OFFICIAL NAME: Federal Republic of Germany
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Federal republic
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: German
AREA: 349,223 square kilometers
MAJOR RIVERS: Rhine, Elbe, Main, Danube
Geography and Landscape
Germany’s central and southern regions have forested hills and mountains cut through by the Danube, Main and Rhine river valleys. In the north, the landscape flattens out to a wide plain that stretches to the North Sea. Between these extremes, Germany is a country of incredible variety.
Germany shares borders with nine coutries – France, Luxembourg, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Poland.
Germany’s largest wooded area, and its most famous, is in the southwest near the Swiss border. This is the Black Forest, a mountainous region full of pines and fir trees. This forest contains the source of the Danube, one of Europe’s longest rivers.
German people and culture
Today almost one in every ten Germans comes from a foreign country – more than at any time in Germany’s history. The largest minority are Turkish, who started to come to Germany in the 1950s to work. About two-thirds of Germans are Christians.
Germany has been called the “Land of Poets and Thinkers.” Germans are famous in all forms of art, but particularly classical music. Germany’s famous composers include Bach, Brahms, Schumann, Wagner and Beethoven.
Germany’s wildlife and nature
The German government works hard to protect the country’s wildlife. There are 97 nature reserves in Germany, the biggest of which is the Black Forest. Despite these efforts, however, many species are at risk of extinction, including beavers, minks and, off the coast, certain species of whales.
Germany’s major unspoiled habitats are in two main regions. The flat northern coast is home to sea life and wading birds, while the forested hills and mountains in the south are the best place to find wildcats, boar, ibex and other large mammals.
Germany’s government and economy
After losing World War II, Germany was in ruins. In 1949 (four years after the war had ended) the country divided into the Federal Republic of Germany, in the west, and the Communist German Democratic Republic, in the east. Over time, West Germany recovered to become Europe’s richest country, but East Germany fell far behind. After the two sides reunified in 1989, Germany spent billions of pounds to modernise the East.