Official Name Federal Republic of Germany
Capital City Berlin(3.94 million)
Languages German (official)
Official Currency: the Euro
Religions Protestant, Catholic, others
Land Area 349,520 sq km (134,910 sq miles)
Cities: Capital--Berlin (population about 3.4 million). Other cities--Hamburg (1.7 million), Munich (1.2 million), Cologne (964,000), Frankfurt (644,000), Essen (603,000), Dortmund (592,000), Stuttgart (582,000), Dusseldorf (568,000), Bremen (543,000), Hanover (516,000).
Terrain: Low plain in the north; high plains, hills, and basins in the center and east; mountainous alpine region in the south.
Climate: Temperate; cooler and rainier than much of the United States.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--German(s).
Population (2001 est.): 83 million.
Ethnic groups: Primarily German; Danish minority in the north, Sorbian (Slavic) minority in the east; 7.3 million foreign residents.
Religions: Protestants (27.9 million) slightly outnumber Roman Catholics (27.3 million); approximately 3.2 million Muslims.
Education: Years compulsory--10; attendance--100%; literacy--99%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (1998 est.)--5.0/1,000; life expectancy (1999 est.)--women 80 years, men 74 years.
Persons employed (2001 avg.): 38.8 million; unemployed (2001 avg.): 3.9 million--9.1% of labor force.
Type: Federal republic.
Founded: 1949 (Basic Law, i.e., Constitution, promulgated on May 23, 1949). On October 3, 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic unified in accordance with Article 23 of the F.R.G. Basic Law.
Branches: Executive--president (titular chief of state), chancellor (executive head of government); legislative--bicameral parliament; judicial--independent, Federal Constitutional Court. Administrative divisions: 16 Laender (states). Major political parties: Social Democratic Party (SPD); Christian Democratic Union (CDU); Christian Social Union (CSU); Alliance 90/Greens; Free Democratic Party (FDP); Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP (2001): $1.8 trillion.
Annual growth rate (2001): 0.6%; (2003 est.): 0.5%. Per capita income: $22,900.
Inflation rate (consumer prices, 2001): 2.5%. Natural resources: Iron, hard coal, lignite, potash, natural gas.
Agriculture (accounts for 1% of GDP): Products--corn, wheat, potatoes, sugar, beets, barley, hops, viticulture, forestry, fisheries.
Industry (34% of GDP): Types--iron and steel, coal, chemicals, electrical products, ships, vehicles, construction.
Trade (2001): Exports--$628 billion: chemicals, motor vehicles, iron and steel products, manufactured goods, electrical products. Major markets--France, U.S., and U.K. Imports--$594 billion: food, petroleum products, manufactured goods, electrical products, motor vehicles, apparel. Major suppliers--France, U.S., Netherlands.
Most inhabitants of Germany are ethnic German. There are, however, more than 7 million foreign residents, including asylees, guest workers, and their dependents. Germany is a prime destination for political and economic refugees from many developing countries. An ethnic Danish minority lives in the north, and a small Slavic minority known as the Sorbs lives in eastern Germany. Germany has one of the world's highest levels of education, technological development, and economic productivity. Since the end of World War II, the number of youths entering universities has more than tripled, and the trade and technical schools of the Federal Republic of Germany (F.R.G.) are among the world's best. With a per capita income level of more than $22,900, Germany is a broadly middle class society. A generous social welfare system provides for universal medical care, unemployment compensation, and other social needs. Millions of Germans travel abroad each year.
With unification on October 3, 1990, Germany began the major task of bringing the standard of living of Germans in the former German Democratic Republic (G.D.R.) up to that of western Germany. This has been a lengthy and difficult process due to the relative inefficiency of industrial enterprises in the former G.D.R., difficulties in resolving property ownership in eastern Germany, and the inadequate infrastructure and environmental damage that resulted from years of mismanagement under communist rule.
Economic uncertainty in eastern Germany is often cited as one factor contributing to extremist violence, primarily from the political right. Confusion about the causes of the current hardships and a need to place blame has found expression in harassment and violence by some Germans directed toward foreigners, particularly non-Europeans. The vast majority of Germans condemn such violence.