Language: German

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Calling Code: 49


Description of Germany

Germany or officially the Federal Republic of Germany is the most populous country in Central Europe, a member state of the European Union and a signatory to the Schengen Agreement. In terms of landscape, Germany stretches from the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas in the north, with their bathing beaches and mudflats, to the Alps in the south, with most of it being flat or covered by low mountain ranges, the so-called low mountain ranges. However, the country is best known to travelers for its cultural treasures - since the late Middle Ages it has been one of the centers of Europe in almost all disciplines of art, and despite the destruction in the world wars, a lot of architecture from Romanesque and Gothic to postmodern has been preserved.

Particularism/federalism has always played a major role in Germany, which was also reflected in the late founding of the nation state in 1871. However, the "small state" is also due to a diverse cultural wealth. Even in smaller towns there is often a rich scene with its own traditions. On the other hand, there is no real central metropolis - even if Berlin has played this role to some extent since reunification, it dominates the cultural and economic life far less than the capitals of most other countries.

Germany originally goes back to the East Franconian Empire, which from 843 included the eastern part of the Frankish Empire after the death of the last Frankish king, Louis the Pious, and thus almost all of Central Europe including northern Italy. This passed into the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which remained a largely loose federation of different monarchies until its end in 1806, in which the conflict between the two most powerful individual states, Prussia in the north and Austria in the north, especially from the 18th century onwards south, emerged.

After the occupation by Napoleon at the beginning of the 19th century, the individual states continued to exist, loosely united in the German Confederation from 1815. The March Revolution of 1848/49, in which a first attempt was made to establish a German national state, was unsuccessful. In 1871, under different circumstances, with the exclusion of Austria and under the leadership of Prussia, the German Empire was founded, a constitutional-parliamentary but oligarchically oriented monarchy.

After the First World War (1914-1918), the German Empire collapsed and the democratic Weimar Republic was founded in 1919, which was politically unstable and was also severely weakened by the global economic crisis of 1929. As a result, the Nazis, strengthened by these processes, came to power under Adolf Hitler in 1933, established a bloody racist dictatorship and unleashed the Second World War (1939-1945), in which more than 65 million people died.

After the war, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation. While the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), characterized by the social market economy, emerged from the British, American and French zones of occupation in 1949, the socialist and planned economy-oriented German Democratic Republic (GDR) was founded in the Soviet zone of occupation. As a result of the economic miracle in the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1950s, many East Germans emigrated. The GDR leadership put an end to this loss of well-trained people in 1961, when the “loophole” Berlin was closed with the construction of the Berlin Wall. It was not until the end of the Cold War that the peaceful revolution (1989) began, which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. Reunification was celebrated on October 3, 1990.


Travel Destinations in Germany


For historical reasons, the regions still play a major role in Germany today. The diversity of Germany is clearly reflected in the large number of regions with their specific characteristics.


Northern Germany (Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein)

Western Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland)

Central Germany (Hesse, Thuringia)

Eastern Germany (Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt)

Southern Germany (Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria)



The federal capital is Berlin, which was divided by the Berlin Wall from 1961 to 1989 and is one of the cultural centers of Germany. Other important cities are the Hanseatic city of Hamburg, the Bavarian state capital Munich, the banking city of Frankfurt am Main, Cologne with the cathedral and Mainz as carnival and Fastnacht strongholds, Weimar as the city of Goethe and Schiller and many others such as the baroque city of Dresden with the Frauenkirche and Semperoper , romantic Heidelberg with its castle, dreamy Freiburg, the trade fair cities of Hanover and Leipzig, the Main (wine) metropolis of Würzburg, Swabian Stuttgart, the Ruhr area cities of Duisburg, Essen, Bochum and Dortmund and to the south the suspension railway city of Wuppertal and the fashion city of Düsseldorf , the ancient Moselle city of Trier and the second oldest city of Augsburg, founded by the Romans.

The medieval old towns of Rothenburg, Regensburg, Bamberg, Görlitz, Erfurt, Quedlinburg, Goslar, Lübeck, Stralsund, Wismar or Wittenberg are important cultural assets and some of them are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Important cathedral cities such as Aachen, Hildesheim, Paderborn, Naumburg (Saale), Speyer, Worms or Münster (Westphalia) show the historical development of Christianity in Germany and some of the cathedrals are also part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The result of the small state system of past centuries is a large number of residence cities, also of the second tier, such as Darmstadt, Dessau, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Oldenburg or Schwerin, but also Gotha or Altenburg, which have a remarkable cultural and historical diversity as well as their specific character. After the Second World War, Bonn on the Rhine was the federal capital until 1990, the seat of government until 1999 and thus also the political center of the Federal Republic in the post-war period.


Other destinations

In addition to the islands and the coast on the North and Baltic Seas, the low mountain ranges such as the Black Forest or the Sauerland are particularly important holiday areas. Lake Constance and the Bavarian Forest and the wine region of Franconia in the south, the Harz Mountains in the middle, and the Mecklenburg Lake District in the north-east are other examples of tourist areas.

Numerous river valleys and holiday regions are ideal for cycling tours.

In addition to many large-scale cultural facilities from the 19th and 20th centuries (Route of Industrial Culture), the Ruhr area offers the highest density of various public trend sports facilities in Germany.

If you are interested in technology, you will find many railway routes worth seeing in Germany, on which "old steam horses" are still panting.

Amusement park fans also get their money's worth in Germany. One example is Europapark Rust, Germany's largest amusement park with the most roller coasters in Europe.

The Green Belt is the first all-German nature conservation project and was created along the former inner-German border strip.



Particularism/federalism has always played a major role in Germany, which was also reflected in the late founding of the nation state in 1871. However, the "small state" is also due to a diverse cultural wealth. Even in smaller towns there is often a rich scene with its own traditions. On the other hand, there is no real central metropolis - even if Berlin has played this role to some extent since reunification, it dominates the cultural and economic life far less than the capitals of most other countries.

Germany originally goes back to the East Franconian Empire, which from 843 included the eastern part of the Frankish Empire after the death of the last Frankish king, Louis the Pious, and thus almost all of Central Europe including northern Italy. This passed into the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which remained a largely loose federation of different monarchies until its end in 1806, in which the conflict between the two most powerful individual states, Prussia in the north and Austria in the north, especially from the 18th century onwards south, emerged.

After the occupation by Napoleon at the beginning of the 19th century, the individual states continued to exist, loosely united in the German Confederation from 1815. The March Revolution of 1848/49, in which a first attempt was made to establish a German national state, was unsuccessful. In 1871, under different circumstances, with the exclusion of Austria and under the leadership of Prussia, the German Empire was founded, a constitutional-parliamentary but oligarchically oriented monarchy.

After the First World War (1914-1918), the German Empire collapsed and the democratic Weimar Republic was founded in 1919, which was politically unstable and was also severely weakened by the global economic crisis of 1929. As a result, the Nazis, strengthened by these processes, came to power under Adolf Hitler in 1933, established a bloody racist dictatorship and unleashed the Second World War (1939-1945), in which more than 65 million people died.

After the war, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation. While the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), characterized by the social market economy, emerged from the British, American and French zones of occupation in 1949, the socialist and planned economy-oriented German Democratic Republic (GDR) was founded in the Soviet zone of occupation. As a result of the economic miracle in the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1950s, many East Germans emigrated. The GDR leadership put an end to this loss of well-trained people in 1961, when the “loophole” Berlin was closed with the construction of the Berlin Wall. It was not until the end of the Cold War that the peaceful revolution (1989) began, which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. Reunification was celebrated on October 3, 1990.


Getting there

Entry requirements


In general, foreigners who want to stay, work or study in Germany for more than 90 days per 180 days generally need a visa. EEA citizens and Switzerland are exempt from this regulation. Other states have special regulations, such as B. that the required residence permit can also be obtained after entry or that only certain, e.g. biometric (travel) passports are valid. Which regulation applies to which country can be seen on the list of countries on visa requirements or exemptions from the Federal Foreign Office. If a visa is required, you must apply for a visa in person at the responsible German diplomatic mission. Application forms are also available online (at the bottom) in several languages. The purpose of the trip is often to provide evidence of sufficient financing for the stay, proof of valid travel health insurance with a minimum coverage of €30,000 and the willingness and ability to return to the country of origin in good time. In addition, the identity card or passport must be valid for up to 3 months after departure. A "Schengen visa" (60€) entitles you to stay in the entire Schengen area for 3 months, the national visa (75€) for Germany also for longer stays. Both visas only entitle you to work or study with a note (more under Learning and Working). Depending on the reason for entry, processing can take several days or months (e.g. in the case of gainful employment).


Customs regulations

Not every product can be imported into Germany without hesitation, there are many restrictions and prohibitions. The specific regulations can be found on the German customs website. In addition, the regulations of the country of origin (and transit countries) should be known.



Medicines for personal use may be carried in accordance with the recommended dosage for a maximum of 3 months. Counterfeit, potentially lethal and commonly used in doping substances are prohibited. Taking narcotics or medicines containing narcotics is only permitted with a medical certificate (original with translation) and official certification from the respective country of origin.



Upon request or inquiries, the type, value, origin, etc. of cash must be stated verbally. Cash and securities with a value of €10,000 or more must be declared in writing (online form) when entering the country from outside the EU. The cash declaration must be handed in at the nearest customs office without being asked. If the information is not provided or is incomplete or turns out to be incorrect (as precise as possible, it is better to enter a higher value than too low), fines of up to €1,000,000 are possible. In particular, the intended use should be plausible, because officials are sometimes entitled to secure these funds.



To enter the country, dogs, cats and ferrets need a registration, a tattoo or a microchip (mandatory since 2011), a valid rabies vaccination and an EU pet passport (from the EU) or an official veterinary certificate (from outside the EU). Otherwise there is a risk of the animal leaving the country with costs, quarantine of several months or euthanasia. Entry may only take place in a few ways (by plane or ship, responsible authorities). More than 5 pets is a commercial import.

Pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and bull terriers and their puppies and crosses are classified as dangerous and may not be imported or kept. There are exceptions for a period of up to 4 weeks or for specially trained dogs (e.g. guide dogs, service dogs, etc.). In addition to the usual required documents, the harmlessness must be proven.



The most important airports in Germany are Frankfurt am Main (FRA), Munich (MUC), Düsseldorf (DUS), Berlin Brandenburg (BER). Hamburg (HAM), Cologne-Bonn (CGN), Stuttgart (STR), Hanover (HAJ), Nuremberg (NUE), Bremen (BRE), Leipzig Halle (LEJ), Dresden (DRS), Münster/Osnabrück (FMO), Saarbrücken (SCN) and Erfurt-Weimar Airport (ERF) are other important airports for international air traffic. There are also a number of other regional commercial airports, so that there is an airport near almost every half-million city.

The increase in point-to-point traffic, as well as the hub and spoke procedure with low-cost airlines or classic scheduled airlines, has led to smaller airports being expanded and thus an even larger flight offer in the area. These airports include Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN), Dortmund (DTM), Weeze (NRN), Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden (FKB), Memmingen (FMM), Paderborn-Lippstadt (PAD) and Friedrichshafen (FDH). From here there are mostly bus connections to the next larger cities. However, since these airports are also far away from the cities that give them their name, the costs for the journey and very long travel times must be taken into account. An extreme example is Frankfurt-Hahn Airport in the Hunsrück in Rhineland-Palatinate: the nearest major cities are Koblenz and Trier (both 50 km), while the eponymous city of Frankfurt am Main is over 120 kilometers away in Hesse.

The border airports of Salzburg (SZG), Innsbruck (INN), Zurich (ZRH), Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (BSL/MLH/EAP), Strasbourg (SXB) and Luxembourg (LUX) are also of interest. Some of these are even included in systems such as Deutsche Bahn's RAIL&FLY.

"Flag carrier" and undisputed "top dog" at many German airports is Lufthansa, which is no longer state-owned but still maintains excellent contacts in politics. In the meantime, Lufthansa has handed over many flights to Eurowings, the group's low-cost airline, where you have to pay extra for almost everything (except the flight itself). Other German airlines are Condor and TUIfly. In addition to the low-cost airlines, which in Germany often only fly to smaller airports with cheaper fees and often cancel routes when subsidies are removed, there are also a number of foreign flag carriers who connect their respective hubs to the larger German airports, mostly Frankfurt or Munich.


Entry requirements

When entering the country by air, special entry regulations must be observed. At many German airports, there is a so-called "two-channel processing procedure" for faster processing, which means there are two ways to enter the country. While the green exit is for goods that do not require declaration, the red exit is for goods that must be declared. There are constant checks at the red exit and this is where the goods are declared at customs, but there are also frequent (as-needed) checks at the green exit. If in doubt, the red output should always be used.



In principle, it is possible to travel to Germany by train from all neighboring countries. There are long-distance connections from Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and France every hour or every two hours. To all other neighboring countries (except Luxembourg; only regional traffic) there is a regular connection to the respective capital.

However, cross-border regional traffic can still be expanded. The rolling stock from the 1970s is gradually being replaced by multiple units and, in local transport, by double-decker trains, with more and more routes being taken over by private companies. With the exception of Austria, Switzerland and Sweden, all neighboring countries have different traction current networks and signaling systems. Therefore, only a few trains can operate in the neighboring countries. Only the 3rd ICE generation was equipped with multi-current systems, so that these multiple units are now also used in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

If possible, you should not use the relatively expensive normal fare of the train. There are various discounts that can be used to make train journeys attractively priced (e.g. use of the Bahncard, savings prices with a specific train). It should be noted that in Germany, seat reservations are recommended on long-distance trains on weekends and holiday periods, as most seats are reserved. Travelers with a discount subscription (Austrian Vorteilscard, Swiss half-fare card/GA) receive a discount on rail journeys to Germany in cross-border traffic (discounts analogous to the BahnCard 25). Since many savings offers (especially those in long-distance transport) are based on occupancy, it can be said that a reservation is probably not necessary if you can get a ticket for €29 the day before the trip. According to Deutsche Bahn statistics, the long-distance trains are the emptiest on Tuesday around noon.

Swiss people are recommended to book tickets from their place of residence or border station directly with Deutsche Bahn or their internet portal (tickets are sent to Switzerland without additional fees) and not via the SBB (the fees are often much higher there). It must be stated whether you have a half-fare card or GA.



Since the long-distance bus market was liberalized in 2012, a dense network of long-distance bus routes has developed within Germany, but international bus connections are also offered. In addition to the traditional integration into the Eurolines network, Flixbus is the most widely represented brand offering international bus travel. Connections, fares, stop search and route maps can be viewed via the online portal



Each neighboring country has one or more motorway connections to Germany. The use of the state highway is free of charge for passenger cars including caravans. Toll plans in the 2010s failed due to the unequal treatment of nationals and foreigners criticized by the European Court of Justice in 2019. A special feature is that you can theoretically drive as fast as you want on German autobahns – if there is no signposted limit. However, a "recommended speed" of 130km/h applies, which is important in the event of a traffic violation. A general limit of 50 km/h applies in built-up areas and 100 km/h outside of built-up areas. However, lower speed limits are possible everywhere, especially at construction sites, accident black spots and for noise protection. For example, walking speed (approx. 7km/h) must be observed in traffic-calmed areas.

Environmental zones have been set up in 56 German cities, in which only cars (including electric cars) with a green environmental sticker are allowed (exception: a yellow sticker is sufficient for Neu-Ulm). Drivers without the appropriate badge must expect a fine of €80. For tourists and business travelers, also with cars rented in other European countries, the issue of the environmental badge requires the submission of copies of the vehicle documents.

In Switzerland, these can be obtained from TCS. Cars rented in Switzerland already have the environmental sticker, while those in Austria do not. In addition, driving bans apply in more than a dozen cities in Germany, which primarily contain a traffic ban for diesel vehicles below the Euro 6 emission standard.

In the case of traffic violations in Germany, you have to pay a corresponding warning or fine (often immediately). For more serious offenses (maximum three) points in Flensburg, sometimes a driving ban of up to three months. After eight points, the driver's license will be withdrawn for at least six months or the driving ban (exclusively) for Germany will be noted on it.


With the electric car

There are currently around 40,000 charging stations in Germany (as of March 2021).



There are daily ferry departures from Kiel to Oslo, Gothenburg and Klaipeda on the Baltic Sea coast. From the Skandinavienkai in Lübeck-Travemünde, TT-Line, Stena Line and Finnlines ferries run regularly to Trelleborg (Sweden), Malmö (Sweden), Helsinki (Finland) and St. Petersburg (Russia). From Rostock there are ferry connections to Gedser (Denmark) and Trelleborg (Sweden). More information in the article Ferries in Germany.
See also: Baltic Sea Ferries

Several ferries on Lake Constance offer the possibility of crossing from Switzerland and Austria to Germany. However, most of them are purely passenger ferries, ferries where you can also take your car are rare (e.g. Friedrichshafen-Romanshorn). There are regular passenger ships between Vienna and Passau.

In general, the ferry connections to and from Germany are not quite as extensive as those in the Nordic countries, but can certainly keep up with the southern and western neighbors. Especially if you arrive by car, the ferry trip can be different, e.g. B. from / to Denmark or Sweden but very worthwhile, because you save a lot of kilometers and fuel.

The North Sea island of Borkum can be reached by ferry from Emden as well as from Eemshaven in the Netherlands.


By tram

The trams from Strasbourg and Basel each have a cross-border line to Germany.


Transport around the country

By plane

There is a very well developed scheduled flight network in Germany. The largest airlines in Germany are Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings. The Lufthansa Group now has a monopoly in air traffic on the vast majority of domestic German routes, and competition is virtually only between the modes of transport, here primarily with the train. In the course of Air Berlin's insolvency, Easyjet secured part of the bankruptcy assets (the lion's share went to Lufthansa) and is expected to compete directly with Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa on some domestic German routes. Ryanair offers an extensive route network from many German airports, but hardly any domestic flights. Within Germany it is almost always cheaper to travel by train, but sometimes there are offers that are or appear to be cheaper than the train - especially for newcomers to the market. However, you often have to calculate fees for various things that are included with the train or other airlines (e.g. printing a boarding pass), especially with "low-cost airlines". In addition, some airports served by budget airlines are "in the middle of nowhere" and getting to the airport can take some time, money and nerves.


By train

The rail system in Germany is largely well developed, but there are gaps in rural areas. The travel speed in regional traffic usually leaves a lot to be desired. Since 1991, Germany has had its own high-speed rail network made up of new and upgraded lines, on which comfortable ICEs (Intercity Express) travel at up to 300 km/h. The long-distance network is supplemented by ICs (Intercity) (known across borders as EC (Eurocity)) and in areas close to the border by foreign long-distance trains. Germany belongs to InterRail zone C.

Traveling by train is relatively expensive, especially in long-distance traffic (ICE, IC/EC). The state-owned Deutsche Bahn AG is still a virtual monopolist. You can save a lot of money with the saver price if you book at least one day in advance. The prices depend on the occupancy of the trains. During the week in particular, but also on Saturdays, bargains are often available the day before departure. However, on popular travel days (Christmas, Easter, Friday and Sunday) and destinations, it can get expensive a week or two beforehand. If the cheapest contingents are fully booked, a higher fare will be offered. Routes up to 250km are offered from €19, longer routes from €29, in pairs from €49 and routes abroad from €39, and cheaper for short “hops” across the border (e.g. Dresden-Prague). BahnCard 25 holders receive an additional 25% discount on all saver fares. Family children under the age of 15 travel free of charge. There is a train connection, i.e. you have to use the specified train at the specified time.

The BahnCard 25 or 50 is worthwhile for frequent travelers. For an annual fee of €59.90 or €244, respectively, there is a 25 or 50% discount on the fare, with the BahnCard 25 also allowing you to use the savings price mentioned above. For pupils and students up to the age of 26 and people over the age of 60, the My BahnCard costs €36.90 or €69.90 per year. Especially for the BahnCard 25 there are often special offers for shorter terms. It is important to cancel in good time (at least six weeks before expiry), otherwise the special offer will turn into a regular BahnCard subscription at the regular price. These prices also apply to the partner card. For journeys of more than 100km, you get the City-Ticket for 130 cities, with which you can use the buses, trams, underground and suburban trains at the starting point and destination (observe local regulations!).

Caution: When you buy a BahnCard, you take out a subscription that is automatically renewed if it is not canceled in good time.


Local transport

The Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket is valid from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. on the following day and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 0:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. on the following day throughout Germany on all regional trains (IRE, RE, RB, S-Bahn), it costs €44 for the first person and €8 per passenger (max. four passengers) at machines, in the Internet and in DB service stores, at ticket offices and in travel agencies with a DB license there is a surcharge of €2 per ticket.

From 1 May 2023, the Deutschlandticket, a local transport ticket valid throughout Germany for €49 per person per month, will be introduced. With the tariff, the entire local transport (e.g. 2nd class of RE and RB, as well as S-Bahn, U-Bahn, many regional and city buses) can be used; but not long-distance traffic (ICE, IC or EC). Up to 3 children under the age of 6 can travel with each ticket; other details such as taking bicycles and dogs with you vary depending on the transport association in which you travel. The ticket is only available as a subscription, either via app or in the form of a chip card, and can be purchased from any provider (especially transport associations and companies) of the same value. It is worth comparing different providers: There are different purchase and cancellation periods (usually several weeks!), sometimes credit checks are carried out, more payment methods are accepted or vouchers are issued as a bonus. If you need a ticket at short notice, you get comparatively advantageous conditions with the RMV: The HandyTicket has no deadline to order, you can also buy it in the month and credit cards are accepted as a means of payment.
In regional transport, there are nationwide country tickets, with which up to 5 people can travel Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. of the following day (on weekday holidays and in most countries also at the weekend from 0:00 a.m.) at a flat rate between 23 and 42€ can use all regional trains and often also the buses and light rail in transport associations. In most federal states, the tickets are staggered according to the number of passengers. Not so in Berlin, Brandenburg and Hesse. North Rhine-Westphalia still has a single version that is €13 cheaper. If you are moving within a transport association, it is usually worth taking a look at the range of day tickets, group day tickets or season tickets valid for 3-4 days, a week or a month.

In addition, there are distance-dependent savings offers in regional transport, such as the Regio120 ticket. In contrast to savings offers in long-distance transport, savings prices in regional transport are always available without restrictions.

The Deutsche Bahn timetable information is very useful: if you click on “advanced”, connections can be found from door to door (stop or address input can be selected), including information on walking (with time and map), bus, underground and tram and of course the trains throughout Europe.


By bus

Traditionally, bus networks in Germany are primarily used for local transport, but have recently also gained ground in long-distance transport.

Long-distance buses
Since the liberalization of the long-distance bus market in January 2013, a rapidly growing network of long-distance bus lines from various providers has emerged. The market is competitive, so that the offers are subject to constant changes in terms of prices as well as in relation and frequency of trips. The largest providers are FlixBus and Eurolines.

Simplex-Mobility, which publishes a monthly updated timetable for all providers in the style of a course book, tries to provide an overview of the entire range of buses.

A search engine for the targeted search for individual connections and prices is available at Busliniensuche.

For long-distance buses, booking in advance with a reservation is strongly recommended, as this is the only way to get cheap prices. Spontaneous purchases from the driver are possible, but at a higher standard rate and with the risk of stopping when the bus is fully booked. In general, the fares are significantly lower than those of a comparable train ticket.


In the street

In Germany, longer distances can be covered extremely quickly by car. This is ensured by the well-developed road network. The motorways in particular ensure high travel speeds, as there is no general speed limit. However, it should be pointed out that in the event of an accident, a significantly higher speed than 130 km/h (= legal recommended speed) usually results in criminal measures and can lead to problems with the insurance company. If you don't have your own car, there are a number of national and international car rental companies. Generally, a credit card and a valid driver's license are required to rent a car in Germany. In the meantime, you can also use intermediaries such as B. Auto Europe rent a car cheaper than directly from the respective car rental company. One-way rentals are also possible with Auto Europe. H. you can pick up the rental car in one city and drop it off in another.

For Swiss and Liechtensteiners
Motorists from Switzerland and Liechtenstein should note the following differences:

The inner-city speed of 50 km/h applies from the sign at the entrance to the town, unless a different speed is indicated there, and the speed outside the town of 100 km/h also applies from the sign that leaves the town. These panels are not only informative in nature. On the other hand, a motor road (“Autostrasse” in Switzerland) has no influence on the maximum speed allowed.
Speeding fines are much deeper and have fewer consequences, leading many drivers to be less particular about the speed limit. On the other hand, alcohol consumption (max. 0.5 per thousand) is punished rigorously.
In built-up areas - and only there - on a road with several lanes, vehicles under 3.5 tons can freely choose their lane, so overtaking on the right is allowed there.
Priority roads (in Germany they are referred to as priority roads) can be recognized by the signaling (called traffic signs there). The color of the signposts (beige, white) says nothing about whether a road has priority. Rather, beige signposts indicate out-of-town destinations, while white signposts indicate in-town destinations.
On motorways in the fast lane, it is not uncommon for a driver to use light signals at the rear to indicate that space is to be vacated. In Germany, this isn't necessarily considered rude rudeness, so the best thing to do is not to get angry and vacate the spot.
In Germany, switching on the lights is only mandatory when visibility is poor. If oncoming drivers want to point something out with light signals on a bright day, it can also be because the light is switched on. However, the practice of pointing this out is declining due to the proliferation of built-in daytime running lights in newer cars. As a rule, one can assume that there will be a warning about a mobile speed control (radar trap).
Even if this is hardly noticed in practice, cars must have a CH or FL sticker on the rear (you can also buy magnetic stickers at almost every petrol station shop). Only the large format is accepted, the small format, which is also frequently sold, does not meet the requirements.
Environmental badges for German city centers can be obtained from the TCS. To do this, you need to visit a TCS branch with your vehicle registration document. For a fee, they mail the plaque, it will arrive in a few days.


By boat

In addition to some ferries to z. B. to reach the North Sea islands, to cross Lake Constance, or to cross different rivers, there are also excursions and cruises in Germany on the big rivers such as the Rhine, the Elbe or the Danube. The entire length of the Rhine in Germany is navigable for commercial shipping.

Since the navigable rivers are supplemented by a few canals, it is also relatively easy to travel with pleasure boats. Important navigable rivers are the Rhine, Ems, Weser, Elbe, Oder, Danube; tributaries are often also navigable. Important inland canals are the Mittelland Canal, the Elbe Lateral Canal and the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal. In addition, there is the lake waterway Kiel Canal.

International ferry terminals are located in Lübeck-Travemünde, Kiel and Rostock.



German is the official national language. Most people speak dialects - according to their regions - and sometimes use different expressions for one and the same term. However, High German is understood everywhere and is mostly spoken to "foreigners". Most Germans speak English as a second language and French is also understood relatively often (especially in the southwest). Furthermore, several million people of Turkish descent speak Turkish, but mostly not at the level of their mother tongue. In the tourist centers other European languages are also used as languages of education, e.g. B. Italian and Spanish. In the former GDR, you can be lucky with Russian, especially with people who went to school during the GDR era. In Germany there are also small regional minorities who still speak their own languages. These include the Frisians in the north and the Sorbs in the east of the country. On the northern border of Germany, Danish is also sometimes understood, since a Danish minority has always lived in southern Schleswig and a German minority in northern Schleswig (Denmark). Low German (also known as "Low German"), which is still spoken in parts of the north and west, is very similar to Dutch and speakers of both languages can usually understand each other at least rudimentarily.



Cycling: There is a network of relatively well signposted cycle paths throughout Germany. Most of these cycle paths have a paved or water-bound surface. Some of them run on roads with little traffic. Many cycle routes lead along rivers or on former railway lines, have correspondingly low gradients and are also suitable for families with children. The quality of cycle paths and their signage varies in the individual districts and federal states.
Hiking: Many low mountain range regions can be discovered on hikes. Hiking has a long tradition in Germany. There are excellent offers in many regions. One of the most famous hiking trails is z. B. the Rennsteig in the Thuringian Forest. Another classic is the Brocken hike in the Harz Mountains. You can even walk to Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze.
Winter sports: Alpine and Nordic winter sports have a long tradition in Germany. Of course, the ski areas in the German Alps are well known. But there are also attractive areas in the low mountain ranges. These are particularly popular with cross-country skiers. Information about winter sports can be found in the article Winter sports in Germany.
Water hiking: whether in a canoe, kayak or rowing boat, the smaller German rivers in particular are ideal for water hiking. Usually there is little or no commercial shipping here. Popular areas include the Lahn and the upper Weser. But the Mecklenburg Lake District and the Spreewald are also very popular with paddlers. Information on water hiking in Germany can be found in the relevant topic article.
Excursion by handcar: Handcar cycling is becoming more and more popular in Germany. It is therefore not surprising that more and more disused railway lines can be discovered with handcars. There are now around 30 railway routes that can be explored by renting a bicycle trolley. The largest selection of routes is in northern and eastern Germany. Here in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the tourist and economic potential offered by handcar routes has already been discovered. Southern Germany, on the other hand, is still struggling a little when it comes to attractive leisure activities. All draisine routes are listed in the article draisine routes in Germany.
Wellness: Wellness is becoming increasingly popular. In Germany, too, there are many beautiful wellness hotels and wellness regions. Some of these have specialized in wellness treatments with regional products (such as thalassotherapy by the sea, vino wellness in the wine-growing region, etc.). But more exotic offers such as Ayurveda hotels or wellness hotels specializing in traditional Chinese medicine can also be found in Germany. If you don't want to start a wellness holiday right away, you can also experience a wellness day in one of the numerous relaxation and thermal baths or a day spa. In Germany, in addition to very modern and large facilities, there are also historic bathhouses and bathing complexes, some of which are based on the Baroque model.
Journey to the German tip communities




The valid means of payment is the euro. Germany is (alongside Switzerland) one of the few industrialized countries in which payments are still predominantly made in cash (2022: 60% cash, 40% card payments). The acceptance of card payments has improved significantly in recent years, but there are still numerous services that can always or almost exclusively be paid for with cash: small shops such as bakers and butchers, market stalls (weekly or Christmas market), taxi ( in some cities like Berlin the taxi can also be paid by card), parking fees, most restaurants up to the upper category. Checks have not been accepted for years.

The most important banks are: Sparkasse, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Volksbank-Raiffeisenbanken, Postbank and Sparda-Banken. The cash supply is guaranteed by a dense network of ATMs, for which the banks have joined one of four large ATM associations: Savings Bank Network (Sparkassen), BankCard ServiceNetz (mainly Volksbank-Raiffeisenbanken), Cash Group (including Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Postbank) and cash pool (e.g. Sparda banks). You can easily withdraw money from the machines with credit and debit cards, as well as all cards that belong to the global Maestro network. If the machine belongs to the ATM network of your own bank, the withdrawal i. i.e. R. (depending on the card!) free of charge, but otherwise quite high fees may apply under certain circumstances. Some banks also offer the possibility to withdraw money at some supermarket checkouts if a minimum purchase amount has been exceeded. For more information on toll-free ATMs, contact the card-issuing bank or credit card company.

For small amounts, cash is usually preferred because of the lower cost, especially in cafes and restaurants. In some cases, there are also minimum payment amounts from which card payment is only accepted.

The acceptance of (foreign) credit cards is very low in Germany, since most Germans do not have a credit card either (actually only those who travel abroad regularly). Visa and Mastercard are the most common, American Express and Diners Club are almost useless in Germany. Credit cards are most likely to be accepted by supermarket chains and gas stations, but smaller supermarkets or independent gas stations often do not accept credit cards. Even the taxi from the airport (e.g. Berlin) can only be paid for with cash or with a Girocard, but not with a credit card. Anyone leaving abroad must first withdraw cash directly at the airport, but thanks to the dense network of ATMs in Germany this is not a major problem. Hotels in the big cities can almost always be paid for by credit card, if you are traveling to the country or if you are planning to stay in a holiday apartment, it is better to book in advance via a hotel portal or take enough cash with you. Card payment accepted refers almost exclusively to the Girocard/EC cards, which are only available in Germany.

Pay contactless with your cell phone: It is still in the early stages and is only accepted in the large supermarket chains Rewe/Aldi/Lidl and at branded petrol stations. It is rarely possible at independent petrol stations and smaller supermarket chains.



It is generally less common in Germany to tip than in the US, for example. When paying with cash, it is common to "round up" (e.g. €4 instead of €3.70), or give a bill that is slightly more than the amount requested and say "that's right" (i.e .change is given as a tip). It's common practice in restaurants to tip about 10 percent, although it's not entirely uncommon not to tip when service has been poor or unfriendly. For taxis, rounding up as mentioned above is usually sufficient.


Opening hours

The shop opening hours are the responsibility of the federal states and so there is no national regulation. Twelve of the 16 federal states have completely released their opening times from Monday to Friday and until 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. on Saturdays. In Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony, shops have to close at 10 p.m.; in Bavaria and Saarland it is no longer allowed to sell after 8 p.m.

In most regions in Germany, shops are not open after 8 p.m., only a few supermarket chains and shopping malls in large cities have extended their opening hours to 10 p.m. In rural areas, shops may have a lunch break from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and are closed on Wednesday afternoons. The historical closing time in the evening at 6.30 p.m. was often retained.

Tourists from abroad are always surprised that almost all shops in Germany are closed on Sundays. Only bakeries (but usually only three hours in the morning) and petrol stations are also open on Sundays. Exceptions only apply to shops at airports and train stations and in health resorts, but there with a hefty surcharge. If you arrive on Sunday, you should stock up on the essentials right at the airport/train station. In some cities, there are Sunday shops on which, exceptionally, it is also possible to shop on Sundays.

Restaurants, pubs, cafés and the like are not bound by the Shop Closing Hours Act; the opening hours are regulated by the municipality and vary accordingly. Irrespective of this, Monday is traditionally a day off in gastronomy, some of the restaurants are closed on this day.

Banks and post offices have comparatively limited opening hours. Post offices are usually open Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Saturdays until 12 noon. This can be significantly reduced for smaller branches (mainly in rural areas). Banks usually close at 4 p.m. and are completely closed on Saturdays.

However, many banks and post offices have ATMs and stamp machines (the latter do not give change, but stamps of the appropriate value) that are accessible 24 hours a day. ATMs have been established at larger train stations and (motorway) petrol stations for a number of years. However, caution is advised here. You should find out about the amount of the fees at the machine beforehand.



There is no specific German cuisine, instead there are many very different regional cuisines. After the Second World War, German cuisine was also significantly influenced by the occupying powers - while Eastern European dishes (especially solyanka (stew) in numerous variations) are now common in the East, fast food establishments in the West (especially in the Ruhr area) have developed fast, filling cuisine enforced (roast chicken, french fries, meatballs, currywurst). The domestic kitchen as well as the upscale restaurant in the West differs significantly from this prejudice. While Baden cuisine - probably due to its proximity to France - convinces with its comparatively high quality and large portions, Frisian cuisine (in northern Germany) does so primarily because of its originality.

In Germany there is also a large selection of international restaurants. Italian, Greek, Croatian, Chinese companies often offer good quality; in many places they are superior to establishments with German cuisine. Takeaway restaurants predominate in Turkish establishments; however, there are also restaurants with more sophisticated Turkish cuisine in many cities.

Smoking in restaurants is only permitted to a limited extent or not at all nationwide. However, the federal states have designed the details and exceptions differently. In most cases, no persons under the age of 18 are allowed in guest rooms where smoking is permitted. This severely limits the range of pubs and takeaway restaurants that are suitable for families. However, there are often separate rooms, so that you can easily stop off with the family during the day. As so often, the same applies here: it costs nothing to ask.


Gastronomy ratings

There is no official evaluation body for the kitchen services of a restaurant in Germany, but there are various unofficial and well-known evaluation systems.

The internationally best-known rating system is the Michelin Rouge Guide from the French automotive supplier Michelin. In Germany, stars have been awarded since 1966, especially for top cuisine. The evaluation is reviewed every year, the testers visit and taste anonymously. The stars are tied to the chef of the respective restaurant: if he leaves the company, the stars go too.

In Germany there are currently (2013) eleven three-star hotels, 37 two-star and 226 one-star restaurants. Altogether there are 274 star addresses in Germany; there are more worldwide only in France.

Gault Millau
The gastronomic guide Gault Millau also comes from France and was founded there in 1969 by the two journalists Henri Gault and Christian Millau; the German edition has existed since 1983. Gault Millau awards restaurants, based on the French school grading system, between 0 and a maximum of 20 points up to four toques (also caps) to the "toque chefs". Only the kitchen is rated and not the equipment and the ambience, which is only described verbosely to aggressively. According to the will of the founders, the maximum of 20 points is only available in France and not abroad. Gault Millau has long been considered an advocate of modern cuisine, but according to its own statements, there is no tendency towards a particular style of cooking. In 2013, 1,040 restaurants were tested in Germany, 858 of which received at least 13 out of 20 points and thus an award.

Gault Millau also classifies wine: according to a 100-point system, 12,000 selected wines are evaluated by a dozen selected wine journalists, and the jury is familiar with the wine.



Nightlife is most diverse in the big cities. Especially in the field of electronic music (techno, house, electro), the country is considered one of the centers of the global scene. Some of the famous clubs that spawned new trends in the 80's and 90's are still operational and popular with visitors, although most have since closed. But there are also bars and clubs in rock, pop, reggae and metal in many cities. Germany is also considered one of the centers of the so-called black scene, which includes gothic, darkwave and similar "gloomy" directions. In many of these directions there are festivals of international importance.

In rural areas, on the other hand, large-capacity discotheques are typical, which are often located on motorways or in commercial areas. They try to attract as many youth cultures as possible with different styles of music.

But there are nocturnal entertainment venues not only for teenagers and young adults. For example, there are jazz bars in many cities. Some casinos, such as that of Baden-Baden, also have a world reputation.

Some German cities have fixed curfew hours, typically between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. In many cities, however, the regulations have been relaxed significantly in the last two decades.



The DEHOGA (German Hotel and Restaurant Association) defines a hotel as an accommodation facility that i.a. must have a reception, daily room cleaning, at least one restaurant for house guests and passers-by, and more than 20 guest rooms.

The German hotel classification is a rating system from one to five stars and is based on the international five-star system. The classification is based on a points system and a set list of criteria on a voluntary basis, so even a non-classified hotel can meet very high requirements. DEHOGA is responsible for the assessment and verification. Defined terms are the addition garni for a hotel business that offers at most small dishes in addition to accommodation, breakfast and drinks. The suffix superior identifies top companies that clearly exceed the required number of evaluation points within a category.

The G classification (German classification for guest houses, inns and pensions) also includes categories from one to five stars and is also awarded by DEHOGA and on a voluntary basis. Accommodation establishments with more than nine guest beds and no more than 20 guest rooms that do not have the character of a hotel (see definition above) and whose establishment name must therefore not contain the term hotel are assessed.

The German Tourism Association also classifies holiday apartments and private rooms according to a system with one to five stars from simple to exclusive.

Youth Hostels - All major cities have youth hostels or hostels that offer cheap accommodation. DJH (Deutsches Jugendherbergswerk) hostels require membership, which can also be purchased at check-in. The standard is relatively high compared to other countries (sometimes better than some 2-star hotels). Attention: DJH hostels usually offer breakfast and sometimes dinner as well, but they are rarely equipped with guest kitchens! No membership is required for privately run hostels. Average prices are between €12 and €20 per night in 4 to 12 bed rooms/dorms. These independently and individually managed houses are the first choice for everyone who wants to escape the DJH flair. Many backpacker hostels in Germany are connected to the Backpacker Network Germany. Linen can usually be rented on site or is included in the price. This category also includes "nature friends houses" and businesses run by hiking clubs. Members of the respective clubs receive preferential prices here.
Hotels/guesthouses - Otherwise there are guesthouses (approx. €20 - €40 per person bed and breakfast) and of course hotels in all price ranges. Inexpensive hotels are usually located outside of town on busy roads with poor public transport connections. Medium-sized hotel chains in particular, such as Ringhotels or Romantik Hotels, usually offer reliable value for money. Usually, prices in big cities and popular resorts are higher than in other places. Surcharges are also required at certain times of the year. It is also worth taking a look at the trade fair calendar. In most cases "bed and breakfast" is offered, but some hotels and guesthouses charge for breakfast separately.
Private rooms There are of course also privately operated guest houses and guest rooms in Germany. Bed and breakfast is usually offered, often a bit cheaper than pensions. Nationwide association see
Campgrounds - There are one or more campgrounds in most areas; more than 3,500 in total. There are plenty of campsites in holiday regions. Many of the sites are open most of the year (except December/January) or even all year (heated showers/washrooms). Prices (1 night/2 people/1 tent/1 car): approx. €13 - €20 (although the price range is very large at approx. €7 - €40). The vast majority of pitches are largely occupied by long-term campers. For non-permanent campers there is usually a more or less large meadow. To use the showers, shower tokens must be purchased on most pitches.
Mobile home parking spaces are available across the board. In rural areas, use is free of charge, otherwise a parking ticket must generally be purchased. Supply and disposal if available 1 € - 2 €.
Wild camping - Wild camping is officially prohibited in all federal states except Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein and Brandenburg (one night, away from campsites, for non-motorized travelers only), and camping (i.e. in a sleeping bag or under a tent) is also permitted in some places overnight blanket) is prohibited, especially in nature reserves. In reality, wild camping is quite possible - especially in sparsely populated areas, e.g. B. next to little used/frequented forest paths and in shelters, if one behaves quietly and chooses places that are not visible from houses.
Vacation rentals are often a very affordable alternative. Short stays are sometimes associated with price surcharges due to the cleaning effort. If the landlord lives in the same house, breakfast can also be offered. Such accommodations are also suitable for families and group travellers.
Rented apartments – If you want to rent an apartment for a longer period of time, you should know that in Germany apartments are usually rented without furniture and a kitchen (exception: holiday apartments). The tenant must bring his own furniture. Exceptions are special furnished apartments, which are often rented for business trips of a few months. They are then more expensive than unfurnished apartments. Furnished apartments are usually only available in areas where vacation rentals are not worthwhile for landlords. In typical holiday areas, such apartments are rarely available. Outside the season, however, it can be worth asking landlords of holiday apartments. However, there is a current housing shortage in certain major cities (e.g. Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt/Main). Here it can be difficult to get an apartment at all and if so, then only at a high price.


Learning and studying


In an international comparison, the German education system is considered to be relatively good, even if it lags behind that of many other service-providing nations in terms of quality. In principle, every resident of Germany has a state-guaranteed right to education. Tuition fees for a first degree are not (any longer) charged in any federal state. Tuition fees for a second degree are charged in three out of 16 federal states. There are fees for long-term students in five federal states. The semester fee is obligatory, depending on the university €60-300. Depending on the university, this includes the semester ticket, with which you can use buses and trains in a wide area free of charge.

In academic training, a distinction must be made between the following training institutions:
University: Universities with the right to award doctorates
University of applied sciences/college: Type of university that conducts teaching and research on a scientific basis with an application-oriented focus. At such a University of Applied Sciences, however, you can usually neither do a doctorate nor habilitate.
Vocational Academy - study with parallel practical training in a company

Foreign students can apply for a student visa, which also allows limited (120 full or 240 half days per year plus max. 20 hours per week during the semester, unlimited for EU citizens) work to finance their studies. It is possible to take up a full degree or to do a semester abroad in Germany. After a full degree you can look for work in the country for 18 months. Although Germany does a lot of advertising for its universities abroad, many are unfortunately put off by the bureaucracy. According to reports, you also have to endure personal questions about extending your visa at the immigration office. If possible, ask a German friend to accompany you to the immigration office. This often ensures not only a better understanding of the bureaucratic processes, but also friendlier treatment. Further criticism is directed at additional fees that are charged by some universities from foreigners. Regardless of this criticism, most foreign students have good experiences in Germany, but everything is far from perfect. Interested parties should consult the website of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).



In many cases, the job exchange of the Federal Employment Agency offers an initial overview of job offers in Germany. In addition to the Federal Employment Agency, private employment and training agencies also mediate vacancies.

The recognition of foreign professional qualifications is difficult and bureaucratic in Germany, especially for employees from a non-EU country. Recognition can take years or even not at all. There are many foreign workers with university degrees who therefore have to take on simple, unskilled work. Germany is a country where officially recognized vocational training is very important, often more important than actual skills.

Germany has numerous world-famous, large companies. But there are also many medium-sized and small companies that are very suitable as employers. Especially in the technical field, these are often the largest and best-known companies in their industry worldwide, even if they only have a few hundred or thousand employees.

In Germany there are many free jobs in certain professions. Educators or specialists for hospitals and geriatric care are particularly sought after. Craftsmen, technicians and engineers also have good prospects if they are well trained. However, the chances of finding work are not the same in all regions. Unemployment is high in eastern Germany, and workers are particularly sought after in the south. While many immigrants are concentrated in the big cities, medium-sized companies often look for good staff in smaller towns. These companies often offer a lot of support for immigrants to Germany if they are well trained. If you don't have any training, you have fewer chances of finding work in Germany, and if you don't speak German, you will hardly find a job.

The average salary of an employee for a 40-hour week is between €2,000 and €5,000 per month, sometimes higher. In addition to taxes, the costs for social security (pension, health and nursing care insurance) must also be deducted from this. Some employers try again and again to force employees into contracts in which no social insurance has to be paid. This is often not legal and can get you in trouble with the police for both the employer and the employee. In areas with high rents such as B. Munich it can be very difficult to afford even a simple life, especially when there is a family to take care of. Important: Just because there is an urgent need for workers for a job does not mean that the pay is good. Educators or nurses are not paid well, even if employers are desperate for applicants.

Germany is one of the countries with the best social security systems, even if social benefits have been repeatedly restricted in recent decades. However, this also leads to significant deductions from income.


Public holidays

In Germany, in addition to the national public holidays, different regulations apply at the level of the federal states. These public holidays can be found in the corresponding country articles.

National public holidays:
Mon, Jan 1, 2024 New Year New Year's Day
Fri Apr 7, 2023 Good Friday Commemoration of Christ's crucifixion
Sun Apr 9, 2023 Easter Sunday Easter, commemoration of Christ's resurrection
Mon Apr 10, 2023 Easter Monday Easter, Commemoration of Christ's Resurrection
Mon May 1, 2023 May Day International Labor Day
Thu, May 18, 2023 Ascension Day Commemoration of Christ's Ascension
Sun, May 28, 2023 Pentecost Sunday Commemoration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
Mon, May 29, 2023 Whit Monday Commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit
Tue, Oct. 3, 2023 Day of German Unity National holiday
Mon, Dec 25, 2023 Boxing Day Christmas, commemoration of the birth of Christ
Tue, Dec 26, 2023 Boxing Day Christmas, commemoration of the birth of Christ

Christmas Eve (December 24) and New Year's Eve (December 31) are not public holidays. Nevertheless, on these days many businesses are closed all day and many shops and leisure facilities are closed from midday. Depending on the city, local public transport can be severely restricted or even stopped from the afternoon. Most of the restaurants are also closed on Christmas Eve.



Germany is considered a safe travel destination. Pickpockets are warned at train stations, airports and other crowds.

The so-called shell game is part of the scam, which is particularly aimed at tourists. Here a scammer moves a small ball under several shells on the street. The tourist has to guess under which shell the ball is. The stakes are high, usually a hundred euros per try. The tourist doesn't stand a chance, with a clever trick the ball is moved so that he can't see it. The "spectators" around the player are partners of the scammer, they also sometimes "win" to attract and deceive tourists. Therefore, one should also know: in a dispute with the fraudster, he has several helpers who do not shy away from violence. These gangs are mainly active in Berlin.

Also especially in Berlin, street vendors sell alleged pieces from the Berlin Wall or Russian uniforms. Usually both are fakes.

Racist attacks by neo-Nazis are far less common than foreigners fear, although there have been isolated cases. Although millions of people from all parts of the world now live in Germany, foreign tourists, especially in rural areas, occasionally attract attention when they look "different". Normally you don't have to expect more than curious glances. Smaller towns and prefabricated housing estates in the east, but also partly in the west, as well as the fan curves of certain football clubs have a particularly bad reputation, although violent incidents are extremely rare here too. Racist attacks are usually punished consistently by the judiciary.

Tolerance towards openly shown homosexuality has developed positively in recent years and hostilities or attacks are not to be expected, especially in the big cities. Sad exceptional cases - among other things in connection with right-wing extremism and religious fanaticism, especially male youth - are rare and should not worry tourists too much.

Germany is a little corrupt country. Corruption mainly exists in the business world and through undeclared work. In everyday life with authorities, the police and the judiciary, it plays no role. In Germany, attempts to bribe officials can quickly end up in prison. The national police number is 110, but it can also be reached via the European emergency number 112 or 911.



Medical care is good and the medical standard is very high. There is both a nationwide rescue service and an emergency medical service. The rescue service and the fire brigade can be reached under the Europe-wide emergency number 112. This number is intended for pure emergencies and is free of charge.

In the event of health problems outside of office hours, there is a medical on-call service. You can find out nationwide which doctor is doing this on the current day by dialing the standard number 116 117. Since the doctors provide this service in turn, the current practice can also be at the other end of the town or in the neighboring town.

The same applies to pharmacies. Outside of normal business hours, there is always at least one pharmacy on call within a radius of 20 km, which you can research online. You can also use the free telephone number +49 8000 022833 (22833 from a mobile phone at a maximum of 69 cents/min.) or look at the notice in the nearby pharmacy. The services of the doctor and pharmacy are not spatially coordinated, so that you may have to go to another neighboring location to get the prescribed medication. An emergency service fee of €2.50 may have to be paid for using the pharmacy emergency service (e.g. at night).

The tap water is of food quality and can be drunk anywhere without hesitation (exception: a no drinking water sign).

The bathing waters vary in quality, designated swimming pools usually have good water quality, natural pools depend on current conditions (water level, discharges, occurrence of blue-green algae, etc.) and are sometimes contaminated with coli, cyano or other bacteria. For this reason, signs with bathing bans must be observed. The water quality is monitored. More information can be obtained from the municipalities. The Federal Environment Agency reclassifies the bathing waters every year, and the assessment is published on the Internet.

In the southern half of the Federal Republic there is a considerable risk of TBE (tick-borne encephalitis) and other diseases that are transmitted by tick bites. Appropriate precautions and vaccinations are recommended for nature trips in this area. The state Robert Koch Institute publishes epidemiological bulletins on TBE: risk areas in Germany (text is intended for doctors, clinics and laboratories), data that is more understandable for the layperson (including a map under "Service") can be found on the tick website. en.


Climate and travel time

Germany is in the temperate zone, extreme values rarely occur. In the west, the climate is oceanic, characterized by mild winters and cool summers. The average temperature in winter is mostly between 1°C and 3°C, in summer between 10°C and 18°C. Precipitation falls throughout the year, more in the west and less in the east. In the east, the climate is continental, characterized by cold winters and warm summers. The average temperatures in winter range from -3 °C to 0 °C, in summer from 18 °C to 20 °C. A special feature is the Upper Rhine Graben (Kaiserstuhl), where subtropical and Mediterranean microclimates can be found in places. As a result, the highest average and also the highest peak temperatures prevail here.


Rules and respect

As in all countries, one should show a certain restraint when it comes to political or religious issues. One should be careful that derogatory statements or gestures that are sometimes common in other countries can constitute a criminal offense (insult) in Germany.


National Socialism

The use of National Socialist symbols or gestures, such as B. the swastika or the Hitler salute is a criminal offense in Germany. The penalty can be a fine or several years in prison. NEVER use such symbols or gestures; You can get in serious trouble with the police. The same goes for glorifying Nazism or denying the Holocaust.

For example, in 2008 a Mexican tourist posed with the Nazi salute in Munich at the Square of Victims of National Socialism for a holiday photo. She was arrested and could only continue her journey after paying a fine of €450.

Most Germans strictly reject the goals and crimes of the Third Reich. NEVER, as a foreign visitor, are allowed to wear uniforms or symbols from that period as a party gag or take the Hitler salute as a good joke. Even if the police didn't find out about it, that wouldn't get you a laugh, only the horrified faces of the other people.

Even after the end of the war, the Third Reich is still taboo, even though reports about this period appear almost every day on television and in the newspapers. You can ask many Germans about National Socialism without any problems, as long as you remain diplomatic. And you should first know the person better privately and wait for a suitable opportunity. In business negotiations, the topic should be avoided completely. Germans also expect no personal accusations. After all, almost eight decades after the end of the Second World War, relatively few people survived the Third Reich. Most Germans were not born until decades after the end of the Third Reich and only know the time from school lessons or from films.


Religious buildings

Many of the German cultural assets are church buildings or buildings of other religious communities that are still used religiously. So for devout visitors they are places of worship. Accordingly, all visitors should behave in a reserved and quiet manner so as not to disturb anyone. Walking around and taking photos during services would be totally inappropriate. Male visitors are expected to remove their head coverings in churches. Shoes are usually removed when entering a mosque. A good opportunity to visit a mosque in Germany even as a non-Muslim is the annual Open Mosque Day on October 3 (national holiday Day of German Unity). When entering synagogues, male visitors should wear a hat. This is usually provided for guided tours. In general, it is important to be quiet and avoid running in cemeteries. While flowers are common in Christian cemeteries, stones are placed on the grave in Jewish cemeteries to symbolize the immortality of memory.


Personal handling

In Germany it is not customary to pronounce invitations as empty phrases. If you invite Germans to a meal or a visit, you have to expect that Germans will take you seriously and get in touch to arrange an appointment.

If you ask for directions in Germany, you either get a direct answer or the information that the person addressed does not know the way.

There are also unpunctual people in Germany. But for Germans, punctuality and reliability are actually more important than in other countries. If you are more than 15 minutes late for an appointment, you should call and say how many minutes later you will be there. Anyone who does not show up for an appointment without an explanation will have a hard time afterwards, whether in business or private life.

Older Germans, in particular, seem reserved towards strangers at first. Spontaneous invitations from strangers home are completely unusual. Younger people are a bit more relaxed. However, friendships in Germany can last a lifetime, even over long distances and even if you rarely see each other.

Spontaneous visits without prior notice are considered impolite by many in Germany.

Many Germans are not great fans of small talk, but often get to the topic quickly. The attitude behind it is that you don't want to waste time with it, neither of others nor your own. Polite phrases and complicated formulations are also avoided. In business life in particular, the following often applies: It is meant exactly as it was said.

While political issues are not a topic for small talk in any sense, it is more common than anywhere else to broach political issues among strangers or acquaintances. Most of the time nobody takes offense when someone has a different opinion, but one should be careful with opinions that deviate too much from "mainstream", especially if one does not know how the interlocutor(s) thinks.


Post and telecommunications

Fixed network connections for telephony in Germany are often already VOIP connections or shared (TV) cable connections. In addition to the successor to the Bundespost "Deutsche Telekom", other providers are also active. With regard to the costs for the caller of a fixed network connection, the provider of the connection of the called party is irrelevant.

There are several mobile network operators, each of which basically covers the entire federal territory. How well this actually happens is a hotly debated topic. At the top, Telekom and Vodafone fight for number 1, while O2 has gaps in stable network coverage. In rural areas, all providers have regional problems in providing fast data transmission. Prepaid cards are widespread and practical. A minute of domestic calls is between 7 and 9 cents. Some of the cards are also available as private labels from food discounters (Aldi, Lidl, Norma), and newsagents and drugstores have a larger selection of providers. Registration for prepaid SIM cards has been mandatory since 2017. Non-EU foreigners must present proof of arrival or residence permits.

In most cities there are internet cafes with mostly acceptable prices. Compared to other European countries, Germany lags far behind other countries when it comes to public WiFi. The use of these hotspots is often chargeable and then mostly prohibitively expensive. However, the expansion of WLAN hotspots in larger cities is being pushed ahead quickly. Hotspots, which are usually marked, have emerged primarily in public buildings, on public squares, in hotels and isolated cafés and system catering. Deutsche Bahn operates free and unlimited WiFi in most of the largest train stations. Also in long-distance trains and, depending on the region, local trains, mostly free but capped WiFi is now offered. Deutsche Telekom also operates many WLAN hotspots, but these are only free of charge for 30 minutes a day at train stations, for example, and sometimes only for a fee in other places. After the free minutes have expired, a comparatively expensive time tariff is required.

Postal services are mainly offered by Deutsche Post, which is obliged to offer a basic service for the whole of Germany as a so-called universal service. The company, which is listed on the stock exchange today and one of the successors of the Deutsche Bundespost, is still 20% federally owned. Today, the branch network also includes many postal agencies or acceptance points in newspaper shops or the like. Stamps can also be purchased individually there. There are now a few other providers who also set up their own mailboxes for post. Only the yellow mailboxes of the Deutsche Post can be used for letters and postcards abroad with "the post". Within Germany, letters usually arrive in 1 to 2 working days. Parcels are usually delivered within 3 to 4 working days.


Practical hints


Nudity in public
As in other countries in Central and Northern Europe, nudity is tolerated or even required in certain situations in Germany.

Breastfeeding babies is not a problem, but you should remain discreet. However, some public toilets also have their own room for this purpose.

On beaches, a shirtless woman is nothing special. Total nudity of both men and women is less common, but it does occur and is mostly tolerated. But you have to reckon with looks. Nude bathing is usually not allowed in public swimming pools.

In Germany there is a long tradition of nudism, the Freikörperkultur (FKK). Although this tradition dates back to Wilhelmine times, nudism was particularly popular in the GDR and there is still a certain East-West divide today. Followers of nudism go to special nudist beaches or nudist campsites. Here you have to B. not be constantly undressed in the cold. However, people who do not want to undress at all are not welcome here. It is customary for naked people to always put a towel underneath when sitting. Anyone who secretly takes photos of naked people in areas that are protected from view commits a criminal offense and faces imprisonment.

Many natural beaches are mixed, where everyone is free to choose whether or not to be nude. Here the rule usually applies: in the central areas you bathe fully clothed, in more remote places it is up to you.

This nudism has nothing to do with sexual acts. Having sex in public is usually classified as "indecent behavior" and is therefore a criminal offence.

It is important for foreigners to know that the words "FKK" and "Saunaclub" are often used in advertisements for prostitution. For Germans it is usually easy to distinguish this from simple nudism, strangers should be careful not to confuse this.



It is common in Germany for men and women to go to the sauna together. In some sauna areas there is one day or one period per week that is reserved for women, less often also for men. Sauna areas are usually naked areas, unlike in some other countries you go completely unclothed into the sauna or steam room, you only have to take a towel with you to sit or lie down (motto: no sweat on the wood). Not even that in the steam bath, here you wash the place afterwards with cold water hoses. By law, however, this regulation is left to the respective operator of the sauna (hotel owner or pool operator) through the domiciliary rights. Therefore, on rare occasions, he may choose to remain in bathing suits. If the operator prescribes unclothed sauna bathing in his bathing rules, you must expect to be expelled from the room if you do not comply. If you are unsure, you should read notices or ask the staff.



Germany is now considered a tolerant country when it comes to homosexuality. Legal restrictions have been abolished in recent decades. Marriage has also been open to homosexual couples since October 1, 2017, although “registered civil partnership” (“homosexual marriage”) had existed for a long time beforehand. Homosexuality is socially accepted in large parts of the population. Last but not least, there were and are many recognized famous and successful homosexuals in many areas, including politics and business. Violent attacks on homosexuals are relatively rare and are consistently prosecuted by the police and the judiciary.


Practical hints

Anyone from service-oriented countries such as If you come to the USA, for example, you will soon notice that self-help, do-it-yourself and improvisation are popular in Germany in some areas. For travelers, this applies in particular to washing clothes. Hotels usually do not have coin-operated washing machines for their guests, and laundromats with coin-operated washing machines are usually only found in large cities.

On the other hand, there are a large number of dry cleaners in Germany; before you unload your dirty things there, it is advisable to ask in advance what it will cost.

Incidentally, the locals hardly see this service gap as a problem because they traditionally help themselves in three ways: pack enough clothes from the start; wearing outerwear for several days in a row; Small hand washes in the hotel room in between (the travel detergent Rei in a tube has been a legendary must-have in Germany since the 1950s).


Concept history: German and Germany

The etymological precursors of German originally meant "belonging to the people", with the adjective initially denoting the dialects of the continental-West Germanic dialect continuum. The term Germany has been used since the 15th century, but is attested in individual documents even earlier; in the Frankfurt translation of the Golden Bull (around 1365) it is called Dutschelant. Before that, only word additions of the attribute German are occupied with country, for example in the indefinite singular form "a German country" or the definite plural form "the German countries", but not in the definite singular form "the German country". What was meant were countries with a ruling class that referred to the political claim to power of the (East) Franconians, from the 10th century of the Holy Roman Empire (962-1806). The designation was thus primarily used for (pre-)state structures in the German-speaking or dominion area, which had undergone major changes over the centuries.

The Holy Roman Empire, originally only referred to as "Reich" (Latin Imperium), received several suffixes: "Holy" since the mid-12th century, "Roman" since the mid-13th century and since the late 15th century "German nation". " (Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation). It was not until the 16th century that the term "Teutschland" came into use for the previously so-called "German states". Equating Reich and Germany soon became established in contemporary literature, and these were eventually used as synonyms (e.g. by the Halle lawyer Johann Peter von Ludewig in 1735).

An awareness that not the respective territorial state but Germany as a whole was to be regarded as the fatherland only began to spread during the Napoleonic Wars. Friedrich Schiller, for example, had previously made a strict distinction in the Xenien in 1797 between an intellectual and a political Germany, which had no overlap: “Germany, but where is it? I do not find the country. Where the learned begins, the political ends.” He rejected the possibility of the latter: “To form yourselves into a nation, you hope so, Germans, in vain.” German greatness (that’s the title of an unfinished poem from 1801 ) he saw only in the spiritual. As late as 1813, Achim von Arnim spoke of Germany as a “hollow word ideal”, to which he contrasted “everything glorious about the individual German peoples” (in the plural).

A political understanding of the name Germany initially only came from a small group of intellectuals and politicians such as Ernst Moritz Arndt, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, Johann Gottlieb Fichte or Heinrich Friedrich Karl vom und zum Stein, but it had a significant mobilizing effect as early as the wars of liberation. The Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia also referred positively to Germany: Archduke Karl von Austria-Teschen issued an appeal to the German nation in 1809 at the beginning of the Fifth Coalition War, in which he assured: "Our cause is Germany's cause". The Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III. announced in the proclamation of Kalisch on March 19, 1813 "to the princes and peoples of Germany the return of freedom and independence". This Germany was defined as the German language area (Arndt: Des Deutschen Vaterland, 1813; similarly in 1841 Hoffmann von Fallersleben's Song of the Germans). It was no longer understood as an empire but as a nation; In the decades that followed, the German national movement advocated the consolidation of all German territories into one nation state. This initially failed, at the Congress of Vienna in 1814/15 the territorial states were instead restored and combined in a confederation of states, the German Confederation. This was also referred to as Germany, but included some majority non-German speaking territories such as Bohemia and Moravia while excluding other majority German speaking areas such as East Prussia. Nevertheless, the national movement initially remained an elite project. It only had a mass impact during the Rhine Crisis in 1840.

From the founding of the Reich in 1871, a change in meaning began, from Germany as a cultural nation to a state designation, with a geographical restriction to today's area:

The Austrian Empire did not become part of the German Empire in 1871. However, the German-speaking residents of Austria continued to see themselves as Germans. When the multi-ethnic state collapsed at the end of the First World War, the German-Austrians wanted to join the German Reich. However, this was prohibited by the peace treaty. This is how different national identities began to develop. The terms German and Germany were increasingly identified only with the German Empire. This process was initially interrupted when Austria was annexed to the German Reich in 1938 under National Socialist rule. The distancing from National Socialism after the Second World War led in Austria to distancing themselves from the concept of Germany and to the consolidation of their own national identity for Austrians. In the course of the political reorganization of the continuing state as a whole, the Parliamentary Council in West Germany rejected the continuation of the state name Deutsches Reich because of its "aggressive accent" and used Germany as the state name for the first time in the then constituted "Federal Republic of Germany". In the deliberations, Theodor Heuss said in 1948: "With the word Germany we give the whole thing a certain pathos ... of a sentimental and not a power-political nature." The German Democratic Republic (GDR) did not use Germany in its state name, but as a synonym for GDR in Art. 1 of the 1949 constitution. Later, the GDR almost exclusively used the attribute German or the suffix "... of the GDR" for state designations of sovereignty. With German unity in 1990, Germany was able to become the official short form of the state designation.



Physical geography

The major natural regions are from north to south: the North German lowlands, the low mountain range and the foothills of the Alps with the Alps.



Geologically, Germany belongs to Western Europe, i.e. to that part of the continent that was successively annexed to the Precambrian consolidated "Ur-Europa" (Eastern Europe including a large part of Scandinavia, cf. Baltica) only in the course of the Phanerozoic through continent-continent collisions (mountain formations). became. The corresponding crustal provinces (basic mountain range provinces) are simply called (eastern) Avalonia (cf. Caledonian mountain formation) and Armorica (cf. Variscan mountain formation). The youngest crustal province is the Alpine-Carpathian orogen (cf. Alpine orogeny), in which Germany only has a share with the extreme south of Bavaria and which, in contrast to the other two tectonic provinces, represents an active orogen.

Today's surface geology of Germany, i.e. the pattern of rock complexes of different ages and structures, as is often shown on geological maps, only developed over the course of the last 30 to 20 million years in the younger Cenozoic and was significantly shaped by two events: the Alpidic Mountain building and the Quaternary Ice Age.

The Quaternary Ice Age formed the comparatively monotonous surface geology of northern Germany and the foothills of the Alps with their moraine deposits and other side effects of large-scale glaciation (cf. glacial series).

The surface geology of central and most of southern Germany is the result of significant fracture tectonic uplift and subsidence, which can be traced back to the long-distance effects of the Alpid mountain formation. Some old (predominantly Paleozoic), Variscan folded bedrock complexes (slate mountains and crystalline) were lifted out of the subsoil and exposed over large areas (e.g. Rhenish Slate Mountains, Harz Mountains, Ore Mountains), some of the earth's crust sank and formed sedimentation spaces, the more or less thick Cenozoic sediment sequences recordings (Upper Rhine Graben, Lower Rhine Graben, Hessian Depression, Molasse Basin). The tablelands with their unfolded Mesozoic strata, dominated by the Triassic and Jurassic (Thuringian Basin, southern German strata), occupy an intermediate tectonic position.



The geologically young folded mountains of the Alps are the only high mountains in which Germany has a share. The German Alps, which are located entirely in the federal state of Bavaria, have the only mountain peaks with more than 2000 m above sea level. NHN on. The summit of the Zugspitze (2962 m above sea level), which Germany shares with Austria, is the highest point in the country.

The German low mountain ranges extend from the northern edge of the low mountain range to the edge of the Alps and the Upper Rhine with Lake Constance. They tend to increase in height and extent from north to south. The highest low mountain peak is the Feldberg in the Black Forest (1493 m above sea level), followed by the Großer Arber in the Bavarian Forest (1456 m above sea level). Peaks over 1000 m above sea level NHN also own the Ore Mountains, the Fichtel Mountains, the Swabian Jura and the Harz, which is quite isolated as the northernmost of the highest German low mountain ranges with the Brocken at 1141 m above sea level. NHN raises. North of the low mountain range, only a few mountains within the Ice Age terminal moraines reach more than 100 m above sea level. NHN, of which the Heidehöhe in Schraden (southern ridge in the Brandenburg-Saxon border area) with 201 m above sea level. NN is the highest.

The deepest generally accessible state office in Germany is 3.54 m below sea level in a depression near Neuendorf-Sachsenbande in the Wilstermarsch (Schleswig-Holstein). The deepest crypto-depression is also in this federal state: It is 39.6 m below sea level at the bottom of Lake Hemmelsdorf northeast of Lübeck. The deepest artificially created terrain point is 267 m below sea level at the bottom of the Hambach opencast mine east of Jülich in North Rhine-Westphalia.

See also: List of the highest mountains in Germany and List of mountain ranges and ridges in Germany



Germany belongs entirely to the moderate climate zone of Central Europe in the area of the westerly wind zone and is located in the transition area between the maritime climate in Western Europe and the continental climate in Eastern Europe. The climate in Germany is influenced, among other things, by the Gulf Stream, which means that the average temperature level is unusually high for the latitude.

The average annual temperature, based on the normal period 1961–1990,[28] is 8.2 °C nationwide, the average monthly average temperatures are between −0.5 °C in January and 16.9 °C in July. The mean annual precipitation is 789 millimeters. The average monthly amount of precipitation is between 49 millimeters in February and 85 millimeters in June.

The lowest officially recognized temperature measured in Germany was −37.8 °C; it was registered in Wolnzach in 1929. The highest temperature so far was 41.2 °C and was measured on July 25, 2019 in Duisburg-Baerl and in Tönisvorst on the Lower Rhine.


Bodies of water

Of the six rivers with the largest catchment areas, the Rhine, Elbe, Weser and Ems drain via the North Sea and the Oder via the Baltic Sea into the Atlantic, while the Danube flows into the Black Sea and is therefore hydrographically part of the Mediterranean. The catchment areas of these two systems are separated from each other by the main European watershed.

The Rhine, which has its source in Switzerland, dominates the southwest and west. It flows 865 kilometers through or along the border with Germany before it flows into the North Sea via the Netherlands. Its main German tributaries are the Neckar, Main, Moselle and Ruhr. The Rhine is of great economic importance and is one of the busiest waterways in Europe. In the south, the Danube drains almost the entire German Alpine foothills over a distance of 647 kilometers and flows on to Austria and south-eastern Europe. Its most important German tributaries are the Iller, Lech, Isar and Inn. The Elbe, which has its source in the Czech Republic, flows 725 kilometers through eastern Germany. Its main German tributaries are the Saale and Havel. At 179 kilometers, the Oder, as well as its most important tributary, the Neisse, is the border river to Poland. Only the catchment area of the 452 km long Weser lies entirely in Germany. It is fed by the rivers Werra and Fulda and drains the central north. The Ems flows 371 kilometers through the extreme north-west of the country. Your catchment area also extends to parts of the Netherlands.

The natural lakes are predominantly of glacial origin. Therefore, most of the large lakes can be found in the foothills of the Alps, in Holstein Switzerland and in Mecklenburg. The largest lake that is completely part of German territory is the Müritz, which is part of the Mecklenburg Lake District. The largest lake with a German portion is Lake Constance, which also borders Austria and Switzerland. In the west and east of Germany there are many artificial lakes, such as the Leipziger Neuseenland or the Dortmunder Phoenix-See, which were created by the recultivation of brown coal mines or brownfield sites.



The Frisian Islands are located in the Wadden Sea, just off the Dutch, German and Danish North Sea coast. While the North Frisian Islands are remnants of land separated from the coast by land subsidence and subsequent flooding, the East Frisian Islands are barrier islands formed from sediments washed up by coast-parallel currents and wave and tidal dynamics. Located in the middle of the German Bight, Heligoland is the most distant inhabited German island from the mainland. It goes back to the rise of a salt dome in the subsoil of the North Sea.

The largest German islands in the Baltic Sea are (from west to east) Fehmarn, Poel, Hiddensee, Rügen and Usedom. Rügen is also the largest German island. The largest peninsula is Fischland-Darß-Zingst. With the exception of Fehmarn, these land areas are part of a Bodden coast, i.e. a ground moraine landscape that was flooded after the Ice Age and subsequently modified by landing processes.

The largest and best-known islands in inland waters are Reichenau, Mainau and Lindau in Lake Constance and Herreninsel in Lake Chiemsee.



The natural region of Germany lies in the cool-temperate climate zone; from west to east, its natural vegetation marks the transition from the west side sea climate to the continental climate. Without human influence, the flora would be characterized mainly by deciduous and mixed forests, with the exception of nutrient-poor or dry locations such as rocky outcrops, lowland heaths and moorland, as well as the alpine and subalpine highlands, which are extremely poor in vegetation and have a climate similar to the cold-temperate climate zone.

Locally, the flora in Germany shows a high degree of diversification due to location factors of the terrain and the mesoclimatic situation. The total stock of wild plant species in Germany is estimated at over 9,500 species, of which almost 3,000 species are seed plants, 74 fern plants, over 1,000 mosses and around 3,000 diatoms. There are also around 14,000 types of fungus and 373 types of slime mold. A number of introduced species such as black locust and Himalayan balsam can be found today, particularly on fallow and disturbed areas.

Forests currently cover around 30 percent of the land area in Germany. This makes Germany one of the most densely forested countries in the European Union. The current tree species composition corresponds only to a small extent to the natural conditions and is mainly determined by forestry. The most common tree species are the Norway spruce with 26.0 percent of the area, followed by the Scots pine with 22.9 percent, the common beech with 15.8 percent and the oak with 10.6 percent.

Around half of the state area is used for agriculture; According to the Federal Statistical Office, it was 182,637 square kilometers on December 31, 2016. In addition to being used as permanent grassland, most of it is used for arable farming, since the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, mainly with crops that do not occur naturally in Central Europe (most of the grain types from the Middle East, potatoes and corn from America). In the river valleys, including those of the Main, Moselle, Ahr and Rhine, the landscape was often redesigned for winegrowing.

In Germany, the preservation of nature is a public task and a state goal enshrined in Art. 20a of the Basic Law. 16 national parks (see national parks in Germany), 19 biosphere reserves, 105 nature parks and thousands of nature reserves, landscape protection areas and natural monuments serve to protect nature.



Around 48,000 animal species have been identified in Germany, including 104 mammals, 328 birds, 13 reptiles, 22 amphibians and 197 fish species, as well as over 33,000 insect species, which puts the country "on the basis of geological development and geographical location among the areas with fewer species". counts. These species include over 1,000 crustaceans, almost 3,800 arachnids, 635 molluscs and over 5,300 other invertebrates.

The wild mammals native to Germany include deer, wild boar, red and fallow deer as well as foxes, martens and lynxes. Beavers and otters are rare inhabitants of the river meadows, with populations increasing again in some cases. Alpine ibex, alpine marmots and chamois live in the Bavarian Alps; the latter can also be found in various low mountain ranges. Other large mammals that lived in what is now Germany in earlier times were exterminated: wild horses, aurochs (15th century), bison (16th century), brown bear (19th century), wolf (19th century), elk ( 20th century). While moose occasionally migrate from neighboring countries today, wolves coming from Poland have firmly established themselves in Germany again and gave birth to offspring for the first time around the turn of the millennium. In 2018 there were 73 proven wolf packs in Germany, most of which live in the states of Saxony, Brandenburg and Lower Saxony. In 2013 a herd of bison was released into the wild in the Rothaar Mountains. In October 2019, a brown bear that was probably immigrated from Italy was photographed by a wildlife camera in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In the months that followed, the animal was repeatedly found again. Already in 2006 a bear had immigrated to Germany with the “problem bear” Bruno. In the meantime, lynxes that were originally native to this area are now living in Germany again, albeit in low population densities because they are repeatedly victims of poaching and road traffic.

exterminated bearded vultures from Switzerland and Austria are returning. The most common birds of prey today are buzzards and kestrel, the population of peregrine falcons is significantly lower. More than half of the total population of red kites breeds in Germany, but is declining due to intensive agriculture. On the other hand, many birds as cultural successors benefit from the presence of humans, in particular urban pigeons, blackbirds (former forest birds), sparrows and tits, which also survive through winter feeding, as well as crows and gulls on rubbish dumps. The Wadden Sea is a resting place for ten to twelve million migratory birds per year.

The salmon that used to be common in the rivers was largely eradicated in the course of industrialization, but was reintroduced to the Rhine in the 1980s. In Germany, the last sturgeon was caught in 1969. The carp introduced by the Romans are kept in many ponds. The common and gray seal species, which were almost exterminated by professional fishermen in the middle of the 20th century as competitors for prey and are now protected - the latter being the largest predator native to Germany - are now again represented by several thousand specimens on the German coasts. Eight species of whales occur in the North and Baltic Seas, including the harbor porpoise and one species of dolphin, the common dolphin.

The species-poor reptile fauna includes, for example, grass snake, adder, sand lizard and the endangered European pond turtle. Amphibians such as salamanders, frogs, toads, toads and newts are all protected species in Germany, and half of the approximately 20 species are on the national Red List of Threatened Species.

The – partly invasive – neozoa in Germany (introduced animal species) include raccoons, raccoon dogs, muskrat, coypu, ring-necked parakeets, Canada goose and Egyptian goose.


Human geography

Germany has a total of nine neighboring countries: Germany borders Denmark in the north, Poland in the north-east, the Czech Republic in the east, Austria in the south-east, Switzerland in the south, France in the south-west, Luxembourg and Belgium in the west and Belgium in the north-west the Netherlands. The border length is 3876 kilometers in total.

In Germany, a total of 51 percent of the land area is used for agriculture (2016), forests cover another 30 percent. 14 percent is used as settlement and traffic area. Water surfaces account for two percent, the remaining three percent are spread over other areas, mostly wasteland and opencast mines.

administrative division
The federally structured Federal Republic consists of 16 member states, which are officially referred to as countries (federal states). The city-states of Berlin and Hamburg each consist of unified municipalities of the same name, while the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, as the third city-state, comprises two separate municipalities, Bremen and Bremerhaven. In contrast to other federal states, there are no federal areas in Germany.

The municipalities are the smallest democratically constituted, legally independent regional authorities and administrative units in Germany. Due to their cooperative character, which goes back to the Middle Ages, they have a long tradition. Today, the municipalities in Germany, with the exception of the city-states and most urban districts, are grouped together in rural districts and other municipal associations. There are 400 regional authorities at district level, of which 294 are districts and 106 are urban districts. They are subdivided into a total of 10,790 municipalities (as of January 2021), with a downward trend, and more than 200 mostly uninhabited unincorporated areas. Districts and municipalities are subject to the municipal constitutional law of the respective federal state and are therefore organized differently nationwide. The rural district is thus both a supra-local municipal authority and a lower state administrative authority. It has its own representative body, the district council (Article 28(1) sentence 2 of the Basic Law), and performs various “supra-local community” tasks for the municipalities belonging to the district.

Under constitutional law, the municipalities are part of the federal states, which means that they are subject to their supervisory and directive rights and therefore do not have their own state sovereignty. The self-government guarantee of Art. 28 Para. 2 GG - on the one hand a so-called institutional legal subject guarantee, from which it follows that there must be municipalities in the state structure at all, on the other hand a subjective public right with constitutional status - distinguishes between the municipalities, which are granted this right in full, and the municipal associations (districts), to which it is only granted in a graduated form. As a result, there is a clear rule/exception relationship in favor of the municipalities (principle of subsidiarity) for the demarcation of tasks between municipalities and counties. With regard to “matters of the local community”, i.e. the authority guaranteed in Art. 28 (2) sentence 1 GG to conduct business independently in this area (so-called objective legal institutional guarantee), the Federal Constitutional Court has the priority of the municipal level over the district level in accordance with the provisions of the laws: According to this, the principle of "'universality' of the municipal sphere of activity" applies to cities and municipalities "as essentials" and "identity-determining feature of municipal self-government", in contrast to the special competence of municipal associations by virtue of express legal assignment, which means that there is no fixed community association sovereignties.


Metropolitan areas

In Germany, densely populated areas and conurbations (agglomerations) are not statistically defined precisely. There are 81 major cities (100,000 or more inhabitants), 14 of which have more than 500,000 inhabitants, mostly in western and southwestern Germany for historical reasons. These agglomerations running along the Rhine form the middle part of the central European population concentration (Blue Banana). Most agglomerations are monocentric, while the Ruhr area is a (polycentric) conurbation. With its numerous centers, Germany, unlike its neighbors Austria with its capital Vienna and Denmark with Copenhagen, does not have a primate city. Despite the large number of large cities, slightly less than a third (26.6 million) of Germany's inhabitants lived in large cities as of December 31, 2020.

On the territory of Germany, eleven European metropolitan regions were defined by the Ministerial Conference for Regional Planning. These go far beyond the corresponding agglomerations. Cologne/Düsseldorf/Dortmund/Essen belong to the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region, Leipzig/Halle/Chemnitz to the central German metropolitan region. Another is the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region around Ludwigshafen/Mannheim/Heidelberg.




According to the update of the 2011 census, 83,190,556 people lived in Germany on September 30, 2020 in an area of 357,381 square kilometers. With almost 233 people per square kilometer, the country is one of the densely populated area states. In 2020, 50.7 percent of the population were women and 49.3 percent were men. In 2019, 18.4 percent of residents were under 20 years old, 24.6 percent were between 20 and 40 years old, and 28.4 percent were between 40 and 60 years old. 21.7 percent of the population was between the ages of 60 and 80, and 6.8 percent were older. In 2019, the average age was 44.5 years. Germany is thus one of the oldest societies in the world.

In addition to the family as the most commonly desired form of living together, many life models are represented in German society. The number of live births was 737,575 in 2015, the highest number in 15 years. This corresponds to a birth rate of 1.50 children per woman or 9.6 births per 1,000 inhabitants. During the same period, 925,200 deaths were registered, about 11.2 cases per 1,000 inhabitants. In 2021, the birth rate per woman increased to 1.58 children.

Because the death rate has been higher than the birth rate every year since 1972, political orientation towards a family-friendly, child- and young-promoting society with large families (pronatalism) is being sought. Experts consider the compatibility of family and career to be a central prerequisite for this. With persistently low birth rates, especially in sections of the population with middle and higher educational qualifications, social, economic and geopolitical problems were predicted for Germany (as of 2012).

Around 72.650 million people in Germany held German citizenship as of September 30, 2020. This corresponds to 87.33 percent of the resident population. In 2017, around 18.9 million people had a migration background (23%). In the 2011 census, all foreigners and all Germans who immigrated to what is now the Federal Republic of Germany after 1955 or who had at least one parent who immigrated after 1955 counted as people with a migration background. Among them, the Aussiedler and Spätaussiedler form the largest group, followed by citizens of Turkey, other countries of the European Union and the former Yugoslavia. Between 1950 and 2002, a total of 4.3 million people, either born in the country or long-dwelling residents, were naturalized on their own application.

In 2017, the German Economic Institute (IW) predicted that Germany's population would continue to grow as a result of immigration and would reach around 83.1 million people in 2035. In 2018, the German population grew by 227,000 inhabitants, which means that Germany exceeded the mark of 83 million inhabitants. In 2019, it grew by 147,000 people (+0.2%) to 83.2 million. At the end of September 2020, the population was 83,190,556. In 2022, the population of Germany exceeded 84 million for the first time. According to the Federal Statistical Office, it was 84,080,000 inhabitants on June 30, 2022.

Germany has been considered a de facto immigration country for years. In 2020, around 220,000 more people moved in than out.



Like the majority of Western and Central Europe, today's Germany has been shaped by Western Christianity since late antiquity and has been shaped by enlightened science since the 18th century. This is based on influences from ancient Greek and Roman culture as well as Jewish and Christian traditions, which had mixed with Germanic traditions since the beginning of the Christianization of Northwest Europe, from around the 4th century. The area of Germany has been Christianized since the early Middle Ages. In the Frankish period, in the empire of Charlemagne, missionary work was completed, partly through coercion. With Martin Luther posting his theses in 1517, the Christian Reformation began and subsequently the formation of Protestant denominations, which shaped the religious landscape in Germany alongside the Catholic denomination.

Relationship between state and religion
Art. 4 of the Basic Law guarantees freedom of religion in Germany, individually as a basic right and institutionally in the relationship between religion and state. Thus the ideological neutrality of the state and the right of self-determination of the religious communities are codified. On this basis, the relationship between religious communities and the state is based on partnership; So there is no strict separation of church and state, but in many social and school-cultural areas there are interdependencies, for example through a church, but state co-financed sponsorship of kindergartens, schools, hospitals or nursing homes. Some German parties also refer to the country's Christian tradition. The Christian churches have the status of official churches and are corporations under public law, but sui generis due to the applicable state church law. As religious societies under public law, the churches should be granted certain organizational options without being subject to state supervision; instead, the church's public mandate is partly recognized in church contracts with the states or the corresponding regulations in the state constitutions, and the special, original church power is legally affirmed. Certain Christian churches and Jewish communities levy a church tax, which the state collects in return for an expense allowance and forwards it to the respective churches or to the Central Council of Jews in Germany. Furthermore, according to the Basic Law, religious education is an optional but regular subject in public schools (with the exception of Bremen, Berlin and Brandenburg). This subject is often taught by a representative of one of the two major churches.


Population proportions

About 53 percent of the population belong to a Christian denomination: the Roman Catholic Church 26 percent (predominantly in western and southern Germany), the Evangelical Church (Lutheran, Reformed and Uniate) 24 percent (tendency mainly in northern Germany); other Christian churches such as the orthodox and ancient oriental churches, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the New Apostolic Church and the free churches altogether about 3 percent. The number of churchgoers is significantly lower than the number of church members. On the so-called counting Sundays (second Sunday in Lent and second Sunday in November) in 2016, 2.4 million people (2.9% of the total population) attended the Catholic services and 0.8 million (1%) those of the Protestant church. Significantly more people take part in church services on high church holidays, especially on Christmas Eve. About 42 percent of the population is non-denominational. In the new federal states, the proportion of non-denominational and non-Christians is well over 70 percent. The GDR propagated and conveyed an atheistic world view (see youth consecration) and encouraged people to leave the church. Due to long-term processes of secularization and the change in values, the proportion of non-religious people in the total population also increased in the old Federal Republic (1970: 3.9%; 1987: 11.4%). This development has continued in the united Germany.

At the end of 2015, around 4.5 million Muslims lived in Germany. They make up about 5.5 percent of the total population. More than half have a Turkish migration background, a good 17 percent come from the rest of the Near East. Between 2011 and 2015, 1.2 million Muslims came to Germany. The Coordinating Council of Muslims in Germany was founded as the umbrella organization for the many Islamic organizations and contact persons for outsiders.

The German Buddhist Union assumes that there are around 270,000 Buddhists in Germany. Half of them are immigrant Asians. This corresponds to 0.3 percent of the population.

About 200,000 Jews live in Germany, which corresponds to 0.25 percent of the population. About half of them are organized in Jewish communities. Since the 1990s, there has been a strong increase in immigrants from the former Eastern Bloc countries, above all from Ukraine and Russia.

Syrian Christianity is a constantly growing Christian denomination in Germany with around 130,000 members due to the continuous influx of Assyrians from Mesopotamia. Of these, around 100,000 Assyrians belong to the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch.



Prehistory, Celts, Germans and Romans

The oldest fossil evidence of the presence of the Homo genus on German territory - the lower jaw of Mauer - is around 500,000 years old. It was named Homo heidelbergensis after its location near Heidelberg. The Schöninger spears, which are at least 300,000 years old, are the oldest fully preserved hunting weapons known to mankind and have revolutionized the image of the cultural and social development of early humans.

The Neanderthals, named after a site in the Neandertal east of Düsseldorf, were followed about 40,000 years ago by Homo sapiens, the anatomically modern human, who immigrated from Africa. Although the Neanderthals disappeared, it has recently been shown that both had at least some descendants in common. The Upper Palaeolithic cabaret is the oldest known art of mankind.

Neolithic farmers coming from the Near East, who migrated with their cattle and crops via Anatolia and the Balkans (Linear Pottery makers), displaced from about 5700/5600 BC. the hunters and gatherers of the Mesolithic from the southern half of Germany. Only around 4000 BC. BC the appropriating cultures of hunters, gatherers and fishermen were replaced by peasant cultures, which were now consistently sedentary, in northern Germany as well; the last culture of hunters in northern Germany is the Ertebølle culture.

The Bronze Age began on German territory around 2200 BC with a delay of more than 1000 years. The Nebra Sky Disc is one of their most important finds. At the beginning of the Hallstatt period (1200–1000 BC), southern and central Germany were settled by Celts, and iron began to assert itself as the most important metal. Around 600 BC the Jastorf culture, which is regarded as a Germanic culture, developed in northern Germany. The term "Teutons" (Latin Germani) was coined in the 1st century BC. first mentioned by ancient authors. This is an ethnographic, less precise collective term which, for methodological reasons, should not be misunderstood as a designation for a uniform people.

From 58 B.C. 455 AD, the areas to the left of the Rhine and south of the Danube belonged to the Roman Empire, from around 80 to 260 AD also part of Hesse and most of today's Baden-Württemberg south of the Limes. These Roman territories were divided into the provinces of Gallia Belgica, Germania superior, Germania inferior, Raetia and Noricum. There the Romans established legionary camps, a number of cities such as Trier, Cologne, Augsburg and Mainz - the oldest cities in Germany. Allied Germanic tribes secured these provinces, and settlers from other parts of the empire also settled here.

The part of the Germanic settlement area outside the Roman provinces of Germania Inferior and Germania Superior was called Germania magna by the Romans in the early and high imperial period and in late antiquity.

Attempts to expand the sphere of influence further into this Germanic area failed with the Battle of Varus in 9 AD. Roman efforts to establish provinces up to the Elbe finally ended. Tacitus' Germania, written in 98 at the earliest, is the oldest description of the Germanic tribes.


Migration and Early Middle Ages (375–962)

After the invasion of the Huns around 375, the migration of peoples began. At the same time, several large tribes emerged in the transition from late antiquity to the early Middle Ages, namely the Franks, Alamanni, Saxons, Bavarians and Thuringians. In this context, the complex process of ethnogenesis of the different gentes (tribes) is important in recent research. The emergence of ethnic identities (ethnicity) in late antiquity or the beginning of the early Middle Ages in connection with the so-called migration of peoples is no longer understood as a biological category. Rather, identities emerge in a changing social process in which several factors play a role.

The goal of the groups that penetrated the empire was above all a share in the prosperity of the empire, whose structures and culture they did not want to destroy. However, the subsequent military conflicts and internal Roman power struggles led to a process of political erosion in the western empire. In the course of the fall of the Western Empire (the last emperor in Italy was deposed in 476), Germanic-Roman successor empires were formed on the soil of the western empire. The Eastern Roman Empire ("Byzantium"), on the other hand, continued to exist until 1453 and continued to maintain contacts with the West.

In the 7th century, Slavic tribes immigrated to the largely depopulated areas of today's East Germany. They were only assimilated in the course of the high medieval Ostsiedlung. Western and Central Europe was dominated by the Frankish Empire that emerged at the end of the 5th century, and today's northern Germany by the Saxons and Slavs. All of the areas of the Frankish kingdom that now belong to Germany were in the eastern part of Austrasia. Under the Merovingians, however, there were repeated dynastic conflicts.

In the middle of the 8th century, Pippin the Younger from the Carolingian dynasty succeeded the Merovingians who had ruled until then in the Frankish kingdom. After the Saxons had been subjugated and proselytized, and Charlemagne had conquered Italy, northern Spain and the eastern border area, the multi-ethnic empire was reorganized. Church organization and cultural promotion were partially based on Roman traditions (Carolingian Renaissance). At Christmas 800, Charlemagne had himself crowned emperor by the pope in Rome and thus laid claim to the successorship of the Roman Empire (translatio imperii), which led to competition with the Byzantine emperors (two-emperor problem). After Charlemagne's death in 814, there were fights among his descendants, which led to a tripartite division of the empire in 843 in the Treaty of Verdun into East Francia under "Louis the German", West Francia and Lotharingia.

In the East Franconian Empire, five large duchies developed around 900, namely the tribal duchies of Saxony, Bavaria, Swabia, Franconia and Lorraine. The Carolingian dynasty died out in both West and East Franconia in the 10th century, and from then on the two parts of the empire remained politically separate. The Battle of Lechfeld in 955 ended decades of Hungarian invasions, led to a gain in prestige for King Otto, who was crowned Emperor in Rome in 962, and to the assignment of the Archangel Michael as the patron saint of the Germans.


From East Francia to Holy Roman Empire (962–1806)

The Ottonian dynasty was essential for the formation of the East Frankish Empire, but it is no longer considered the beginning of the actual "German" imperial history. Rather, the associated process dragged on at least until the 11th century. The term regnum Teutonicorum ("Kingdom of the Germans") first appears in the sources at the beginning of the 11th century, but it was never the title of the kingdom (imperium), but served the popes to relativize the claim to power of the Roman-German kings.

In 951, Otto I assumed the Longobard kingship. This connected the Regnum Teutonicum with Imperial Italy. In 962 Otto was crowned emperor, thus combining the Roman-German royal dignity with the claim to the western “Roman” empire (idea of empire). This Roman-German Empire occupied a hegemonic position in western Europe under the Ottonians. In 1024, the Salians became kings, which until the end of the Middle Ages was always linked to an election by various greats of the empire.

The way in which secular and spiritual power were interlocked is sometimes called the "Reichskirchensystem". The question of who was allowed to appoint bishops led to the Investiture Controversy with the Reformed Papacy, to Canossa in 1077 and to the interim solution of the Worms Concordat in 1122. The dispute between Emperor and Pope reached a climax in the Staufer period, especially under Frederick II German part of the empire on many regalia. With his death in 1250, the Hohenstaufen kingdom collapsed; the interregnum that followed increased the power of the princes. The empire continued to exist as a political ordering factor, but increasingly lost its influence on the European level.

Numerous feudal regimes became independent in the form of territorial states at the expense of royal-imperial power, which was never strong and therefore relied on consensual rule with the greats of the empire. Emperor Henry VI At the end of the 12th century, the attempt to introduce the hereditary monarchy through the hereditary plan had failed. While the West Frankish Empire developed into the French central state, the East Franconian or Roman-German Empire remained characterized by sovereigns and the right to elect kings.

In the middle of the 13th century in the Holy Roman Empire - the term Sacrum Imperium (Holy Empire) was already used in 1157, Sacrum Imperium Romanum (Holy Roman Empire) is first documented in 1184 (older research assumed 1254) - the view that a college of electors is entitled to elect the king, which was made binding by the Golden Bull of 1356. The empire thus formally remained an elective monarchy until its end in 1806. Although the emperors repeatedly tried to strengthen their position, the empire remained a supranational federation of many different sized territories and imperial cities.

The late medieval 14th and 15th centuries were characterized by elective monarchy: three large families – the Habsburgs, the Luxemburgers and the Wittelsbachs – had the greatest influence in the empire and the greatest domestic power. The most important king is Charles IV, who operated a skilful home power policy. Despite crises such as the plague (Black Death), the agrarian crisis and the western schism, cities and trade flourished; the transition to the Renaissance began. In the empire, the Habsburgs inherited the Luxembourgers, who died out in the male line in 1437, and almost continuously provided the Roman-German rulers until the end of the empire. Through clever politics, the Habsburgs secured additional territories in the empire and even the Spanish royal crown: Habsburg thus rose to become a major European power.

At the turn of the 16th century, Emperor Maximilian I carried out a comprehensive imperial reform that strengthened the Imperial Diet, jurisdiction (creation of the Imperial Chamber Court and Imperial Court Council) and internal order through the perpetual peace and division into imperial districts. Due to the failure of the common penny and the imperial regiment, however, the reform remained incomplete. From 1519, Emperor Charles V, who was also the Spanish king with an overseas colonial empire, pursued the concept of a universal monarchy. His dominance in Europe established the centuries-long Habsburg-French antagonism.

In 1517, Martin Luther initiated the Reformation with demands for internal church and theological reforms and an anti-papal attitude, which led to the emergence of "Protestant" denominations. Catholicism reacted with the Counter-Reformation, but the new evangelical churches held their ground in large parts of the empire. The Augsburg Religious Peace of 1555 created a temporary balance: the sovereigns were allowed to determine which denomination applied to their subjects (Cuius regio, eius religio).

Confessional and political differences triggered the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) with many fatalities and devastated landscapes, ended with the Peace of Westphalia, which strengthened and established the influence of the territories towards the emperor (see the most recent imperial farewell). The imperial princes were now allowed to raise their own troops and could conclude treaties with foreign powers. As a result, the empire became a de facto confederation of states, but de jure it remained a monarchical and estate-based ruling structure. From 1663, the Reichstag was transformed into a permanent congress of envoys (Perpetual Reichstag), which met in Regensburg.

As part of his reunion policy, Louis XIV led the Palatinate War of Succession. France acted as a model of absolutism, which did not allow the central royal authority in the empire to become bureaucratically organized states, but rather individual principalities. Some rulers, especially Frederick II of Prussia, opened up to the philosophical zeitgeist and carried out reforms (enlightened absolutism). The political rise of Prussia in the 18th century led to dualism with the House of Habsburg. After the French Revolution, their troops occupied the left bank of the Rhine. After Napoleon Bonaparte's victory in the Second Coalition War, the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss came to an end in 1803. In 1806 the last Emperor, Franz II, laid down the crown and the empire came to an end.


Confederation of the Rhine, German Confederation, North German Confederation (1806–1871)

Under Napoleon's influence, between 1801 and 1806, the number of states in the area of the "Old Empire" was reduced from around 300 to around 60. France annexed the German West and Northwest and created German vassal states, whose thrones Napoleon occupied with family members (Grand Duchy of Berg, Kingdom of Westphalia, Grand Duchy of Frankfurt). Napoleon built up some German states as allies, above all the newly created Kingdom of Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden in the Peace of Pressburg in 1805, by expanding them to include the areas of the secularized and mediatized small states and uniting them in the Confederation of the Rhine, which was allied with France. With the opponents Prussia and Austria defeated by Napoleon, this followed the Holy Roman Empire, which was divided into three parts and eliminated as a power factor. The "French era" brought considerable modernization impulses to the Rhine Confederation states, including civil liberties through the introduction of the Code civil. In Prussia, too, far-reaching reforms were undertaken from 1806 to make subjects citizens (cf. citoyen) and the state capable of acting and fighting again.

From 1809 there was resistance to French occupation and rule; various uprisings, such as those by Andreas Hofer in Tyrol and Ferdinand von Schill in Prussia, were initially put down. After Napoleon's defeat in the Russian campaign in 1812, Prussia and Austria, in alliance with the Russian Empire, began the wars of liberation (1813–1815), which strengthened German national feeling, initially among Protestant academics, for example in the Lützower Freikorps, which is also known as the origin of the colors black, red and gold counts. Most of the states of the Confederation of the Rhine joined the allies who, after winning the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig in 1813, finally defeated Napoleon by 1815.

Subsequently, the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815) largely restored monarchical rule. In the German Confederation, a confederation of states dominated by Austria and Prussia, 38 states (→ Third Germany) were organized with the Frankfurt Bundestag as the decision-making body. In 1833/1834 the German Customs Union was created under Prussian supremacy. In the Vormärz period, the old ruling elite suppressed the economically growing bourgeoisie (persecution of demagogues), which continued to demand political participation and the formation of a nation state, as in 1817 at the student Wartburg Festival and in 1832 at the Hambach Festival with the hoisting of black, red and gold, the later national colors.

With the bourgeois March Revolution of 1848, many conservative politicians had to resign, including the epoch-defining Austrian Chancellor, Prince Metternich. Under the pressure of the revolution in Berlin, the German Bundestag accepted the election of the Frankfurt National Assembly. She set up a government and issued the Paulskirche constitution, which included a German nation-state as the “Deutsches Reich” with a constitutional monarchy.

But the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV rejected the imperial crown that was offered to him. After the May Uprising was crushed, the revolution ended on July 23, 1849 with the capture of Rastatt Fortress by Prussian troops. The failure of the democratic movement led to the flight and emigration of the Forty-Eighters and to a reactionary era in the German states.

In the early 1860s, Prussia's conflict with Austria over supremacy in the German Confederation (German dualism) broke out, ending in Prussia's victory in the German War in 1866. The German Confederation was dissolved, and Prussia annexed a number of areas that were wartime enemies in northern and central Germany. In 1866, under the dominance of Prussia, the North German Confederation was initially founded as a military alliance. Its constitution of 1867 made it a sovereign federal state and initiated the small German solution - i.e. the formation of a German state without Austria.


German Empire (1871–1918)

During the Franco-Prussian War, the southern German states joined the North German Confederation (January 1, 1871). This became the nation state for all of Germany. On January 18, 1871, in Versailles, the Prussian King Wilhelm I accepted the imperial title that he had received with the new constitution. This was later celebrated as ReichsFoundation Day.

Otto von Bismarck, Prussian Prime Minister since 1862, had worked to found the Reich and became the first Reich Chancellor. Bismarck's imperial constitution supported the power of the constitutional monarchy, but was also designed for modernization and was ambivalent; School and civil marriage laws were partly liberal. Universal suffrage (for men) applied to the Reichstag. Bismarck led the Kulturkampf against the Catholic Church, against the Social Democrats he enacted the anti-socialist laws from 1878 and attempted to bind the workers to the state through social legislation. The high level of industrialization in Germany ensured economic and population growth, rural exodus and a broad increase in living standards; Germany rose to become the largest economy in Europe.

Bismarck's alliance policy aimed at isolating France with Germany as a semi-hegemonic power in the heart of Europe. After German merchants and associations had pursued private colonial policies, the Reich appropriated African territories in 1884. These German colonies were referred to as "protected areas". In addition to enthusiasm for colonialism, however, there was also skepticism and rejection, at times even from Bismarck. The areas were exploited; in some cases, the German colonial rulers committed crimes against the locals (see, for example, the Herero and Nama genocide, 1904–1908).

In the "year of the three emperors" of 1888, Wilhelm II became emperor. He demanded that the German Reich, which had risen economically and militarily, be recognized by the previous great powers (“Place in the Sun”) and endeavored to build up new colonies and naval forces under imperialism. However, in a new alliance system (triple entente), Great Britain now excluded Germany instead of France.

Tensions between the major powers triggered the First World War in 1914, a costly war on multiple fronts; more than two million German soldiers died, around 800,000 civilians starved to death. In other countries, too, the war led to many deaths and political upheavals.


Weimar Republic (1919–1933)

With the November Revolution and the proclamation of the Republic on November 9, 1918, the German Empire ended, which, with its capitulation, conceded defeat in the First World War. After the election of the Constituent National Assembly - in which women were eligible to vote and stand for election for the first time - the Weimar Constitution came into force on August 14, 1919. In the Peace Treaty of Versailles, significant areas were ceded, the Allied occupation of the Rhineland and reparations were determined on the basis of Germany being solely responsible for the war. This initial situation weighed on the political climate; Right-wing extremists spread the stab-in-the-back legend against the “November criminals”, which led to political murders and attempted putsch (Kapp putsch 1920 and Hitler putsch 1923). Communist uprisings such as the Ruhr Uprising in 1920, the March Battles in Central Germany in 1921 and the Hamburg Uprising in 1923 also caused instability. Inadequate reparation payments led Belgium and France to occupy the Ruhr from 1923 to 1925.

In the brief "Golden Twenties" culture flourished and from 1924 onwards so did the economy. With over four million inhabitants, Berlin was the third largest and one of the most dynamic cities in the world. Prosperity ended in 1929 with the world economic crisis, at the peak of which in 1932 there were more than six million unemployed in Germany, most of whom lived in misery. Radical parties grew in popularity, making it increasingly difficult for moderate parties to form stable governments. After the National Socialists' landslide victory in the Reichstag elections in 1930, the Chancellors, who changed in rapid succession, no longer had a parliamentary majority; their presidential cabinets depended on Reich President Paul von Hindenburg and his emergency decrees. The deflationary policies of Chancellor Heinrich Brüning exacerbated the economic crisis. His successor Franz von Papen (June-November 1932) placed the democratic government of Prussia under a Reich Commissioner (Preussenschlag) and had new elections held, in which the National Socialists became even stronger.

Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher tried to prevent Adolf Hitler from taking power with a “cross front” of trade unions and sections of the National Socialists, but von Papen persuaded the reluctant Hindenburg to appoint Hitler Chancellor on January 30, 1933. On February 27, the Reichstag fire broke out, which is still unsolved. Hitler used it to issue the “Reichstag Fire Decree”, which suspended fundamental rights for an indefinite period. The subsequent mass arrests of political opponents, especially communists and social democrats, shaped the Reichstag elections of 1933, in which the NSDAP narrowly missed an absolute majority and continued to govern with the reactionary DNVP. The final assumption of power came five days later, when the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act with the votes of the bourgeois parties, only against the votes of the SPD, and thus also left the legislation to Hitler's government.


Nazi dictatorship (1933–1945)

Within a very short time, the NSDAP set up a totalitarian one-party state in the German Reich under the leadership of Adolf Hitler and brought the institutions into line. Unpopular people and political opponents, especially communists, social democrats and trade unionists, were removed from all authorities, the first concentration camps were set up, books were burned and unpopular art was defamed as “degenerate”. Nazi propaganda also penetrated private life; pressure was already being exerted on children to join party organizations. In October 1933, Hitler announced Germany's withdrawal from the League of Nations. He secured his internal rule by also having internal party opponents and former companions murdered, especially during the Röhm murders on June 30, 1934, when the SA was deposed in favor of the SS, who were unconditionally devoted to him. The generals of the Reichswehr personally took the leadership oath on him. The Gestapo was used as a political police force to combat political and ideological opponents.

From the beginning, Hitler had two goals: a war of aggression and annihilation to create "living space in the East" and the persecution of the Jews, which began with discrimination, humiliation and exclusion and ended as the "final solution to the Jewish question" in the Holocaust. The rearmament of the Wehrmacht began in 1934. An uninhibited expansive monetary policy and debt management were aimed at early warfare. The Reinhardt program reduced unemployment; this was welcomed by the population as a fulfillment of economic promises. The German Jews were getting worse and worse; the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 severely punished relations between "Aryans" and Jews as "racial defilement". Jews lost all public offices, were arbitrarily persecuted, robbed and blackmailed and finally given a complete ban on their profession, and Jewish assets were Aryanized. Jews were also sent to concentration camps with increasing frequency. Many made the decision to emigrate, but most stayed in Germany.

The racist Nazi ideology to create a "healthy" "national community" (cf. master race) was directed against two other groups, Roma and Slavs as "subhumans". They also harassed and murdered homosexuals, the handicapped and "asocial" people, not as "foreign races" but as threatening the "health" of the "national body". At the same time, the regime celebrated propaganda successes; In 1936, the Olympic Games improved the image abroad, and the demilitarized Rhineland was occupied. The expansion began with the forced annexation of Austria in March 1938, after which Germany was referred to as the Greater German Reich. The Munich Agreement in October 1938 sealed the annexation of the Sudetenland. By crushing the Czecho-Slovak Republic in March 1939, Hitler broke his promise that the Sudetenland would be his last territorial claim. This made it clear that the western powers' policy of appeasement towards Germany had been a mistake.

After the German Reich began invading Poland on September 1, 1939, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa and France declared war on Germany. The Second World War claimed around 55 to 60 million lives in six years. Germany initially achieved some military successes known as "Blitzkrieg". Poland was divided up in the non-aggression pact between Hitler and Stalin, the Wehrmacht then threw their armies west, attacked Denmark and Norway in the “Weser Exercise” and the neutral states of Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands in the “Western Campaign” and occupied large parts within six weeks in 1940 of France. Hitler's popularity was at its peak.

During the course of the war, the Third Reich intensified the persecution of the Jews. Their departure was forbidden and many died because of insufficient supplies and epidemics while doing forced labor. From 1941 they had to wear the “Jewish star” and their systematic murder began throughout the German sphere of influence. The SS, who were primarily responsible for the execution, set up extermination camps on former Polish or Soviet territory, where most of the victims, brought in cattle cars, were immediately gassed (see Operation Reinhardt). More than a million people were murdered in the gas chambers and crematoria of the Auschwitz concentration camp alone. The total number of Jews murdered was 6.3 million.

Operation Barbarossa began on June 22, 1941 (Russian campaign 1941-1945). The German army advanced on Moscow and was stopped in the Battle of Moscow in December 1941. After the war ally Japan (→ Axis powers) attacked the American navy in the attack on Pearl Harbor in the same month, Germany also declared war on the United States. A lack of resources and the superiority of the enemy soon brought about a turning point in the war, which manifested itself in the lost Battle of Stalingrad with the complete annihilation of the German 6th Army. As defeat became more inevitable, politics became more inward. In his Sportpalast speech of February 18, 1943, Joseph Goebbels proclaimed "total war" while the German armies retreated on almost all fronts and numerous German cities were destroyed by the bombing. When Soviet armies had already taken the capital in the Battle of Berlin, Hitler committed suicide in the Führerbunker on April 30, 1945. The unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht followed on May 8th, the last Reich government was arrested in the special area of Mürwik near Flensburg on May 23rd, 1945. Surviving key political, military and economic leaders were indicted for their individual responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials.


Allied occupation (1945–1949)

Germany was partitioned within the borders of December 31, 1937; On June 5, 1945, the four victorious powers – USA, USSR, Great Britain and finally France – defined zones of occupation and then exercised sovereignty in their respective zones west of the Oder-Neisse line and together via an Allied command over Greater Berlin. The German eastern territories, a quarter of the Reich's area, inhabited by a fifth of the Reich's population, had already been placed under the administration of the People's Republic of Poland before the end of the war after their conquest by the Red Army, and in northern East Prussia that of the Soviet Union (Kaliningrad Oblast). At Stalin's instigation, the western powers approved this in the Potsdam Agreement, as well as the commenced expulsion of the Germans from Central and Eastern Europe. The Republic of Austria was restored to its 1938 borders and also divided into four zones of occupation. In 1946/1947 Saarland was separated from the occupation area and placed under direct French administration.

Initially, the Four Powers tried to agree on a common occupation policy. There was agreement on demilitarization, denazification and the breaking up of the cartels; The differences between the Soviet Union and the Western powers, which became more acute at the beginning of the Cold War, were already apparent when it came to the question of what was to be understood by democracy. In the three western zones, the Western Allies placed the coal and steel industry, which was important for reconstruction, under the Ruhr Statute. With the currency reform in June 1948 and the simultaneous abolition of price fixing and management, the economic director of the western zones, Ludwig Erhard, set an economic turning point that was primarily psychologically significant; with the currency reform that followed a few days later in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany and the Berlin blockade by the USSR, the separation between East and West deepened.


Federal Republic of Germany and GDR (1949–1990)

The Federal Republic of Germany was founded on May 23, 1949 in the three western zones of occupation and the Basic Law was put into effect as a provisional constitution, the preamble of which contained a requirement for reunification for a transitional period; Bonn became the seat of government. Four and a half months later, the German Democratic Republic was founded in the Soviet occupation zone. Both sub-states saw each other as part of the continuity of an all-German state and did not recognize the other. Both remained under the control of the occupying powers. With integration into the opposing military alliances of NATO and the Warsaw Treaty, they received their formal independence in 1955 (see Paris Treaties, USSR Declaration of Sovereignty for the GDR). The prerequisite for this was that in July 1951 the three western powers formally ended the state of war with Germany; the Soviet Union only declared this in January 1955, after which other states in Eastern Europe followed. The Allies retained responsibility for Germany as a whole and their rights in Berlin.

While a state-controlled planned economy was established in the GDR, the Federal Republic opted for the so-called social market economy with little state influence. With high demands for reparations (above all dismantling), the Soviet occupying power made for difficult starting conditions in the territory of the GDR, while in the Federal Republic an "economic miracle" set in with foreign aid (Marshall Plan), which led to consistently high growth rates, full employment and prosperity.

In the West, the new and rebuilding of cities was based on the Athens Charter (CIAM) of 1933, while in the East the 16 principles of urban development, which were based on the Soviet model, became binding. As a result, the reconstruction in both German states followed the model of the car-friendly city. Residential and commercial were thus often separated from one another. From then on, numerous suburban satellite towns (“dormitory towns”) were also planned. This type of urban development was recognized early on as misguided.

The Iron Curtain through Central Europe also divided Germany; the continued emigration of young and highly qualified people in particular caused the GDR to increasingly seal off the inner-German border until it was completely closed in 1961 under the long-standing SED General Secretary Walter Ulbricht when the Berlin Wall was built, which made even family contacts between West and East Germany very difficult. Anyone who tried to flee the republic was stopped by force (see orders to shoot, border and wall deaths).

In terms of foreign policy, the longstanding Federal Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, pushed through Western integration and participation in the economic merger of Western Europe, which began with the Montanunion in 1952, for the partially sovereign Federal Republic. The Élysée Treaty of 1963 established Franco-German friendship as the engine of European integration. In September 1950, the GDR became a full member of the Eastern Council for Mutual Economic Aid (COME).

Within the GDR, socialism was made binding by the state party SED and mass organizations such as the FDJ; free elections no longer existed, and the uprising of June 17, 1953 was crushed. Dissenting opinions were pursued through censorship and the extensive surveillance of the secret police, State Security; against this, protest was formed in a dissident and civil rights movement, which became radicalized when Wolf Biermann was expatriated in 1976. In the Federal Republic, which was liberalizing as a result of Westernization, demands for social change and for coming to terms with the past increased, since the Nazi elites had remained largely unmolested - especially by the West German student movement of the 1960s. An extra-parliamentary opposition arose against the grand coalition formed in 1966 with its emergency laws. The social-liberal coalition under Willy Brandt expanded the welfare state and social freedoms from 1969; the "New Ostpolitik" aimed at detente with Eastern Europe earned Brandt the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 and criticism from conservative quarters.

In 1973 the Federal Republic and the GDR became member states of the UN. In addition to increasing supply problems (scarcity economy), the planned economy of the GDR had to contend with the demographic development, which Erich Honecker, who ruled from 1971 to 1989, countered with massive family support. The women's and family policy of the GDR is considered to be partially successful, as is the social equality and security achieved. The 1970s in the Federal Republic were characterized by increasing debt and unemployment after the oil crisis and the terror of the left-wing Red Army faction. Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (SPD) lost support in his party because of his support for the NATO double-track decision – attacked by the peace movement, part of the emerging New Social Movements – and was replaced in 1982 by Helmut Kohl (CDU), who in 1989 saw the chance for German reunification seized.

The dissatisfaction of the GDR population had grown in the constant system comparison supported by West television. At the end of the 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev's reform policy in the Soviet Union also gave rise to a protest movement in the GDR, which put pressure on the political leadership in the ailing GDR in the autumn of 1989 with a movement to leave the country about the hole in the Iron Process and with mass demonstrations ("We are the people") and led to Honecker's resignation. On November 9, 1989, the GDR leadership's granting of freedom of travel led to a mass rush and the opening of the border crossing points of the Berlin Wall. Beginning with his ten-point program at the end of November, Kohl steered development towards national unity (“We are one people”) while maintaining military and political ties with the West. In the first free elections to the People's Chamber on March 18, 1990, the party alliance "Alliance for Germany" led by the East CDU, which was based on rapid reunification, won. This was negotiated over the next few months in the Unification Treaty and with the representatives of the Allies as part of the "Two Plus Four Talks".


Reunited Germany (since 1990)

German reunification took place on October 3, 1990 with the accession of the GDR to the Federal Republic of Germany; this Day of German Unity became a national holiday. The Two Plus Four Treaty, which came into force in 1991, finally settled the German question: the four powers gave up their sovereign powers, their troops left the country by the end of 1994, and the reunified Germany received its full state sovereignty. It committed to disarmament to a maximum of 370,000 soldiers. With the German-Polish border treaty signed in Warsaw on November 14, 1990, Germany recognized the Oder-Neisse border; the territory east of it thus became finally Polish under international law. This was complemented by a policy of reconciliation with its eastern neighbors, first with Poland in 1991 and then with the Czech Republic in 1997. In terms of foreign policy, the government under Chancellor Kohl advocated deeper integration with the formation of the European Union, the subsequent eastward enlargement of the EU and the introduction of the euro.

The Bundestag made Berlin the capital in 1991, to which the government and parliament moved in 1999 (see Reichstag building and government district). After a brief reunification boom, the 1990s were characterized by economic stagnation, mass unemployment and a "reform backlog". The new federal states in particular did not develop as quickly as hoped after the introduction of the market economy ("blossoming landscapes"). From 1991 to 1993 there was a wave of riots against asylum seekers. The new federal states only stabilized socially and economically in the 2000s.

In the 1998 federal election, Kohl's black-yellow coalition lost its majority in the Bundestag. The previous opposition parties SPD and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen formed the first red-green coalition under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, which pushed through far-reaching changes in social, pension and health policies. Ecology became more important, for example with the beginning of the nuclear phase-out. The socio-political liberalizations included the civil partnership law and a new citizenship law. The first combat deployment of German soldiers since the Second World War – in 1999 in the Kosovo War – marked a turning point in foreign policy. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Schröder assured the USA of "unrestricted solidarity"; Germany took part in the war in Afghanistan but not in the Iraq war, which popularized the "Chancellor of Peace" Schroeder.

Schröder's second term of office, starting in 2002, was shaped by Agenda 2010 and the associated labor market reforms of the Hartz concept. Social benefits for the unemployed were reduced and linked to individual support measures, which those affected felt was unfair. This led to protests across Germany and indirectly to early federal elections in 2005, after which Angela Merkel (CDU) became Chancellor. Their grand coalition faced bank failures during the global financial crisis and the Great Recession that followed. After overcoming this, Germany experienced a sustained economic boom and a sustained decline in unemployment. The euro crisis (from 2010) and the refugee crisis in Europe from 2015 have been the most important political challenges ever since, and the economic boom has made it much easier to overcome them. However, both events also led to considerable social discord and to a strengthening of EU-sceptical and Islamophobic movements (Pegida, Alternative for Germany). With the legalization of same-sex marriages, the introduction of a third sex in the registry office and the cessation of conscription for military service in the Bundeswehr, Germany strived for further liberalization of its society.

Angela Merkel ended the last of her four terms in office during the COVID-19 pandemic, to which Germany reacted with temporary restrictions on economic, cultural and public life and fighting it with national vaccination programs, including the novel mRNA vaccine Tozinameran developed in Germany , started. The vast majority of Germans supported the measures to combat the pandemic. However, on the one hand, social and economic upheavals within German society, the German healthcare system, and Germany's technological deficits compared to other western countries became apparent as a result of the pandemic. On the other hand, protest movements mobilized against the measures to combat the pandemic, specifically addressing public fears about vaccinations. After the 2021 federal elections, Merkel was replaced by Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the CDU, which had previously governed in coalitions, by a red-green-yellow coalition. With it, the digital transformation of Germany as well as the transport and energy transition to sustainable energy sources that began due to climate change are continuing.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 led to extensive western economic sanctions against Russia, in which Germany also participated. Among other things, Germany stopped the commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The German economy, which had made itself dependent on Russian gas, had to accept a sharp rise in prices in the energy sector. Within the first six months, Germany supported Ukraine with weapons worth several million euros and with the training of Ukrainian soldiers.



State foundation

According to the prevailing doctrine and consistent case law of the Federal Constitutional Court, the Federal Republic of Germany as a state and a subject of international law is identical to the German Reich and its predecessor, the North German Confederation, and has therefore had state continuity since 1867 (see the legal situation in Germany after 1945). The historically different constitutions provide information about the self-image of the respective state. After Germany was occupied by the Four Powers, the victorious powers of World War II, in 1945, the Basic Law of the Federal Republic that had been created in West Germany was promulgated on May 23, 1949 and came into force the following day. It was limited in its scope by the division of Germany and, until 1955, by the occupation statute. In the eastern part of Germany, the GDR was founded as a separate state on October 7, 1949 and received a constitution that was replaced in 1968 and revised in 1974. The Basic Law lost its provisional character after reunification, with the GDR joining its area of application on October 3, 1990. With the end of four-power responsibility, the united Germany achieved full sovereignty.



The national territory of the Federal Republic (federal territory) results from the totality of the national territories of its federal states. The sovereign territory was extended twice by accession under Article 23 Clause 2 of the old version of the Basic Law: in 1957 to include Saarland, in 1990 to include the accession area of the GDR and Berlin (eastern part of Berlin and western Staaken).

The exclusive economic zone in the North and Baltic Seas does not belong to the national territory. The course of the national border is now fixed except for parts of Lake Constance.

The only existing condominium in Germany is the joint German-Luxembourgish territory formed by the rivers Moselle, Sauer and Our on the border between the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Federal Republic of Germany (with the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland). It goes back to the Vienna Congress Act of June 9, 1815, the regulations of which were confirmed in a border treaty in 1984. The area is the only municipality-free area in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland.

The German-Dutch border issue in the area of the Ems Dollart area (→ Ems Dollart Region) is still controversial because both neighboring states maintain their incompatible legal positions on the course of the border. Within Germany, the course of the state borders between Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and possibly Hamburg in the area of the Lower Elbe has not been finally clarified. For this area, the federal states have regulated administrative and judicial responsibilities through administrative agreements and state treaties, but territorial sovereignty is not clarified with this. Exclave parts of the national territory are the Baden-Württemberg Büsingen on the High Rhine, which is surrounded by Switzerland and belongs to the Swiss customs area, as well as some small North Rhine-Westphalian areas, which are separated from the main area of Germany by the few meters wide Belgian Vennbahn route.


Political system

The Basic Law (GG) is the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany. The head of state is the Federal President with primarily representative tasks. He is elected by the Federal Assembly. He is followed by the President of the German Bundestag, the Federal Chancellor, the incumbent President of the Bundesrat, who represents the Federal President, and the President of the Federal Constitutional Court. The seat of the constitutional body of the Federal Government is the federal capital Berlin (Section 3 (3) of the Berlin-Bonn Act).

Article 20 of the Basic Law stipulates – secured by the eternity clause – that Germany must be organized as a democratic, social state based on the rule of law and on a federal basis. System of government is a parliamentary democracy. Federalism is divided into two levels in the political system: the federal level, which represents the entire state of Germany externally, and the state level, which exists in each of the 16 federal states. Each level has its own state organs of executive (executive power), legislative (legislative power) and judiciary (judiciary power). The states, in turn, determine the order of their cities and communities; for example, five countries are divided into a total of 22 administrative districts. The countries have given their own constitutions; In principle, they have state status, but they are limited subjects of international law who may only enter into their own treaties with other states with the consent of the Federal Government (Art. 32 (3), Art. 24 (1) GG). The Federal Republic can be seen as the constitutional union of its federal states and only then does it acquire state character, i.e. it is a federal state in the true sense of the word.


Legislative branch

The federal legislative bodies are the German Bundestag, the Bundesrat and, in the case of a state of defense, the Joint Committee, subject to additional requirements. Federal laws are passed by the Bundestag with a simple majority. They become effective if the Bundesrat has not lodged an objection or given its consent (Article 77 of the Basic Law). An amendment to the Basic Law is only possible with a two-thirds majority of the members of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat (Art. 79 Para. 2 GG). In the federal states, the state parliaments decide on the laws of their state. Although the deputies are not bound by instructions under the Basic Law (Article 38 of the Basic Law), in legislative practice preliminary decisions in the parties that participate in the formation of political will dominate (Article 21 of the Basic Law).

The competence to legislate lies with the federal states, unless the federal government has legislative powers (Art. 70 to 72 GG) – namely exclusive or, in certain cases, competing legislation.



The executive is formed at the federal level by the federal government, which consists of the federal chancellor as head of government and the federal ministers. All federal ministries have one office in Berlin and one in the federal city of Bonn; some have their first office in Bonn. At state level, the prime ministers, in the city states of Hamburg and Bremen the presidents of the senate, and in Berlin the governing mayor heads the executive. The federal states are also parliamentary democracies and their heads of government are elected by the state parliaments, citizenships and the Berlin House of Representatives. The federal and state administrations are each headed by the relevant ministers.

The Federal Chancellor is elected by the Bundestag with a majority of its members on the proposal of the Federal President (Art. 63 GG), his term of office ends with the electoral period of the Bundestag (Art. 69 (2) GG). Before this expires, the Federal Chancellor can only resign from office against his will if the Bundestag elects a successor with a majority of its members (Art. 67 GG, so-called constructive vote of no confidence). The federal ministers are appointed on the proposal of the Federal Chancellor (Article 64(1) of the Basic Law). They and the Federal Chancellor form the Federal Government (Article 62 of the Basic Law), whose policymaking authority lies with the Federal Chancellor (Article 65, first sentence of the Basic Law). The leadership role in the German “chancellor democracy” falls to the federal chancellor. The Chancellor also nominates the German candidate for the post of EU Commissioner.

The exercise of state powers and the implementation of federal laws are in principle the responsibility of the federal states, unless the Basic Law stipulates or permits deviating regulations (Art. 30, Art. 83 GG).


State budget

In 2021, the state budget showed income from taxes, parafiscal charges and fees of 1,629 billion euros and expenditure of 1,762 billion euros. Of the revenue, 833 billion euros were tax revenue from the federal, state, local and EU governments. Due to the increased number of employed persons subject to social security contributions to around 33 million and rising wages, important tax revenues such as income tax and sales tax are still at a high percentage for the state.

According to the Deutsche Bundesbank report, Germany’s national debt in 2021 was around 2,500 billion euros. With a gross domestic product of around 3,600 billion euros for 2021, the national debt ratio corresponded to around 70 percent of the gross domestic product. In 2005, the national debt of the Federal Republic of Germany amounted to 1541 billion euros.

The Federal Republic, whose government bonds are called Bunds, receives the best possible credit rating from the three major rating agencies Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch. Demand for securities, which are considered safe investments, has significantly reduced interest rates in recent years and in some cases even led to negative interest rates, which is one of the main reasons for Germany's budget surplus.

In addition to various transaction taxes (e.g. sales tax), the state generates a large part of its revenue from taxes on income and earnings: These include income tax, corporation tax and trade tax. Insofar as products or services are subject to sales tax, the tax rate in Germany is 19 (general rate) or 7 percent (reduced rate, e.g. groceries). Colloquially and in EU law, sales tax is also called value added tax. According to an OECD study from 2014, Germans have the highest tax burden in the world, even ahead of the Scandinavian welfare states, due to the high taxes and other charges such as social security contributions. According to a study published by the UN, Germany is one of the countries most willing to finance public goods through taxes. In some cases, the federal government can borrow long-term loans (up to ten years) at negative interest rates.


Party landscape

According to Article 21 of the Basic Law, parties participate in the formation of the political will of the people. The spectrum of parties is shaped by the parties represented in the Bundestag. The mainstream parties, the SPD and the Union parties (in factions CDU and CSU) have always belonged to it. After the federal elections in 2021, the other parties will also be represented there: Die Linke and Grüne, the SSW as well as the AfD and the FDP; the SSW is represented in the Bundestag for the first time since the Bundestag elections in 1949.

All the parties mentioned are represented in the political groups in the European Parliament. Almost all influential parties are supported by youth organizations, other political organizations include school representatives, student associations, women's and senior citizens' organizations, business associations, municipal organizations and international associations. Party-affiliated foundations help determine the political discourse – legally independent of the parties.


European policy

Germany is a founding member of the Council of Europe and the European Communities, which grew together to become the political European Union (EU) in the 1990s through initially predominantly economic integration. The Federal Republic of Germany joined the European Monetary Union in 1990 and is part of the European single market. The euro has been introduced as a means of payment since 2002 and has replaced the German mark in Germany. Germany is also part of the Schengen area and judicial and police cooperation through Europol and Eurojust. The common foreign and security policy of the EU determines German foreign policy. Article 23 of the Basic Law sets the legal framework for German European policy in the EU.

The European Patent Office (Munich) and several EU institutions have their headquarters in Germany: the European Central Bank in Frankfurt am Main, the EU insurance supervisory authority also in Frankfurt and the European Aviation Safety Agency in Cologne.


Foreign and Security Policy

The guidelines of German foreign policy are the Western ties and European integration. In terms of security policy, membership in the transatlantic defense alliance NATO has been central since 1955.

During the Cold War, West German foreign policy was limited. One of the most important goals was reunification. Military operations abroad were out of the question. According to the Basic Law, the Bundeswehr is not allowed to take part in aggressive wars, its only task is to defend the country and the alliance. The "New Ostpolitik" initiated by the social-liberal coalition from 1969 under the motto change through rapprochement, which important allies were initially skeptical about, was able to set its own course and was continued by Helmut Kohl's liberal-conservative government from 1982. Since reunification, Germany has had greater international responsibility; Since 1991, the Bundeswehr has been taking part in peacekeeping and peace-enforcing missions outside Germany and the territory of NATO allies (out-of-area missions) under the supervision of the Bundestag and together with allied armies. The federal government of Gerhard Schröder rejected the Iraq war in 2003 and thus opposed the important ally USA.

Germany traditionally plays a leading role in the European Union together with France. Germany is pushing ahead with efforts to create a uniform, effective European foreign and security policy that goes beyond economic and monetary union. Further foreign policy goals are the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol on climate protection and the worldwide recognition of the International Criminal Court. Germany has a particular interest in a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict, which it supports primarily through informal contact opportunities between the parties involved. Together with its allies Great Britain and France, Germany is trying to persuade Iran to stop continuing its nuclear energy program.

On July 13, 2016, the Federal Government adopted the new White Paper on Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr as Germany's top basic security policy document.



After its founding in 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany was initially not allowed to set up its own armed forces due to the occupation statute. However, under the impact of the Korean War and the Sovietization of Eastern Europe, the Federal Republic was allowed, as part of rearmament, to set up the paramilitary Federal Border Guard as border police, first in 1951 and then full-fledged armed forces from 1955, in order to join NATO. The establishment of this Bundeswehr as a prerequisite for accession was therefore an important contribution to the West and thus to the international recognition of the Federal Republic, but domestically it was highly controversial under the impact of the Second World War. After reunification in 1990, parts of the GDR's National People's Army (NVA) were incorporated into these armed forces. From 1956 to 2011, according to Art. 12a of the Basic Law, all men over the age of 18 were subject to compulsory military service in Germany. It was suspended in 2011 and replaced by voluntary military service. Since 2001, women have also had unrestricted access to service in the armed forces. Their share is 12.4 percent of the soldiers (as of 2020). Around 3,100 German soldiers were deployed abroad in mid-2019.

The Bundeswehr is divided into the army, air force and navy as well as the supporting organizational areas of the armed forces base, central medical service and cyber and information space. After the end of the Cold War, the total strength of the Bundeswehr was gradually reduced from around 500,000 to less than 180,000 soldiers by 2015, after a maximum peacetime strength of 370,000 German soldiers had been defined as binding under international law in the Two Plus Four Treaty. The suspension of conscription in 2011 was also associated with a comprehensive reform of the Bundeswehr, which primarily meant setting a maximum personnel strength of 185,000 soldiers and 55,000 civilian employees. In addition, the numbers of heavy equipment (battle tanks, artillery) were significantly reduced. The background to these structural changes was the Bundeswehr's focus on participating in international UN and NATO missions since the mid-1990s, for which fewer military personnel and, above all, lighter and more quickly deployable material were required. With the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and the war in the entire Ukraine since 2022, the Bundeswehr's focus of tasks changed back to national and alliance defense within the framework of NATO and the EU.

The Bundeswehr is the first army of a German nation-state to be a parliamentary army, the deployment of which is decided exclusively by the Bundestag on the recommendation of the Federal Government. In times of peace, the Commander-in-Chief (“holder of the authority to command and command”) is the Federal Minister of Defence; in the case of defense, this function is transferred to the Federal Chancellor. The Bundeswehr's understanding of tradition distances itself both from the Wehrmacht of the Nazi era and from the NVA. It refers to the Prussian army reform around 1810, the wars of liberation against Napoleon, the military resistance against National Socialism and their own history (see tradition decree). The model of the “citizen in uniform” applies to the soldiers. The Great Tattoo is considered the most important military ceremonial; the swearing-in oaths and oaths often taken by the soldiers outside of military installations have a high public impact.

In 2020, the Federal Republic of Germany spent 45.2 billion euros on the Bundeswehr. Germany is thus one of the ten countries in the world with the highest defense budgets; German spending, at around 1.3 percent of gross domestic product, is below the average for NATO member states (1.6 percent).


Fire department

In 2019, the fire department in Germany had around 1,348,000 active members, including over 1,003,000 volunteer firefighters, around 35,000 professional firefighters, 35,000 plant firefighters and around 275,000 young people and children. They are active in over 22,100 voluntary fire brigades, 110 professional fire brigades, 760 factory fire brigades and 22,900 youth fire brigades. The German fire brigades were alerted to more than 4,519,000 calls in the same year. Almost 225,000 fires had to be extinguished, technical assistance had to be provided almost 650,000 times, around 2,664,000 emergency rescue services and 981,000 other operations had to be performed. In addition, several million supporting members belong to the local fire brigade associations. The fire brigades are combined via district fire brigade associations, possibly district fire brigade associations and state fire brigade associations to form the German Fire Brigade Association, which represents them in the world fire brigade association CTIF.


Police and intelligence services

Due to federalism in Germany, the federal states are responsible for the internal security of the Federal Republic, and thus in particular the state police and state criminal investigation offices. Within the police, a further distinction is often made between protective police, riot police, criminal police, special units (such as the special task force (SEK) or the mobile task force (MEK)) and the regulatory authorities. In order to maintain public order, these are also supported in some municipalities by public order offices.

Nevertheless, there are also several organizations for the protection of public safety at the federal level. This includes in particular the Federal Police (formerly the Federal Border Guard), which takes on tasks such as border protection, the railway police and counter-terrorism and also maintains the special unit GSG 9, as well as the Federal Criminal Police Office, which, among other things, pursues particularly serious crimes. Both are directly subordinate to the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Homeland. In addition, there are the enforcement authorities of the Federal Customs Administration (e.g. the Customs Investigation Service, the Customs Criminal Police Office and the Central Customs Support Group), which are responsible for enforcing fiscal, commercial and labor law regulations and report to the Federal Ministry of Finance.

There are also three federal intelligence services in Germany: The civil Federal Intelligence Service (BND) as a foreign intelligence service collects and evaluates civilian and military information about other countries. As domestic intelligence services, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) for the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Defense (BMVg) and one state authority for the protection of the Constitution in each of the federal states are responsible for tasks relating to the protection of the Constitution and counter-espionage. The intelligence services in Germany do not have police enforcement powers due to the separation requirement.



Germany is one of the safest countries in the world. As in all affluent countries in the western world, there was a rise in crime from the early 1960s to the early 1990s and a decline since then, particularly in violent crime and theft.

The rate of homicides per year is used as an index for comparisons of the propensity to violence over long periods of time and over large geographical distances. Germany had 0.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 2018, which corresponds to the average in Western Europe. The average for all of Europe was 2.8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the global average was 5.8. East Asian countries average 0.5, Singapore only 0.2 cases per 100,000 population.

Detailed, comprehensive data has been recorded in the police crime statistics since 1953 (until 1990 only for the old federal states). Overall crime peaked in 1993. By 2021, the rate had fallen 27 percent. The rate of theft fell by 65 percent from 1993 to 2021. However, the peak in reported violent crimes was not reached in the 1990s, but in 2007. The decline here was 25 percent by 2021. It is assumed that there will be an increasing willingness to report crimes and a decreasing number of unreported cases, especially in the case of violence against women.



German law belongs to the continental legal family and has developed for most of its existence without the order of a German nation state. It is therefore based on the historically transmitted German law, which goes back to Germanic tribal laws and medieval legal collections such as the Sachsenspiegel, and the reception of Roman law from the 12th century, which was considered superior due to its exactness and universality. With the exception of a few legal enactments such as the Constitutio Criminalis Carolina of 1532, the Holy Roman Empire was characterized by particular rights. Legal standardization only began in the course of the 19th century and a General German Commercial Code was introduced in the German Confederation in 1861 and the Imperial Court in 1877 and the Imperial Justice Laws in 1879, among other things, in the German Empire. In 1900 the Civil Code came into force.


Dictatorship and the post-war period

National Socialism perverted the law as a means of tyranny, for which the terror judgments of the People's Court, the Nuremberg Laws and numerous other legal acts stand, which were only repealed by Allied occupation law, a non-German source of law. Even though the occupation law was repealed in five federal laws and most of its provisions found their way into German law, the German administration of justice is still trying to restore the law that was torn apart by the National Socialist unlawful state. For example, the criminal law definition of murder, which dates back to the National Socialist era, is disputed among German magistrates. The version of § 175, which was tightened in the Third Reich, also led to extensive persecution of homosexuality in the Federal Republic; it was only reformed in 1969 and removed from the penal code in 1994.

In the GDR, the law was governed by the one-party rule of the SED; the separation of powers and independence of the courts prescribed by the constitution were circumvented in constitutional reality. In the administration of justice and legislation, the GDR made efforts over the period of its existence to distance itself from the bourgeois legal tradition, which was founded in the Kaiserreich and continued in the Federal Republic, and to create legal historically independent sources of law. Unlike the Federal Republic, the GDR legally rejected both identity with and legal succession to the German Reich. In the Civil Code of the GDR, which came into force in 1976, the "supply relationships" of the citizens were in the foreground. Questions of property were regulated under the clear sign of the socialist planned economy, there was no longer a definition of property with the introduction of the Civil Code.

The accession of the GDR ended both the development and the continued existence of GDR law. Except for old cases in the administration of justice, it no longer has any influence on present-day German law.

The death penalty was abolished in Germany with Article 102 of the Basic Law when it was promulgated. In the GDR, it was only abolished in 1987, a few years before it ended.

The Federal Republic of Germany sees itself as a constitutional state (Art. 20, Art. 28 Para. 1 Sentence 1 GG), which means that state activity can only be justified by law and is limited by law. The content of German laws is therefore usually first the limit of their sphere of action before law is established. For example, in Section 1 of the Criminal Code, all acts that were not punishable by law at the time of the act are released from punishment. Anyone whose rights are violated by public authority has the right to seek legal protection against this in court (Article 19(4) of the Basic Law). The judges are not subject to any instructions when administering justice and are independent of other powers of a state or political nature. Germany has jury courts in which judgments are made jointly by honorary judges and professional judges if the expectation of punishment is not too high. Jury trials were abolished in Germany in 1924. Extensive codes of procedure such as the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Civil Procedure determine the precise course of court proceedings, but also the pre-, extra- and post-court proceedings.

Jurisdiction is essentially exercised by the courts of the federal states: in civil and criminal matters by the district courts, the regional courts and the higher regional courts (ordinary jurisdiction); In terms of specialized jurisdiction, there are labour, administrative, social and financial jurisdictions. The Federal Patent Court is responsible for commercial legal protection. The supreme federal courts (Art. 95 GG) serve as courts of appeal: the Federal Court of Justice as the supreme civil and criminal court, the Federal Labor Court, the Federal Administrative Court, the Federal Social Court and the Federal Fiscal Court. The constitutional courts of the federal states and the Federal Constitutional Court (Art. 93 GG) rule on constitutional disputes, whose decisions can have the force of law and thus bind other courts (cf. Section 31 of the Federal Constitutional Court Act).


Constitutional adjudication by EU courts

European law and the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union are becoming increasingly important. As a result of Germany's long-term contracts with the European Union and the legal activities based on them, German law is significantly influenced by Union law. In December 2021, the European Court of Justice declared in a judgment that was groundbreaking for the whole of the Union that the law it has pronounced could also override the case law of the constitutional courts of the member states. Thus, according to observers, the European Court of Justice also claims to be the final instance of the jurisdiction of the member states; these could no longer invoke their constitution in contrast to EU law. The judgment was preceded by various conflicts between the European Union and its member states over the last instance, constitutional jurisprudence - including (discontinued) infringement proceedings against Germany due to a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court on financial supervision that contradicted the ECJ.



With a nominal gross domestic product of around 3.8 trillion US dollars in 2020, Germany is the largest economy in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. In terms of nominal GDP per capita, Germany ranks 18th internationally and 8th in the European Union (as of 2019). Measured by the value of goods, the country was the third largest importer and exporter in the world in 2016. The United Nations Development Program ranks Germany among the countries with a very high level of human development. It was ranked 3rd in the Global Competitiveness Index in 2018. Germany's competitiveness is fed primarily from the high number of small and medium-sized enterprises (Mittelstand), which are among the world market leaders in specialized areas of industry.

Of the total economic output, 2.1 percent is generated in the primary economic sector (agriculture), 24.4 percent in the secondary sector (industry) and 73.5 percent in the tertiary sector (services). In 2014, Germany recorded a record high with an average of around 42.6 million employees subject to social security contributions. The average number of unemployed in 2014 was 2.898 million. According to Eurostat, Germany had the second lowest unemployment rate in the European Union at 3.1 percent in June 2019. Entrepreneurship and start-ups are an important factor in creating new jobs, about which information is provided, among other things, by the annual KfW start-up monitor.

Germany has a wide variety of raw material deposits and has a long mining tradition (including coal, precious salts, industrial minerals and building materials as well as silver, iron and tin). The industry is dependent on global raw material imports.

The human potential with good education and the culture of innovation are considered prerequisites for the success of the German economy and knowledge society. The automotive, commercial vehicle, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and chemical industries are considered to be the most competitive sectors of German industry worldwide. Aerospace technology, the financial sector with the Frankfurt am Main financial center and the insurance industry, especially reinsurance, are also of global importance. The importance of the cultural and creative industries is increasing.

As a member of the European Union, Germany is part of the largest single market in the world with a combined population of around 500 million and a nominal GDP of USD 17.6 trillion in 2011. Germany is also part of the Eurozone, a currency union with 19 member countries and around 337 million inhabitants. Their currency is the euro, whose monetary policy is controlled by the European Central Bank (ECB) and is the second most important reserve currency in the world and the world's largest currency in circulation in terms of cash value.

The unemployment rate in Germany is among the lowest in the EU; it is 3%, only in Poland and the Czech Republic is it lower. The average of all EU countries is 6.1%, while the OECD countries have an unemployment rate of 4.8% (as of March 2023).

Income inequality in Germany in 2005 was just below the OECD average. In 2008, a median disposable income was 1,252 with a Gini index of 0.29. With a Gini index of 0.78, the distribution of wealth in Germany is much more concentrated than the distribution of income. According to Credit Suisse, total private wealth in 2016 was $12.4 trillion. On average, every adult in Germany had assets of 185,175 US dollars in 2016 (median assets: 42,833 US dollars). This is 27th place worldwide and less than in most of Germany's neighboring countries - a cause or consequence (depending on the interpretation) is a low proportion of property ownership. In 2016 there were 1,637,000 millionaires in Germany and in 2017 a total of 114 billionaires (in US dollars), the third highest number in the world.


Foreign trade and economic development

From 1986 to 1988, 1990 and 2003 to 2008, the German economy recorded a higher export surplus than any other country ("world export champion"). In the 2010s, Germany was consistently the country with the third highest value of exports worldwide. In 2020, exports reached a total value of 1,205 billion euros, the value of imports was 1,025 billion euros - a surplus of the foreign trade balance of 180 billion euros. The current account surplus was the highest in the world in 2016 and was more than 7 percent of economic output, which has drawn some criticism from home and abroad.

The most important trading partners (imports and exports) in 2020 were the People's Republic of China (213 billion euros trade volume), the Netherlands (173 billion euros), the United States (172 billion euros), France (147 billion euros), Poland (123 billion euros) and Italy (114 billion euros). The largest export markets were the USA, the PRC, France and the Netherlands. Germany conducts more than half of its foreign trade with the countries of the European Union. The value of all exports of goods and services accounted for 47 percent of economic output in 2019, which is high among larger economies. The country is therefore potentially vulnerable to fluctuations in global trade, even if the upswing of recent years has been primarily consumer-driven.

Germany was hit by the international financial crisis at the end of 2008 and 2009, which led to a 5.6 percent decline in gross domestic product in 2009. The German economy then grew significantly again by 4.1 and 3.7 percent (2010 and 2011) and more moderately in 2012 and 2013 with 0.5 percent each. Economic growth accelerated again in 2014 to 1.9 percent and further in 2015 and 2016 to 1.7 and 1.9 percent respectively. For 2017, growth was 2.2 percent. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a 4.6 percent slump in economic output in 2020. The following year, the economy recovered somewhat, registering growth of 2.7 percent.

Between 2000 and 2011, the annual average inflation rate was a minimum of 0.3 percent (2009) and a maximum of 2.6 percent (2008). At the beginning of 2015, Germany experienced slight deflation (−0.3%) for the first time since 2009 due to the low oil price. After years of relatively moderate price increases, the inflation rate in Germany reached its highest level since the 1950s in the context of the global energy crisis in 2022, with double-digit price increases.


Automotive industry

Germany is known worldwide for the development and production of innovative and high -quality cars. The automobile was invented by Carl Benz in Germany in 1886, which laid the foundation for the development of the world's third largest automotive industry. Today, corporations such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW are an important part of the German economy. In 2017, the German Auto Industry generated more than 400 billion euros in sales with over 800,000 employees in Germany, and about seven percent of GDP is due to it.


Information technology and telecommunications

Information and communication technology (ICT) is an essential location factor. The digitization of the German economy is promoted under the project name Industry 4.0. Deutsche Telekom is the highest sales in Germany. SAP, Software AG and DATEV are among the most important software manufacturers in the world with headquarters in Germany. In the hardware area, the development is particularly important, for example at Infineon and FTS. In addition to the traditional companies in the ICT industry, innovative startups and e-ventures in Germany are becoming increasingly important.

In 2017, 88 percent of the population had internet access; About 87 percent were able to fall back on a broadband connection.



Germany was the fourth largest producer of primary energy in Europe in 2010 and was listed in 24th place among the energy producers in the world. In 2012, primary energy consumption in Germany was 13,757 PJ (2005: 14,238 PJ). The country is measured by the second largest national energy consumer in Europe and seventh largest in the world. The power supply was guaranteed in 2012 by 1059 companies with headquarters in Germany.

In 2016, renewable energies delivered 29.2 percent of gross electricity production, 13.4 percent of the final energy requirement in the heat sector and 5.1 percent of the fuels. As part of the energy transition, it is planned to increase the proportion of renewable energies in electricity consumption to 80 percent by 2050, reduce primary energy consumption by 50 percent compared to 2008 and to reduce greenhouse gas output with the EU targets by 80–95 percent compared to 1990 . In total, at least 60 percent of energy consumption is to be covered by renewable energies in 2050.



Germany was one of the seven most visited countries around the world in 2016 with over 35 million foreign overnight guests a year.

Around 4,000 of the 11,116 municipalities in Germany are organized in tourism associations, 310 of which are recognized as spas, seaside resorts and health resorts. There are 6,135 museums, 366 theaters, 34 leisure and experience parks, 45,000 tennis courts, 648 golf courses, 190,000 km of hiking trails, 40,000 kilometers of bike pathways as well as holiday and themed roads.

Business and congress tourism is of outstanding importance; Germany is the most internationally most important exhibition location with several world leading fairs. The international tourism exchange Berlin is the world's leading tourism fair. There is also the biggest density of festivals in Germany.



German art and cultural history, whose roots go back to the times of the Celts, Germans and Romans, has produced style and epoch-defining personalities since the Middle Ages. In a wide variety of disciplines, German-speaking artists paved the way for new intellectual currents and developments. Some of the most influential German artists are among the protagonists of western civilisation. State grants for culture (theatres, museums, art schools, etc.) from the federal government, state governments and municipalities in Germany amounted to more than eleven billion euros in 2017.

Since Germany did not exist as a nation state for a long time, German culture has been defined for centuries primarily by the common language; Even after the founding of the Reich in 1871, Germany was often understood as a cultural nation. The spread of mass media in the 20th century gave popular culture a high priority in German society. The spread of the internet in the 21st century has led to a differentiation of the cultural landscape and changed the various niche cultures in their characteristics.

The Goethe Institutes serve to spread the German language and culture throughout the world. With a total of 158 locations, including liaison offices, the institute is represented in 93 countries in 2013. According to a survey in 22 countries for the BBC in 2013, Germany enjoyed the highest international reputation among 16 countries surveyed for the sixth time in a row since 2008. On average, 59 percent of those surveyed rated Germany's influence and political activity as positive, while 15 percent had a negative image.

For specific areas of German culture, see:
German language literature
German philosophy
music in Germany
German movie
television in Germany
architecture in Germany
World Heritage in Germany
Museums in Germany
holidays in Germany
German cuisine
Fashion design in Germany
German costumes



In Germany, 352 newspapers, 27 weekly newspapers, 7 Sunday newspapers, 2450 popular and 3753 trade journals are published regularly.[209] Some of these media are published by the large corporations Axel Springer SE, Bauer Media Group, Bertelsmann, Hubert Burda Media and Funke Mediengruppe. There are 18 news agencies, of which the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) and the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND) are the most important. The national daily newspapers with the highest circulation (as of 2020) are the Bild (circulation 1.27 million), the Süddeutsche Zeitung (circulation 0.3 million), the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (circulation 0.2 million) and the Handelsblatt (Circulation 0.14 million). By far the weekly newspaper with the highest circulation is Die Zeit (circulation 0.55 million). There are also political magazines such as Der Spiegel and magazines geared towards popular topics such as Stern and Focus.

On television, there are public broadcasters such as Das Erste and ZDF and privately funded full channels, especially RTL, Sat.1, Pro7, RTL Zwei, Kabel eins and VOX. In recent years, many regional stations and special interest programs have been added.

Radio in Germany is organized in two ways and is primarily regional in character. It is divided into public radio, which is financed by the license fee, and private radio providers, who generate their income mainly from advertising. At the end of 2016, well over 300 broadcasters were registered, of which around 290 were commercial and more than 60 were public programs from ARD, mostly broadcast on VHF, but increasingly also on DAB. Two judgments of the Federal Constitutional Court from 1981 and 1986, which determined the organization and the general conditions, are of great importance for the development.

Spiegel Online (weekly coverage: 15%), t-online (weekly coverage: 14%) and the ARD news portals (weekly coverage: 13%) are the most frequently used online media. Active and passive media use is around 9 hours a day (as of 2018).



According to the World Values Survey, in Germany, which draws on the pluralistic tradition of the Enlightenment, secular-rational values and personal self-development are valued. In the areas of education, work-life balance, employment, environment, social relationships, housing, security and subjective well-being, the population gives satisfaction values above the average for developed industrial nations and is only below the average for health. Overall, Germany was above the OECD average in 2015 with 7 out of 10 points in the OECD Better Life Index (6.5; Greece 5.5, Switzerland 7.6).

In the UN World Happiness Report 2018, Germany ranked 15th out of 156 countries.



Germany has a long tradition of legally promoted social balance. According to the Gini Index, the country is seen as a society with low income inequality in an international comparison. The German state offers its residents extensive legal entitlements to family support and social security. The history of social insurance began in the German Empire. Subsequent governments have gradually expanded them and supplemented them with additional social transfer payments, which means that a large part of the national budget is spent on social affairs today.

Employees are required to be members of social insurance, which consists of five pillars: health, accident, pension, long-term care and unemployment insurance. Basic social security is primarily financed by contributions from the insured, and deficits are compensated for by taxpayers' money.

In 2010, 830,000 euro millionaires (1% of the population) in Germany had total assets of 2,191 billion euros, while around 12.4 million people (15.3% of the population) lived in relative poverty or were considered at risk of poverty. In 2016, 19.7 percent of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion (EU: 23.5%).

The domestic transfer payments include the financial equalization of the federal states, which obliges federal states with high tax revenues to give part of their income to less well-off states so that the living conditions in Germany do not differ too much. The solidarity surcharge levied on income tax is intended to alleviate the burden of division in the new federal states.

The General Equal Treatment Act is intended to prevent discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual identity (e.g. homosexuality).



The German healthcare system is highly developed, as evidenced by the very low rate of infant mortality of around 3.5 boys and 3.0 girls per 1000 births and a high life expectancy, which in 2016 was 78.2 years for men and 83 1 for women. In 2015, poor men had a life expectancy of 70.1 years, wealthy men 80.9 years (women: 76.9 and 85.3 years). In 2015, a study by the OECD showed that patients in Germany had short waiting times, low personal financial outlay and plenty of choice. Prevention, on the other hand, could be improved, as shown by a high number of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. The quality is shown, among other things, by the fact that a stroke is often survived. The number of hospital stays and operations is in the top group internationally, but so are the costs of medication; In 2013, healthcare expenditure accounted for 11 percent of GDP (OECD average: just under 9 percent).

The healthcare system includes service providers such as doctors, pharmacists, nursing staff, the state (federal, state and local), health, accident, nursing care and pension insurance, the associations of statutory health insurance physicians, employers' and employees' associations, other interest groups and patients, partly represented by associations and self-help organizations. Hospitals are often run by non-profit organizations, but are increasingly being privatised. Other care services are largely provided privately by freelancers (doctors and pharmacists in private practice and companies, for example in the pharmaceutical and medical technology industry). The state is only involved as a service provider with health authorities, community hospitals and university clinics.

The majority of the population belongs to the statutory health insurance (GKV), whose contributions are mainly based on the level of income. Family members without their own income are often insured at no additional cost. The entitlement to benefits is independent of the contribution amount. Around 10.8 percent of those insured had private health insurance in 2017.



Today's German education system has its roots, among other things, in the Humboldtian educational ideal, which was once exemplary worldwide, and the Prussian educational reforms. Its design is the responsibility of the federal states ("cultural sovereignty"), but is coordinated by nationwide conferences of the ministers of education, which also set common educational standards. Depending on the federal state, there are pre-school periods and compulsory schooling for nine to thirteen years. Attending general education schools lasts at least nine years. After that, secondary schools or vocational schools can be attended. Most German federal states have a structured school system with Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium, but there are tendencies towards more comprehensive schools and all-day schools. Depending on the federal state, the university entrance qualification is acquired after twelve or thirteen school years.

Virtually all young adults go to post-school education. Apprentices in companies usually attend vocational school one or two days a week, which is known around the world as a successful model of dual training. The academic equivalent is the dual study program. Students can choose between university and application-oriented universities (universities of applied sciences). The proportion of university graduates has risen steadily since the 1970s.

Professional development also plays a major role. The Federal Employment Agency provides further training vouchers for the unemployed. Before starting their vocational training, young people can also complete so-called voluntary services, such as a voluntary social year or a voluntary ecological year. Other popular transitional activities are voluntary military service and stays abroad, for example in the form of work & travel or youth exchanges.

In school performance tests, Germany often performs only averagely or even below average in a global comparison. In the last PISA studies, Germany was able to improve: In the PISA ranking of 2015, German students achieved 16th place out of 72 in mathematics, 15th place in natural sciences and 10th place in reading comprehension. The performance of German schoolchildren was thus above the OECD average in all three categories. However, the OECD criticizes German education policy in the PISA studies, since the school success of children from socially or educationally disadvantaged families and with a migration background is below average. Contrary to the reform efforts of the past few decades, it is still statistically significantly less likely that working-class children achieve the Abitur (general higher education entrance qualification) or a university degree than children from the middle or upper classes. In addition, there would be a lack of individual differentiation and support for both high-performing and weak students. Expenditure on education (4.6% of gross domestic product) is below the average in an OECD comparison. School support at primary school age is considered to be in need of improvement, especially with regard to childcare options and targeted support for weaker students.

In 2011, about 2.3 million (4%) of the working-age population were considered completely illiterate and 7.5 million functionally illiterate.



Germany is an internationally important location for technology and science. Since the industrial revolution, German-speaking researchers have been instrumental in founding empirical sciences. In particular, the economic performance of a wide variety of industries and the transfer of knowledge into practice were promoted by the creative work of engineers. Around 8 percent of all patents filed worldwide under the PCT in 2016 came from Germany; Germany thus ranked fourth behind the USA, Japan and China.

In Germany, universities, technical universities and technical colleges are institutions for research and scientific teaching. (Technical) universities are authorized to conduct doctorate and habilitation procedures. Both procedures are intended to provide evidence of education and contain scientific findings. With the introduction of international titles in the course of the Bologna process, the previous separation of degrees between universities of applied sciences and universities is being softened in the academic education sector. Individual higher education institutions do not provide tertiary education at all, but are set up for postgraduate education or exclusively for doctorates and habilitation. Most German universities are publicly funded, but their research is financed by third-party funds (German Research Foundation, foundations, companies and others).

In addition to the universities, there are a large number of research organizations that are active throughout Germany and beyond. In the process, a system was created in Germany for the division of labor between the universities and between the universities and non-university research institutions. The Max Planck Society is committed to basic research. It runs 79 institutes in Germany and has an annual budget of 1.8 billion euros. The Helmholtz Association is the largest scientific society in Germany and operates 15 so-called large research centers that work on interdisciplinary scientific complexes. The Fraunhofer Society is the largest organization of applied research. In its 56 institutes, it takes up the results of basic research and tries to develop them economically. It provides the economy with the service of contract research. She gained worldwide fame through the development of the MP3 audio format. It is one of the most important patent applicants and owners in Germany. The Leibniz Association is an association of independent research institutions that work in both basic and applied research.

Expenditure by state universities and colleges in Germany (also referred to as tertiary education in Germany) amounted to over 64 billion euros in 2020 (in 2005: 30.9 billion euros), which is mainly financed from federal and state tax revenues . Around 2.9 million students studied at universities and colleges in Germany in 2020. Of these, about 14% were foreign students.

Non-university institutes such as the Fraunhofer Society, Helmholtz Association, Leibniz Association, Max Planck Society or the Academies of Sciences received a further 15.6 billion euros. Total spending on education, research and science in Germany in 2020 was around 334 billion euros.

Numerous researchers from all areas of modern science come from Germany. More than 100 Nobel Prize winners are assigned to the country. With their theories, Albert Einstein and Max Planck established important pillars of theoretical physics, on which Werner Heisenberg and Max Born, for example, were able to build. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, discovered and examined the X-rays named after him, which still play an important role today in medical diagnostics and materials testing, among other things. Heinrich Hertz wrote important works on electromagnetic radiation, which are decisive for today's telecommunications technology. The developments by Karl von Drais, Nikolaus Otto, Rudolf Diesel, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz have revolutionized transport, and the Bunsen burners and zeppelins named after their inventors are well known around the world. German aerospace did decisive pioneering work in the field of space travel and space research and today has an efficient space agency in the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Germany is also the most contributory member country to the European Space Agency (ESA).

Chemical research was shaped by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Otto Hahn and Justus von Liebig, among others. With their successful inventions, names such as Johannes Gutenberg, Werner von Siemens, Wernher von Braun, Konrad Zuse and Philipp Reis are part of the general technological education. Many important mathematicians were also born in Germany, such as Adam Ries, Friedrich Bessel, Richard Dedekind, Carl Friedrich Gauss, David Hilbert, Emmy Noether, Bernhard Riemann, Karl Weierstrass and Johannes Müller (Regiomontanus). Other important German researchers and scientists are the astronomer Johannes Kepler, the archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, the biologist Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, the polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the natural scientist Alexander von Humboldt, the religious researcher Max Müller, the historian Theodor Mommsen, and the sociologist Max Weber and the medical researcher Robert Koch.