National holiday: Day of reunification, October 3.
Nature and climate: Great differences in nature between northern and southern parts: Northern parts are lowlands which towards the North Sea become a marshland where tidal variations are high. In the east, towards the Baltic Sea, are both high chalkcliffs and long low sandbeaches. The central part is an often greatly broken land crossed by many lower mountainchains like the Black Forest.
The Alps extend into the southmost part of Germany with Zugspitze (2964m) as Germany's highest peak.
Biggest rivers are Rhine (Europe's most trafficated waterway), Mosel, Weser, Elbe, Oder (forms border to Poland) and the Danube.
30% of the area is forested.
The climate is tempered and mainly continental with low variation within the country. Average temperature in January between -3°C and +1°C and between +15°C and +18°C in July. Percipitation between 700 and 1000 mm per year.
People: 92% Germans, descendants of old germanic, celtic and slavonic tribes. A minority of Danes lives along the Danish border. The Sorbians, a slavic people with about 60000 members, have maintained their culture in a region close to the Polish border. Many immigrants came in the last decades: About six millions now live in Germany, two millions of them are Turks.
Economy: One of the world's leading industrial nations. Service occupies 60% of the employees, industry 37% and agriculture 3%.
Industrialization started in the middle of the 19th century in the Ruhr-area with exploiting the local natural resources coal, iron, forests and hydro-energy. The iron- and steelindustry founded in this region was the base for the development of the German industry and gave the raw material for an extensive mechanical manufacturing on a high level of technology and quality. Germany is now the worlds third producer of cars, after USA and Japan. The great resources of coal are also the base for an extensive chemical industry. Other minerals are rare.
Most important exportgoods are machinery, vehicles, electrotechnical and chemical products. Most important import goods are oil, machinery, vehicles, raw materials and food: Agriculture only supplies 75% of the domestic consumption. Most important crops are wheat, barley, sugarbeats, oilplants, winegrapes, hops and potatoes.
Germany has been a leading country in giving the industrial workers influence.
History: Germany has traces of mankind from about 500 000 BC. The first finds of hunters are from 15 000 BC and from farmers from 5 000 BC.
When the Romans had conquered France they headed north. In the Mosel valley and in southern Germany there still are many remains from the Roman period. In the 5th century AD many Germans emigrated southwards and to England, while Slaves immigrated from the east and settled in Germanys eastern and northern parts. The Franks that moved south brought their German manners and customs, conquered vast areas and kept close relations with Germany. They founded a loosely tied nation in union with their old country. This Frankish nation grew and in the 7th and 8th centuries it consisted of today's Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Czechia, Austria, Switzerland and parts of northern Italy. In 843 this nation was divided in three parts, and the eastern part was much like todays Germany. This newfounded nation was a loosely tied union of many, mostly selfgoverning, duchies and towns. The German history from 843 can be divided in the following periods:
|IThe Eastfrankish nation 843-1024:|N The power of the duchies increased, but the king extended the nation down to the Mediterranean Sea. 962 Otto I was crowned emperor of the German-Roman Empire.
|IThe German-Roman Empire 1024-1437:|N The emperors never succeeded to organize a central administration. They exercised power travelling around the different parts of the nation.
|IGermany under the Habsburgs 1438-1806:|N At the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th centuries parts of the Netherlands and some areas in the east were added to the nation. But severe internal antagonism characterized the period, not least the Reformation. Several wars were fought. All in all starting a period of declination at the middle of the 16th century. In Prussia the local princes strengthened their positions by introducing a central administration and building strong military forces. Vast areas in the north and east were conquered. In 1806 Napoleon united the duchies depending on him in the Rhine-league, which finally ended the German-Roman empire.
|IThe German League and unification 1815-1871:|N At the congress of Vienna 1815 the duchies in the Rhine-league were restored. Germany was formed by the empire of Austria, the kingdoms of Bavaria, Hannover, Prussia, Saxony and Württemberg, along with 32 minor duchies. The German League was formed to deal with matters of common interest, but the league gained no real influence, except for the establishing of a customs union in 1834. Instead Prussia strengthened its positions and finally formed a North-German League without Austria. After the war against France (1870-1871) the North-German League was transformed to the German Empire with William I as emperor.
|IThe German Empire 1871-1918:|N A federal empire dominated by Prussia where the emperor controlled foreign and war policy. The only time that Germany had overseas colonies. After the German defeat in the First World War, emperor William II abdicated in 1918.
|IThe Weimar Republic 1919-1933:|N A communist coup was defeated in 1919 and a national congress met at Weimar to write a new constitution.
Germany became a federal republic where the rights of the federal states were limited. Most of the period the nation was led by coalition governments with big influence from the social democrats. But the republic suffered from severe economic problems. First because of war indemnity and later because of the international depression. These problems made it possible for the Nazi-party under Adolf Hitler to grow and to become the biggest party of the parliament in 1932.
The "Third Reich" 1933-1945: Hitler was appointed prime minister ("Reichskanzler") and forced through an emergency powers act that formally ended the Weimar Republic and meant dictatorship. All political parties, except the Nazi-party, were banned. And when president Hindenburg died in 1934 Hitler was proclaimed head of state and leader (Führer). Now political opponents were jailed, Jews were persecuted, after 1938 murdered and during the war subject to orderly purge. Hitler started, in violence of the Versaille-peace-treaty, a quick rearmament. 1938 Austria was incorporated and in 1939 Czechoslovakia conquered. On September 1st German troops marched into Poland and started World War II.
1945-...: After its military defeat Germany lost its eastern part which caused many refugees to move westwards. The remaining land was divided in four zones of which the four victory powers, USA, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union, administrated one each. In 1949 a new country, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), was formed of the three western zones. Some months later the Soviet zone became another new country, the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The tensions between the two super-powers USA and USSR denied any common institutions and co-operations between these two countries in the next decades. West Germany was rapidly built up and became a leading industrial nation again, because it did not have to pay any war indemnity, and received extensive help, mainly from the USA: Thousend of people fled from the GDRto the west each month, so many that it threatened the East German industry. To stop this the Berlin Wall and the "iron curtain" along the German/German border was built in 1961. The GDR also had an impressing reconstruction of its industry, but when Gorbachew introduced Perestroyka and Glasnost in the USSR and the favourable trade between Eastgermany and the Sovjet Union ceased, the East German industry collapsed together with the political system. At 9th November 1989 the leaders of the GDR opened the borders, and the people on the streets of Berlin began to tear the wall down. In July 1990 East- and Westgermany formed a monetary union, and October 3rd they were formally merged. The first joint public elections were held December 2nd 1990.