Germany

Germany

Overview
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 parliamentary republic
Parliamentary republic
A parliamentary republic or parliamentary constitutional republic is a type of republic which operates under a parliamentary system of government - meaning a system with no clear-cut separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. There are a number of variations of...

 in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. The country consists of 16 states while the capital
Capital City
Capital City was a television show produced by Euston Films which focused on the lives of investment bankers in London living and working on the corporate trading floor for the fictional international bank Shane-Longman....

 and largest city is Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With 81.8 million inhabitants, it is the most populous member state and the largest economy in the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

.
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Timeline

933   After a ten-year truce, German King Henry I defeats a Hungarian army at the Battle of Riade near the Unstrut river.

1014   Pope Benedict VIII recognizes Henry of Bavaria as King of Germany.

1028   Henry III, son of Conrad, is elected king of the Germans.

1152   Frederick I Barbarossa is elected King of the Germans.

1241   Battle of Liegnitz: Mongol forces defeat the Polish and German armies.

1266   Battle of Benevento: An army led by Charles, Count of Anjou, defeats a combined German and Sicilian force led by King Manfred of Sicily. Manfred is killed in the battle and Pope Clement IV invests Charles as king of Sicily and Naples.

1284   the legendary Pied Piper leads 130 children out of Hamelin, Germany

1362   A storm tide in the North Sea destroys the German city of Rungholt on the island of Strand.

1374   A sudden outbreak of St. John's Dance causes people in the streets of Aachen, Germany, to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion.

1484   Pope Innocent VIII issues the ''Summis desiderantes'', a papal bull that deputizes Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger as inquisitors to root out alleged witchcraft in Germany and leads to one of the most oppressive witch hunts in European history.

 
Quotations

Thinking of Germany in the night robs me of my sleep.

Original (German): Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht, dann bin ich um den Schlaf gebracht.

"Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth." ~ Mark Twain

Encyclopedia
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 parliamentary republic
Parliamentary republic
A parliamentary republic or parliamentary constitutional republic is a type of republic which operates under a parliamentary system of government - meaning a system with no clear-cut separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. There are a number of variations of...

 in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. The country consists of 16 states while the capital
Capital City
Capital City was a television show produced by Euston Films which focused on the lives of investment bankers in London living and working on the corporate trading floor for the fictional international bank Shane-Longman....

 and largest city is Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With 81.8 million inhabitants, it is the most populous member state and the largest economy in the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

. It is one of the major political powers of the European continent and a technological leader in many fields.

A region named Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

, inhabited by several Germanic peoples, was documented
Germania (book)
The Germania , written by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus around 98, is an ethnographic work on the Germanic tribes outside the Roman Empire.-Contents:...

 before AD 100. During the Migration Age, the Germanic tribes expanded southward, and established successor kingdoms throughout much of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. Beginning in the 10th century, German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 while southern and western parts remained dominated by Roman Catholic denominations, with the two factions clashing in the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

. Occupied during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, with the rising of Pan-Germanism
Pan-Germanism
Pan-Germanism is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify the German-speaking populations of Europe in a single nation-state known as Großdeutschland , where "German-speaking" was taken to include the Low German, Frisian and Dutch-speaking populations of the Low...

 inside the German Confederation
German Confederation
The German Confederation was the loose association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries. It acted as a buffer between the powerful states of Austria and Prussia...

 resulted in the unification of most of the German states into the German Empire
Unification of Germany
The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German...

 in 1871 which was Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n dominated. After the German Revolution of 1918–1919 and the subsequent military surrender in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the Empire was replaced by the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 in 1918, and partitioned in the Versailles Treaty. Amidst the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, the Third Reich was proclaimed in 1933. The latter period was marked by Fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 and the Second World War. After 1945, Germany was divided by allied occupation
Allied Occupation Zones in Germany
The Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II divided the country west of the Oder-Neisse line into four occupation zones for administrative purposes during 1945–49. In the closing weeks of fighting in Europe, US forces had pushed beyond the previously agreed boundaries for the...

, and evolved into two states, East Germany and West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

. In 1990 Germany was reunified
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

.

Germany was a founding member of the European Community
European Communities
The European Communities were three international organisations that were governed by the same set of institutions...

 in 1957, which became the EU in 1993. It is part of the Schengen Area
Schengen Area
The Schengen Area comprises the territories of twenty-five European countries that have implemented the Schengen Agreement signed in the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, in 1985...

 and since 1999 a member of the eurozone
Eurozone
The eurozone , officially called the euro area, is an economic and monetary union of seventeen European Union member states that have adopted the euro as their common currency and sole legal tender...

. Germany is a member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, NATO, the G8
G8
The Group of Eight is a forum, created by France in 1975, for the governments of seven major economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1997, the group added Russia, thus becoming the G8...

, the G20
G-20 major economies
The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 major economies: 19 countries plus the European Union, which is represented by the President of the European Council and by the European Central Bank...

, the OECD and the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, and took a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011–2012 term.

It has the world's fourth largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth largest by purchasing power parity
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

. It is the second largest exporter and third largest importer of goods. The country has developed a very high standard of living and a comprehensive system of social security
Social security
Social security is primarily a social insurance program providing social protection or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment and others. Social security may refer to:...

. Germany has been the home of many influential scientists and inventors
Science and technology in Germany
Germany's achievements in science and technology have been significant and research and development efforts form an integral part of the country's economy. Germany has been the home of some of the most prominent researchers in various scientific disciplines, notably physics, mathematics, chemistry...

, and is known for its cultural
Culture of Germany
German culture began long before the rise of Germany as a nation-state and spanned the entire German-speaking world. From its roots, culture in Germany has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular...

 and political
Politics of Germany
The Federal Republic of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic, based on representative democracy. The Chancellor is the head of government, while the President of Germany is the head of state, which is a ceremonial role but with substantial reserve powers.Executive power is vested in the...

 history
History of Germany
The concept of Germany as a distinct region in central Europe can be traced to Roman commander Julius Caesar, who referred to the unconquered area east of the Rhine as Germania, thus distinguishing it from Gaul , which he had conquered. The victory of the Germanic tribes in the Battle of the...

.

Etymology



The English word Germany derives from the Latin Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

, which came into use after Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 adopted it for the peoples east of the Rhine. In other languages it has various names.

The German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 term Deutschland (originally diutisciu land, "the German lands") is derived from deutsch, descended from Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 diutisc "popular" (i. e., belonging to the diot or diota "people"; originally used to distinguish the language of the common people
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 from Latin and its Romance descendants). This in turn descends from Proto-Germanic *þiudiskaz "popular" (see also the Latinised form Theodiscus), derived from *þeudō, descended from Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 *tewtéh₂- "people".

Germanic tribes and Frankish Empire




The Germanic tribes
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 are thought to date from
Ethnogenesis
Ethnogenesis is the process by which a group of human beings comes to be understood or to understand themselves as ethnically distinct from the wider social landscape from which their grouping emerges...

 the Nordic Bronze Age
Nordic Bronze Age
The Nordic Bronze Age is the name given by Oscar Montelius to a period and a Bronze Age culture in Scandinavian pre-history, c. 1700-500 BC, with sites that reached as far east as Estonia. Succeeding the Late Neolithic culture, its ethnic and linguistic affinities are unknown in the absence of...

 or the Pre-Roman Iron Age
Pre-Roman Iron Age
The Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe designates the earliest part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, northern Germany, and the Netherlands north of the Rhine River. These regions feature many extensive archaeological excavation sites, which have yielded a wealth of artifacts...

. From southern Scandinavia and north Germany, they expanded south, east and west from the 1st century BC, coming into contact with the Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic tribes of Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 as well as Iranian
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

, Baltic
Balts
The Balts or Baltic peoples , defined as speakers of one of the Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family, are descended from a group of Indo-European tribes who settled the area between the Jutland peninsula in the west and Moscow, Oka and Volga rivers basins in the east...

, and Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 tribes in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

. Under Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, the Roman General Publius Quinctilius Varus
Publius Quinctilius Varus
Publius Quinctilius Varus was a Roman politician and general under Emperor Augustus, mainly remembered for having lost three Roman legions and his own life when attacked by Germanic leader Arminius in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.-Life:His paternal grandfather was senator Sextus Quinctilius...

 began to invade Germania (an area extending roughly from the Rhine to the Ural Mountains
Ural Mountains
The Ural Mountains , or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the Ural River and northwestern Kazakhstan. Their eastern side is usually considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia...

). In AD 9, three Roman legion
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

s led by Varus were defeated
Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest took place in 9 CE, when an alliance of Germanic tribes led by Arminius of the Cherusci ambushed and decisively destroyed three Roman legions, along with their auxiliaries, led by Publius Quinctilius Varus.Despite numerous successful campaigns and raids by the...

 by the Cheruscan leader Arminius
Arminius
Arminius , also known as Armin or Hermann was a chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci who defeated a Roman army in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest...

. By AD 100, when Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 wrote Germania
Germania (book)
The Germania , written by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus around 98, is an ethnographic work on the Germanic tribes outside the Roman Empire.-Contents:...

, Germanic tribes had settled along the Rhine and the Danube (the Limes Germanicus
Limes Germanicus
The Limes Germanicus was a line of frontier fortifications that bounded the ancient Roman provinces of Germania Inferior, Germania Superior and Raetia, dividing the Roman Empire and the unsubdued Germanic tribes from the years 83 to about 260 AD...

), occupying most of the area of modern Germany; Austria, southern Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 and the western Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

, however, were Roman provinces.

In the 3rd century a number of large West Germanic tribes emerged: Alamanni
Alamanni
The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of Germanic tribes located around the upper Rhine river . One of the earliest references to them is the cognomen Alamannicus assumed by Roman Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 to 217 and claimed thereby to be...

, Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

, Chatti
Chatti
The Chatti were an ancient Germanic tribe whose homeland was near the upper Weser. They settled in central and northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony, along the upper reaches of the Weser River and in the valleys and mountains of the Eder, Fulda and Weser River regions, a district approximately...

, Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

, Frisii
Frisii
The Frisii were an ancient Germanic tribe living in the low-lying region between the Zuiderzee and the River Ems. In the Germanic pre-Migration Period the Frisii and the related Chauci, Saxons, and Angles inhabited the Continental European coast from the Zuyder Zee to south Jutland...

, Sicambri
Sicambri
The Sicambri were a Germanic people living on the right bank of the Rhine river, near where it passes out of Germany and enters what is now called the Netherlands at the turn of the first millennium....

, and Thuringii
Thuringii
The Thuringii or Toringi were a Germanic tribe which appeared late during the Völkerwanderung in the Harz Mountains of central Germania around 280, in a region which still bears their name to this day — Thuringia. They evidently filled a void left when the previous inhabitants — the...

. Around 260, the Germanic peoples broke into Roman-controlled lands. After the invasion of the Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 in 375, and with the decline of Rome from 395, Germanic tribes moved further south-west. Simultaneously several large tribes formed in what is now Germany and displaced the smaller Germanic tribes. Large areas (known since the Merovingian period as Austrasia
Austrasia
Austrasia formed the northeastern portion of the Kingdom of the Merovingian Franks, comprising parts of the territory of present-day eastern France, western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Metz served as its capital, although some Austrasian kings ruled from Rheims, Trier, and...

) were occupied by the Franks
Frankish Empire
Francia or Frankia, later also called the Frankish Empire , Frankish Kingdom , Frankish Realm or occasionally Frankland, was the territory inhabited and ruled by the Franks from the 3rd to the 10th century...

, and Northern Germany was ruled by the Saxons and Slavs.

Holy Roman Empire


On 25 December 800, Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 founded the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

, which was divided in 843
Treaty of Verdun
The Treaty of Verdun was a treaty between the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious, the son and successor of Charlemagne, which divided the Carolingian Empire into three kingdoms...

. The Holy Roman Empire resulted from the eastern portion of this division. Its territory stretched from the Eider River
Eider River
The Eider is the longest river of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The river starts near Bordesholm and reaches the southwestern outskirts of Kiel on the shores of the Baltic Sea, but flows to the west, ending in the North Sea...

 in the north to the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 coast in the south. Under the reign of the Ottonian
Ottonian
The Ottonian dynasty was a dynasty of Germanic Kings , named after its first emperor but also known as the Saxon dynasty after the family's origin. The family itself is also sometimes known as the Liudolfings, after its earliest known member Liudolf and one of its primary leading-names...

 emperors (919–1024), several major duchies
Stem duchy
Stem duchies were essentially the domains of the old German tribes of the area, associated with the Frankish Kingdom, especially the East, in the Early Middle Ages. These tribes were originally the Franks, the Saxons, the Alamanni, the Burgundians, the Thuringii, and the Rugii...

 were consolidated, and the German king was crowned Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 of these regions in 962. The Holy Roman Empire absorbed northern Italy and Burgundy under the reign of the Salian emperors (1024–1125), although the emperors lost power through the Investiture Controversy
Investiture Controversy
The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...

.

Under the Hohenstaufen emperors (1138–1254), the German princes increased their influence further south and east into territories inhabited by Slavs
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

, preceding German settlement
History of German settlement in Eastern Europe
The presence of German-speaking populations in Central and Eastern Europe is rooted in centuries of history, with the settling in northeastern Europe of Germanic peoples predating even the founding of the Roman Empire...

 in these areas and further east (Ostsiedlung
Ostsiedlung
Ostsiedlung , also called German eastward expansion, was the medieval eastward migration and settlement of Germans from modern day western and central Germany into less-populated regions and countries of eastern Central Europe and Eastern Europe. The affected area roughly stretched from Slovenia...

)
. Northern German towns grew prosperous as members of the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

. Starting with the Great Famine
Great Famine of 1315–1317
The Great Famine of 1315–1317 was the first of a series of large scale crises that struck Northern Europe early in the fourteenth century...

 in 1315, then the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 of 1348–50, the population of Germany plummeted. The edict of the Golden Bull
Golden Bull of 1356
The Golden Bull of 1356 was a decree issued by the Reichstag assembly in Nuremberg headed by the Luxembourg Emperor Charles IV that fixed, for a period of more than four hundred years, important aspects of the constitutional structure of the Holy Roman Empire...

 in 1356 provided the basic constitution of the empire and codified the election of the emperor by seven prince-elector
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

s who ruled some of the most powerful principalities and archbishoprics.

Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 publicised his 95 Theses in 1517, challenging the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 and initiating the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. A separate Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 church became the official religion in many German states after 1530. Religious conflict led to the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

 (1618–1648), which devastated German lands. The population of the German states was reduced by about 30%. The Peace of Westphalia
Peace of Westphalia
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October of 1648 in Osnabrück and Münster. These treaties ended the Thirty Years' War in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch Republic, with Spain formally recognizing the...

 (1648) ended religious warfare among the German states, but the empire was de facto divided into numerous independent principalities. From 1740 onwards, dualism
German dualism
Austria and Prussia had a long running conflict and rivalry for supremacy in Central Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries, called in Germany. While wars were a part of the rivalry, it was also a race for prestige to be seen as the legitimate political force of the German-speaking peoples...

 between the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy
Habsburg Monarchy
The Habsburg Monarchy covered the territories ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg , and then by the successor House of Habsburg-Lorraine , between 1526 and 1867/1918. The Imperial capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague...

 and the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 dominated German history. In 1806, the Imperium was overrun and dissolved as a result of the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

.

German Confederation and Empire



Following the fall of Napoleon I of France
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

, the Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

 convened in 1814 and founded the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund), a loose league of 39 sovereign states. Disagreement with restoration politics partly led to the rise of liberal
Liberalism in Germany
This article aims to give an historical overview of liberalism in Germany. The liberal parties dealt with in the timeline below are, largely, those which received sufficient support at one time or another to have been represented in parliament. Not all parties so included, however, necessarily...

 movements, followed by new measures of repression by Austrian statesman Metternich
Klemens Wenzel von Metternich
Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich was a German-born Austrian politician and statesman and was one of the most important diplomats of his era...

. The Zollverein
Zollverein
thumb|upright=1.2|The German Zollverein 1834–1919blue = Prussia in 1834 grey= Included region until 1866yellow= Excluded after 1866red = Borders of the German Union of 1828 pink= Relevant others until 1834...

, a tariff union, furthered economic unity in the German states. National
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and liberal ideals of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 gained increasing support among many, especially young, Germans. In the light of a series of revolutionary movements in Europe
Revolutions of 1848
The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations, Springtime of the Peoples or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848. It was the first Europe-wide collapse of traditional authority, but within a year reactionary...

, which established a republic in France, intellectuals and commoners started the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states
Revolutions of 1848 in the German states
The Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, also called the March Revolution – part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many countries of Europe – were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire...

. King Frederick William IV of Prussia
Frederick William IV of Prussia
|align=right|Upon his accession, he toned down the reactionary policies enacted by his father, easing press censorship and promising to enact a constitution at some point, but he refused to enact a popular legislative assembly, preferring to work with the aristocracy through "united committees" of...

 was offered the title of Emperor, but with a loss of power; he rejected the crown and the proposed constitution, leading to a temporary setback for the movement.


Conflict between King William I
William I, German Emperor
William I, also known as Wilhelm I , of the House of Hohenzollern was the King of Prussia and the first German Emperor .Under the leadership of William and his Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the...

 of Prussia and the increasingly liberal parliament erupted over military reforms in 1862, and the king appointed Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

 the new Prime Minister of Prussia
Prime Minister of Prussia
The office of Minister President or Prime Minister of Prussia existed in one form or another from 1702 until the dissolution of Prussia in 1947. When Prussia was an independent kingdom the Minister President or Prime Minister functioned as the King's Chief Minister and presided over the Prussian...

. Bismarck successfully waged war on Denmark
Second War of Schleswig
The Second Schleswig War was the second military conflict as a result of the Schleswig-Holstein Question. It began on 1 February 1864, when Prussian forces crossed the border into Schleswig.Denmark fought Prussia and Austria...

 in 1864. Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies and Italy on the...

 of 1866 enabled him to create the North German Federation (Norddeutscher Bund) and to exclude Austria
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

, formerly the leading German state, from the federation's affairs. After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

, the German Empire was proclaimed 1871 in Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

, uniting all scattered parts of Germany except Austria . With almost two thirds of its territory and population, Prussia was the dominating constituent of the new state; the Hohenzollern
House of Hohenzollern
The House of Hohenzollern is a noble family and royal dynasty of electors, kings and emperors of Prussia, Germany and Romania. It originated in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century. They took their name from their ancestral home, the Burg Hohenzollern castle near...

 King of Prussia ruled as its concurrent Emperor, and Berlin became its capital. In the period following the unification of Germany
Unification of Germany
The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German...

, Bismarck's foreign policy as Chancellor
Chancellor of Germany
The Chancellor of Germany is, under the German 1949 constitution, the head of government of Germany...

 of Germany under Emperor William I secured Germany's position as a great nation by forging alliances, isolating France
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 by diplomatic means, and avoiding war. Under Wilhelm II, however, Germany, like other European powers, took an imperialistic
New Imperialism
New Imperialism refers to the colonial expansion adopted by Europe's powers and, later, Japan and the United States, during the 19th and early 20th centuries; expansion took place from the French conquest of Algeria until World War I: approximately 1830 to 1914...

 course leading to friction with neighbouring countries. As a result of the Berlin Conference
Berlin Conference
The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 regulated European colonization and trade in Africa during the New Imperialism period, and coincided with Germany's sudden emergence as an imperial power...

 in 1884 Germany claimed several colonies including German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

, German South-West Africa
German South-West Africa
German South West Africa was a colony of Germany from 1884 until 1915, when it was taken over by South Africa and administered as South West Africa, finally becoming Namibia in 1990...

, Togo
Togoland
Togoland was a German protectorate in West Africa from 1884 to 1914, encompassing what is now the nation of Togo and most of what is now the Volta Region of Ghana. The colony was established during the period generally known as the "Scramble for Africa"...

, and Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

. Most alliances in which Germany had previously been involved were not renewed, and new alliances excluded the country.

The assassination
Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead in Sarajevo, by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six Bosnian Serb assassins coordinated by Danilo Ilić...

 of Austria's crown prince
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Franz Ferdinand was an Archduke of Austria-Este, Austro-Hungarian and Royal Prince of Hungary and of Bohemia, and from 1889 until his death, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. His assassination in Sarajevo precipitated Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia...

 on 28 June 1914 triggered World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Germany, as part of the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

, suffered defeat against the Allies
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

 in one of the bloodiest
World War I casualties
The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I were over 35 million. There were over 15 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history....

 conflicts of all time. An estimated two million German soldiers died in World War I. The German Revolution broke out in November 1918, and Emperor Wilhelm II and all German ruling princes abdicated
Abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

. An armistice
Armistice with Germany (Compiègne)
The armistice between the Allies and Germany was an agreement that ended the fighting in the First World War. It was signed in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not technically a surrender...

 ended the war on 11 November, and Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 in June 1919. The treaty was perceived in Germany as a humiliating continuation of the war, and is often cited as an influence in the rise of Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

.

Weimar Republic and Third Reich


At the beginning of the German Revolution in November 1918, Germany was declared a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

. However, the struggle for power continued, with radical-left communists seizing power in Bavaria. The revolution came to an end on 11 August 1919, when the Weimar Constitution
Weimar constitution
The Constitution of the German Reich , usually known as the Weimar Constitution was the constitution that governed Germany during the Weimar Republic...

 was signed by President
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

 Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany .When Ebert was elected as the leader of the SPD after the death of August Bebel, the party members of the SPD were deeply divided because of the party's support for World War I. Ebert supported the Burgfrieden and...

. Suffering from the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, the harsh peace conditions dictated by the Treaty of Versailles, and a long succession of unstable governments, Germans increasingly lacked identification with the government. This was exacerbated by a widespread right-wing , or stab-in-the-back myth, which argued that Germany had lost World War I because of those who wanted to overthrow the government. The Weimar government was accused of betraying Germany by signing the Versailles Treaty. By 1932, the German Communist Party
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

 and the Nazi Party controlled the majority of parliament, fuelled by discontent with the Weimar government. After a series of unsuccessful cabinets, President Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 appointed Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933. On 27 February 1933 the Reichstag
Reichstag fire
The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. The event is seen as pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany....

 building went up in flames, and a consequent emergency decree
Reichstag Fire Decree
The Reichstag Fire Decree is the common name of the Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State issued by German President Paul von Hindenburg in direct response to the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933. The decree nullified many of the key civil liberties of German...

 abrogated basic citizens' rights. An Enabling Act
Enabling Act
The Enabling Act was passed by Germany's Reichstag and signed by President Paul von Hindenburg on 23 March 1933. It was the second major step, after the Reichstag Fire Decree, through which Chancellor Adolf Hitler legally obtained plenary powers and established his dictatorship...

 passed in parliament gave Hitler unrestricted legislative power. Only the Social Democratic Party
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 voted against it, while Communist MPs
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 had already been imprisoned. Using his powers to crush any actual or potential resistance, Hitler established a centralised totalitarian state within months. Industry was revitalised with a focus on military rearmament.

In 1935, Germany reacquired control of the Saar
Saar (League of Nations)
The Territory of the Saar Basin , also referred as the Saar or Saargebiet, was a region of Germany that was occupied and governed by Britain and France from 1920 to 1935 under a League of Nations mandate, with the occupation originally being under the auspices of the Treaty of Versailles...

 and in 1936 military control of the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

, both of which had been lost in the Treaty of Versailles. In 1938 and 1939, Austria
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

 and Czechoslovakia
German occupation of Czechoslovakia
German occupation of Czechoslovakia began with the Nazi annexation of Czechoslovakia's northern and western border regions, known collectively as the Sudetenland, under terms outlined by the Munich Agreement. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's pretext for this effort was the alleged privations suffered by...

 were brought under German control and the invasion of Poland was prepared through the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact and Operation Himmler
Operation Himmler
Operation Himmler was a Nazi Germany false flag project to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany, which was subsequently used by Nazi propaganda to justify the invasion of Poland...

. On 1 September 1939 the German Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 launched a blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

 on Poland
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

, which was swiftly occupied by Germany and by the Soviet Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

. The UK and France declared war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. As the war progressed, Germany and its allies
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 quickly gained control of much of continental Europe though plans to occupy the United Kingdom failed. On 22 June 1941, Germany broke the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact and invaded the Soviet Union
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

. Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

's attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 led Germany to declare war on the United States. The Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 forced the German army to retreat on the Eastern front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

. In September 1943, Germany's ally Italy surrendered, and German troops were forced to defend an additional front in Italy. D-Day opened a Western front
Western Front (World War II)
The Western Front of the European Theatre of World War II encompassed, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and West Germany. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale ground combat operations...

, as Allied forces advanced towards German territory. On 8 May 1945, the German armed forces surrendered
Victory in Europe Day
Victory in Europe Day commemorates 8 May 1945 , the date when the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. The formal surrender of the occupying German forces in the Channel Islands was not...

 after the Red Army occupied Berlin.
In what later became known as The Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

, the Third Reich regime had enacted policies directly subjugating many dissidents and minorities. Millions of people were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, including a sizeable number of Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Gypsies
Porajmos
The Porajmos was the attempt made by Nazi Germany, the Independent State of Croatia, Horthy's Hungary and their allies to exterminate the Romani people of Europe during World War II...

, Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

, Poles and other Slavs
Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Eastern Europe. Implementing it would have necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the Eastern European territories occupied by Germany during World War II...

, including Soviet POWs
Nazi crimes against Soviet POWs
The Nazi crimes against Soviet Prisoners of War relate to the deliberately genocidal policies taken towards the captured soldiers of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany...

, people with mental and/or physical disabilities
Action T4
Action T4 was the name used after World War II for Nazi Germany's eugenics-based "euthanasia" program during which physicians killed thousands of people who were "judged incurably sick, by critical medical examination"...

, homosexuals, and members of the political opposition. World War II was responsible for more than 40 million dead in Europe. The Nuremberg trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

 of Nazi war criminals were held after World War II. The war casualties for Germany
German casualties in World War II
German casualties in World War II i.e. deaths, are broken down as follows:The German Army historian Dr. Rüdiger Overmans published a study in 2000 that estimated German military dead and missing at 5.3 million. Dr. Overmans, has provided an official reassessment of German military war dead based on...

 are estimated at 5.3 million German soldiers millions of German civilians; and losing the war resulted in large territorial losses
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

; the expulsion of about 15 million Germans
Expulsion of Germans after World War II
The later stages of World War II, and the period after the end of that war, saw the forced migration of millions of German nationals and ethnic Germans from various European states and territories, mostly into the areas which would become post-war Germany and post-war Austria...

 from the eastern areas of Germany and other countries; mass rape of German women; and the destruction of multiple major cities.

East and West Germany




After the surrender of Germany, the remaining German territory and Berlin were partitioned by the Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 into four military occupation zones. The western sectors, controlled by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, were merged on 23 May 1949 to form the Federal Republic of Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

(Bundesrepublik Deutschland); on 7 October 1949, the Soviet Zone became the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or DDR). They were informally known as "West Germany" and "East Germany". East Germany selected East Berlin as its capital, while West Germany chose Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

 as a provisional capital, to emphasise its stance that the two-state solution was an artificial and temporary status quo.

West Germany, established as a federal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy
Social market economy
The social market economy is the main economic model used in West Germany after World War II. It is based on the economic philosophy of Ordoliberalism from the Freiburg School...

", was allied with the United States, the UK and France. The country enjoyed prolonged economic growth beginning in the early 1950s . West Germany joined NATO in 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community
European Economic Community
The European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) The European Economic Community (EEC) (also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking world, renamed the European Community (EC) in 1993The information in this article primarily covers the EEC's time as an independent...

 in 1957. East Germany was an Eastern bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 state under political and military control by the USSR via the latter's occupation forces and the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

. Though East Germany claimed to be a democracy, political power was exercised solely by leading members (Politbüro
Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

) of the communist-controlled Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

 (SED), supported by the Stasi
Stasi
The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), commonly known as the Stasi (abbreviation , literally State Security), was the official state security service of East Germany. The MfS was headquartered...

, an immense secret service, and a variety of sub-organisations controlling every aspect of society. A Soviet-style command economy was set up; the GDR later became a Comecon
Comecon
The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance , 1949–1991, was an economic organisation under hegemony of Soviet Union comprising the countries of the Eastern Bloc along with a number of communist states elsewhere in the world...

 state. While East German propaganda
Communist propaganda
Communist propaganda is propaganda aimed to advance the ideology of communism, communist worldview and interests of the communist movement.A Bolshevik theoretician, Nikolai Bukharin, in his The ABC of Communism wrote:...

 was based on the benefits of the GDR's social programmes and the alleged constant threat of a West German invasion, many of her citizens looked to the West for freedom and prosperity. The Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

, built in 1961 to stop East Germans from escaping to West Germany, became a symbol of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.


Tensions between East and West Germany were reduced in the early 1970s by Chancellor
Chancellor of Germany
The Chancellor of Germany is, under the German 1949 constitution, the head of government of Germany...

 Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt, born Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm , was a German politician, Mayor of West Berlin 1957–1966, Chancellor of West Germany 1969–1974, and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany 1964–1987....

's . In summer 1989, Hungary decided to dismantle the Iron Curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

 and open the borders, causing the emigration of thousands of East Germans to West Germany via Hungary. This had devastating effects on the GDR, where regular mass demonstrations
Monday demonstrations in East Germany
The Monday demonstrations in East Germany in 1989 and 1990 were a series of peaceful political protests against the authoritarian communist government of the German Democratic Republic that took place every Monday evening.- Overview :...

 received increasing support. The East German authorities unexpectedly eased the border restrictions, allowing East German citizens to travel to the West; originally intended to help retain East Germany as a state, the opening of the border actually led to an acceleration of the Wende reform process
Die Wende
marks the complete process of the change from socialism and planned economy to market economy and capitalism in East Germany around the years 1989 and 1990. It encompasses several processes and events which later have become synonymous with the overall process...

. This culminated in the Two Plus Four Treaty
Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
The Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, was negotiated in 1990 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic , and the Four Powers which occupied Germany at the end of World War II in Europe: France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the...

a year later on 12 September 1990, under which the four occupying powers renounced their rights under the Instrument of Surrender, and Germany regained full sovereignty. This permitted German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 on 3 October 1990, with the accession of the five re-established states of the former GDR (new states or "neue Länder").

Berlin Republic and the EU



Based on the Berlin/Bonn Act
Berlin/Bonn Act
The Berlin/Bonn Act regulated the move of the German Bundestag and parts of the government from Bonn to Berlin. It also regulated the move of certain Federal agencies and other federal facilities to Bonn. The act was a consequence of the Hauptstadtbeschluss of June 20, 1991 which made Berlin the...

, adopted on 10 March 1994, Berlin once again became the capital of the reunified Germany, while Bonn obtained the unique status of a Bundesstadt (federal city) retaining some federal ministries. The relocation of the government was completed in 1999. Since reunification, Germany has taken a more active role in the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and NATO. Germany sent a peacekeeping force to secure stability in the Balkans and sent a force of German troops
Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

 to Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 as part of a NATO effort to provide security in that country
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 after the ousting of the Taliban. These deployments were controversial since, after the war, Germany was bound by domestic law only to deploy troops for defence roles. In 2005, Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

 became the first female Chancellor of Germany as the leader of a grand coalition
Grand Coalition (Germany)
In modern Germany, grand coalition describes a governing coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, as they are the two largest parties.-Weimar Republic:...

.

Geography



Germany is in Western and Central Europe, bordering Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 in the north, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

 in the east, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 in the south, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 in the south-west, and Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 in the north-west. It lies mostly between latitudes 47°
47th parallel north
The 47th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 47 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 55° N
55th parallel north
The 55th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 55 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 (the tip of Sylt
Sylt
Sylt is an island in northern Germany, part of Nordfriesland district, Schleswig-Holstein, and well known for the distinctive shape of its shoreline. It belongs to the North Frisian Islands and is the largest island in North Frisia...

 is just north of 55°), and longitudes
5th meridian east
The meridian 5° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 16° E
16th meridian east
The meridian 16° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. The territory covers 357021 km² (137,847 sq mi), consisting of 349223 km² (134,836 sq mi) of land and 7798 km² (3,011 sq mi) of water. It is the seventh largest country by area in Europe and the 62nd largest in the world.

Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 (highest point: the Zugspitze
Zugspitze
The Zugspitze, at 2,962 metres above sea level, is the highest peak of the Wetterstein Mountains as well as the highest mountain in Germany. It lies south of the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and the border between Germany and Austria runs over its western summit. South of the mountain is...

 at 2962 metres (9,718 ft)) in the south to the shores of the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 (Nordsee) in the north-west and the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 (Ostsee) in the north-east. The forested uplands of central Germany and the lowlands of northern Germany (lowest point: Wilstermarsch
Wilstermarsch
Wilstermarsch is an Amt in the district of Steinburg, in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is situated around Wilster, which is the seat of the Amt, but not part of it....

 at 3.54 metres (11.6 ft) below sea level) are traversed by such major rivers as the Rhine, Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 and Elbe
Elbe
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

. Glaciers are found in the Alpine region, but are experiencing deglaciation. Significant natural resources are iron ore, coal, potash
Potash
Potash is the common name for various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. In some rare cases, potash can be formed with traces of organic materials such as plant remains, and this was the major historical source for it before the industrial era...

, timber, lignite
Lignite
Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, or Rosebud coal by Northern Pacific Railroad,is a soft brown fuel with characteristics that put it somewhere between coal and peat...

, uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

, copper, natural gas, salt, nickel, arable land
Arable land
In geography and agriculture, arable land is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under temporary crops , temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow...

 and water.

Climate


Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate
Temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

 in which humid westerly winds predominate. The climate is moderated by the North Atlantic Drift
North Atlantic Current
The North Atlantic Current is a powerful warm ocean current that continues the Gulf Stream northeast. West of Ireland it splits in two; one branch, the Canary Current, goes south, while the other continues north along the coast of northwestern Europe...

, the northern extension of the Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream
The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean...

. This warmer water affects the areas bordering the North Sea; consequently in the north-west and the north the climate is oceanic
Oceanic climate
An oceanic climate, also called marine west coast climate, maritime climate, Cascadian climate and British climate for Köppen climate classification Cfb and subtropical highland for Köppen Cfb or Cwb, is a type of climate typically found along the west coasts at the middle latitudes of some of the...

. Rainfall
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 occurs year-round, especially in the summer. Winters are mild and summers tend to be cool, though temperatures can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).

The east has a more continental climate
Continental climate
Continental climate is a climate characterized by important annual variation in temperature due to the lack of significant bodies of water nearby...

; winters can be very cold and summers very warm, and long dry periods are frequent. 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, characterised by lower temperatures and greater precipitation.

Biodiversity



The territory of Germany can be subdivided into two ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

s: European-Mediterranean montane mixed forests and Northeast-Atlantic shelf marine. As of 2008 the majority of Germany is covered by either arable land (34%) or forest and woodland
Woodland
Ecologically, a woodland is a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. Woodlands may support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants including grasses. Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during early stages of...

 (30.1%); only 13.4% of the area consists of permanent pastures, 11.8% is covered by settlements and streets.

Plants and animals are those generally common to middle Europe. Beeches, oaks, and other deciduous trees constitute one third of the forests; conifers are increasing as a result of reforestation. Spruce and fir trees predominate in the upper mountains, while pine and larch are found in sandy soil. There are many species of ferns, flowers, fungi, and mosses. Wild animals include deer, wild boar, mouflon, fox, badger, hare, and small numbers of beavers.

The national parks in Germany include the Wadden Sea National Parks
Wadden Sea National Parks
The Wadden Sea National Parks, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located along the German coast of the North Sea. Named after the Wadden Sea, they consist of three national parks:...

, the Jasmund National Park
Jasmund National Park
The Jasmund National Park is a nature reserve in the Jasmund peninsula, in the northeast of Rügen island in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. It is famous for the largest chalk cliffs of Germany, the so called Königsstuhl . These cliffs are up to 161 m high above the Baltic Sea...

, the Vorpommern Lagoon Area National Park, the Müritz National Park
Müritz National Park
The Müritz National Park is a national park situated roughly in the middle between Berlin and Rostock, in the south of the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It extends over large portions of the Müritz lakeland in the district of Mecklenburgische Seenplatte. Müritz National Park was founded...

, the Lower Oder Valley National Park
Lower Oder Valley National Park
The Lower Oder Valley International Park is a shared German-Polish nature reserve. It comprises the western banks of the Oder river within the Uckermark district in the German state of Brandenburg as well as the steep eastern banks in the Gryfino and Police counties of the Polish West Pomeranian...

, the Harz National Park
Harz National Park
The Harz National Park is a nature reserve in the German federal states of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. It comprises large portions of the western Harz mountain range, extending from Herzberg and Bad Lauterberg at the southern edge to Bad Harzburg and Ilsenburg on the northern slopes...

, the Saxon Switzerland National Park
Saxon Switzerland National Park
The Saxon Switzerland National Park , is a National Park in the German Free State of Saxony near the capital city of Dresden. It covers two areas of 93.5 km² in the heart of the German part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains which is called the Saxon Switzerland .The National Park is not far away...

 and the Bavarian Forest National Park. More than 400 registered zoos and animal parks operate in Germany, which is believed to be the largest number in any country. The Zoologische Garten Berlin is the oldest zoo in Germany and presents the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.

Politics


Germany is a federal
Federal republic
A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. A federation is the central government. The states in a federation also maintain the federation...

, parliamentary, representative democratic
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 republic. The German political system operates under a framework laid out in the 1949 constitutional document known as the Grundgesetz
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany is the constitution of Germany. It was formally approved on 8 May 1949, and, with the signature of the Allies of World War II on 12 May, came into effect on 23 May, as the constitution of those states of West Germany that were initially included...

 (Basic Law). Amendments generally require a two-thirds majority of both chambers of parliament; the fundamental principles of the constitution, as expressed in the articles guaranteeing human dignity, the separation of powers, the federal structure, and the rule of law are valid in perpetuity.

The president
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

, currently Christian Wulff
Christian Wulff
Christian Wilhelm Walter Wulff is the President of Germany and a politician of the Christian Democratic Union. He was elected President on 2010 and publicly swore the oath of office on . A lawyer by profession, he served as Premier of the state of Lower Saxony from 2003 to 2010.-Early life and...

, is the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and invested primarily with representative responsibilities and powers. He is elected by the Bundesversammlung
Bundesversammlung (Germany)
The Federal Convention is a special body in the institutional system of Germany, convened solely for the purpose of electing the German Federal President , either every five years or within 30 days of a president's resignation, death or removal from office.The Bundesversammlung includes the entire...

(federal convention), an institution consisting of the members of the Bundestag and an equal number of state delegates. The second-highest official in the German order of precedence
German order of precedence
The German order of precedence is a symbolic hierarchy of officials in the Government of Germany used to direct protocol. It has no official status, but has been established in practical use....

 is the Bundestagspräsident (President of the Bundestag
President of the Bundestag
The President of the Bundestag presides over the sessions of the Bundestag, the parliament of Germany, with functions similar to that of a speaker in other countries. In the German order of precedence, his office is ranked second after the President and before the Chancellor...

), who is elected by the Bundestag and responsible for overseeing the daily sessions of the body. The third-highest official and the head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

 is the Chancellor, who is appointed by the Bundespräsident after being elected by the Bundestag.

The chancellor, currently Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

, is the head of government and exercises executive power
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

, similar to the role of a Prime Minister in other parliamentary democracies. Federal legislative power is vested in the parliament consisting of the Bundestag
Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

(Federal Diet) and Bundesrat
Bundesrat of Germany
The German Bundesrat is a legislative body that represents the sixteen Länder of Germany at the federal level...

(Federal Council), which together form the legislative body. The Bundestag is elected through direct election
Direct election
Direct election is a term describing a system of choosing political officeholders in which the voters directly cast ballots for the person, persons or political party that they desire to see elected. The method by which the winner or winners of a direct election are chosen depends upon the...

s, by proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 (mixed-member
Mixed member proportional representation
Mixed-member proportional representation, also termed mixed-member proportional voting and commonly abbreviated to MMP, is a voting system originally used to elect representatives to the German Bundestag, and nowadays adopted by numerous legislatures around the world...

). The members of the Bundesrat represent the governments of the sixteen federated states and are members of the state cabinets.

Since 1949, the party system has been dominated by the Christian Democratic Union
Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It is regarded as on the centre-right of the German political spectrum...

 and the Social Democratic Party of Germany
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 with all chancellors hitherto being member of either party. However, the smaller liberal Free Democratic Party
Free Democratic Party (Germany)
The Free Democratic Party , abbreviated to FDP, is a centre-right classical liberal political party in Germany. It is led by Philipp Rösler and currently serves as the junior coalition partner to the Union in the German federal government...

 (which has had members in the Bundestag since 1949) and the Alliance '90/The Greens
Alliance '90/The Greens
Alliance '90/The Greens is a green political party in Germany, formed from the merger of the German Green Party and Alliance 90 in 1993. Its leaders are Claudia Roth and Cem Özdemir...

 (which has controlled seats in parliament since 1983) have also played important roles.

Germany has a civil law system
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 based on Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

 with some references to Germanic law. The Bundesverfassungsgericht
Federal Constitutional Court of Germany
The Federal Constitutional Court is a special court established by the Grundgesetz, the German basic law...

(Federal Constitutional Court) is the German Supreme Court responsible for constitutional matters, with power of judicial review
Judicial review
Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority...

. Germany's supreme court system, called Oberste Gerichtshöfe des Bundes, is specialised: for civil and criminal cases, the highest court of appeal is the inquisitorial
Inquisitorial system
An inquisitorial system is a legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case, as opposed to an adversarial system where the role of the court is primarily that of an impartial referee between the prosecution and the defense...

 Federal Court of Justice
Federal Court of Justice of Germany
The Federal Court of Justice of Germany in Karlsruhe is the highest court in the system of ordinary jurisdiction in Germany. It is the supreme court in all matters of criminal and private law...

, and for other affairs the courts are the Federal Labour Court
Federal Labor Court of Germany
The Federal Labor Court is the court of the last resort for cases of labour law in Germany, both for individual labour law and collective labour law...

, the Federal Social Court, the Federal Finance Court
Federal Finance Court of Germany
The Federal Finance Court is one of the five federal supreme courts of Germany. It is the federal court of appeals for cases of tax and customs law, hearing appeals from the Finanzgerichte ....

 and the Federal Administrative Court
Federal Administrative Court of Germany
The Federal Administrative Court is one of the five federal supreme courts of Germany. It is the court of the last resort for generally all cases of administrative law, mainly disputes between citizens and the state...

. The Völkerstrafgesetzbuch
Völkerstrafgesetzbuch
The Völkerstrafgesetzbuch or VStGB is the German law that regulates the crimes against public international law. It was created to bring the German criminal law into accordance with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It was announced on 26 June 2002 and became law 30 June 2002...

regulates the consequences of crimes against humanity, genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 and war crimes, and gives German courts universal jurisdiction
Universal jurisdiction
Universal jurisdiction or universality principle is a principle in public international law whereby states claim criminal jurisdiction over persons whose alleged crimes were committed outside the boundaries of the prosecuting state, regardless of nationality, country of residence, or any other...

 in some circumstances. Criminal and private laws are codified on the national level in the Strafgesetzbuch
Strafgesetzbuch
Strafgesetzbuch is the German name for Penal Code and is abbreviated to StGB.- History :In Germany the Strafgesetzbuch goes back to the Penal Code of the German Empire passed in the year 1871 which was largely identical to the Penal Code of the North German Confederation.This Reichsstrafgesetzbuch ...

and the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch
Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch
The Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch is the civil code of Germany. In development since 1881, it became effective on January 1, 1900, and was considered a massive and groundbreaking project....

respectively. The German penal system is aimed towards rehabilitation of the criminal and the protection of the general public. Except for petty crimes, which are tried before a single professional judge, and serious political crime
Political crime
In criminology, a political crime is an offence involving overt acts or omissions , which prejudice the interests of the state, its government or the political system...

s, all charges are tried before mixed tribunals on which lay judge
Lay judge
A lay judge is a person assisting a judge in a trial. Lay judges are used in some civil law jurisdictions, such as Germany, Sweden and Finland. Japan began implementing a new lay judge system in 2009....

s () sit side by side with professional judges.

Constituent states


Germany comprises sixteen states
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 that are collectively referred to as Länder.
Each state has its own state constitution and is largely autonomous in regard to its internal organisation. Due to differences in size and population the subdivision of these states varies, especially between city states (Stadtstaaten) and states with larger territories (Flächenländer). For regional administrative purposes five states, namely Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony, consist of a total of 22 Government Districts (Regierungsbezirke). As of 2009 Germany is divided into 403 districts
Districts of Germany
The districts of Germany are known as , except in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein where they are known simply as ....

 (Kreise) on municipal level, these consist of 301 rural districts and 102 urban districts
Urban districts of Germany
This is a list of urban districts in Germany. Germany's sixteen states are further subdivided into 402 districts of which 107 are urban districts – cities which constitute a district in their own right. A similar concept is the Statutarstadt in Austria...

.

EWLINE
State
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

 
Capital Area (km²) Population
Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg is one of the 16 states of Germany. Baden-Württemberg is in the southwestern part of the country to the east of the Upper Rhine, and is the third largest in both area and population of Germany's sixteen states, with an area of and 10.7 million inhabitants...

 
Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

 
35,752 10,717,000
Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 
Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 
70,549 12,444,000
Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 
Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 
892 3,400,000
Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

 
Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

 
29,477 2,568,000
Bremen
Bremen (state)
The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen is the smallest of Germany's 16 states. A more informal name, but used in some official contexts, is Land Bremen .-Geography:...

 
Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 
404 663,000
Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 
Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 
755 1,735,000
Hesse
Hesse
Hesse or Hessia is both a cultural region of Germany and the name of an individual German state.* The cultural region of Hesse includes both the State of Hesse and the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state...

 
Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden is a city in southwest Germany and the capital of the federal state of Hesse. It has about 275,400 inhabitants, plus approximately 10,000 United States citizens...

 
21,115 6,098,000
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern  Schwerin
Schwerin
Schwerin is the capital and second-largest city of the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The population, as of end of 2009, was 95,041.-History:...

 
23,174 1,720,000
Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony is a German state situated in north-western Germany and is second in area and fourth in population among the sixteen states of Germany...

 
Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

 
47,618 8,001,000
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

 
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

 
34,043 18,075,000
Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has an area of and about four million inhabitants. The capital is Mainz. English speakers also commonly refer to the state by its German name, Rheinland-Pfalz ....

 
Mainz
Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

 
19,847 4,061,000
Saarland
Saarland
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

 
Saarbrücken
Saarbrücken
Saarbrücken is the capital of the state of Saarland in Germany. The city is situated at the heart of a metropolitan area that borders on the west on Dillingen and to the north-east on Neunkirchen, where most of the people of the Saarland live....

 
2,569 1,056,000
Saxony
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

 
Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

 
18,416 4,296,000
Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt is a landlocked state of Germany. Its capital is Magdeburg and it is surrounded by the German states of Lower Saxony, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia.Saxony-Anhalt covers an area of...

 
Magdeburg
Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

 
20,445 2,494,000
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

 
Kiel
Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

 
15,763 2,829,000
Thuringia
Thuringia
The Free State of Thuringia is a state of Germany, located in the central part of the country.It has an area of and 2.29 million inhabitants, making it the sixth smallest by area and the fifth smallest by population of Germany's sixteen states....

 
Erfurt
Erfurt
Erfurt is the capital city of Thuringia and the main city nearest to the geographical centre of Germany, located 100 km SW of Leipzig, 150 km N of Nuremberg and 180 km SE of Hannover. Erfurt Airport can be reached by plane via Munich. It lies in the southern part of the Thuringian...

 
16,172 2,355,000

Foreign relations




Germany has a network of 229 diplomatic missions abroad and maintains relations with more than 190 countries. As of 2011 it is the largest contributor to the budget of the European Union (providing 20%) and the third largest contributor to the UN (providing 8%). Germany is a member of NATO, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the G8, the G20, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It has played a leading role in the European Union since its inception and has maintained a strong alliance with France
Franco-German cooperation
The relations between France and Germany is embodied in a cooperation called Franco-German Friendship . This came about after 1945, when a French-German enmity between the two countries ended....

 since the end of World War II. Germany seeks to advance the creation of a more unified European political, defence, and security apparatus.

The development policy of the Federal Republic of Germany is an independent area of German foreign policy. It is formulated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and carried out by the implementing organisations. The German government sees development policy as a joint responsibility of the international community. It is the world's third biggest aid donor after the United States and France.

During the Cold War, Germany's partition by the Iron Curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

 made it a symbol of East-West tensions and a political battleground in Europe. However, Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik was a key factor in the détente
Détente
Détente is the easing of strained relations, especially in a political situation. The term is often used in reference to the general easing of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States in the 1970s, a thawing at a period roughly in the middle of the Cold War...

of the 1970s. In 1999, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

's government defined a new basis for German foreign policy by taking part in the NATO decisions surrounding the Kosovo War
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

 and by sending German troops into combat for the first time since World War II. The governments of Germany and the United States are close political allies. The 1948 Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

 and strong cultural ties have crafted a strong bond between the two countries, although Schröder's vocal opposition to the Iraq War suggested the end of Atlanticism
Atlanticism
Atlanticism is a philosophy of cooperation among Western European and North American nations regarding political, economic, and defense issues, with the purpose to maintain the security of the participating countries, and to protect the values that unite them: "democracy, individual liberty and...

 and a relative cooling of German-American relations. The two countries are also economically interdependent: 8.8% of German exports are U.S.-bound and 6.6% of German imports originate from the U.S.

Military


Germany's military, the Bundeswehr
Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

, is organized in Heer
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

(Army), Marine
German Navy
The German Navy is the navy of Germany and is part of the unified Bundeswehr .The German Navy traces its roots back to the Imperial Fleet of the revolutionary era of 1848 – 52 and more directly to the Prussian Navy, which later evolved into the Northern German Federal Navy...

(Navy), Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

(Air Force), Zentraler Sanitätsdienst
Central Medical Services
The Bundeswehr's Joint Medical Service is a part of the German Armed Forces but explicitly no new branch of arms. Medical personnel of all three branches were assigned to a centralized authority which was installed to concentrate their capabilities. However these troops remain members of their...

 (Central Medical Services) and Streitkräftebasis
Streitkräftebasis
Streitkräftebasis is a branch of the German Bundeswehr established in October 2000 as a result of major reforms of the German Bundeswehr. It handles various logistics and organisational tasks of the German Armed Forces...

(Joint Support Service) branches. As of 2005, military spending was an estimated 1.5% of the country's GDP, that is position 99 in a ranking of all countries; absolutely, German military expenditure is the eighth-highest in the world. In peacetime, the Bundeswehr is commanded by the Minister of Defence. If Germany went to war, which according to the constitution is allowed only for defensive purposes, the Chancellor would become commander in chief of the Bundeswehr.

the Bundeswehr employs 188,000 professional soldiers, 31,000 18–25 year-old conscripts who serve for at least six months. The German government plans to reduce the number of soldiers to 170,000 professionals and up to 15,000 short-time volunteers (voluntary military service). Reservists are available to the Armed Forces and participate in defence exercises and deployments abroad, a new reserve concept of their future strength and functions was announced 2011. , the German military had about 6,900 troops stationed in foreign countries as part of international peacekeeping forces, including about 4,900 Bundeswehr troops in the NATO-led ISAF
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 force in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

, 1,150 German soldiers in Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

, and 300 troops with UNIFIL in Lebanon.

Until 2011, military service
Conscription in Germany
Germany had conscription for male citizens between 1956 and 2011. On 22 November 2010, the German Minister of Defence proposed to the government to put conscription into abeyance on 1 July 2011...

 was compulsory for men at age 18, and conscripts served six-month tours of duty; conscientious objectors could instead opt for an equal length of Zivildienst
Zivildienst
Zivildienst is the civilian branch of the national service systems in Austria and Switzerland. In Germany as well Zivildienst was the alternative service to military service until suspension of conscription in 2011...

(civilian service), or a six-year commitment to (voluntary) emergency services like a fire department
Volunteer fire department
See also the Firefighter article and its respective sections regarding VFDs in other countries.A volunteer fire department is a fire department composed of volunteers who perform fire suppression and other related emergency services for a local jurisdiction.The first organized force of...

 or the Red Cross
German Red Cross
The German Red Cross , or the DRK, is the national Red Cross Society in Germany.With over 4.5 million members, it is the third largest Red Cross society in the world. The German Red Cross offers a wide range of services within and outside Germany...

. On 1 July 2011 conscription was officially suspended and replaced with a voluntary service. Since 2001 women may serve in all functions of service without restriction, but they are not subject to conscription. There are presently some 17,500 women on active duty and a number of female reservists.

Economy


Germany has a social market economy
Social market economy
The social market economy is the main economic model used in West Germany after World War II. It is based on the economic philosophy of Ordoliberalism from the Freiburg School...

 with a highly qualified labour force, a large capital stock, a low level of corruption, and a high level of innovation. It has the largest national economy in Europe, the fourth largest by nominal GDP in the world,Field listing – GDP (official exchange rate), CIA World Factbook and the fifth largest by PPP in 2009. The service sector
Tertiary sector of industry
The tertiary sector of the economy is one of the three economic sectors, the others being the secondary sector and the primary sector .The service sector consists of the "soft" parts of the economy, i.e...

 contributes approximately 71% of the total GDP, industry 28%, and agriculture 0.9%. The average national unemployment rate in 2010 was about 7.5%. First estimates indicate a 3.6% increase in the price-adjusted GDP for 2010, following a 4.7% drop in 2009.

Germany is a founding member of the EU, the G8 and the G20, and was the world's largest exporter from 2003 to 2008. In 2009 it remained the second largest exporter and third largest importer of goods. Most of the country's exports are in engineering, especially machinery, automobiles, chemical goods and metals. Germany is a leading producer of wind turbines and solar-power technology. Annual trade fairs and congresses are held in cities throughout Germany.

Germany is an advocate of closer European economic and political integration. Its commercial policies are increasingly determined by agreements among European Union (EU) members and by EU legislation. Germany introduced the common European currency, the euro, on 1 January 2002. Its monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is the institution of the European Union that administers the monetary policy of the 17 EU Eurozone member states. It is thus one of the world's most important central banks. The bank was established by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998, and is headquartered in Frankfurt,...

. Two decades after German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

, standards of living
Standard of living
Standard of living is generally measured by standards such as real income per person and poverty rate. Other measures such as access and quality of health care, income growth inequality and educational standards are also used. Examples are access to certain goods , or measures of health such as...

 and per capita incomes remain significantly higher in the states of the former West Germany than in the former East. The modernisation and integration of the eastern German economy is a long-term process scheduled to last until the year 2019, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $80 billion. In January 2009 the German government approved a €50 billion economic stimulus plan to protect several sectors from a downturn and a subsequent rise in unemployment rates.

Of the world's 500 largest stock-market-listed companies measured by revenue in 2010, the Fortune Global 500
Fortune Global 500
The Fortune Global 500 is a ranking of the top 500 corporations worldwide as measured by revenue. The list is compiled and published annually by Fortune magazine....

, 37 are headquartered in Germany. 30 Germany-based companies are included in the DAX
DAX
The DAX is a blue chip stock market index consisting of the 30 major German companies trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Prices are taken from the electronic Xetra trading system...

, the German stock market index. Well-known global brands are Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...

, BMW
BMW
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG is a German automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. It also owns and produces the Mini marque, and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. BMW produces motorcycles under BMW Motorrad and Husqvarna brands...

, SAP
SAP AG
SAP AG is a German software corporation that makes enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations. Headquartered in Walldorf, Baden-Württemberg, with regional offices around the world, SAP is the market leader in enterprise application software...

, Siemens
Siemens
Siemens may refer toSiemens, a German family name carried by generations of telecommunications industrialists, including:* Werner von Siemens , inventor, founder of Siemens AG...

, Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen is a German automobile manufacturer and is the original and biggest-selling marque of the Volkswagen Group, which now also owns the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, and Škoda marques and the truck manufacturer Scania.Volkswagen means "people's car" in German, where it is...

, Adidas
Adidas
Adidas AG is a German sports apparel manufacturer and parent company of the Adidas Group, which consists of the Reebok sportswear company, TaylorMade-Adidas golf company , and Rockport...

, Audi
Audi
Audi AG is a German automobile manufacturer, from supermini to crossover SUVs in various body styles and price ranges that are marketed under the Audi brand , positioned as the premium brand within the Volkswagen Group....

, Allianz
Allianz
SE is a global financial services company headquartered in Munich, Germany. Its core business and focus is insurance. As of 2010, it was the world's 12th-largest financial services group and 23rd-largest company according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine.Its Allianz Global Investors...

, Porsche
Porsche
Porsche Automobil Holding SE, usually shortened to Porsche SE a Societas Europaea or European Public Company, is a German based holding company with investments in the automotive industry....

, and Nivea
Nivea
Nivea is a global skin- and body-care brand that is owned by the German company Beiersdorf. The company was founded on March 28 1882 by pharmacist Carl Paul Beiersdorf. In 1900, the new owner Oskar Troplowitz developed a water-in-oil emulsion as a skin cream with Eucerit, the first stable emulsion...

. Germany is recognised for its specialised small and medium enterprises. Around 1,000 of these companies are global market leaders in their segment and are labelled hidden champions
Hidden Champions
Smaller but highly successful companies, concealed behind a curtain of inconspicuousness, invisibility and sometimes secrecy are called Hidden Champions. The name Hidden Champion was coined by Theodore Levitt, who used it first in a discussion with Hermann Simon. Simon later on was the first to use...

.

The list includes the largest companies by turnover in 2009. Unranked are the largest bank and the largest insurance company in 2007:
Rank Name Headquarters Revenue
(Mil. €)
Profit
(Mil. €)
Employees
(World)
1 Volkswagen AG  Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located on the River Aller northeast of Braunschweig , and is mainly notable as the headquarters of Volkswagen AG...

 
108,897 4,120 329,305
2 Daimler AG  Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

 
99,399 3,985 272,382
3 Siemens AG
Siemens AG
Siemens AG is a German multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Munich, Germany. It is the largest Europe-based electronics and electrical engineering company....

 
Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

/Berlin
72,488 3,806 398,200
4 E.ON AG
E.ON
E.ON AG, marketed with an interpunct as E•ON, is the holding company of the world's largest investor-owned energy service provider based in Düsseldorf, Germany. The name comes from the Greek word aeon which means eternity....

 
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

 
68,731 7,204 87,815
5 Metro AG
Metro AG
Metro AG is a diversified retail and wholesale/cash and carry group based in Düsseldorf, Germany. It has the largest market share in its home market, and is one of the most globalised retail and wholesale corporations. It is the fourth-largest retailer in the world measured by revenues . In English...

 
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

 
64,337 825 242,378
6 Deutsche Post AG  Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

 
63,512 1,389 475,100
7 Deutsche Telekom AG  Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

 
62,516 569 241,426
8 BASF SE
BASF
BASF SE is the largest chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Germany. BASF originally stood for Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik . Today, the four letters are a registered trademark and the company is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and Zurich Stock...

 
Ludwigshafen
Ludwigshafen am Rhein
Ludwigshafen am Rhein is a city in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Ludwigshafen is located on the Rhine opposite Mannheim. Together with Mannheim, Heidelberg and the surrounding region, it forms the Rhine Neckar Area....

 
57,951 4,065 95,175
9 BMW AG  Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 
56,018 3,126 107,539
10 ThyssenKrupp AG  Essen
Essen
- Origin of the name :In German-speaking countries, the name of the city Essen often causes confusion as to its origins, because it is commonly known as the German infinitive of the verb for the act of eating, and/or the German noun for food. Although scholars still dispute the interpretation of...

/Duisburg
Duisburg
- History :A legend recorded by Johannes Aventinus holds that Duisburg, was built by the eponymous Tuisto, mythical progenitor of Germans, ca. 2395 BC...

 
51,723 2,102 191,350

Infrastructure



With its central position in Europe, Germany is a transport hub. This is reflected in its dense and modern transport networks. The motorway (Autobahn) network ranks as the third largest worldwide in length. Germany has established a polycentric network of high-speed trains
High-speed rail
High-speed rail is a type of passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than the normal speed of rail traffic. Specific definitions by the European Union include for upgraded track and or faster for new track, whilst in the United States, the U.S...

. The InterCityExpress
InterCityExpress
The Intercity-Express or ICE is a system of high-speed trains predominantly running in Germany and neighbouring countries. It is the highest service category offered by DB Fernverkehr and is the flagship of Deutsche Bahn...

 or ICE network of the Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn AG is the German national railway company, a private joint stock company . Headquartered in Berlin, it came into existence in 1994 as the successor to the former state railways of Germany, the Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany and the Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germany...

 serves major German cities as well as destinations in neighbouring countries. The largest German airports are Frankfurt Airport
Frankfurt Airport
Frankfurt Airport may refer to:Airports of Frankfurt, Germany:*Frankfurt Airport , the largest airport in Germany*Frankfurt Egelsbach Airport, a general aviation airport*Frankfurt-Hahn Airport , a converted U.S...

 and Munich Airport, both hubs of Lufthansa
Lufthansa
Deutsche Lufthansa AG is the flag carrier of Germany and the largest airline in Europe in terms of overall passengers carried. The name of the company is derived from Luft , and Hansa .The airline is the world's fourth-largest airline in terms of overall passengers carried, operating...

, while Air Berlin
Air Berlin
Air Berlin PLC & Co. Luftverkehrs KG is Germany's second largest airline, after Lufthansa, and Europe's sixth largest airline in terms of passengers....

 has hubs at Berlin Tegel and Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf International Airport
Düsseldorf International Airport is the largest airport in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and the third largest airport in Germany, handling 18.99 million passengers in 2010....

. Other major airports include Berlin Schönefeld, Hamburg
Hamburg Airport
Hamburg Airport , also known as Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel Airport , is an international airport serving Hamburg, Germany.It originally covered . Since then, the site has grown more than tenfold to . The main apron covers . The airport is north of the centre of the city of Hamburg in the Fuhlsbüttel...

, Cologne/Bonn
Cologne Bonn Airport
Cologne/Bonn Airport is an international airport located in the district of Porz in the city of Cologne, Germany, and is surrounded by the Wahner Heide nature reserve. The airport is centrally located in the Cologne/Bonn Region southeast of Cologne city centre and northeast of Bonn...

 and Leipzig/Halle
Leipzig/Halle Airport
Leipzig/Halle Airport, sometimes called Schkeuditz Airport , is located in Schkeuditz, Saxony and serves both Leipzig, Saxony and Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.It has more than two million passengers per year....

. Both airports in Berlin will be consolidated at a site adjacent to Berlin Schönefeld, which will become Berlin Brandenburg Airport in 2012.

, Germany was the world's sixth largest consumer of energy, and 60% of its primary energy was imported. Government policy promotes energy conservation and renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

. Energy efficiency
Efficient energy use
Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency, is the goal of efforts to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. For example, insulating a home allows a building to use less heating and cooling energy to achieve and maintain a comfortable temperature...

 has been improving since the early 1970s; the government aims to meet the country's electricity demands using only renewable sources by 2050. In 2010, energy sources were: oil (33.7%); coal, including lignite (22.9%); natural gas (21.8%); nuclear (10.8%); hydro-electric and wind power (1.5%); and other renewable sources (7.9%). In 2000, the government and the nuclear power industry
Nuclear power in Germany
Nuclear power in Germany accounted for 23% of national electricity consumption, before the permanent shutdown of 8 plants in March 2011. German nuclear power began with research reactors in the 1950s and 1960s with the first commercial plant coming online in 1969...

 agreed to phase out all nuclear power plant
Nuclear power plant
A nuclear power plant is a thermal power station in which the heat source is one or more nuclear reactors. As in a conventional thermal power station the heat is used to generate steam which drives a steam turbine connected to a generator which produces electricity.Nuclear power plants are usually...

s by 2021.
Germany is committed to the Kyoto protocol
Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , aimed at fighting global warming...

 and several other treaties promoting biodiversity, low emission standards, recycling, and the use of renewable energy, and supports sustainable development at a global level. The German government has initiated wide-ranging emission reduction activities and the country's overall emissions are falling.
Nevertheless the country's greenhouse gas emissions were the highest in the EU as of 2007.

Science and technology




Germany's achievements in sciences have been significant, and research and development
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

 efforts form an integral part of the economy
Economy of Germany
Germany is the largest national economy in Europe, the fourth-largest by nominal GDP in the world, and fifth by GDP in 2008. Since the age of industrialisation, the country has been a driver, innovator, and beneficiary of an ever more globalised economy...

. The Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 has been awarded to 103 German laureates. For most of the 20th century, German laureates had more awards than those of any other nation, especially in the sciences (physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

, chemistry
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature,...

, and physiology or medicine
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine administered by the Nobel Foundation, is awarded once a year for outstanding discoveries in the field of life science and medicine. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, in his will...

).

The work of Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 and Max Planck
Max Planck
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS, was a German physicist who actualized the quantum physics, initiating a revolution in natural science and philosophy. He is regarded as the founder of the quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.-Life and career:Planck came...

 was crucial to the foundation of modern physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, which Werner Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
Werner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist who made foundational contributions to quantum mechanics and is best known for asserting the uncertainty principle of quantum theory...

 and Max Born
Max Born
Max Born was a German-born physicist and mathematician who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics. He also made contributions to solid-state physics and optics and supervised the work of a number of notable physicists in the 1920s and 30s...

 developed further. Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was a German physicist, who, on 8 November 1895, produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range today known as X-rays or Röntgen rays, an achievement that earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901....

 discovered X-ray
X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

s and was the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded once a year by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and...

 in 1901. Numerous mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

s were born in Germany, including Carl Friedrich Gauss
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss was a German mathematician and scientist who contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy and optics.Sometimes referred to as the Princeps mathematicorum...

, David Hilbert
David Hilbert
David Hilbert was a German mathematician. He is recognized as one of the most influential and universal mathematicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Hilbert discovered and developed a broad range of fundamental ideas in many areas, including invariant theory and the axiomatization of...

, Bernhard Riemann
Bernhard Riemann
Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann was an influential German mathematician who made lasting contributions to analysis and differential geometry, some of them enabling the later development of general relativity....

, Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

, Karl Weierstrass
Karl Weierstrass
Karl Theodor Wilhelm Weierstrass was a German mathematician who is often cited as the "father of modern analysis".- Biography :Weierstrass was born in Ostenfelde, part of Ennigerloh, Province of Westphalia....

, Hermann Weyl
Hermann Weyl
Hermann Klaus Hugo Weyl was a German mathematician and theoretical physicist. Although much of his working life was spent in Zürich, Switzerland and then Princeton, he is associated with the University of Göttingen tradition of mathematics, represented by David Hilbert and Hermann Minkowski.His...

 and Felix Klein
Felix Klein
Christian Felix Klein was a German mathematician, known for his work in group theory, function theory, non-Euclidean geometry, and on the connections between geometry and group theory...

. Research institutions in Germany include the Max Planck Society
Max Planck Society
The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German research institutes publicly funded by the federal and the 16 state governments of Germany....

, the Helmholtz Association and the Fraunhofer Society
Fraunhofer Society
The Fraunhofer Society is a German research organization with 60 institutes spread throughout Germany, each focusing on different fields of applied science . It employs around 18,000, mainly scientists and engineers, with an annual research budget of about €1.65 billion...

. The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize
The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize is a research prize awarded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft every year since 1985 to scientists working in Germany. This highest German research prize consists of a research grant of 2.5 million euro, to be used within seven years...

 is granted to ten scientists and academics every year. With a maximum of €2.5 million per award it is one of highest endowed research prizes in the world.

Germany has been the home of many famous inventors and engineer
Engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

s, such as Johannes Gutenberg, credited with the invention of movable type
Movable type
Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document ....

 printing in Europe; Hans Geiger, the creator of the Geiger counter
Geiger counter
A Geiger counter, also called a Geiger–Müller counter, is a type of particle detector that measures ionizing radiation. They detect the emission of nuclear radiation: alpha particles, beta particles or gamma rays. A Geiger counter detects radiation by ionization produced in a low-pressure gas in a...

; and Konrad Zuse
Konrad Zuse
Konrad Zuse was a German civil engineer and computer pioneer. His greatest achievement was the world's first functional program-controlled Turing-complete computer, the Z3, which became operational in May 1941....

, who built the first fully automatic digital computer. German inventors, engineers and industrialists such as Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin was a German general and later aircraft manufacturer. He founded the Zeppelin Airship company...

, Otto Lilienthal
Otto Lilienthal
Otto Lilienthal was a German pioneer of human aviation who became known as the Glider King. He was the first person to make well-documented, repeated, successful gliding flights. He followed an experimental approach established earlier by Sir George Cayley...

, Gottlieb Daimler
Gottlieb Daimler
Gottlieb Daimler was an engineer, industrial designer and industrialist born in Schorndorf , in what is now Germany. He was a pioneer of internal-combustion engines and automobile development...

, Rudolf Diesel
Rudolf Diesel
Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel was a German inventor and mechanical engineer, famous for the invention of the diesel engine.-Early life:Diesel was born in Paris, France in 1858 the second of three children of Theodor and Elise Diesel. His parents were Bavarian immigrants living in Paris. Theodor...

, Hugo Junkers
Hugo Junkers
Hugo Junkers was an innovative German engineer, as his many patents in varied areas show...

 and Karl Benz
Karl Benz
Karl Friedrich Benz, was a German engine designer and car engineer, generally regarded as the inventor of the gasoline-powered car, and together with Bertha Benz pioneering founder of the automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz...

 helped shape modern automotive and air transportation technology. Aerospace engineer
Aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the design, construction and science of aircraft and spacecraft. It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering...

 Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

 developed the first space rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 and later on was a prominent member of NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 and developed the Saturn V
Saturn V
The Saturn V was an American human-rated expendable rocket used by NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. A multistage liquid-fueled launch vehicle, NASA launched 13 Saturn Vs from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with no loss of crew or payload...

 Moon rocket, which paved the way for the success of the US Apollo program. Heinrich Rudolf Hertz
Heinrich Rudolf Hertz
Heinrich Rudolf Hertz was a German physicist who clarified and expanded the electromagnetic theory of light that had been put forth by Maxwell...

's work in the domain of electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy that exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space...

 was pivotal to the development of modern telecommunication.

Germany is also one of the leading countries in developing and using green technologies. Companies specializing in green technology have an estimated turnover of 200€ billion
1000000000 (number)
1,000,000,000 is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001.In scientific notation, it is written as 109....

. Especially the expertise in engineering, science and research of Germany is eminently respectable. The lead markets of Germany's green technology industry are power generation, sustainable mobility, material efficiency, energy efficiency, waste management and recycling
Recycling
Recycling is processing used materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution and water pollution by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse...

, sustainable water management
Water management
Water management is the activity of planning, developing, distributing and managing the optimum use of water resources. In an ideal world. water management planning has regard to all the competing demands for water and seeks to allocate water on an equitable basis to satisfy all uses and demands...

.

Demographics


With its estimated population of 81.8 million in January 2010, Germany is the most populous country in the European Union and ranks as the 15th most populous country in the world. Its population density stands at 229.4 inhabitants per square kilometre. The overall life expectancy in Germany at birth is 79.9 years. The fertility rate
Total Fertility Rate
The total fertility rate of a population is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime if she were to experience the exact current age-specific fertility rates through her lifetime, and she...

 of 1.4 children per mother, or 7.9 births per 1000 inhabitants in 2009, is one of the lowest in the world. Since the 1990s, Germany's death rate has continuously exceeded its birth rate
Birth rate
Crude birth rate is the nativity or childbirths per 1,000 people per year . Another word used interchangeably with "birth rate" is "natality". When the crude birth rate is subtracted from the crude death rate, it reveals the rate of natural increase...

. The Federal Statistical Office of Germany
Federal Statistical Office of Germany
The Federal Statistical Office of Germany is a federal authority of Germany. It is a part of the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Germany....

 forecast that the population will shrink to between 65 and 70 million by 2060 (depending on the level of net migration).
German nationals make up 91% of the population of Germany. As of 2009, about seven million foreign citizens were registered in Germany, and 19% of the country's residents were of foreign or partially foreign descent (including persons descending or partially descending from ethnic German
Ethnic German
Ethnic Germans historically also ), also collectively referred to as the German diaspora, refers to people who are of German ethnicity. Many are not born in Europe or in the modern-day state of Germany or hold German citizenship...

 repatriates), 96% of whom lived in Western Germany or Berlin. The United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Population Fund
The United Nations Population Fund is a UN organization. The work of the UNFPA involves promotion of the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. This is done through major national and demographic surveys and with population censuses...

 lists Germany as host to the third-highest number of international migrants worldwide, about 5% or 10 million of all 191 million migrants. As a consequence of restrictions
Immigration to Germany
On 1 January 2005, a new immigration law came into effect that altered the legal method of immigration to Germany. The political background to the introduction of the new immigration law being that Germany for the first time ever acknowledged to be an "immigration country." Although the practical...

 to Germany's formerly rather unrestricted laws on asylum
Right of asylum
Right of asylum is an ancient juridical notion, under which a person persecuted for political opinions or religious beliefs in his or her own country may be protected by another sovereign authority, a foreign country, or church sanctuaries...

 and immigration, the number of immigrants seeking asylum or claiming German ethnicity (mostly from the former Soviet Union) has been declining steadily since 2000. In 2009, 20% of the population had immigrant roots, the highest since 1945. , the largest national group was from Turkey (2.5 million), followed by Italy (776,000) and Poland (687,000). About 3 million "Aussiedler"—ethnic Germans, mainly from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union—have resettled in Germany since 1987.

Germany has a number of large cities. The largest conurbation
Conurbation
A conurbation is a region comprising a number of cities, large towns, and other urban areas that, through population growth and physical expansion, have merged to form one continuous urban and industrially developed area...

 is the Rhine-Ruhr
Rhine-Ruhr
The Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region is the largest metropolitan region in Germany with about 10,100,000 inhabitants. It is of polycentric nature and the only megacity in Germany. It covers an area of 7,110 square kilometers and lies entirely within the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia...

 region (11.5 million as of 2006), including Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

 (the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia
North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

), Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, Essen
Essen
- Origin of the name :In German-speaking countries, the name of the city Essen often causes confusion as to its origins, because it is commonly known as the German infinitive of the verb for the act of eating, and/or the German noun for food. Although scholars still dispute the interpretation of...

, Dortmund
Dortmund
Dortmund is a city in Germany. It is located in the Bundesland of North Rhine-Westphalia, in the Ruhr area. Its population of 585,045 makes it the 7th largest city in Germany and the 34th largest in the European Union....

, Duisburg
Duisburg
- History :A legend recorded by Johannes Aventinus holds that Duisburg, was built by the eponymous Tuisto, mythical progenitor of Germans, ca. 2395 BC...

, and Bochum
Bochum
Bochum is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany. It is located in the Ruhr area and is surrounded by the cities of Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Herne, Castrop-Rauxel, Dortmund, Witten and Hattingen.-History:...

.

Religion


Christianity is the largest religion in Germany, with around 51.5 million adherents (62.8%) in 2008, of which 30.0% are Catholics and 29.9% are Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, belonging to the Evangelical Church in Germany
Evangelical Church in Germany
The Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of 22 Lutheran, Unified and Reformed Protestant regional church bodies in Germany. The EKD is not a church in a theological understanding because of the denominational differences. However, the member churches share full pulpit and altar...

 (EKD); the remainder consists of small denominations (each less than 0.5% of the German population). Protestantism is concentrated in the north and east and Roman
Catholicism
Roman Catholicism in Germany
The German Catholic Church, part of the worldwide Catholic Church, is under the leadership of the Pope, curia in Rome, and the German bishops. The current president of the conference is Robert Zollitsch, the archbishop to Freiburg, the country's second largest diocese with 2.07 million Catholics...

 is concentrated in the south and west; 1.6% of the country's overall population declare themselves Orthodox Christians.

The second largest religion is Islam
Islam in Germany
Owing to labour migration in the 1960s and several waves of political refugees since the 1970s, Islam has become a visible religion in Germany., there are 4.3 million Muslims .Of these, 1.9 million are German citizens...

 with an estimated 3.8 to 4.3 million adherents (4.6% to 5.2%), followed by Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 with 250,000 and Judaism with around 200,000 adherents (0.3%); Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 has some 90,000 adherents (0.1%). All other religious communities in Germany have fewer than 50,000 adherents. Of the roughly 4 million Muslims, most are Sunnis
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 and Alevites from Turkey, but there are a small number of Shi'ites and other denominations. Germany has Europe's third largest Jewish population
History of the Jews in Germany
The presence of Jews in Germany has been established since the early 4th century. The community prospered under Charlemagne, but suffered during the Crusades...

 (after France and the United Kingdom). Approximately 50% of the Buddhists in Germany are Asian immigrants. Germans with no stated religious adherence make up 34.1% of the population, especially in the former East Germany
German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...

 and major metropolitan areas.

Languages


German is the official and predominant spoken language in Germany. It is one of 23 official languages in the European Union, and one of the three working language
Working language
A working language is a language that is given a unique legal status in a supra-national company, society, state or other body or organization as its primary mean of communication...

s of the European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

. Recognised native minority languages in Germany are Danish, Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

, Sorbian
Sorbian languages
The Sorbian languages are classified under the Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages. They are the native languages of the Sorbs, a Slavic minority in the Lusatia region of eastern Germany. Historically the language has also been known as Wendish or Lusatian. Their collective ISO 639-2 code...

, Romany, and Frisian; they are officially protected by the ECRML. The most used immigrant languages are Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

, Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

, Polish, the Balkan languages
Balkan languages
This is a list of languages spoken in regions ruled by Balkan countries. With the exception of several Turkic languages, Hungarian, and Circassian, all of them belong to the Indo-European family...

, and Russian; 67% of German citizens claim to be able to communicate in at least one foreign language and 27% in at least two languages other than their own.

Standard German is a West Germanic language
West Germanic languages
The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three traditional branches of the Germanic family of languages and include languages such as German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, the Frisian languages, and Yiddish...

 and is closely related to and classified alongside English, Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

, Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

, and the Frisian languages. To a lesser extent, it is also related to the East
East Germanic languages
The East Germanic languages are a group of extinct Indo-European languages in the Germanic family. The only East Germanic language of which texts are known is Gothic; other languages that are assumed to be East Germanic include Vandalic, Burgundian, and Crimean Gothic...

 (extinct) and North Germanic languages
North Germanic languages
The North Germanic languages or Scandinavian languages, the languages of Scandinavians, make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages...

. Most German vocabulary is derived from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Significant minorities of words are derived from Latin and Greek, with a smaller amount from French and most recently English (known as Denglisch
Denglisch
Denglisch or Denglish is a portmanteau of the German words Deutsch and Englisch. Used in all German-speaking and Dutch-speaking countries, it describes an influx of English, or pseudo-English, vocabulary into the German or Dutch language through travel and the widespread usage of English in...

). German is written using the Latin alphabet. German dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

s, traditional local varieties traced back to the Germanic tribes, are distinguished from varieties
Variety (linguistics)
In sociolinguistics a variety, also called a lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include languages, dialects, accents, registers, styles or other sociolinguistic variation, as well as the standard variety itself...

 of standard German
Standard German
Standard German is the standard variety of the German language used as a written language, in formal contexts, and for communication between different dialect areas...

 by their lexicon
Lexicon
In linguistics, the lexicon of a language is its vocabulary, including its words and expressions. A lexicon is also a synonym of the word thesaurus. More formally, it is a language's inventory of lexemes. Coined in English 1603, the word "lexicon" derives from the Greek "λεξικόν" , neut...

, phonology
Phonology
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language, or the field of linguistics studying this use...

, and syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

.

Education




Over 99% of Germans age 15 and above are estimated to be able to read and write. However, a growing number of inhabitants are functionally illiterate. Responsibility for educational oversight in Germany lies primarily with the individual federated states
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

. Since the 1960s, a reform movement attempted to unify secondary education in a Gesamtschule (comprehensive school
Comprehensive school
A comprehensive school is a state school that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude. This is in contrast to the selective school system, where admission is restricted on the basis of a selection criteria. The term is commonly used in relation to the United...

); several West German states later simplified their school system to two or three tiers. A system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung ("dual education") allows pupils in vocational training to learn in a company as well as in a state-run vocational school.

Optional kindergarten
Kindergarten
A kindergarten is a preschool educational institution for children. The term was created by Friedrich Fröbel for the play and activity institute that he created in 1837 in Bad Blankenburg as a social experience for children for their transition from home to school...

 education is provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is compulsory
Compulsory education
Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all persons.-Antiquity to Medieval Era:Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since Moses's Covenant with...

 for at least nine years. Primary education usually lasts for four years and public schools are not stratified at this stage. In contrast, secondary education includes three traditional types of schools focused on different levels of academic ability: the Gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

enrols the most gifted children and prepares students for university studies; the Realschule
Realschule
The Realschule is a type of secondary school in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. It has also existed in Croatia , Denmark , Sweden , Hungary and in the Russian Empire .-History:The Realschule was an outgrowth of the rationalism and empiricism of the seventeenth and...

for intermediate students lasts six years; the Hauptschule
Hauptschule
A Hauptschule is a secondary school in Germany and Austria, starting after 4 years of elementary schooling, which offers Lower Secondary Education according to the International Standard Classification of Education...

prepares pupils for vocational education.

The general entrance requirement for university is Abitur
Abitur
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...

, a qualification normally based on continuous assessment during the last few years at school and final examinations; however there are a number of exceptions, and precise requirements vary, depending on the state, the university and the subject. Germany's universities are recognised internationally; in the Academic Ranking of World Universities
Academic Ranking of World Universities
The Academic Ranking of World Universities , commonly known as the Shanghai ranking, is a publication that was founded and compiled by the Shanghai Jiaotong University to rank universities globally. The rankings have been conducted since 2003 and updated annually...

 (ARWU) for 2008, six of the top 100 universities in the world are in Germany, and 18 of the top 200. Nearly all German universities are public institutions, charging tuition fees of €50–500 per semester for each student.

Health


Germany has the world's oldest universal health care
Universal health care
Universal health care is a term referring to organized health care systems built around the principle of universal coverage for all members of society, combining mechanisms for health financing and service provision.-History:...

 system, dating back to Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

's Social legislation in 1883. Currently the population is covered by a basic health insurance plan provided by statute. According to the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

, Germany's health care system
Health care system
A health care system is the organization of people, institutions, and resources to deliver health care services to meet the health needs of target populations....

 was 77% government-funded and 23% privately funded as of 2005. In 2005, Germany spent 11% of its GDP on health care. Germany ranked 20th in the world in life expectancy with 77 years for men and 82 years for women, and it had a very low infant mortality rate (4 per 1,000 live births).

, the principal cause of death was cardiovascular disease, at 42%, followed by malignant tumours, at 25%.
, about 82,000 Germans had been infected with HIV/AIDS and 26,000 had died from the disease (cumulatively, since 1982).
This article may incorporate text from this source, which is in the public domain.
According to a 2005 survey, 27% of German adults are smokers.
A 2007 study shows Germany has the highest number of overweight people in Europe.

Culture



From its roots, culture in Germany has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular
Secularism
Secularism is the principle of separation between government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the State from religious institutions and religious dignitaries...

. Historically Germany has been called Das Land der Dichter und Denker (the land of poets and thinkers). The federated states are in charge of the cultural institutions. There are 240 subsidised theatres, hundreds of symphonic orchestras, thousands of museums and over 25,000 libraries spread in Germany. These cultural opportunities are enjoyed by many: there are over 91 million German museum visits every year; annually, 20 million go to theatres and operas; 3.6 million per year listen to the symphonic orchestras. The UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 inscribed 33 properties in Germany on the World Heritage List.

Germany has established a high level of gender equality
Gender equality
Gender equality is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.- Concept :...

, promotes disability rights
Disability rights movement
The disability rights movement is the movement to secure equal opportunities and equal rights for people with disabilities. The specific goals and demands of the movement are: accessibility and safety in transportation, architecture, and the physical environment, equal opportunities in independent...

, and is legally and socially tolerant towards homosexuals. Gays and lesbians can legally adopt their partner's biological children, and civil union
Civil union
A civil union, also referred to as a civil partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage. Beginning with Denmark in 1989, civil unions under one name or another have been established by law in many developed countries in order to provide same-sex couples rights,...

s have been permitted since 2001. Germany has also changed its attitude towards immigrants; since the mid-1990s, the government and the majority of Germans have begun to acknowledge that controlled immigration should be allowed based on qualification standards. Germany has been named the world's second most valued nation among 50 countries in 2010. A global opinion poll for the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 revealed that Germany is recognised for having the most positive influence in the world in 2011.

Arts



J.S.Bach
Toccata und Fuge
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
The Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565, is a piece of organ music attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. It is one of the most famous works in the organ repertoire, and has been used in a variety of popular media ranging from film, video games, to rock music, and ringtones...

L.v. Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...


Symphonie 5 c-moll
Symphony No. 5 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1804–08. This symphony is one of the most popular and best-known compositions in all of classical music, and one of the most often played symphonies. It comprises four movements: an opening sonata, an andante, and a fast...

R. Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...


Die Walküre
Die Walküre
Die Walküre , WWV 86B, is the second of the four operas that form the cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner...



Numerous German painters have enjoyed international prestige through their work in diverse artistic styles. Hans Holbein the Younger
Hans Holbein the Younger
Hans Holbein the Younger was a German artist and printmaker who worked in a Northern Renaissance style. He is best known as one of the greatest portraitists of the 16th century. He also produced religious art, satire and Reformation propaganda, and made a significant contribution to the history...

, Matthias Grünewald
Matthias Grünewald
Matthias Grünewald or "Mathis" , "Gothart" or "Neithardt" , , was a German Renaissance painter of religious works, who ignored Renaissance classicism to continue the expressive and intense style of late medieval Central European art into the 16th century.Only ten paintings—several consisting...

, and Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer was a German painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist from Nuremberg. His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance ever since...

 were important artists of the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, Caspar David Friedrich
Caspar David Friedrich
Caspar David Friedrich was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter, generally considered the most important German artist of his generation. He is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning...

 of Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, and Max Ernst
Max Ernst
Max Ernst was a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was one of the primary pioneers of the Dada movement and Surrealism.-Early life:...

 of Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

. Architectural contributions from Germany include the Carolingian
Carolingian architecture
Carolingian architecture is the style of north European Pre-Romanesque architecture belonging to the period of the Carolingian Renaissance of the late 8th and 9th centuries, when the Carolingian family dominated west European politics...

 and Ottonian styles
Ottonian architecture
Ottonian Architecture is an architectural style which evolved during the reign of Emperor Otto the Great . The style was found in Germany and lasted from the mid 10th century until the mid 11th century....

, which were precursors of Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

. The region later became the site of Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

, Renaissance
Renaissance architecture
Renaissance architecture is the architecture of the period between the early 15th and early 17th centuries in different regions of Europe, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance...

 and Baroque
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 art. Germany was particularly important in the early modern movement
Modern architecture
Modern architecture is generally characterized by simplification of form and creation of ornament from the structure and theme of the building. It is a term applied to an overarching movement, with its exact definition and scope varying widely...

, especially through the Bauhaus
Bauhaus
', commonly known simply as Bauhaus, was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term stood for "School of Building".The Bauhaus school was founded by...

 movement founded by Walter Gropius
Walter Gropius
Walter Adolph Georg Gropius was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School who, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture....

. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a German architect. He is commonly referred to and addressed as Mies, his surname....

 became one of the world's most renowned architects in the second half of the 20th century. He conceived of the glass façade skyscraper.

German music includes works by some of the world's most well-known classical music composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

, Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

, Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

, and Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

. As of 2008, Germany is the fourth largest music market in the world and has influenced popular music through artists such as Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk is an influential electronic music band from Düsseldorf, Germany. The group was formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970, and was fronted by them until Schneider's departure in 2008...

, Alphaville
Alphaville (band)
Alphaville is a German synthpop group which gained popularity in the 1980s. The founding members were Marian Gold , Bernhard Lloyd , and Frank Mertens Alphaville is a German synthpop group which gained popularity in the 1980s. The founding members were Marian Gold (real name Hartwig Schierbaum,...

, Boney M., Nena
Nena
Gabriele Susanne Kerner , better known by her stage name Nena, is a German singer and actress. She rose to international fame in 1983 with the New German Wave song "99 Luftballons". In 1984, she re-recorded this song in English as "99 Red Balloons". Nena was also the name of the band with whom she...

, Nico
Nico
Nico was a German singer, lyricist, composer, musician, fashion model, and actress, who initially rose to fame as a Warhol Superstar in the 1960s...

, Nina Hagen
Nina Hagen
Nina Hagen is a German singer and actress.-Early years:Hagen was born as Catharina Hagen in the former East Berlin, East Germany, the daughter of Hans Hagen , a scriptwriter, and Eva-Maria Hagen, an actress and singer...

, Scorpions
Scorpions (band)
Scorpions are a heavy metal/hard rock band from Hannover, Germany, formed in 1965 by guitarist Rudolf Schenker, who is the band's only constant member. They are known for their 1980s rock anthem "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and many singles, such as "No One Like You", "Send Me an Angel", "Still...

, Die Toten Hosen
Die Toten Hosen
Die Toten Hosen is a German punk band from Düsseldorf. They have enjoyed decades-long mass appeal in Germany.The band's name literally means "The Dead Pants" in English, although the phrase "tote Hose" is a German expression meaning "nothing going on" or "boring"...

, Tokio Hotel
Tokio Hotel
Tokio Hotel is a pop rock band from Germany, founded in 2001 by singer Bill Kaulitz, guitarist Tom Kaulitz, drummer Gustav Schäfer and bassist Georg Listing...

, Rammstein
Rammstein
Rammstein is a German Neue Deutsche Härte band from Berlin, formed in 1994. The band consists of members Till Lindemann , Richard Z. Kruspe , Paul H. Landers , Oliver "Ollie" Riedel , Christoph "Doom" Schneider and Christian "Flake" Lorenz...

, and Paul van Dyk
Paul van Dyk
Matthias Paul, better known by his stage name Paul van Dyk is a German Grammy Award-winning Electronic Dance Music DJ, musician and record producer...

.

Literature and philosophy




German literature
German literature
German literature comprises those literary texts written in the German language. This includes literature written in Germany, Austria, the German part of Switzerland, and to a lesser extent works of the German diaspora. German literature of the modern period is mostly in Standard German, but there...

 can be traced back to the Middle Ages and the works of writers such as Walther von der Vogelweide
Walther von der Vogelweide
Walther von der Vogelweide is the most celebrated of the Middle High German lyric poets.-Life history:For all his fame, Walther's name is not found in contemporary records, with the exception of a solitary mention in the travelling accounts of Bishop Wolfger of Erla of the Passau diocese:...

 and Wolfram von Eschenbach
Wolfram von Eschenbach
Wolfram von Eschenbach was a German knight and poet, regarded as one of the greatest epic poets of his time. As a Minnesinger, he also wrote lyric poetry.-Life:...

. Well-known German authors include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 and Friedrich Schiller
Friedrich Schiller
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life , Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe...

. The collections of folk tales published by the Brothers Grimm
Brothers Grimm
The Brothers Grimm , Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm , were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who collected folklore and published several collections of it as Grimm's Fairy Tales, which became very popular...

 popularised German folklore
German folklore
German folklore shares many characteristics with Scandinavian folklore and English folklore due to their origins in a common Germanic mythology. It reflects a similar mix of influences: a pre-Christian pantheon and other beings equivalent to those of Norse mythology; magical characters associated...

 on an international level. Influential authors of the 20th century include Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual...

, Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

, Hermann Hesse
Hermann Hesse
Hermann Hesse was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature...

, Heinrich Böll
Heinrich Böll
Heinrich Theodor Böll was one of Germany's foremost post-World War II writers. Böll was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize in 1967 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972.- Biography :...

, and Günter Grass
Günter Grass
Günter Wilhelm Grass is a Nobel Prize-winning German author, poet, playwright, sculptor and artist.He was born in the Free City of Danzig...

. German-speaking book publishers produce some 700 million books every year, with about 80,000 titles, nearly 60,000 of them new. Germany comes third in quantity of books published, after the English-speaking book market and the People's Republic of China. The Frankfurt Book Fair
Frankfurt Book Fair
The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world's largest trade fair for books, based on the number of publishing companies represented. As to the number of visitors, the Turin Book Fair attracts about as many visitors, viz. some 300,000....

 is the most important in the world for international deals and trading, with a tradition spanning over 500 years.

German philosophy is historically significant. Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

's contributions to rationalism
Rationalism
In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

; the establishment of classical German idealism
German idealism
German idealism was a philosophical movement that emerged in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It developed out of the work of Immanuel Kant in the 1780s and 1790s, and was closely linked both with romanticism and the revolutionary politics of the Enlightenment...

 by Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

, Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher. He was one of the founding figures of the philosophical movement known as German idealism, a movement that developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kant...

, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher, one of the creators of German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality as a whole revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism.Hegel developed a comprehensive...

 and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling , later von Schelling, was a German philosopher. Standard histories of philosophy make him the midpoint in the development of German idealism, situating him between Fichte, his mentor prior to 1800, and Hegel, his former university roommate and erstwhile friend...

; Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

's composition of metaphysical pessimism; the formulation of communist theory by Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

; Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

's development of perspectivism
Perspectivism
Perspectivism is the philosophical view developed by Friedrich Nietzsche that all ideations take place from particular perspectives. This means that there are many possible conceptual schemes, or perspectives in which judgment of truth or value can be made...

; Gottlob Frege
Gottlob Frege
Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege was a German mathematician, logician and philosopher. He is considered to be one of the founders of modern logic, and made major contributions to the foundations of mathematics. He is generally considered to be the father of analytic philosophy, for his writings on...

's contributions to the dawn of analytic philosophy
Analytic philosophy
Analytic philosophy is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century...

; Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the "question of Being."...

's works on Being; and the development of the Frankfurt school
Frankfurt School
The Frankfurt School refers to a school of neo-Marxist interdisciplinary social theory, particularly associated with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt am Main...

 by Max Horkheimer
Max Horkheimer
Max Horkheimer was a German-Jewish philosopher-sociologist, famous for his work in critical theory as a member of the 'Frankfurt School' of social research. His most important works include The Eclipse of Reason and, in collaboration with Theodor Adorno, The Dialectic of Enlightenment...

, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse
Herbert Marcuse
Herbert Marcuse was a German Jewish philosopher, sociologist and political theorist, associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory...

 and Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 have been particularly influential. In the 21st century Germany has contributed to the development of contemporary analytic philosophy in continental Europe, along with France, Austria, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries.

Media


German cinema
Cinema of Germany
Cinema in Germany can be traced back to the late 19th century. German cinema has made major technical and artistic contributions to film.Unlike any other national cinemas, which developed in the context of relatively continuous and stable political systems, Germany witnesses major changes to its...

 dates back to the earliest years of the medium with the work of Max Skladanowsky
Max Skladanowsky
Max Skladanowsky was a German inventor and early filmmaker. Along with his brother Emil, he invented the Bioscop, an early movie projector the Skladanowsky brothers used to display the first moving picture show to a paying audience on November 1, 1895, some two months before the public debut of...

, which was particularly influential with German expressionists
German Expressionism
German Expressionism refers to a number of related creative movements beginning in Germany before the First World War that reached a peak in Berlin, during the 1920s...

 such as Robert Wiene
Robert Wiene
Robert Wiene was an important film director of the German silent cinema.Robert Wiene was born in Breslau, as the elder son of the successful theatre actor Carl Wiene. His younger brother Conrad also became an actor, but Robert Wiene at first studied law at the University of Berlin. In 1908 he also...

 and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
Friedrich Wilhelm "F. W." Murnau was one of the most influential German film directors of the silent era, and a prominent figure in the expressionist movement in German cinema during the 1920s...

. Director Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang was an Austrian-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany's school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the "Master of Darkness" by the British Film Institute...

's Metropolis
Metropolis (film)
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist film in the science-fiction genre directed by Fritz Lang. Produced in Germany during a stable period of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore the social crisis between workers and...

(1927) is referred to as the first modern science-fiction film. In 1930 the Austrian-American Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg
Josef von Sternberg — born Jonas Sternberg — was an Austrian-American film director. He is particularly noted for his distinctive mise en scène, use of lighting and soft lens, and seven-film collaboration with actress Marlene Dietrich.-Youth:Von Sternberg was born Jonas Sternberg to a Jewish...

 directed The Blue Angel, the first major German sound film
Sound film
A sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades would pass before sound motion pictures were made commercially...

. During the 1970s and 1980s, New German Cinema
New German Cinema
New German cinema is a period in German cinema which lasted from the late 1960s into the 1980s. It saw the emergence of a new generation of directors...

 directors such as Volker Schlöndorff
Volker Schlöndorff
Volker Schlöndorff is a Berlin-based German filmmaker who has worked in Germany, France and the United States...

, Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog Stipetić , known as Werner Herzog, is a German film director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and opera director.He is often considered as one of the greatest figures of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner...

, Wim Wenders
Wim Wenders
Ernst Wilhelm "Wim" Wenders is a German film director, playwright, author, photographer and producer.-Early life:Wenders was born in Düsseldorf. He graduated from high school in Oberhausen in the Ruhr area. He then studied medicine and philosophy in Freiburg and Düsseldorf...

, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Maria Fassbinder was a German movie director, screenwriter and actor. He is considered one of the most important representatives of the New German Cinema.He maintained a frenetic pace in film-making...

 put West German cinema on the international stage. The annual European Film Awards ceremony is held every other year in Berlin, home of the European Film Academy
European Film Academy
The European Film Academy is an initiative of a group of European filmmakers who came together in Berlin on the occasion of the first presentation of the European Film Awards in November 1988.- European Film Academy :...

 (EFA); the Berlin Film Festival, held annually since 1951, is one of the world's foremost film festivals.

More recently, films such as Good Bye Lenin!
Good Bye Lenin!
Good Bye, Lenin! is a 2003 German tragicomedy film, released internationally in 2003. Directed by Wolfgang Becker, the cast includes Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova, and Maria Simon...

(2003), Gegen die Wand (Head-on)
Head-On
Head-On is a 2004 film written and directed by Fatih Akın.-Synopsis:Cahit Tomruk is a Turkish German in his 40s. He has given up on life after the death of his wife and seeks solace in cocaine and alcohol. One night, he intentionally drives his car head-on into a wall, and barely survives...

(2004), Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004), and Der Baader Meinhof Komplex
Der Baader Meinhof Komplex
The Baader Meinhof Complex is a 2008 German film by Uli Edel. Written and produced by Bernd Eichinger, it stars Moritz Bleibtreu, Martina Gedeck and Johanna Wokalek. The film is based on the 1985 German best selling non-fiction book of the same name by Stefan Aust...

(2008) have had international success. The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film is one of the Academy Awards of Merit, popularly known as the Oscars, handed out annually by the U.S.-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences...

 went to the German production Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum)
The Tin Drum (film)
The Tin Drum is a 1979 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Günter Grass. It was directed and co-written by Volker Schlöndorff...

in 1979, to Nowhere in Africa
Nowhere in Africa
Nowhere in Africa is a 2001 German film directed by Caroline Link and based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Stefanie Zweig. It tells the story of a Jewish family that emigrates to Kenya during World War II to escape the Nazis and run a farm...

in 2002, and to Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)
The Lives of Others
The Lives of Others is a 2006 German drama film, marking the feature film debut of filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The film involves the monitoring of the cultural scene of East Berlin by agents of the Stasi, the GDR's secret police...

in 2007. Germany's television market is the largest in Europe, with some 34 million TV households. Around 90% of German households have cable or satellite TV, with a variety of free-to-view public and commercial channels.

Cuisine


German cuisine varies from region to region. The southern regions of Bavaria
Bavarian cuisine
Bavarian cuisine is a style of cooking derived from Bavaria.The origins of Bavarian cuisine are rural. The cuisine typically includes many meat and Knödel dishes, and the prominent use of flour....

 and Swabia, for instance, share a culinary culture with Switzerland and Austria. In all regions, meat is often eaten in sausage form. Organic food
Organic food
Organic foods are foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.For the...

 has gained a market share of ca. 2%, and is expected to increase further. Although wine is becoming more popular in many parts of Germany, the national alcoholic drink is beer. German beer consumption per person is declining, but at 116 litres annually it is still among the highest in the world. The Michelin guide
Michelin Guide
The Michelin Guide is a series of annual guide books published by Michelin for over a dozen countries. The term normally refers to the Michelin Red Guide, the oldest and best-known European hotel and restaurant guide, which awards the Michelin stars...

 has awarded nine restaurants in Germany three stars, the highest designation, while 15 more received two stars. German restaurants have become the world's second-most decorated after France.

Sports




Twenty-seven million Germans are members of a sports club and an additional twelve million pursue sports individually. Association football is the most popular sport. With more than 6.3 million official members, the German Football Association
German Football Association
The German Football Association is the governing body of football in Germany. A founding member of both FIFA and UEFA, the DFB organises the German football leagues, including the national league, the Bundesliga, and the men's and women's national teams. The DFB is based in Frankfurt and is...

 (Deutscher Fußball-Bund) is the largest sports organisation of its kind worldwide. The Bundesliga
Fußball-Bundesliga
The Fußball-Bundesliga is a professional association football league in Germany. At the top of Germany's football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. It is contested by 18 teams and operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the 2. Bundesliga...

 attracts the second highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world.

The German national football team
Germany national football team
The Germany national football team is the football team that has represented Germany in international competition since 1908. It is governed by the German Football Association , which was founded in 1900....

 won the FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

 in 1954, 1974 and 1990 and the UEFA European Football Championship
UEFA European Football Championship
The UEFA European Football Championship is the main football competition of the men's national football teams governed by UEFA . Held every four years since 1960, in the even-numbered year between World Cup tournaments, it was originally called the UEFA European Nations Cup, changing to the current...

 in 1972, 1980 and 1996. Germany hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1974 and 2006 and the UEFA European Football Championship
UEFA European Football Championship
The UEFA European Football Championship is the main football competition of the men's national football teams governed by UEFA . Held every four years since 1960, in the even-numbered year between World Cup tournaments, it was originally called the UEFA European Nations Cup, changing to the current...

 in 1988. Among the most well-known footballers are Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Anton Beckenbauer is a German football coach, manager, and former player, nicknamed Der Kaiser because of his elegant style, his leadership, his first name "Franz" , and his dominance on the football pitch...

, Gerd Müller
Gerd Müller
Gerhard "Gerd" Müller is a former German football player and one of the most prolific goalscorers of all time.With national records of 68 goals in 62 international appearances, 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games and the international record of 66 goals in 74 European Club games, he was one of the...

, Jürgen Klinsmann
Jürgen Klinsmann
Jürgen Klinsmann is a German football manager and former player who is currently the coach of the United States Men's National Team. As a player, Klinsmann played for several prominent clubs in Europe and was part of the West German team that won the 1990 FIFA World Cup and the German one that...

, Lothar Matthäus
Lothar Matthäus
Lothar Herbert Matthäus , is a German football manager and former player.In 1990, he was named European Footballer of the Year and World Soccer Player of the Year after captaining West Germany to victory in the 1990 World Cup...

, and Oliver Kahn
Oliver Kahn
Oliver Rolf Kahn is a former German football goalkeeper. He started his career in the Karlsruher SC Junior team. He had his debut game in the professional squad in 1987...

. Other popular spectator sports include handball
Team handball
Handball is a team sport in which two teams of seven players each pass a ball to throw it into the goal of the other team...

, volleyball
Volleyball
Volleyball is a team sport in which two teams of six players are separated by a net. Each team tries to score points by grounding a ball on the other team's court under organized rules.The complete rules are extensive...

, basketball
Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

, ice hockey
Ice hockey
Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...

, and tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

.

Germany is one of the leading motor sports countries in the world. Constructors like BMW
BMW
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG is a German automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. It also owns and produces the Mini marque, and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. BMW produces motorcycles under BMW Motorrad and Husqvarna brands...

 and Mercedes
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...

 are prominent manufacturers in motor sport. Additionally, Porsche
Porsche
Porsche Automobil Holding SE, usually shortened to Porsche SE a Societas Europaea or European Public Company, is a German based holding company with investments in the automotive industry....

 has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since near the town of Le Mans, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, race teams have to balance speed against the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining...

, an annual endurance race held in France, 16 times, and Audi
Audi
Audi AG is a German automobile manufacturer, from supermini to crossover SUVs in various body styles and price ranges that are marketed under the Audi brand , positioned as the premium brand within the Volkswagen Group....

 has won it 9 times. Formula One
Formula One
Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or F1 and referred to officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship, is the highest class of single seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile . The "formula" designation in the name refers to a set of rules with which...

 driver Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher is a German Formula One racing driver for the Mercedes GP team. Famous for his eleven-year spell with Ferrari, Schumacher is a seven-time World Champion and is widely regarded as the greatest F1 driver of all time...

 has set many motor sport records during his career, having won more Formula One World Drivers' Championships and more Formula One races than any other driver; he is one of the highest paid sportsmen in history.

Historically, German sportsmen have been successful contenders in the Olympic Games, ranking third in an all-time Olympic Games medal count, combining East and West German medals. In the 2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

, Germany finished fifth in the medal count, while in the 2006 Winter Olympics
2006 Winter Olympics
The 2006 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XX Olympic Winter Games, was a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in Turin, Italy from February 10, 2006, through February 26, 2006. This marked the second time Italy hosted the Olympic Winter Games, the first being the VII Olympic Winter...

 they finished first. Germany has hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice, in Berlin in 1936
1936 Summer Olympics
The 1936 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was held in 1936 in Berlin, Germany. Berlin won the bid to host the Games over Barcelona, Spain on April 26, 1931, at the 29th IOC Session in Barcelona...

 and in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 in 1972
1972 Summer Olympics
The 1972 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XX Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event held in Munich, West Germany, from August 26 to September 11, 1972....

. The Winter Olympic Games took place in Germany once in 1936
1936 Winter Olympics
The 1936 Winter Olympics, officially known as the IV Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1936 in the market town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. Germany also hosted the Summer Olympics the same year in Berlin...

 in the twin towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen.

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