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Country Profile: Germany

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Factfile

Total Area

357,021 sq km

Population

82,369,548, 0.0% growth rate, 235 density per sq km. 

Capital City

Berlin, 3, 933, 300

Currency

Euro

Languages

German

Ethnicity

German 91.5%

Religion

Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Islam 4%

Literacy Rate

99%

National Holiday

Unity Day 3 October

Climate

Temperate, mild - wet, cool winters, occasionally hot summers

Economic Summary

GDP: $2.81 trillion

Industry

Service: 70%
Industry: 29.1%
Agriculture: 0.9%
Major industires: iron, steel, coal, cement, machinery, food and beverages, shibuilding, electronics, textiles.
Natural resources: iron ore, coal, potash, timber, natural gas, salt, nickel.

Major Trading Partners

France, US, UK, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Austria, China
 

 

 

Economy

Germany has the largest economy in Europe, and is a worldwide trendsetter for industrialisation, modernisation and globalisation. Germany, in its position as promoter of EU integration, is pushing for EU single market legislation. Much of the country's workforce is employed in the industrial sector, for instance in industries such as engineering, cars, machinery, metals and chemicals.

 

Climate Issues

Germany, and its close ally spain, make up a central core of the EU member states, which is concerned with looking for sustainable future alternatives for energy supply, in order to minimise man's negative impact on the environment. Unlike other countries, almost all Germans acknowledge that it is manmade causes which lead to climate change, and so the country is extremely environmentally conscious. The country is dedicated to the Kyoto protocol, and tries to limit CO2 production through such measures as recycling, renewable enrgy sources, biodiversity, sustainable development and low emission standards. However, despite this, Germany produces significant amounts of CO2 through coal-burning, and this is leading to acid rain and the deterioration of forests. Additionally, Germany's glaciers in its alpine regions are melting, and climate change is showing its effects through natural effects such as flooding and storms. Germany is currently working to meet EU directive on Flora, Fauna and Habitat. Germany is the leading producer of renewable energy sources wind power and solar power technology in the world.

History

In 800, Charlemagne divided his Carolingian Empire, and the eastern portion became the Holy Roman Empire (otherwise known as the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation). The German king was crowned Holy Roman Emperor of these regions in 962, with German princes increasing their influence further south and east. The edict of the Golden Bull in 1356 provided the basic constitution of the empire, that lasted until its dissolution.

In 1517, Martin Luther pinned his 95 Theses to Wittenberg's church door, undermining the Catholic church and starting the Reformation - afterwhich many German states took up the separate religion of German Lutheranism. From 1740, the split between the Austrian Hapsburg monarchy and the Kingdom of Prussia dominated German history. After Napoleon's downfall, a league of 39 states was formed, and, in line with the revolutions which had successfuly created a republic in France, intellectuals started the 1848 Revolutions of the German states. Otto von Bismarck was elected prime minister, and consequently waged war on Denmark and won the Austro-Prussian war, then excluding Austria from the subsequent affairs of German states.

Germany was unified in 1871, when the German Empire was formed. From 1884, Germany started establishing colonies in non-European countries, leading to the race to claim African lands under the rule of William II. This imperialistic bent caused friction with other world powers, with Germany becoming increasingly isolated. The assassination of Austria's crown prince in 1914 started World War I, in which Germany, as part of the Central Powers, suffered defeat and was consequently forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles. In 1918 German Revolution broke out, and Emperor William II abdicated. The Weimar Republic was formed, under which the German Workers Party, later known as the Nazi party was formed. Suffering under both the Great Depression, and the harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, the German public became increasingly disenchanted with their democratic government. Pushed by right-wing advisors, in 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany.

Under the Third Reich, Germany became a single-party totalitarian state. In 1939, Germany launched a blitzkrieg against Poland, which prompted the start of the Second World War. Germany gained control over much of Europe, and in 1941 invaded the Soviet Union and then declared war on the US. The storming of the beaches at Normandy by the Allies on D-Day marked a turning point, following which the German armies retreated and eventually surrendered in 1945. In what was latterly called The Holocaust, the Third Reich regime subjugated many parts of society, for example Jews, homosexuals, communists, Roma and priests. World War II and Nazi genocide caused 35 million dead in Europe.

After their defeat, Germany was partitioned into four military occupation zones. The Western two zones were controlled by the UK, US and France, and were merged to form Western Germany, or the Federal Republic of Germany, with Bonn as its capital. The Eastern zones were merged to form East Germany, or the German Democratic Republic, taking East Berlin as its capital. West Germany acted under a social market economy, and was aligned with the UK, US and France. It was a founding member of the EEC in 1958. Meanwhile, East Germany was under the Eastern bloc, with political power in the hands of the politburo, and enforced by the Stasi secret service. Ironically, although East German propaganda told of the limited freedoms and danger of invasion from West Germany, its people often looked to West Germany for political freedoms and economic wealth. The Berlin Wall, built in 1961to prevent East Germans defecting to the West, became a symbol for the Cold War. Political demonstrations in 1989 led to the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and increased freedoms of borders, and in 1990 German reunification took place.

Culture

Tourism

Germany has a thriving tourism industry. It is the seventh most visited country in the world, and has a great sense of tradition, with the history of its cities and beautiful pastoral landscapes. Key tourist towns include Berlin, Heidelberg, Munich, Tubingen, Schwangau and Dresden.

Language

German is the official language, and one of the 23 languages of the European Union. It is closely related to English, Dutch and Frisian languages, and uses the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, as well as three vowels with umlauts. There are various German dialects, tracing back to the different German tribes, and many of them are unrecognisable to people who speak only standard German because of their differences in lexicon, phonology and syntax.

Literature

There are many great German writers, including Goethe, Schiller, Mann, Brecht, Hesse, Grass, as well as philosophers such as Hegel, Marx, Engels, Nietzsche, Shopenhauer, Heidegger and Kant.

Music

Germany was the centre of European Classical music from the 17th to the 19th centuries. J.S. Bach was composing between 1680 and 1720, and was followed by Handel, Beethoven and then Romantic composers Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Bruch, Mendelssohn and Wagner. In the 20th Century, the Second Viennese School formed around serialist composers Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, and led the way for such innovators as Stockhausen. In popular music, Germany has a varied mixture of folk, dance and pop, and hosts annually the Love Parade Festival. Krautrock pioneers such as Kraftwerk hail from Germany.

Art

As with music and architecture - for example in the pioneer of Modernist architecture Walter Gropius who wrote his Bauhaus Manifesto in the 1920 and invented the skyscraper - Germany has hosted many important art movements. Holbein, Grunewald and Durer were some of the earliest artistic geniuses from Germany, and were followed by such painters as the Romanticist Caspar David Friedrich and Surrealist Max Ernst.

Cinema

German cinema is another thriving tradition, starting with Fritz Lang and his Metropolis and going on to the New German Cinema directors in the 70s and 80s such as Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog. The Berlin Film Festival is one of the world's chief annual film festivals, and the European Film Festival is held every second year in Berlin.

Sport

Sport is a major part of German life, with association football the most popular sport in the country. The German football team won the World Cup in 1954, 1974 and 1990, and Germany has hosted the cup on various occasions. Renowned footballers include Beckenbauer, Muller, Klinsmann and Kahn. Other prominent spectator sports include ice hockey, handball and tennis. Germany is one of the leading motorsports countries in the world, with Michael Schumacher the most successful Formula One driver in history. Equally, German Olympians have always fared well, and Germany has hosted the games twice.

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