Germany

Introduction As Europe's largest economy and second most populous nation, Germany is a key member of the continent's economic, political, and defense organizations. European power struggles immersed Germany in two devastating World Wars in the first half of the 20th century and left the country occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union in 1945. With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR). The democratic FRG embedded itself in key Western economic and security organizations, the EC, which became the EU, and NATO, while the Communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German unification in 1990. Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds to bring Eastern productivity and wages up to Western standards. In January 1999, Germany and 10 other EU countries introduced a common European exchange currency, the euro.
History

The ethnogenesis of the Germanic tribes is assumed to have occurred during the Nordic Bronze Age, or at the latest, during the Pre-Roman Iron Age. From southern Scandinavia and northern Germany, the tribes began expanding south, east and west in the 1st century BC, coming into contact with the Celtic tribes of Gaul as well as Iranian, Baltic, and Slavic tribes in Eastern Europe. Little is known about early Germanic history, except through their recorded interactions with the Roman Empire, etymological research and archaeological finds.[5]

Under Augustus, the Roman General Publius Quinctilius Varus began to invade Germania (a term used by the Romans running roughly from the Rhine to the Ural Mountains) , and it was in this period that the Germanic tribes became familiar with Roman tactics of warfare while maintaining their tribal identity. In AD 9, three Roman legions led by Varus were defeated by the Cheruscan leader Arminius in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Modern Germany, as far as the Rhine and the Danube, thus remained outside the Roman Empire. By AD 100, the time of Tacitus' Germania, Germanic tribes settled along the Rhine and the Danube (the Limes Germanicus) , occupying most of the area of modern Germany. The 3rd century saw the emergence of a number of large West Germanic tribes: Alamanni, Franks, Chatti, Saxons, Frisians, Sicambri, and Thuringii. Around 260, the Germanic peoples broke through the Limes and the Danube frontier into Roman-controlled lands.[6]

Holy Roman Empire (962-1806)

The medieval empire stemmed from a division of the Carolingian Empire in 843, which was founded by Charlemagne on 25 December 800, and existed in varying forms until 1806, its territory stretching from the Eider River in the north to the Mediterranean coast in the south. Often referred to as the Holy Roman Empire (or the Old Empire) , it was officially called the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation ("Sacrum Romanum Imperium Nationis Germanicæ") starting in 1448, to adjust the title to its then reduced territory.

Under the reign of the Ottonian emperors (919-1024) , the duchies of Lorraine, Saxony, Franconia, Swabia, Thuringia, and Bavaria were consolidated, and the German king was crowned Holy Roman Emperor of these regions in 962. Under the reign of the Salian emperors (1024-1125) , the Holy Roman Empire absorbed northern Italy and Burgundy, although the emperors lost power through the Investiture Controversy. Under the Hohenstaufen emperors (1138-1254) , the German princes increased their influence further south and east into territories inhabited by Slavs. Northern German towns grew prosperous as members of the Hanseatic League.

The edict of the Golden Bull in 1356 provided the basic constitution of the empire that lasted until its dissolution. It codified the election of the emperor by seven prince-electors who ruled some of the most powerful principalities and archbishoprics. Beginning in the 15th century, the emperors were elected nearly exclusively from the Habsburg dynasty of Austria.

The monk Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses questioning the Roman Catholic Church in 1517, thereby sparking the Protestant Reformation. A separate Lutheran church was acknowledged as the newly sanctioned religion in many German states after 1530. Religious conflict led to the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) , which devastated German lands.[7] The population of the German states was reduced by about 30%.[8] The Peace of Westphalia (1648) ended religious warfare among the German states, but the empire was de facto divided into numerous independent principalities. From 1740 onwards, the dualism between the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and the Kingdom of Prussia dominated German history. In 1806, the Imperium was overrun and dissolved as a result of the Napoleonic Wars.[9]
See also: Medieval demography

Restoration and revolution (1814-1871)

Following the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Congress of Vienna 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 movements, demanding unity and freedom. These, however, were followed by new measures of repression on the part of the Austrian statesman Metternich. The Zollverein, a tariff union, profoundly furthered economic unity in the German states. During this era many Germans had been stirred by the ideals of the French Revolution, and nationalism became a more significant force, especially among young intellectuals. For the first time, the colours of black, red and gold were chosen to represent the movement, which later became the national colours.[10]

In light of a series of revolutionary movements in Europe, which successfully established a republic in France, intellectuals and commoners started the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. The monarchs initially yielded to the revolutionaries' liberal demands. King Frederick William IV of Prussia 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 of Prussia and the increasingly liberal parliament erupted over military reforms in 1862, and the king appointed Otto von Bismarck the new Prime Minister of Prussia. Bismarck successfully waged war on Denmark in 1864. Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 enabled him to create the North German Federation (Norddeutscher Bund) and to exclude Austria, formerly the leading German state, from the affairs of the remaining German states.

German Empire (1871-1918)

The state known as Germany was unified as a modern nation-state in 1871, when the German Empire was forged, with the Kingdom of Prussia as its largest constituent. After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the German Empire (Deutsches Kaiserreich) was proclaimed in Versailles on 18 January 1871. The Hohenzollern dynasty of Prussia ruled the new empire, whose capital was Berlin. The empire was a unification of all the scattered parts of Germany except Austria (Kleindeutschland, or "Lesser Germany"). Beginning in 1884, Germany began establishing several colonies outside of Europe.

In the Gründerzeit period following the unification of Germany, Emperor William I's foreign policy secured Germany's position as a great nation by forging alliances, isolating France by diplomatic means, and avoiding war. Under William II, however, Germany, like other European powers, took an imperialistic course leading to friction with neighbouring countries. Most alliances in which Germany had been previously involved were not renewed, and new alliances excluded the country. Specifically, France established new relationships by signing the Entente Cordiale with the United Kingdom and securing ties with the Russian Empire. Aside from its contacts with Austria-Hungary, Germany became increasingly isolated.

Germany's imperialism reached outside of its own country and joined many other powers in Europe to claim their share of Africa. The Berlin Conference divided Africa between the European powers. Germany owned several pieces of land on Africa including German East Africa, South-West Africa, Togo, and Cameroon. The Scramble for Africa caused tension between the great powers that may have contributed to the conditions that led to World War I.

The assassination of Austria's crown prince on 28 June 1914 triggered World War I. Germany, as part of the unsuccessful Central Powers, suffered defeat against the Allied Powers in one of the bloodiest conflicts of all time. The German Revolution broke out in November 1918, and Emperor William II and all German ruling princes abdicated. An armistice putting an end to the war was signed on 11 November and Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. Its negotiation, contrary to traditional post-war diplomacy, excluded the defeated Central Powers. The treaty was perceived in Germany as a humiliating continuation of the war by other means and its harshness is often cited as having facilitated the later rise of Nazism in the country.[11]

Weimar Republic (1919-1933)

After the success of the German Revolution in November 1918, a republic was proclaimed. The Weimar Constitution came into effect with its signing by President Friedrich Ebert on 11 August 1919. The German Communist Party was established by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1918, and the German Workers Party, later known as the National Socialist German Workers Party or Nazi Party, was founded in January 1919.

Suffering from the Great Depression, the harsh peace conditions dictated by the Treaty of Versailles, and a long succession of more or less unstable governments, the political masses in Germany increasingly lacked identification with their political system of parliamentary democracy. This was exacerbated by a wide-spread right-wing (monarchist, völkisch, and Nazi) Dolchstoßlegende, a political myth which claimed that Germany lost World War I because of the German Revolution, not because of military defeat. On the other hand, radical left-wing communists, such as the Spartacist League, had wanted to abolish what they perceived as "capitalist rule" in favour of a Räterepublik. Paramilitary troops were set up by several parties and there were thousands of politically motivated murders. The paramilitary intimidated voters and seeded violence and anger among the public, which suffered from high unemployment and poverty. After a series of unsuccessful cabinets, President Paul von Hindenburg, seeing little alternative and pushed by right-wing advisors, appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933.

Third Reich (1933-1945)

On 27 February 1933, the Reichstag was set on fire. Some basic democratic rights were quickly abrogated afterwards under an emergency decree. An Enabling Act gave Hitler's government full legislative power. Only the Social Democratic Party of Germany voted against it; the Communists were not able to present opposition, as their deputies had already been murdered or imprisoned.[12][13] A centralised totalitarian state was established by a series of moves and decrees making Germany a single-party state. Industry was closely regulated with quotas and requirements, to shift the economy towards a war production base. In 1936 German troops entered the demilitarized Rhineland, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policies proved inadequate. Emboldened, Hitler followed from 1938 onwards a policy of expansionism to establish Greater Germany. To avoid a two-front war, Hitler concluded the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with the Soviet Union, a pact which was later broken by Germany.

In 1939, the growing tensions from nationalism, militarism, and territorial issues led to the Germans launching a blitzkrieg on September 1 against Poland, followed two days later by declarations of war by Britain and France, marking the beginning of World War II. Germany quickly gained direct or indirect control of the majority of Europe.

On 22 June 1941, Hitler broke the pact with the Soviet Union by opening the Eastern Front and invading the Soviet Union. Shortly after Japan attacked the American base at Pearl Harbor, Germany declared war on the United States. Although initially the German army rapidly advanced into the Soviet Union, the Battle of Stalingrad marked a major turning point in the war. Subsequently, the German army commenced retreating on the Eastern Front. D-Day marked a major turning point on the Western front, as Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy and made rapid advances into German territory. Germany's defeat soon followed. On 8 May 1945, the German armed forces surrendered after the Red Army occupied Berlin.

In what later became known as The Holocaust, the Third Reich regime enacted governmental policies directly subjugating many parts of society: Jews, Communists, Roma, homosexuals, freemasons, political dissidents, priests, preachers, religious opponents, and the disabled, amongst others. During the Nazi era, about eleven million people were murdered in the Holocaust, including six million Jews and three million Poles. World War II and the Nazi genocide were responsible for about 35 million dead in Europe.

Division and reunification (1945–1990)

The war resulted in the death of nearly ten million German soldiers and civilians; large territorial losses; the expulsion of about 15 million Germans from its former eastern territories and other countries; and the destruction of multiple major cities. The national territory and Berlin were partitioned by the Allies into four military occupation zones. The sectors controlled by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States were merged on 23 May 1949, to form the Federal Republic of Germany; on 7 October 1949, the Soviet Zone established the German Democratic Republic. They were informally known as "West Germany" and "East Germany" and the two parts of Berlin as "West Berlin" and "East Berlin". The eastern and western countries opted for East Berlin and Bonn as their respective capitals. However, West Germany declared the status of its capital Bonn as provisional[14], in order to emphasize its stance that the two-state solution was an artificial status quo that was to be overcome one day.

West Germany established as a liberal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy", was allied with the United States, the UK and France. The country eventually came to enjoy prolonged economic growth beginning in the early 1950s (Wirtschaftswunder). West Germany joined NATO in 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1958. Across the border, East Germany was at first occupied by, and later (May 1955) allied with, the USSR. An authoritarian country with a Soviet-style command economy, but many of its citizens looked to the West for political freedoms and economic prosperity.[15] The Berlin Wall, built in 1961 to stop East Germans from escaping to West Germany, became a symbol of the Cold War. However, tensions between East and West Germany were somewhat reduced in the early 1970s by Chancellor Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik, which included the de facto acceptance of Germany's territorial losses in World War II.

In the face of a growing migration of East Germans to West Germany via Hungary and mass demonstrations during the summer of 1989, East German authorities unexpectedly eased the border restrictions in November, allowing East German citizens to travel to the West. Originally intended as a pressure valve to retain East Germany as a state, the opening of the border actually led to an acceleration of the reform process in East Germany, which finally concluded with the Two Plus Four Treaty a year later on 12 September 1990 and German reunification on 3 October 1990. Under the terms of the treaty, the four occupying powers renounced their rights under the Instrument of Surrender, and Germany regained full sovereignty. Based on the Bonn-Berlin-Act, adopted by the parliament on 10 March 2004, the capital of the unified state was chosen to be Berlin, while Bonn obtained the unique status of a Bundesstadt (federal city) retaining some federal ministries[16]. The move of the government was completed in 1999.

Since reunification, Germany has taken a leading role in the European Union and NATO. Germany sent a peacekeeping force to secure stability in the Balkans and sent a force of German troops to Afghanistan as part of a NATO effort to provide security in that country after the ousting of the Taliban.[17] These deployments were controversial, since after the war, Germany was bound by law to only deploy troops for defence roles. Deployments to foreign territories were understood not to be covered by the defence provision; however, the parliamentary vote on the issue effectively legalised the participation in a peacekeeping context.

Geography Location: Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, between the Netherlands and Poland, south of Denmark
Geographic coordinates: 51 00 N, 9 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 357,021 sq km
land: 349,223 sq km
water: 7,798 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Montana
Land boundaries: total: 3,621 km
border countries: Austria 784 km, Belgium 167 km, Czech Republic 646 km, Denmark 68 km, France 451 km, Luxembourg 138 km, Netherlands 577 km, Poland 456 km, Switzerland 334 km
Coastline: 2,389 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: temperate and marine; cool, cloudy, wet winters and summers; occasional warm mountain (foehn) wind
Terrain: lowlands in north, uplands in center, Bavarian Alps in south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Neuendorf bei Wilster -3.54 m
highest point: Zugspitze 2,963 m
Natural resources: coal, lignite, natural gas, iron ore, copper, nickel, uranium, potash, salt, construction materials, timber, arable land
Land use: arable land: 33.13%
permanent crops: 0.6%
other: 66.27% (2005)
Irrigated land: 4,850 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 188 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 38.01 cu km/yr (12%/68%/20%)
per capita: 460 cu m/yr (2001)
Natural hazards: flooding
Environment - current issues: emissions from coal-burning utilities and industries contribute to air pollution; acid rain, resulting from sulfur dioxide emissions, is damaging forests; pollution in the Baltic Sea from raw sewage and industrial effluents from rivers in eastern Germany; hazardous waste disposal; government established a mechanism for ending the use of nuclear power over the next 15 years; government working to meet EU commitment to identify nature preservation areas in line with the EU's Flora, Fauna, and Habitat directive
Environment - international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: strategic location on North European Plain and along the entrance to the Baltic Sea
Politics

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). Amendments to the Grundgesetz require a two-thirds majority of both chambers of parliament; the articles guaranteeing fundamental rights, a democratic state, and the right to resist attempts to overthrow the constitution are valid in perpetuity and cannot be amended. The Grundgesetz remained in effect, with minor amendments, after German reunification in 1990, despite the intention of the Grundgesetz to be replaced by a proper constitution after the reunion. (This was called Grundgesetz for precisely this reason.)

The Chancellor (currently Angela Merkel) is the head of government and exercises executive power, similar to the role of a Prime Minister. Federal legislative power is vested in the parliament consisting of the Bundestag and Bundesrat (Federal Council) , which together form a unique type of legislative body. The Bundestag is elected through direct elections; the members of the Bundesrat represent the governments of the sixteen federal states and are members of the state cabinets, which appoint them and can remove them at any time.

Since 1949, the party system has been dominated by the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany although smaller parties, such as the liberal Free Democratic Party (which has had members in the Bundestag since 1949) and the Alliance '90/The Greens (which has controlled seats in parliament since 1983) have also played important roles.[26]

The German head of state is the President of Germany, elected by the Bundesversammlung (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 is the President of the Bundestag, who is elected by the Bundestag itself. He or she is responsible for overseeing the daily sessions of the body. The third-highest official and the head of government is the Chancellor. He or she is nominated by the President of Germany and elected by the Bundestag. If necessary, he or she can be removed by a constructive motion of no confidence by the Bundestag, where "constructive" implies that the Bundestag needs to elect a successor.

Foreign relations

Germany has played a leading role in the European Union since its inception and has maintained a strong alliance with France since the end of World War II. The alliance was especially close in the late 1980s and early 1990s under the leadership of Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl and Socialist François Mitterrand. Germany is at the forefront of European states seeking to advance the creation of a more unified and capable European political, defence and security apparatus.[27]

Since its establishment on 23 May 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany kept a notably low profile in international relations, because of both its recent history and its occupation by foreign powers.[28] During the Cold War, Germany's partition by the Iron Curtain 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 of the 1970s.[29] In 1999 Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government defined a new basis for German foreign policy by taking a full part in the decisions surrounding the NATO war against Yugoslavia and by sending German troops into combat for the first time since World War II.[30]

Germany and the United States are close allies.[31] The 1948 Marshall Plan, U.S. support (JCS 1067) during the rebuilding process (Industrial plans for Germany) after World War II, as well as fraternisation (War children) and food support (food policy) and strong cultural ties have crafted a strong bond between the two countries, although Schröder's very vocal opposition to the Iraq War suggested the end of Atlanticism and a relative cooling of German-American relations.[32] 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.[33] The other way around, 8.8% of U.S. exports ship to Germany and 9.8% of U.S. imports come from Germany.[33] Other signs of the close ties include the continuing position of German-Americans as the largest ethnic group in the U.S.[34] and the status of Ramstein Air Base (near Kaiserslautern) as the largest U.S. military community outside the U.S.

People Population: 82,400,996 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.9% (male 5,894,724/female 5,590,373)
15-64 years: 66.3% (male 27,811,357/female 26,790,222)
65 years and over: 19.8% (male 6,771,972/female 9,542,348) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 43 years
male: 41.8 years
female: 44.3 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.033% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 8.2 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 10.71 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.18 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.054 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.038 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 0.966 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.08 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.51 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.95 years
male: 75.96 years
female: 82.11 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.4 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 43,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 1,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: German(s)
adjective: German
Ethnic groups: German 91.5%, Turkish 2.4%, other 6.1% (made up largely of Greek, Italian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish)
Religions: Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Muslim 3.7%, unaffiliated or other 28.3%
Languages: German
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
People - note: second most populous country in Europe after Russia
Government Country name: conventional long form: Federal Republic of Germany
conventional short form: Germany
local long form: Bundesrepublik Deutschland
local short form: Deutschland
former: German Empire, German Republic, German Reich
Government type: federal republic
Capital: name: Berlin
geographic coordinates: 52 31 N, 13 24 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: 16 states (Laender, singular - Land); Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bayern (Bavaria), Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia), Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate), Saarland, Sachsen (Saxony), Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt), Schleswig-Holstein, Thueringen (Thuringia); note - Bayern, Sachsen, and Thueringen refer to themselves as free states (Freistaaten, singular - Freistaat)
Independence: 18 January 1871 (German Empire unification); divided into four zones of occupation (UK, US, USSR, and later, France) in 1945 following World War II; Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or West Germany) proclaimed 23 May 1949 and included the former UK, US, and French zones; German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) proclaimed 7 October 1949 and included the former USSR zone; unification of West Germany and East Germany took place 3 October 1990; all four powers formally relinquished rights 15 March 1991
National holiday: Unity Day, 3 October (1990)
Constitution: 23 May 1949, known as Basic Law; became constitution of the united Germany 3 October 1990
Legal system: civil law system with indigenous concepts; judicial review of legislative acts in the Federal Constitutional Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Horst KOEHLER (since 1 July 2004)
head of government: Chancellor Angela MERKEL (since 22 November 2005)
cabinet: Cabinet or Bundesminister (Federal Ministers) appointed by the president on the recommendation of the chancellor
elections: president elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term) by a Federal Convention, including all members of the Federal Assembly and an equal number of delegates elected by the state parliaments; election last held 23 May 2004 (next scheduled for 23 May 2009); chancellor elected by an absolute majority of the Federal Assembly for a four-year term; Bundestag vote for Chancellor last held 22 November 2005 (next will follow the national elections to be held by autumn 2009)
election results: Horst KOEHLER elected president; received 604 votes of the Federal Convention against 589 for Gesine SCHWAN; Angela MERKEL elected chancellor; vote by Federal Assembly 397 to 202 with 12 abstentions
Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Parlament consists of the Federal Assembly or Bundestag (614 seats; elected by popular vote under a system combining direct and proportional representation; a party must win 5% of the national vote or three direct mandates to gain proportional representation and caucus recognition; to serve four-year terms) and the Federal Council or Bundesrat (69 votes; state governments are directly represented by votes; each has three to six votes depending on population and are required to vote as a block)
elections: Bundestag - last held on 18 September 2005 (next to be held no later than autumn 2009); note - there are no elections for the Bundesrat; composition is determined by the composition of the state-level governments; the composition of the Bundesrat has the potential to change any time one of the 16 states holds an election
election results: Bundestag - percent of vote by party - CDU/CSU 35.2%, SPD 34.3%, FDP 9.8%, Left 8.7%, Greens 8.1%, other 3.9%; seats by party - CDU/CSU 225, SPD 222, FDP 61, Left 53, Greens 51, independents 2
Judicial branch: Federal Constitutional Court or Bundesverfassungsgericht (half the judges are elected by the Bundestag and half by the Bundesrat)
Political parties and leaders: Alliance '90/Greens [Claudia ROTH and Reinhard BUETIKOFER]; Christian Democratic Union or CDU [Angela MERKEL]; Christian Social Union or CSU [Erwin HUBER]; Free Democratic Party or FDP [Guido WESTERWELLE]; Left Party or Die Linke [Lothar BISKY and Oskar LAFONTAINE]; Social Democratic Party or SPD [Kurt BECK]
Political pressure groups and leaders: business associations and employers' organizations; religious, trade unions, immigrant, expellee, and veterans groups
International organization participation: ADB (nonregional members), AfDB, Arctic Council (observer), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS, CDB, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, G- 5, G- 7, G- 8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, Schengen Convention, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMEE, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WADB (nonregional), WCO, WEU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Klaus SCHARIOTH
chancery: 4645 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 298-4000
FAX: [1] (202) 298-4249
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador William R. TIMKEN, Jr.
embassy: Neustaedtische Kirchstrasse 4-5, 10117 Berlin; note - a new embassy is being built near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin; ground was broken in October 2004 and completion is scheduled for 2008
mailing address: PSC 120, Box 1000, APO AE 09265
telephone: [49] (030) 2375174
FAX: [49] (030) 8305-1215
consulate(s) general: Duesseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and gold
Culture

Germany is often called Das Land der Dichter und Denker (the land of poets and thinkers).[81] 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. As a result, it is difficult to identify a specific German tradition separated from the larger framework of European high culture.[82] Another consequence of these circumstances is the fact, that some historical figures, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Kafka and Paul Celan, though not citizens of Germany in the modern sense, must be seen in the context of the German cultural sphere to understand their historical situation, work and social relations.

Germany claims some of the world's most renowned classical music composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner. As of 2006, Germany is the fifth largest music market in the world and has influenced pop and rock music through artists such as Kraftwerk, Scorpions and Rammstein.[83]

Numerous German painters have enjoyed international prestige through their work in diverse artistic currents. Hans Holbein the Younger, Matthias Grünewald, and Albrecht Dürer were important artists of the Renaissance, Caspar David Friedrich of Romanticism, and Max Ernst of Surrealism. Architectural contributions from Germany include the Carolingian and Ottonian styles, which were important precursors of Romanesque. The region later became the site for significant works in styles such as Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. Germany was particularly important in the early modern movement, especially through the Bauhaus movement founded by Walter Gropius. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, also from Germany, became one of world's most renowned architects in the second half of the 20th century. The glass facade skyscraper was his idea.

Philosophy

German literature can be traced back to the Middle Ages and the works of writers such as Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Various German authors and poets have won great renown, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. The collections of folk tales published by the Brothers Grimm popularized German folklore on the international level. Influential authors of the 20th century include Thomas Mann, Berthold Brecht, Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Böll, and Günter Grass.

Germany's influence on philosophy is historically significant and many notable German philosophers have helped shape western philosophy since the Middle Ages. Gottfried Leibniz's contributions to rationalism, Immanuel Kant's, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling's and Johann Gottlieb Fichte's establishment of the classical German idealism, Karl Marx's and Friedrich Engels' formulation of Communist theory, Arthur Schopenhauer's composition of metaphysical pessimism, Friedrich Nietzsche's development of Perspectivism, Martin Heidegger's works on Being, and the social theories of Jürgen Habermas were especially influential.

Media

Germany's television market is the largest in Europe, with some 34 million TV households. The many regional and national public broadcasters are organised in line with the federal political structure. Around 90% of German households have cable or satellite TV, and viewers can choose from a variety of free-to-view public and commercial channels. Pay-TV services have not become popular or successful while public TV broadcasters ZDF and ARD offer a range of digital-only channels.

Germany is home to some of the world's largest media conglomerates, including Bertelsmann and the publisher Axel Springer. Some of Germany's top free-to-air commercial TV networks are owned by ProSiebenSat1.

In November 2007 the top visited websites by German internet users have been Google, Ebay, Youtube, Yahoo, studiVZ and Wikipedia.

Cinema

German cinema dates back to the very early years of the medium with the work of Max Skladanowsky. It was particularly influential during the years of the Weimar Republic with German expressionists such as Robert Wiene and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. Austria-based director Fritz Lang, who became a German citizen in 1926 and whose career flourished in pre-war German film industry, is said to be a major influence on Hollywood cinema. His silent movie Metropolis (1927) is referred to as birth of modern Science Fiction movies.

In 1930 Austrian-American Josef von Sternberg directed The Blue Angel, which was the first major German sound film and it brought world fame to actress Marlene Dietrich.[88] Impressionist documentary Berlin: Symphony of a Great City directed by Walter Ruttmann, is a prominent example of the city symphony genre. The Nazi era produced mostly propaganda films although the work of Leni Riefenstahl still introduced new aesthetics in film.[89]

During the 1970-80s, New German Cinema directors such as Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder placed West-German cinema back onto the international stage with their often provocative films.

More recently, films such as Das Boot (1981) , Lola rennt (Run Lola Run) (1998) , Das Experiment (2001) , Good Bye Lenin! (2003) , Gegen die Wand (Head-on) (2004) and Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004) have enjoyed international success. The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film went to the German production Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) in 1979, to Nowhere in Africa in 2002, and to Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) in 2007.[91] Among the most famous German actors are Marlene Dietrich, Klaus Kinski, Hanna Schygulla, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Jürgen Prochnow and Thomas Kretschmann.

The Berlin Film Festival, held annually since 1951, is one of the world's foremost film festivals. An international jury places emphasis on representing films from all over the world and awards the winner with the Golden and Silver Bears.[92] The annual European Film Awards ceremony is held every second year in the city of Berlin, where the European Film Academy (EFA) is located. The Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam are the oldest large-scale film studios in the world and a center for international film production.

Sports

Sport forms an integral part of German life. Twenty-seven million Germans are members of a sports club and an additional twelve million pursue such an activity individually.[93] Football (soccer) is the most popular sport. With more than 6.3 million official members, the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund ) is the largest sports organisation of this kind worldwide.[93] The Bundesliga attracts the second highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world. The German national football team won the FIFA World Cup in 1954, 1974 and 1990 and the European Football Championship in 1972, 1980 and 1996. Among the most successful and renowned footballers are Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Jürgen Klinsmann, Lothar Matthäus and Oliver Kahn. Other popular team and spectator sports include handball, volleyball, basketball, and ice hockey and tennis.[93]

Germany is one of the leading motorsports countries in the world. Race winning cars, teams and drivers have come from Germany. The most successful Formula One driver in history, Michael Schumacher has set the most significant motorsport records during his career and won more Formula One championships and races than any other driver since Formula one's debut season in 1946. He is one of the highest paid sportsmen in history and became a Billionaire athlete.[94] Constructers like BMW and Mercedes are among the leading teams in motorsport sponsoring. Porsche has won The 24 hours of Le Mans, a prestigious annual race held in France, 16 times. The Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters is a popular series in Germany.

Historically, German sportsmen have been some of the most successful contenders in the Olympic Games, ranking third in an all-time Olympic Games medal count, combining East and West German medals. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, Germany finished sixth in the medal count,[95] while in the 2006 Winter Olympics they finished first.[96] Germany has hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice, in Berlin in 1936 and in Munich in 1972. The Winter Olympic Games took place once in 1936 when they were staged in the Bavarian twin towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen.

Economy Economy - overview: Germany's affluent and technologically powerful economy - the fifth largest in the world in PPP terms - showed considerable improvement in 2007 with 2.6% growth. After a long period of stagnation with an average growth rate of 0.7% between 2001-05 and chronically high unemployment, stronger growth led to a considerable fall in unemployment to about 8% near the end of 2007. Among the most important reasons for Germany's high unemployment during the past decade were macroeconomic stagnation, the declining level of investment in plant and equipment, company restructuring, flat domestic consumption, structural rigidities in the labor market, lack of competition in the service sector, and high interest rates. The modernization and integration of the eastern German economy continues to be a costly long-term process, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $80 billion. The former government of Chancellor Gerhard SCHROEDER launched a comprehensive set of reforms of labor market and welfare-related institutions. The current government of Chancellor Angela MERKEL has initiated other reform measures, such as a gradual increase in the mandatory retirement age from 65 to 67 and measures to increase female participation in the labor market. Germany's aging population, combined with high chronic unemployment, has pushed social security outlays to a level exceeding contributions, but higher government revenues from the cyclical upturn in 2006-07 and a 3% rise in the value-added tax pushed Germany's budget deficit well below the EU's 3% debt limit. Corporate restructuring and growing capital markets are setting the foundations that could help Germany meet the long-term challenges of European economic integration and globalization, although some economists continue to argue the need for change in inflexible labor and services markets. Growth may fall below 2% in 2008 as the strong euro, high oil prices, tighter credit markets, and slowing growth abroad take their toll.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $2.833 trillion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $3.259 trillion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.6% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $34,400 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 0.9%
industry: 29.6%
services: 69.5% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 43.63 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 2.8%
industry: 33.4%
services: 63.8% (1999)
Unemployment rate: 9.1%
note: this is the International Labor Organization's estimated rate for international comparisons; Germany's Federal Employment Office estimated a seasonally adjusted rate of 10.8% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 11% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 3.2%
highest 10%: 22.1% (2000)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 28 (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 18.4% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.465 trillion
expenditures: $1.477 trillion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 65.3% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: potatoes, wheat, barley, sugar beets, fruit, cabbages; cattle, pigs, poultry
Industries: among the world's largest and most technologically advanced producers of iron, steel, coal, cement, chemicals, machinery, vehicles, machine tools, electronics, food and beverages, shipbuilding, textiles
Industrial production growth rate: 2.1% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 579.4 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 61.8%
hydro: 4.2%
nuclear: 29.9%
other: 4.1% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 545.5 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 61.43 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 56.86 billion kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 141,700 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - consumption: 2.618 million bbl/day (2005)
Oil - exports: 518,700 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 2.953 million bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 367.2 million bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 19.9 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 96.84 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 9.42 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 86.99 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 246.5 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $185.1 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $1.361 trillion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: machinery, vehicles, chemicals, metals and manufactures, foodstuffs, textiles
Exports - partners: France 9.5%, US 8.7%, UK 7.3%, Italy 6.7%, Netherlands 6.3%, Austria 5.6%, Belgium 5.2%, Spain 4.7% (2006)
Imports: $1.121 trillion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery, vehicles, chemicals, foodstuffs, textiles, metals
Imports - partners: Netherlands 11.8%, France 8.5%, Belgium 7.2%, China 5.9%, UK 5.7%, Italy 5.6%, US 5.3%, Austria 4.3% (2006)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $5.6 billion (1998)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $111.6 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external: $4.489 trillion (30 June 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $763.9 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $941.4 billion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $1.221 trillion (2005)
Currency (code): euro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Currency code: EUR
Exchange rates: euros per US dollar - 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004), 0.886 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 54.2 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 84.3 million (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: Germany has one of the world's most technologically advanced telecommunications systems; as a result of intensive capital expenditures since reunification, the formerly backward system of the eastern part of the country, dating back to World War II, has been modernized and integrated with that of the western part
domestic: Germany is served by an extensive system of automatic telephone exchanges connected by modern networks of fiber-optic cable, coaxial cable, microwave radio relay, and a domestic satellite system; cellular telephone service is widely available, expanding rapidly, and includes roaming service to many foreign countries
international: country code - 49; Germany's international service is excellent worldwide, consisting of extensive land and undersea cable facilities as well as earth stations in the Inmarsat, Intelsat, Eutelsat, and Intersputnik satellite systems (2001)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 51, FM 787, shortwave 4 (1998)
Radios: 77.8 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 373 (plus 8,042 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions: 51.4 million (1998)
Internet country code: .de
Internet hosts: 16.494 million (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 200 (2001)
Internet users: 38.6 million (2006)
Transportation Airports: 550 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 331
over 3,047 m: 14
2,438 to 3,047 m: 52
1,524 to 2,437 m: 58
914 to 1,523 m: 72
under 914 m: 135 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 219
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 34
under 914 m: 181 (2007)
Heliports: 28 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 37 km; gas 25,094 km; oil 3,546 km; refined products 3,828 km (2007)
Railways: total: 48,215 km
standard gauge: 47,962 km 1.435-m gauge (20,278 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 229 km 1.000-m gauge (16 km electrified); 24 km 0.750-m gauge (2006)
Roadways: total: 231,581 km
paved: 231,581 km (includes 12,200 km of expressways) (2005)
Waterways: 7,467 km
note: Rhine River carries most goods; Main-Danube Canal links North Sea and Black Sea (2006)
Merchant marine: total: 382 ships (1000 GRT or over) 12,085,484 GRT/14,261,476 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 50, chemical tanker 11, container 269, liquefied gas 5, passenger 5, passenger/cargo 26, petroleum tanker 12, roll on/roll off 3
foreign-owned: 7 (China 2, Finland 4, Ireland 1)
registered in other countries: 2,716 (Antigua and Barbuda 891, Australia 2, Bahamas 40, Belgium 1, Bermuda 21, Brazil 7, Bulgaria 1, Burma 5, Canada 3, Cayman Islands 17, Cyprus 197, Denmark 12, Faroe Islands 1, Finland 2, France 1, Georgia 2, Gibraltar 117, Hong Kong 10, Isle of Man 61, Italy 1, Jamaica 1, Liberia 728, Luxembourg 10, Malaysia 2, Malta 67, Marshall Islands 214, Morocco 1, Netherlands 70, Netherlands Antilles 48, Norway 2, NZ 1, Panama 38, Portugal 22, Russia 2, Singapore 18, Spain 9, Sri Lanka 6, St Vincent and The Grenadines 3, Sweden 4, Turkey 1, UK 71, US 6) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Bremen, Bremerhaven, Duisburg, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Lubeck, Rostock, Wilhemshaven
Military Military branches: Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr): Army (Heer), Navy (Deutsche Marine, includes naval air arm), Air Force (Luftwaffe), Joint Service Support Command (Streitkraeftebasis), Central Medical Service (Zentraler Sanitaetsdienst) (2006)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age (conscripts serve a 9-month tour of compulsory military service) (2004)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 18,917,537
females age 18-49: 17,913,113 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 15,258,931
females age 18-49: 14,443,412 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 497,048
females age 18-49: 470,537 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.5% (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: none
Illicit drugs: source of precursor chemicals for South American cocaine processors; transshipment point for and consumer of Southwest Asian heroin, Latin American cocaine, and European-produced synthetic drugs; major financial center