Germany -- Geography --
Official Name: Federal Republic of Germany
Capital City: Berlin
Official Currency: Euro,
Religions: Protestant, Catholic, others
Population: 82 400 996 (2008)
Land Area: 349,520 sq km
Landforms: Germany is flat in the north, hilly in the central and west and mountainous in the southwest (Bavaria Alps). Major rivers include the Danube, Elbe, Ems, Main, Rhine and Weser
Land Divisions: 16 states, including: Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bayern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thueringen
Germany -- History --
In the past the territory of Germany is populated with German tribes, included as a part of The Frank State in VI – the beginning of IX century. Its decay according to the Verdun treaty (843) establishes the Medieval German State. In X century aggression of the German feudalists in east and germanization of west- Slavic lands begin. The German rulers wage long wars for control over Italy. During the reign of Oton I the Holy Roman Empire is declared (962). From XI century Germany is separated in many feudal estates, subordinate formally to the German emperor. In the beginning of the XVI century there is a movement against the Catholic Church – the Reformation, which expands to the Peasant war (1524-25). The Thirty-year war (1618-1648) strengthens the feudal disunion in the country. In XVII-XVIII century Austria and Prussia distinguish among the German states. Special power gets military-bondage Prussia, which expands significantly its territory and forms as a leading factor in Germany. Influenced by The French Bourgeois Revolution the feudal relations in Germany start to ruin and new, capitalistic ones are born. This process intensifies more at the time of the Napoleon wars and especially in the period after the Congress of Vienna (1814-15). However, the political disunion is an obstacle to the development of the capitalistic relationships. In 1848 a bourgeois-democratic revolution bursts, but it does not manage to achieve union. This union is completed under the guidance of Otto von Bismarck through dynastic and conquering wars. The full union of Germany happens in 1871 at the time of the French-Prussian war (1870-71). United Germany fast turns to a powerful industrial country. In the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century Germany takes the first place in Europe in economic growth and shapes as a leading imperialistic power. The German monopolists and landowners (“junkers”) fight for world dominance. At the head of the Central powers Germany triggers the World War I (1914-18), but suffers a defeat (the Treaty of Versailles (1919)). In result of the decay in the country and the intensification of the class contradictions the November revolution (1918) bursts out. After the acceptance of the Weimar constitution (1919) Germany becomes a bourgeois-parliamentary republic. On the 30th January 1933 A. Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany and there is a fascist dictatorship in the country. Germany launches lots of aggressive acts – the Italian-German intervention in Spain (1936-39), a forced annexation of Austria (1938), an occupation of Czechoslovakia (1939). With the German aggression against Poland (1st September 1939) begins the Second World War (1939-45). The war ends with absolute capitulation of fascist Germany (8th May 1945) and division of the country in 3 parts – East Germany, West Germany and West Berlin. After the break up of the Warsaw Pact, Germany is united again.
Ňhe war results in the death of several million Germans, large territorial losses and the expulsion of Germans from Eastern Germany and other parts of Eastern Europe. All major and many smaller German cities lie in ruins. Germany and Berlin are occupied and partitioned by the Allies into four military occupation zones – French in the south-west, British in the north-west, American in the south, and Soviet in the east. On 23 May 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is established on the territory of the Western occupied zones, with Bonn as its provisional capital, and declared "fully sovereign" May 5, 1955. On 7 October 1949 the Soviet Zone is established as the German Democratic Republic (GDR, Deutsche Demokratische Republik), with East Berlin as its capital. In English the two states are known informally as "West Germany" and "East Germany" respectively. The former German capital, Berlin, is a special case, being divided into East Berlin and West Berlin, with West Berlin completely surrounded by East German territory. West Germany is allied with the United States, the UK and France. Established as a liberal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy," the country enjoys prolonged economic growth following the currency reform of June 1948 and U.S. assistance through the Marshall Plan aid (1948-1951). East Germany is at first occupied by and later (May 1955) allied with the USSR. An authoritarian country with a Soviet-style command economy, East Germany soon becomes the richest, most advanced country in the Eastern bloc, but many of its citizens look to the West for political freedoms and economic prosperity. The flight of growing numbers of East Germans to non-communist countries via West Berlin leads on 13 August 1961, to East Germany erecting the Berlin Wall and a fortified border to West Germany. Relations between East Germany and West Germany remain icy until the Western Chancellor Willy Brandt launches a highly controversial rapprochement with the East European communist states (Ostpolitik) in the 1970s. During the summer of 1989, rapid changes take place in East Germany, which ultimately lead to German reunification. Growing numbers of East Germans emigrate to West Germany via Hungary after Hungary's reformist government open its borders. Thousands of East Germans also try to reach the West by staging sit-ins at West German diplomatic facilities in other East European capitals, especially in Warsaw and Prague. The exodus generated demands within East Germany for political change, and mass demonstrations with eventually hundreds of thousands of people in several cities – particularly in Leipzig – continue to grow. Faced with civil unrest, GDR leader Erich Honecker is forced to resign in October, and on 9 November, East German authorities unexpectedly allow East German citizens to enter West Berlin and West Germany. Hundreds of thousands of people take advantage of the opportunity; new crossing points are opened in the Berlin Wall and along the border with West Germany. This leads to the acceleration of the process of reforms in East Germany that ends with the German reunification (3 October 1990).
Germany -- Economy --
Overview: Germany is the largest economy in the European Union and the third largest economy in the world, behind the United States and Japan. Germany is the world’s leading exporter: the volume of goods exported came to EUR 786 billion in 2005. Key trading partners: France (10.6 %), USA (9.3 %), Great Britain (8.4 %), Italy (7.4 %), Holand (6.2 %), Austria (5.3 %), Belgium (5.1 %) Spain (4.9 %). Germany is Europe’s most important market and strongly attracts foreign investors. The world’s 500 largest corporations are present here, a total of 22,000 foreign companies with a total staff of 2.7 million. Foreign direct investments amounted to US$ 544.6 billion in 2003.
Industry: 30.4% of the labour force is occupied in the industry sector. Forms 50% of GDP.
Energetic: fifth position in the world on production. Half energy production (50%) comes from coal centrals and 30% from nuclear power plants.
In terms of total capacity to generate electricity from wind power, Germany is first in the world. Renewable energy is playing a more modest role in energy consumption.
Machine production: most important industry sector. It takes 35% of the total industry production and 50% of the country export. Branches: heavy equipment and machinery manufacturing; automobile manufacturing (Daimler AG with the brands Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, Smart, Chrysler, Jeep and other; BMW; Volkswagen AG with the brand VW; Porsche with the brand Porsche; the brands Opel and Ford are also manufactured although General Motors/Toyota and Ford are not German companies); ship manufacturing (Lurssen, Blum and Blohm-Voss), aerospace manufacturing (Fokker); optics (Carl Zeiss); medical technology, biotech and genetic engineering; electrical and precision engineering (Siemens, Telefunken); nanotechnology.
Ferrous Metallurgy: a mayor industry sector. Germany has the second place in Europe in production of pig-iron, rolled iron and steel as 50% of the production is for export. Leading companies are Krupp, Hoesch, and August Thyssen.
Chemical industry: mayor industry sector. Germany is the biggest exporter of chemical products in the world, i.e. companies like BASF. The pharmacy industry is also very well developed with Bayern one of the biggest concerns.
Agriculture: 2.2% of the labour force is occupied in the in agriculture sector. Stock-farming is the main agriculture sector with breeding domestic birds, pigs and cattle. Main cultivated plant cultures are corn, wheat, potatoes, sugar, beets, barley, and vines. Forestry is also well developed. Germany is on the leading position in the world of production of hop.
Food, wine and tobacco industry: second place in bear production in the world with mayor brewers Krombacher, Warsteiner, Bitburger, Kronenburg, Karlsberg. The separation in bier types alone is impressive: Alt, Bock, Dunkel, Export, Hell, Kolsch, Lager, Malzbier, Marzen, Pils, and Weizenbier. Another important food production sector is the sugar industry.
Services: 68, 4% of Labour force. The biggest service companies are „Deutsche Telekom” and „Deutsche Post” followed by „Deutsche Bahn” AG, the tourist concern TUI, the media company „Bertelsmann”. „Deutsche Post” is also the largest employer with the 380 000 employees.
Tourism: The tourism in Germany is constantly developing. The tourism follows the commerce and it’s the second largest branch in Germany contributing to the GDP with 8%. There are almost 3 million people employed in this branch. 50,000 hotels and accommodation houses as well as 180,000 restaurants are at the disposal of the tourism industry. There are 18,000 tour operators and traveling agencies in the country and also 5,500 traveling agencies with 50,000 buses and 3,000 camping places.
Transportation: railways 46,142 km, roads: 656,140 km (highways 230,735 km), waterways 6,900 km. Rhine River carries most goods; Main-Danube Canal links North Sea and Black Sea. Ports and harbours: Bremen, Bremerhaven, Brunsbuttel, Duisburg, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Mainz, Rostock, Wilhemshaven.
Airports: 660 in total, twelve civilian airports provide passenger and cargo service within the country and to the rest of world.
Germany -- Culture --
Germany's contributions to the world's cultural heritage are numerous, and the country is
often known as the land of poets and thinkers. German literature can be traced back to the Middle Ages, in particular to such authors as Wolfram Eschenbach, considered one of the most important poets of medieval Europe.
Theologian Luther, who translated the Bible into German, is widely credited for having set the basis for modern "High German" language. The mostly admired German poets and authors are without Goethe and Schiller. Other poets include Heinrich Heine, Rainer MAria Rilke and authors of the 20th century include Nobel prize winners THomas Mann, Herman Hesse, Heinrich Bol, and Gunter Grass. Other authors include Brecht and Enzensberger.
Germany's influence on world philosophy was significant as well, as exemplified by Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, MArx, Engels, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Heidegger.
In the field of music, Germany's influence is noted through the works of, among others, Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Brahms, Schumann, Schubert, Webern, Lachenmann, Orff and Wagner.
In art, the several fine German painters such as the Renaissance artist Durer, the romanticist Friedrich, the surrealist Ernst, the expressionist Marc, the conceptual artist Beuys or the neo expressionist Baselitz.
Architecture also flourished in Germany. Several UNESCO World Heritage Sites are scattered throughout Germany
(including, for instance, the cathedral of Cologne and the Museum Island in Berlin).
Famous architects include neoclassicist Schinkel and Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus.
Germany was also the homeland of scientists like Helmholtz, Fraunhofer, Fahrenheit, Kepler, Haeckel, Wundt, Virchow, Ehrlich, Humboldt, Einstein, Born, Planck, Heisenberg, Creuzfeldt, Hertz, Koch, HAhn, Leibniz, Liebig, MAyr and Bunsen;
and inventors and engineers such as Gutenberg, Otto, Bosch, Siemens, von Braun, Daimler, Bez and Diesel.
Important mathematicians were born in Germany such as Ries, Dedekind, Bessel, Gauss, Hilbert, Jacobi, Riemann, Klein and Weierstrass.
Many historical figures, though not citizens of Germany in the modern sense, were important and inluential figures in German culture, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Kafka and Stefan Zweig.
Germany -- Political system, law and government --
Government type: federal, parliamentary democratic republic
Constitution (Basic law): 23 May 1949, separation of the powers and the lawful administration. All organs of the state are subject to the constitutional order.
State structure: federation of 16 federal states, each state with its own constitution, parliament and government. The highest state authority is exercised by the federal government.
Chief of state: President of Germany (Prof. Dr. Horst Kohler, CDU), elected by the Bundesversammlung (federal convention) every 5 years.
Legislative system: bicameral Parliament or Parlament. Consists of the Federal Assembly or Bundestag (669 Member of Parliament elected by popular vote under a system combining direct and proportional representation; a party must win 5% of the national vote or three direct mandates to gain proportional representation and caucus recognition; elections are hold every four years) and the Federal Council or Bundesrat (69 delegates of the state governments which are directly represented by votes; each has three to six votes depending on population and are required to vote as a block). Note that the composition of the Bundesrat can change each time one of the 16 states holds elections.
Elections: Federal Assembly - last held on 18 September 2005 (next to be held in September 2009)
Party system: multi-party system, parties have a special constitutional status, receive state financial support, can only be prohibited by the Federal Constitutional Court
Parties (Bundestag): Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), German Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU), Bundnis 90/Die Grunen (The Greens), Free Democratic Party (FDP), Die Linkspartei.PDS (The Left)
Suffrage: 18 years of age, universal
Legal system: civil law system, the Basic Law guarantees to every individual citizen basic and human rights
Judicial system: Federal Constitutional Court or Bundesverfassungsgericht (half judges are elected by the Bundestag and half by the Bundesrat) watches over adherence to the Basic Law. All the other organs of state are bound to uphold its rulings
Executive system: the central executive organ is the federal government with head of the state the Federal Chancellor (Dr. Angela Merkel, CDU). The Bundesminister (Federal Ministers) are appointed by the president upon proposition of the Federal Chancellor.