Germany is the seventh largest country by area in Europe and the 63rd largest in the world. Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Alps in the south to the shores of the Baltic Sea in the north-east.
Between lie the forested uplands of central Germany and the low-lying lands of northern Germany (lowest point: Wilstermarsch at 3.54 metres / 11.6 feet below sea level), traversed by some of Europe's major rivers such as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe.
Germany shares borders with more European countries than any other country on the continent. Its neighbours are Denmark in the north, Poland and the Czech Republic in the east, Austria and Switzerland in the south, France and Luxembourg in the south-west, and Belgium and the Netherlands in the north-west.
The most significant natural resources are iron ore, coal, potash, timber, lignite, uranium, copper, natural gas, salt, nickel, arable land and water.
State System Democratic parliamentary federal democracy since 1949
Administration 16 federal states
Capital City Berlin, about 3.4 million inhabitants
State Holiday October 3, Day of German Unity
Time Zone CET/CEST
Currency Germany is a member of the Eurozone, EUR 1 = 100 cents
Phone Dial Code +49
Official Language German. German is the mother tongue of 100 million people and is most frequently in the Eu
Location Central Europe
Size 357,021 km²
Inhabitants About 82 million (Germany has the largest population of any EU member state)
Largest Cities Berlin (3.4 million inhabitants), Hamburg (1.8m), Munich (1.3m), Cologne (1.0m), Frankfurt/Main (662,000)
Neighboring States Germany is located in the heart of Europe and has nine neighbors: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland
Borders 3,757 km
Coastline 2,389 km
Highest Mountain Zugspitze 2963 m
Longest Rivers Rhine 865 km, Elbe 700 km, Danube 647 km in Germany
Interesting facts of Germany
• Germany is the most populous European country (apart from Russia), with a population of 81 million.
• Germany's land area was over 50% larger during the Second Reich (1871-1918) and included most of present-day Poland and parts of Lithuania.
• German people are the second biggest consumers of beer in the world (after the Irish), with an average of 119 litres per person per year (or 0.32 l per day).
• The German language was once the lingua franca of central, eastern and northern Europe, and remains the language with the most native speakers in Europe.
• 15 million people in Germany are of non-German descent (first and second generation), i.e. 18.5% of the population. About half of them are foreign residents, not German citizens.
• Germany has nearly 700 zoological gardens, wildlife parks, aquariums, bird parks, animal reserves, or safari parks, including 414 registered zoos (more than the USA) ! Berlin's Zoologischer Garten is the largest zoo in the world, both in terms of number of species (1,500) and animal population (14,000).
• The world's youngest billionnaire is the German Prince Albert II von Thurn und Taxis, with net worth is estimated at around $1.9 billion (USD) as of 2006.
• German athletes have won a total of 1548 Olympic medals (summer and winter combined), i.e. more than any other country in the world except the USA.
• The Fairy Grottoes (Feengrotten) in Saalfeld, Thuringia, are the world's most colourful caves, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
• There are some 2.5 million half-timbered houses in Germany, by far the highest number of any country worldwide.
Climate in Germany
Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate in which humid westerly winds predominate. The climate is moderated by the North Atlantic Drift, which is the northern extension of the Gulf Stream. This warmer water affects the areas bordering the North Sea including the area along the Rhine, which flows into the North Sea. Consequently in the north-west and the north, the climate is oceanic; rainfall occurs year round with a maximum during summer.
Winters are mild and summers tend to be cool, though temperatures can exceed 30 °C for prolonged periods. In the east, the climate is more continental; winters can be very cold, summers can be very warm, and long dry periods are often recorded. 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 so-called mountain climate. This climate is characterised by lower temperatures because of higher altitudes and greater precipitation caused by air becoming moisture-laden as it lifts over higher terrain.
Germany is known for its environmental consciousness. The state is committed to the Kyoto protocol 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.
Emissions from coal-burning utilities and industries contribute to air pollution. Acid rain, resulting from sulphur dioxide emissions, continues to damage German forests. Pollution in the Baltic Sea from raw sewage and industrial effluents from rivers in former East Germany have been reduced. The government under Chancellor Schröder announced the intention to end the use of nuclear power for producing electricity. Germany is working to meet EU commitments to identify nature preservation areas in line with the EU's Flora, Fauna, and Habitat directive. Germany's last glaciers in the Alpine region are experiencing deglaciation. Natural hazards are river flooding in spring and stormy winds occurring in all regions.
Politics in Germany
Germany is a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic republic. The German political system operates under a framework laid out in the 1949 constitutional document known as the Grundgesetz (Basic Law). By calling the document Grundgesetz, rather than Verfassung (constitution), the authors expressed the intention that it would be replaced by a proper constitution once Germany was reunited as one state.
Amendments to the Grundgesetz generally require a two-thirds majority of both chambers of the 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. Despite the initial intention, the Grundgesetz remained in effect after the German reunification in 1990, with only minor amendments.
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