Germany

GERMANY

RSS NEWS
+ ADD TO YOUR WEBSITE
+ ADD TO WORDPRESS
                     

Germany Wikipedia



This article is about the country. For other uses of terms redirecting here, see Germany (disambiguation) and Deutschland (disambiguation).
Federal Republic of Germany
Bundesrepublik Deutschland
FlagCoat of arms
Motto: 
  • "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit" (German)
  • "Unity and Justice and Freedom" (unofficial)
Anthem: 
  • Third stanza of
  • Das Lied der Deutschen (Song of the Germans)



Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player.


You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.
Bundesadler
  • Coat of Arms of the German Government
Location of  Germany  (dark green)– in Europe  (green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (green)  –  [Legend]
Location of  Germany  (dark green)
– in Europe  (green & dark grey)

– in the European Union  (green)  –  [Legend]
Capital


and largest city
Country symbol of Berlin color.svg Berlin


52°31′N 13°23′E / 52.517°N 13.383°E / 52.517; 13.383
Official languagesGerman
Ethnic groups
  • 81% Germans
  • 7% other Europeans
  • 4% Turks
  • 2% Asian
  • 6% others
DemonymGerman
GovernmentFederal parliamentary constitutional republic
 - PresidentJoachim Gauck
 - ChancellorAngela Merkel
 - President of the BundestagNorbert Lammert
 - President of the BundesratStephan Weil
Legislature
 - Upper houseBundesrat
 - Lower houseBundestag
Formation
 - Holy Roman Empire2 February 962 
 - German Confederation8 June 1815 
 - Unification18 January 1871 
 - Federal Republic23 May 1949 
 - Reunification3 October 1990 
Area
 - Total357,168 km2 (63rd)


137,847 sq mi
 - Water (%)2.416
Population
 - 2014 estimate80,716,000 (16th)
 - 2011 census80,219,695 (16th)
 - Density226/km2 (58th)


583/sq mi
GDP (PPP)2014 estimate
 - Total$3.338 trillion (5th)
 - Per capita$41,248 (16th)
GDP (nominal)2014 estimate
 - Total$3.876 trillion (4th)
 - Per capita$47,893 (15th)
Gini (2011)29.0


low
HDI (2013)Increase 0.920


very high · 5th
CurrencyEuro (€) (EUR)
Time zoneCET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST)CEST (UTC+2)
Drives on theright
Calling code49
Internet TLD.de 
a.^ Danish, Low German, Sorbian, Romany, and Frisian are officially recognised by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML).
b.^ The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.
Germany (Listeni/ˈdʒɜrməni/; German: Deutschland), officially the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland, pronounced [ˈbʊndəsʁepuˌbliːk ˈdɔʏtʃlant] ( listen)), is a federal parliamentary republic in western-central Europe consisting of 16 constituent states, which retain limited sovereignty. Its capital city and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 square kilometres (137,847 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With 80.6 million inhabitants, it is the most populous member state in the European Union. Germany is the major economic and political power of the European continent and a historic leader in many cultural, theoretical and technical fields.

Various Germanic tribes have occupied what is now northern Germany and southern Scandinavia since classical antiquity. A region named Germania was documented by the Romans before AD 100. During the Migration Period that coincided with the decline of the Roman Empire, the Germanic tribes expanded southward and established kingdoms throughout much of Europe. Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. Occupied during the Napoleonic Wars, the rise of Pan-Germanism inside the German Confederation resulted in the unification of most of the German states in 1871 into the German Empire, which was dominated by Prussia.

After the German Revolution of 1918–1919 and the subsequent military surrender in World War I, the Empire was replaced by the parliamentary Weimar Republic in 1918 and lost some of its territory in the Treaty of Versailles. Despite its lead in many scientific and cultural fields at this time, Germany experienced significant economic and political instability which intensified during the Great Depression. The establishment of the Third Reich or Nazi Regime in 1933 eventually led to World War II and the Holocaust. After 1945, Germany was divided by Allied occupation, and evolved into two states, East Germany and West Germany. In 1990, the country was reunified.

Germany has the world's fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth-largest by purchasing power parity. As a global leader in several industrial and technological sectors, it is both the world's third-largest exporter and third-largest importer of goods. It is a developed country with a very high standard of living, featuring comprehensive social security that includes the world's oldest universal health care system. Known for its rich cultural and political history, Germany has been the home of many influential philosophers, music composers, scientists, and inventors. Germany was a founding member of the European Community in 1957, which became the EU in 1993. It is part of the Schengen Area, and has been a member of the eurozone since 1999. Germany is a great power, and a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G8, the G20, the OECD and the Council of Europe.

Contents

              Etymology

              Further information: Names of Germany
              The English word Germany derives from the Latin Germania, which came into use after Julius Caesar adopted it for the peoples east of the Rhine. More specifically, it was the Gauls who first called the people who crossed east of the Rhine Germani (which the Romans adopted) as the original Germanic tribes did not refer to themselves as Germanus or Germani. Thus it was only when on Roman soil that this term was employed and the expression generally connoted those peoples who originally hailed east of the Rhine and/or north of the Danube. The German term Deutschland (originally diutisciu land, "the German lands") is derived from deutsch, descended from Old High German diutisc "popular" (i.e. belonging to the diot or diota "people"), originally used to distinguish the language of the common people from Latin and its Romance descendants. This in turn descends from Proto-Germanic *þiudiskaz "popular" (see also the Latinised form Theodiscus), derived from *þeudō, descended from Proto-Indo-European *tewtéh₂- "people".

              History

              Main article: History of Germany

              Germanic tribes and Frankish Empire

              Main articles: Germania and Migration Period



              Second- to fifth-century migrations in Europe
              The Germanic tribes are thought to date from the Nordic Bronze Age or the Pre-Roman Iron Age. From southern Scandinavia and north Germany, they expanded south, east and west from the 1st century BC, coming into contact with the Celtic tribes of Gaul as well as Iranian, Baltic, and Slavic tribes in Central and Eastern Europe. Under Augustus, Rome began to invade Germania (an area extending roughly from the Rhine to the Ural Mountains). In AD 9, three Roman legions led by Publius Quinctilius Varus were defeated by the Cheruscan leader Arminius. By AD 100, when Tacitus wrote Germania, Germanic tribes had settled along the Rhine and the Danube (Limes Germanicus), occupying most of the area of modern Germany; Austria, southern Bavaria and the western Rhineland, however, were Roman provinces.

              In the 3rd century a number of large West Germanic tribes emerged: Alemanni, Franks, Chatti, Saxons, Frisii, Sicambri, and Thuringii. Around 260, the Germanic peoples broke into Roman-controlled lands. After an invasion by the Huns in 375, and with the decline of Rome from 395, Germanic tribes moved further south-west. Simultaneously several large tribes formed in what is now Germany and displaced the smaller Germanic tribes. Large areas (known since the Merovingian period as Austrasia) were occupied by the Franks, and Northern Germany was ruled by the Saxons and Slavs.

              Holy Roman Empire

              The Imperial Crown of the kings of the Holy Roman Empire
              Map of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation in 1600 (in today's state borders)
              Main article: Holy Roman Empire
              On 25 December 800, the Frankish king Charlemagne was crowned emperor and founded the Carolingian Empire, which was divided in 843. Frankish rule was extended under Charlemagne's sons and then later by his grandson 'Louis the German' who was referred to as Germanicus, but the Carolingian Empire he ruled was the old Germania (to the right of the Rhine) and this geographical portion of the east Frankish kingdom additionally subsumed an assemblage of Alamanni, Bavarians, Main Franks, Saxons, Thuringians, Slavic tribes from the Baltic and Adriatic, and even some Pannonian Avars. As such, the Holy Roman Empire comprised the eastern portion of Charlemagne's original kingdom and emerged as the strongest, some of this consequent to the aforementioned reign of 'Louis the German' and its extended cohesion was achieved through the unification efforts of Conrad of Franconia (911-918). Its territory stretched from the Eider River in the north to the Mediterranean coast in the south. Under the reign of the Ottonian emperors (919–1024), several major duchies were consolidated, and the German king Otto I was crowned Holy Roman Emperor of these regions in 962. In 996 Gregory V became the first German Pope, appointed by his cousin Otto III, whom he shortly after crowned Holy Roman Emperor. The Holy Roman Empire absorbed northern Italy and Burgundy under the reign of the Salian emperors (1024–1125), although the emperors lost power through the Investiture Controversy.



              Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation
              Under the Hohenstaufen emperors (1138–1254), the German princes increased their influence further south and east into territories inhabited by Slavs, preceding German settlement in these areas and further east (Ostsiedlung). Northern German towns grew prosperous as members of the Hanseatic League. Starting with the Great Famine in 1315, then the Black Death of 1348–50, the population of Germany plummeted. The edict of the Golden Bull in 1356 provided the basic constitution of the empire and codified the election of the emperor by seven prince-electors who ruled some of the most powerful principalities and archbishoprics.

              Martin Luther publicised The Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 in Wittenberg, challenging the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church and initiating the Protestant Reformation. A separate Lutheran church became the official religion in many German states after 1530. Religious conflict led to the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), which devastated German lands. The population of the German states was reduced by about 30%. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) ended religious warfare among the German states, but the empire was de facto divided into numerous independent principalities. In the 18th century, the Holy Roman Empire consisted of approximately 1,800 such territories.

              From 1740 onwards, 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.

              German Confederation and Empire

              Main articles: German Confederation, German Empire and Pan-Germanism



              Origin of the Black-Red-Gold: German Revolution of 1848 (Berlin, 19 March 1848)



              Foundation of the German Empire in Versailles, 1871. Bismarck is at the center in a white uniform.
              Following the fall of Napoleon, 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, followed by new measures of repression by Austrian statesman Metternich. The Zollverein, a tariff union, furthered economic unity in the German states. National and liberal ideals of the French Revolution gained increasing support among many, especially young, Germans. The Hambach Festival in May 1832 was a main event in support of German unity, freedom and democracy. In the light of a series of revolutionary movements in Europe, which established a republic in France, intellectuals and commoners started the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. 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 Minister President 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 Confederation (Norddeutscher Bund) and to exclude Austria, formerly the leading German state, from the federation's affairs. After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the German Empire was proclaimed in 1871 in Versailles, uniting all scattered parts of Germany except Austria (Kleindeutschland, or "Lesser Germany").



              The German Empire (1871–1918), with the dominant Kingdom of Prussia in blue
              With almost two-thirds of its territory and population, Prussia was the dominating constituent of the new state; the Hohenzollern King of Prussia ruled as its concurrent Emperor, and Berlin became its capital. In the Gründerzeit period following the unification of Germany, Bismarck's foreign policy as Chancellor of Germany under Emperor William I secured Germany's position as a great nation by forging alliances, isolating France by diplomatic means, and avoiding war. As a result of the Berlin Conference in 1884 Germany claimed several colonies including German East Africa, German South-West Africa, Togo, and Cameroon. Under Wilhelm II, however, Germany, like other European powers, took an imperialistic course leading to friction with neighbouring countries. Most alliances in which Germany had previously been involved were not renewed, and new alliances excluded the country.

              The assassination of Austria's crown prince on 28 June 1914 triggered World War I. Germany, as part of the Central Powers, suffered defeat against the Allies in one of the bloodiest conflicts of all time. An estimated two million German soldiers died in World War I. The German Revolution broke out in November 1918, and Emperor Wilhelm II and all German ruling princes abdicated. An armistice ended the war on 11 November, and Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. Germans perceived the treaty as humiliating and unjust and it was later seen by historians as influential in the rise of Hitler.

              Weimar Republic and the Third Reich

              Main articles: Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany
              At the beginning of the German Revolution in November 1918, Germany was declared a republic. However, the struggle for power continued, with radical-left Communists seizing power in Bavaria. The revolution came to an end on 11 August 1919, when the democratic Weimar Constitution was signed by President Friedrich Ebert. Following a period of inflation, culminating in the hyperinflation of 1922-23, a debt restructuring plan (the Dawes Plan), withdrawal of Belgian and French troops from the Ruhr and the creation of a new currency in 1924, the Golden Twenties (an era of increasing national confidence, artistic innovation, liberal cultural life and economic prosperity) began. This ended with the Great Depression of 1929.

              In September 1930 the Nazi Party won just under 18% of the votes in the federal election of 1930. Forming a coalition government proved impossible and Chancellor Heinrich Brüning's government asked President Paul von Hindenburg to grant him Article 48 powers so that he could enact emergency policies without parliamentary approval. Hindenburg approved the request and Brüning's government pursued a policy of fiscal austerity and deflation which caused higher unemployment and left Germans, especially the unemployed, with fewer social services.



              Adolf Hitler, Führer of Nazi Germany
              By 1932 nearly 30% of Germany's workforce was unemployed and in the special federal election of 1932 the Nazi Party won 37% of the vote but could not form a coalition government. After a series of unsuccessful cabinets, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933. On 27 February 1933 the Reichstag building went up in flames, the Reichstag Fire Decree was passed abrogating basic civil rights and the Enabling Act of 1933 gave Hitler unrestricted legislative power. Hitler established a centralised totalitarian state and opened Germany's first concentration camps in February 1933. In September 1933 Germans voted to withdraw from the League of Nations. Hitler began to pursue military rearmament and used deficit spending to employ millions of Germans in public works projects and industry.

              In August 1934 the cabinet enacted the "Law Concerning the Highest State Office of the Reich" which altered the traditional loyalty oath of servicemen so that they affirmed loyalty to Hitler personally rather than to the office of supreme commander or the state and in a special referendum 90 per cent of the electorate approved merging the presidency with the chancellorship. In 1935 the Nazi regime reintroduced compulsory military service, withdrew from the Treaty of Versailles and introduced the Nuremberg Laws which targeted Jews and other groups.

              Germany reacquired control of the Saar in 1935 and in 1936 sent troops into the Rhineland, which had been forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. Austria was annexed in 1938 and despite the Munich Agreement in September 1938, Germany occupied Czechoslovakia on 15 March 1939. Hitler's government then prepared for the invasion of Poland by signing the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact and planning a fake Polish attack. On 1 September 1939 the German Wehrmacht launched their Invasion of Poland, and swiftly occupied the country along with the Soviet Red Army. As a result of the invasion the United Kingdom and France declared war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II. As the war progressed, Germany and the other Axis powers quickly gained control of most of continental Europe and North Africa, though plans to force the United Kingdom to an armistice or surrender failed. On 22 June 1941, Germany broke the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact and invaded the Soviet Union. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor led Germany to declare war on the United States in December 1941. The Battle of Stalingrad was a turning point in the war and forced the German army to retreat on the Eastern front.

              In September 1943, Germany's ally Italy surrendered, and additional German troops were needed to defend against Allied forces in Italy. The D-Day invasion of France opened a Western front in the war and despite a German counter offensive Allied forces had entered Germany by 1945. Following Hilter's suicide and the Battle of Berlin, the German armed forces surrendered on 8 May 1945. The war was humanity's bloodiest conflict and caused the deaths of around 40 million people in Europe alone. German army war casualties were between 3.25 million and 5.3 million soldiers, and between 1 and 3 million German civilians were killed.

              In what later became known as The Holocaust, the Nazi regime enacted policies which targeted minorities as well as political and religious opposition. Over 10 million civilians were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, including six million Jews, between 220,000 and 1,500,000 Romani people, 275,000 persons with mental and/or physical disabilities, thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses, thousands of homosexuals, and hundreds of thousands of members of the political and religious opposition. Six million Ukrainians and Poles and an estimated 2.8 million Soviet war prisoners were also killed by the Nazi regime.



              Berlin in ruins after World War II.
              Losing the war resulted in territorial losses for Germany, the expulsion of millions of ethnic Germans from the former eastern territories of Germany and formerly occupied countries. Germany, like many of the countries it had occupied, suffered mass rape and the destruction of numerous major cities due to bombing and fighting during the war. After World War II, Nazis, former Nazis and others were tried for war crimes, including crimes related to the Holocaust, at the Nuremberg trials.

              East and West Germany

              Main article: History of Germany (1945–1990)



              Occupation zones in Germany, 1947. The territories east of the Oder-Neisse line, under Polish and Soviet de jure administration and de facto annexation, are shown as white, as is the detached Saar protectorate.
              After the surrender of Germany, the remaining German territory and Berlin were partitioned by the Allies into four military occupation zones. Together, these zones accepted more than 6.5 million of the ethnic Germans expelled from eastern areas. The western sectors, controlled by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, were merged on 23 May 1949 to form the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland); on 7 October 1949, the Soviet Zone became the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or DDR). They were informally known as "West Germany" and "East Germany". East Germany selected East Berlin as its capital, while West Germany chose Bonn as a provisional capital, to emphasise its stance that the two-state solution was an artificial and temporary status quo. The Federal Republic of Germany became a major recipient of reconstruction aid under the Marshall Plan and received around $1.5 billion (approx. $14.5 billion in 2014 dollars[unreliable source?]) in aid between 1948 and 1951.[citation needed]

              West Germany, established as a federal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy", was allied with the United States, the UK and France. Konrad Adenauer was elected the first Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler) of Germany in 1949 and remained in office until 1963. Under his and Ludwig Erhard's leadership, the country enjoyed prolonged economic growth beginning in the early 1950s, that became famous as the "economic miracle" (German: Wirtschaftswunder). West Germany joined NATO in 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957.

              East Germany was an Eastern Bloc state under political and military control by the USSR via the latter's occupation forces and the Warsaw Pact. Though East Germany claimed to be a democracy, political power was exercised solely by leading members (Politbüro) of the communist-controlled Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), supported by the Stasi, an immense secret service, and a variety of sub-organisations controlling every aspect of society. A Soviet-style command economy was set up; the GDR later became a Comecon state.



              The Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate shortly before its fall in 1989. Today the Gate is often regarded as Germany's main national landmark.
              While East German propaganda was based on the benefits of the GDR's social programmes and the alleged constant threat of a West German invasion, many of its citizens looked to the West for freedom and prosperity. The Berlin Wall, built in 1961 to stop East Germans from escaping to West Germany, became a symbol of the Cold War, hence its fall in 1989, following democratic reforms in Poland and Hungary, became a symbol of the Fall of Communism, German Reunification and Die Wende.

              Tensions between East and West Germany were reduced in the early 1970s by Chancellor Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik. In summer 1989, Hungary decided to dismantle the Iron Curtain and open the borders, causing the emigration of thousands of East Germans to West Germany via Hungary. This had devastating effects on the GDR, where regular mass demonstrations received increasing support. The East German authorities unexpectedly eased the border restrictions, allowing East German citizens to travel to the West; originally intended to help retain East Germany as a state, the opening of the border actually led to an acceleration of the Wende reform process. This culminated in the Two Plus Four Treaty a year later on 12 September 1990, under which the four occupying powers renounced their rights under the Instrument of Surrender, and Germany regained full sovereignty. This permitted German reunification on 3 October 1990, with the accession of the five re-established states of the former GDR (new states or "neue Länder").

              German reunification and the EU




              The German Unity Flag, raised outside the Reichstag on 3 October 1990 as a national memorial to German reunification. The Reichstag is the meeting place of the Bundestag (German parliament).
              Main articles: German reunification and History of Germany since 1990
              Based on the Berlin/Bonn Act, adopted on 10 March 1994, Berlin once again became the capital of the reunified Germany, while Bonn obtained the unique status of a Bundesstadt (federal city) retaining some federal ministries. The relocation of the government was completed in 1999.

              Since reunification, Germany has taken a more active 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. These deployments were controversial since, after the war, Germany was bound by domestic law only to deploy troops for defence roles. In 2005, Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany as the leader of a grand coalition. Germany hosted the 2007 G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Mecklenburg. In 2009, a liberal-conservative coalition under Merkel assumed leadership of the country. In 2013, another grand coalition was established in a Third Merkel cabinet.

              Geography




              Topographic map
              Main article: Geography of Germany
              Germany is in Western and Central Europe, with Denmark bordering to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France and Luxembourg to the southwest, and Belgium and the Netherlands to the northwest. It lies mostly between latitudes 47° and 55° N (the tip of Sylt is just north of 55°), and longitudes 5° and 16° E. The territory covers 357,021 km2 (137,847 sq mi), consisting of 349,223 km2 (134,836 sq mi) of land and 7,798 km2 (3,011 sq mi) of water. It is the seventh largest country by area in Europe and the 62nd largest in the world.

              Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Alps (highest point: the Zugspitze at 2,962 metres or 9,718 feet) in the south to the shores of the North Sea (Nordsee) in the northwest and the Baltic Sea (Ostsee) in the northeast. The forested uplands of central Germany and the lowlands of northern Germany (lowest point: Wilstermarsch at 3.54 metres or 11.6 feet below sea level) are traversed by such major rivers as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe. Glaciers are found in the Alpine region, but are experiencing deglaciation. Significant natural resources are iron ore, coal, potash, timber, lignite, uranium, copper, natural gas, salt, nickel, arable land and water.

              Climate




              Steep coast of Darss, Western Pomerania - typical of the Baltic coastal landscape in northern Germany
              Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate in which humid westerly winds predominate. The country is situated in between the oceanic Western European and the continental Eastern European climate. The climate is moderated by the North Atlantic Drift, the northern extension of the Gulf Stream. This warmer water affects the areas bordering the North Sea; consequently in the northwest and the north the climate is oceanic. Germany gets an average of 789 mm (31 in) precipitation per year. Rainfall occurs year-round, with no obligatory dry season. Winters are mild and summers tend to be warm, temperatures can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).

              The east has a more continental climate; winters can be very cold and summers very warm, and longer dry periods can occur. 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 mountain climate, characterised by lower temperatures and greater precipitation.

              Biodiversity




              The golden eagle is a protected bird of prey.
              The territory of Germany can be subdivided into two ecoregions: European-Mediterranean montane mixed forests and Northeast-Atlantic shelf marine. As of 2008[update] the majority of Germany is covered by either arable land (34%) or forest and woodland (30.1%); only 13.4% of the area consists of permanent pastures, 11.8% is covered by settlements and streets.

              Plants and animals are those generally common to middle Europe. Beeches, oaks, and other deciduous trees constitute one-third of the forests; conifers are increasing as a result of reforestation. Spruce and fir trees predominate in the upper mountains, while pine and larch are found in sandy soil. There are many species of ferns, flowers, fungi, and mosses. Wild animals include deer, wild boar, mouflon, fox, badger, hare, and small numbers of beavers. The blue cornflower was once a German national symbol.

              The 14 national parks in Germany include the Jasmund National Park, the Vorpommern Lagoon Area National Park, the Müritz National Park, the Wadden Sea National Parks, the Harz National Park, the Hainich National Park, the Saxon Switzerland National Park, the Bavarian Forest National Park and the Berchtesgaden National Park. In addition, there are 14 Biosphere Reserves, as well as 98 nature parks.

              More than 400 registered zoos and animal parks operate in Germany, which is believed to be the largest number in any country. The Berlin Zoo opened in 1844 is the oldest zoo in Germany, and presents the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.

              Politics

              Main article: Politics of Germany
              See also: Judiciary of Germany and Law enforcement in Germany



              Political system of Germany



              The Reichstag building in Berlin is the site of the German parliament (Bundestag)
              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 generally require a two-thirds majority of both chambers of 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.

              The president is the head of state and invested primarily with representative responsibilities and powers. He is 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 Bundestagspräsident (President of the Bundestag), who is elected by the Bundestag and responsible for overseeing the daily sessions of the body.
              2011 Joachim Gauck-2.jpgAngela Merkel (August 2012) cropped.jpg
              Joachim Gauck


              President since 2012
              Angela Merkel


              Chancellor since 2005
              The third-highest official and the head of government is the Chancellor, who is appointed by the Bundespräsident after being elected by the Bundestag. The chancellor, currently Angela Merkel, is the head of government and exercises executive power, similar to the role of a Prime Minister in other parliamentary democracies.

              Federal legislative power is vested in the parliament consisting of the Bundestag (Federal Diet) and Bundesrat (Federal Council), which together form the legislative body. The Bundestag is elected through direct elections, by proportional representation (mixed-member). The members of the Bundesrat represent the governments of the sixteen federated states and are members of the state cabinets.

              Since 1949, the party system has been dominated by the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany. So far every chancellor has been a member of one of these parties. However, the smaller liberal Free Democratic Party (which had members in the Bundestag from 1949 to 2013) and the Alliance '90/The Greens (which has had seats in parliament since 1983) have also played important roles.

              Minor parties such as The Left, Free Voters and the Pirate Party are represented in some state parliaments.

              Law




              German state police officers, with a typical German police car
              Main article: Law of Germany
              Germany has a civil law system based on Roman law with some references to Germanic law. The Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) is the German Supreme Court responsible for constitutional matters, with power of judicial review. Germany's supreme court system, called Oberste Gerichtshöfe des Bundes, is specialised: for civil and criminal cases, the highest court of appeal is the inquisitorial Federal Court of Justice, and for other affairs the courts are the Federal Labour Court, the Federal Social Court, the Federal Finance Court and the Federal Administrative Court. The Völkerstrafgesetzbuch regulates the consequences of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes, and gives German courts universal jurisdiction in some circumstances.

              Criminal and private laws are codified on the national level in the Strafgesetzbuch and the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch respectively. The German penal system is aimed towards rehabilitation of the criminal and the protection of the general public. Except for petty crimes, which are tried before a single professional judge, and serious political crimes, all charges are tried before mixed tribunals on which lay judges (Schöffen) sit side by side with professional judges.

              Many of the fundamental matters of administrative law remain in the jurisdiction of the states, though most states base their own laws in that area on the 1976 Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz (Administrative Proceedings Act) covering important points of administrative law. The Oberverwaltungsgerichte are the highest level of administrative jurisdiction concerning the state administrations, unless the question of law concerns federal law or state law identical to federal law. In such cases, final appeal to the Federal Administrative Court is possible.

              Constituent states

              Main article: States of Germany
              Germany comprises sixteen states which are collectively referred to as Länder. Each state has its own state constitution and is largely autonomous in regard to its internal organisation. Because of differences in size and population the subdivisions of these states vary, especially as between city states (Stadtstaaten) and states with larger territories (Flächenländer). For regional administrative purposes five states, namely Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony, consist of a total of 22 Government Districts (Regierungsbezirke). As of 2009[update] Germany is divided into 403 districts (Kreise) at a municipal level; these consist of 301 rural districts and 102 urban districts.
              Coat of arms of Lower Saxony.svg Lower Saxony
              Bremen Wappen.svg Bremen
              Coat of arms of Hamburg.svg Hamburg
              Coat of arms of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (great).svg Mecklenburg-


              Vorpommern
              Wappen Sachsen-Anhalt.svg Saxony-


              Anhalt
              Coat of arms of Saxony.svg Saxony
              Brandenburg Wappen.svg Brandenburg
              Country symbol of Berlin color.svg Berlin
              Coat of arms of Thuringia.svg Thuringia
              Coat of arms of Hesse.svg Hesse
              Coat of arms of North Rhine-Westfalia.svg North Rhine-


              Westphalia
              Coat of arms of Rhineland-Palatinate.svg Rhineland-


              Palatinate
              Landessymbol Freistaat Bayern.svg Bavaria
              Coat of arms of Baden-Württemberg (lesser).svg Baden-


              Württemberg
              Wappen des Saarlands.svg Saarland
              Coat of arms of Schleswig-Holstein.svg Schleswig-Holstein
              StateCapitalArea (km²)Population
              Baden-WürttembergStuttgart35,75210,569,100
              BavariaMunich70,54912,519,600
              BerlinBerlin8923,375,200
              BrandenburgPotsdam29,4772,449,500
              BremenBremen404654,800
              HamburgHamburg7551,734,300
              HesseWiesbaden21,1156,016,500
              Mecklenburg-VorpommernSchwerin23,1741,600,300
              Lower SaxonyHanover47,6187,779,000
              North Rhine-WestphaliaDüsseldorf34,04317,554,300
              Rhineland-PalatinateMainz19,8473,990,300
              SaarlandSaarbrücken2,569994,300
              SaxonyDresden18,4164,050,200
              Saxony-AnhaltMagdeburg20,4452,259,400
              Schleswig-HolsteinKiel15,7632,806,500
              ThuringiaErfurt16,1722,170,500

              Foreign relations

              Main article: Foreign relations of Germany



              Chancellor Angela Merkel hosting the G8 summit in Heiligendamm
              Germany has a network of 229 diplomatic missions abroad and maintains relations with more than 190 countries. As of 2011[update] it is the largest contributor to the budget of the European Union (providing 20%) and the third largest contributor to the UN (providing 8%). Germany is a member of NATO, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the G8, the G20, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It 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. Germany seeks to advance the creation of a more unified European political, defence, and security apparatus.

              The development policy of the Federal Republic of Germany is an independent area of German foreign policy. It is formulated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and carried out by the implementing organisations. The German government sees development policy as a joint responsibility of the international community. It is the world's third biggest aid donor after the United States and France.

              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. In 1999, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government defined a new basis for German foreign policy by taking part in the NATO decisions surrounding the Kosovo War and by sending German troops into combat for the first time since World War II. The governments of Germany and the United States are close political allies. The 1948 Marshall Plan and strong cultural ties have crafted a strong bond between the two countries, although Schröder's vocal opposition to the Iraq War suggested the end of Atlanticism and a relative cooling of German-American relations. The two countries are also economically interdependent: 8.8% of German exports are US-bound and 6.6% of German imports originate from the US.

              Military

              Main article: Bundeswehr
              File:Eurofighter 9803.ogg 
              The Eurofighter Typhoon is part of the Luftwaffe
              Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, is organised into Heer (Army), Marine (Navy), Luftwaffe (Air Force), Bundeswehr Joint Medical Service and Streitkräftebasis (Joint Support Service) branches. The role of the Bundeswehr is described in the Constitution of Germany (Art. 87a) as absolutely defensive only. Its only active role before 1990 was the Katastropheneinsatz (disaster control). Within the Bundeswehr, it helped after natural disasters both in Germany and abroad. After 1990, the international situation changed from East-West confrontation to one of general uncertainty and instability. Today, after a ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court in 1994 the term "defense" has been defined to not only include protection of the borders of Germany, but also crisis reaction and conflict prevention, or more broadly as guarding the security of Germany anywhere in the world.



              Leopard 2 tanks of the German Army
              In 2011[update], military spending was an estimated 1.3% of the country's GDP, which is low in a ranking of all countries; in absolute terms, German military expenditure is the 9th highest in the world. In peacetime, the Bundeswehr is commanded by the Minister of Defence. If Germany went to war, which according to the constitution is allowed only for defensive purposes, the Chancellor would become commander-in-chief of the Bundeswehr.

              As of March 2012[update] the Bundeswehr employs 183,000 professional soldiers and 17,000 volunteers. The German government plans to reduce the number of soldiers to 170,000 professionals and up to 15,000 short-term volunteers (voluntary military service). Reservists are available to the Armed Forces and participate in defence exercises and deployments abroad. As of April 2011[update], the German military had about 6,900 troops stationed in foreign countries as part of international peacekeeping forces, including about 4,900 Bundeswehr troops in the NATO-led ISAF force in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, 1,150 German soldiers in Kosovo, and 300 troops with UNIFIL in Lebanon.

              Until 2011, military service was compulsory for men at age 18, and conscripts served six-month tours of duty; conscientious objectors could instead opt for an equal length of Zivildienst (civilian service), or a six-year commitment to (voluntary) emergency services like a fire department or the Red Cross. On 1 July 2011 conscription was officially suspended and replaced with a voluntary service. Since 2001 women may serve in all functions of service without re
              Source: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany )
              Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
              Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

              Latest Germany News