy heaths and stretches of marshland. A network of northward-flowing rivers, most notably the Elbe and its tributaries, drains this northern plain.
About one-third of German land is cultivated. Cereal crops are widely grown, as well as beets and potatoes. Large areas are used as pastures. Especially in the Hallertau region hops is grown for the German beers that are famous throughout the world. Vineyards are most widespread in the valleys of the Rhine and Mosel Rivers. Especially in the south, along the shores of the Bodensee (or Lake of Constance) which lies between Germany, Switzerland and Austria, fruit is cultivated wherever the climate will allow it. Cattle and pigs are the principal livestock and are concentrated mainly on the northern plain and in the foothills of the Alps.
Manufacturing industry, centered largely in the Ruhr Valley but also in such cities as Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, Hannover, Hamburg, and Berlin among many others, is the main strength of the German economy. Coal is the only mineral resource of which Germany has large reserves, although its importance has declined in recent decades as oil has replaced it as the primary industrial fuel. Iron and steel production support well-developed machine manufacturing and other metal industries. Cement, chemical, automobile, and electronic industries are also significant.
Unification has resulted in the juxtaposition of one of the world's most developed and efficient industrial economies with one that was mostly uncompetitive and outmoded in its methods and equipment. As a result, Germany has suffered considerable economic and social disruption as the more affluent western part of the country has had to subsidize attempts to improve conditions in the east. There is still a noticeable discrepancy between standards of living in east and west, and wages in the east are considerably lower. The move to a market economy in the former East Germany, with its emphasis on greater efficiency, has created high levels of unemployment. Under the former communist regime unemployment was virtually non-existent.