A Brief Introduction
Germany is a member of the European Union (EU), and it is Europe's second largest populous nation. It is also Europe's largest economy. In 1949, there were two German nations, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. The Federal Republic of Germany was democratic, whereas the German Democratic Republic was more of a communist. The unification of Germany took place after the Cold War. The country is a member of the United Nations (non-permanent member), NATO, G4 nations, G8 nations, G20 nations, the OECD, and the Council of Europe.
Germany is a modern powerhouse. The total area of the country is 137,847 square miles, out of which the land area is 134,836 square miles and the water area is 3,011 square miles. Though Berlin is the capital of Germany, Frankfurt is a major financial and commercial center of the nation. Other major cities are Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Hannover, and Bremen. It is a federal republic with a parliamentary democracy. The Römerberg plaza is the most beautiful square in Altstadt (meaning old town).
The Federal Republic of the country has two legislative houses in its political structure. The House of Representatives and the Federal Council. By law, the upper house or the Federal Council should approve any laws that affect the nation. The population density is 596 per square mile. The ethnicity of the country's population is 91.5% German, Turkish 2.4%, others 6.1% which includes Greeks, Italians, Polish, Russians, Serbo-Croatians, and Spanish. The main religions in Germany are Protestant (Evangelisch) 38%, Roman Catholic (Katholisch) 34%, Muslim 1.7%, and others 26.3%.
The president of the country is the titular head of the country and can be re-elected only once. Germany has 16 federal states. The currency of the nation is Euro; previously it was the German Mark. The German Premier is the Federal Chancellor and also the political leader of the country. Elected in the 2005 elections, Angela Merkel is Germany's first woman chancellor. The Chancellor is elected for a period of four years. The defense forces mainly comprises the military, air force, and the navy along with the Central Medical Services and the Joint Service Support Command.
- Germany is known for its rich forest cover with Zugspitze, at 2,962 meters above sea level, making it the highest mountain in Germany. There are more than 400 registered parks and zoos in the country, with The Berlin Zoo being the oldest in the world.
- German is the third most commonly taught language worldwide and it is the official language of 5 countries: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.
- German people are the world's third biggest consumers of beer after the Czechs and the Irish. Germany is one of the last Western European countries not to have banned smoking in workplaces and restaurants.
- Germany has a highway or autobahn network of more than 7,982 miles (2012) with no speed limits (although it is advisable not to exceed 130 km/h or go below 60 km/h). If you run out of gas on an autobahn, you could get fined. You cannot stop, turn, or park your vehicle on the highway. And, it is against the rules to overtake another vehicle from the right side.
- Football is the most popular sport and the German Football Association is the largest association of its kind on a global level. Germany boasts of the highest number of soccer fan clubs in the world.
- The working week in Germany is 6 days - Monday to Saturday.
- Traditionally, the schools end at lunch time. Therefore children are free to utilize the rest of the day in extra curricular activities and sports.
- The main dishes of Germans are pork, beef and veal, fish, and potatoes.
- Quark refers to a type of cheese. It is made from skim milk and has a thick consistency.
- Germany is the birthplace of the automobile and has a long history of manufacturing strong and reliable cars. The automobile industry is the largest employer and it's not surprising that one of the German car manufacturer is the third largest producer of automobiles in the world.
- Germany is the cheapest place in Europe for buying beers. There are more than 300 different kinds of bread, over 1,200 breweries, and 1,500 types of sausages and cold meats.
- Germans do not say hi or hello when they answer a phone call. They say their last name.
- Germans are dog lovers and take them almost anywhere with them - restaurants, trains, buses, and shops as well.
- The biggest festival is known as Oktoberfest, but it actually starts in September.