Germany, a country at the heart of Europe

Germany is a modern and cosmopolitan country with many different regions. It stretches from the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Alps. It is characterised by linguistic diversity, small villages and major cities, the traditional and the modern. Germany plays a unifying role in all areas. People from many different countries live here. It has become home to many. As a country in the centre of Europe, Germany has the highest number of neighbours on the continent. It shares its borders with nine states. With a population of 83.1 million, Germany is the most populous member state of the European Union. The capital Berlin is the country’s largest city, with 3.7 million people, and one of 16 Länder in the federal structure of the Federal Republic.

Political system

Germany is a parliamentary democracy and a federal state. Its Head of State is Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (since 2017). The parliament, i.e. the legislative body, of the Federal Republic of Germany is the German Bundestag in Berlin. The16 Länder participate through the Bundesrat in the legislation and administration of the Federation. Each Land is represented in the Bundesrat by members of its Government.

Division and reunification

Germany was divided up between the victorious allied powers following the end of the Second World War. France, the United Kingdom and the United States occupied the western part, and the Soviet Union the eastern part. The irreconcilable conflict of interests at the time between the Western powers and the Soviet Union led to the founding of two separate German states, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

The Basic Law (constitution) of the Federal Republic of Germany entered into force on 23 May 1949. It places the focus on the inviolability of human dignity in its first Article. This laid the foundation for post-war German parliamentary democracy.

The GDR built the Berlin Wall in 1961. This became the symbol of the East-West conflict during the Cold War. It fell after the peaceful revolution of the GDR citizens on 9 November 1989. 3 October 1990 saw the reunification of the two German states, with the Basic Law as the constitution. This Day of German Unity has been a national holiday ever since.

Historical responsibility

Germany is conscious of its historical responsibility for the acts committed during the National Socialist period and works determinedly to establish a systematic culture of remembrance.

In Germany itself, not only memorials but also other symbols encountered on a day-to-day basis serve as reminders of the victims of the crimes perpetrated by the Nazi regime. For example, the “Stolpersteine” (“Stumbling Stones”) are small commemorative brass plaques laid in the pavement in front of the former homes of Nazi victims, bearing the name, and the dates of birth, deportation and death. The Stolpersteine serve to remind us of the fates of the persons who were persecuted, deported or murdered during the National Socialist period. Whenever citizens walk along a street, they will then be reminded that history, and the lessons to be drawn from it, are still relevant to our lives today.

Business and academia

Germany is well-known for its high technology, excellent research and good conditions for start-ups. It is also attractive as a study location. The country is an export-oriented business location. Many German enterprises cultivate intensive international contacts and create thousands of jobs also in other countries through their corporate spin-offs. Small and medium-sized enterprises form the backbone of the German economy and are often at the top of their global field.

Travel and culture

With diverse landscapes, from the Alps in the south to the wide sandy beaches on the Baltic and North Seas, as well as many lakes, castles and palaces, there is plenty on offer inviting holiday travellers to stay and explore. The very extensive public transport network allows tourists and guests to easily travel all over the country. The almost 600-kilometre journey from Berlin to Munich, for example, takes only four and a half hours on the high-speed ICE train.

Germany boasts 46 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Museum Island in Berlin and the palaces and parks of Potsdam and Berlin, as well as natural World Heritage Sites such as the Wadden Sea in the North Sea and the Messel Pit Fossil Site near Frankfurt am Main.

In all of the Bundesländer, culture enthusiasts will find an extensive range of museums, concert halls, theatres and cultural productions of all kinds. The cultural and club scene in Berlin beckons to fans of music and dance and conveys a special flair. Frederick the Great’s motto is no less relevant today: “Everyone should be free to do what makes them happy.”

Source: with material from

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