Germany is a federal parliamentary republic in the central-western Europe.
It includes 16 constituent states, covers an area of 357,021 square kilometres. With about 82.0 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous member state of the European Union. After the USA, it is the second most popular destination for immigration. The capital of Germany and at the same time its largest city is Berlin. Other metropolises include Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, and Frankfurt, the country’s largest agglomeration is Rhine-Ruhr.
Different Germanic tribes have occupied the northern parts of modern Germany since classic antiquity. A region that is named Germania was documented before 100 AD. The Germanic tribes expanded southward during the Migration Period. In the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation.
In 1871, Germany became a nation state and then most of the German states unified into the Prussian-dominated German Empire. After World War I and the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the Empire was replaced by the parliamentary Weimar Republic. The establishment of the national socialist dictatorship in 1933 led to World War II and systematic genocide. After a period of Allied occupation, two German states were founded: the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. In 1990, the country was reunified.
In the 21st century, Germany is a great power and is the 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 commodities. Germany is a well developed country with a high standard of living supported by a skilled and productive society. It maintains a social security and universal health care system, environmental protection and a free university education.
In 1993 Germany was a founding member of the European Union. It is part of the Schengen Area, and became a co-founder of the Eurozone in 1999. Germany is a member of NATO, the United Nations, the G20, the G8 and the OECD. Known for its rich cultural history, Germany has been constantly the home of influential artists, philosophers, musicians, sportspeople, business people, scientists and inventors.
Germany is situated in Western and Central Europe. Denmark is the north border, Poland and the Czech Republic are bordering 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.
The territory of Germany covers 357,021 km2 (137,847 sq mi), consisting of 349,223 km2 (134,836 sq mi) of land and 7,798 km2 (3,011 sq mi) of water. It is the seventh largest country by area in Europe and the 62nd largest in the world.
There is variation of elevation which ranges from the mountains of the Alps (highest point: the Zugspitze at 2,962 metres or 9,718 feet) in the south to the shores of the North Sea (Nordsee) in the northwest and the Baltic Sea (Ostsee) in the northeast. The forested uplands of central Germany and the lowlands of northern Germany (lowest point: Wilstermarsch at 3.54 metres or 11.6 feet below sea level) are crossed by major rivers as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe.
The biggest part 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. Winters are cool and summers tend to be warm: temperatures can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).
The east part 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 climate. 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.
The German economy is the largest economy in Europe, the fourth-largest by nominal GDP in the world. The country impresses with that it not only deals with crisis with ease but in parallel creates new jobs and reduces its duties.
The foundations of this German economic model were laid in the 19th century when Bismarck introduced the pension and health insurance in Germany and thus laid the foundations of social legislation. Germany is one of the founding members of the EU and European zone.
In 2014, Germany marked the highest trade surplus in the world worth $285 billion and the country is the third largest exporter in the world with 1.13 trillion euros ($1.28 trillion) in goods and services exported in 2014. The sector of services contributes around 70% of the total GDP, industry 29.1%, and agriculture 0.9%. Exports account for 41% of national output. The top 10 export products of Germany are vehicles, machineries, chemical goods, electronic products, electrical equipments, pharmaceuticals, transport equipments, basic metals, food products, and rubber and plastics.
Germany is a country rich in timber, iron ore, potash, salt, uranium, nickel, copper and natural gas. Energy in Germany is sourced mainly by fossil fuels (50%), followed by nuclear power second, then gas, wind, biomass (wood and biofuels), hydro and solar.
Germany is the first major industrialized nation which is commited to the renewable energy transition. Germany is the leading producer of wind turbines in the world. Renewables now produce over 27% of electricity consumed in Germany. 99 % of all
German companies are small and medium-sized enterprises, which are predominantly family-owned. Of the world’s 2000 largest companies which are publicly listed, measured by revenue, 53 are with headquarter in Germany, with the Top 10 being Volkswagen, Allianz, Daimler, BMW, Siemens, BASF, Munich Re, E.ON, Bayer, and RWE.
Germany is the world’s top place for trade fairs. Around two thirds of the world’s leading trade fairs take place in Germany. The biggest annual international trade fairs and congresses are held in several German cities such as Hanover, Frankfurt, Cologne and Düsseldorf.