Introduction to Germany


Overview of Germany

Facts and Figures

Population: 80.7 million, including 6.9 million foreign nationals

Surface area: 357,112 km²

Form of government: parliamentary democracy

Founded: 1949, followed by German reunification with accession of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) on 3 October 1990

Head of state: President Joachim Gauck (as of March 2012)

Head of government: Chancellor Angela Merkel (as of November 2005)

Capital: Berlin

The five largest cities: Berlin (3.4m inhabitants), Hamburg (1.7m inhabitants), Munich (1.4m inhabitants), Cologne (1m inhabitants), Frankfurt am Main (680,000 inhabitants)

Official language: German

National holiday: 3 October (Day of German Unity)

Membership: European Union, G8, G20, NATO, OECD, OSCE, UN

Religions: Roman Catholic (30 percent), Evangelical Church in Germany (29 percent), Muslim (almost 5 percent), other (almost 3 percent), without confession (33 percent)

Time zone: CET

Climate: moderately cool Westerlies climate, between the oceanic climate of the Atlantic and the continental climate of eastern Europe

Economic output GDP (per capita): €32,276

Labour force: 42 million

Average annual gross income per full-time employee: €42,605

International vehicle code: D

Internet TLD: .de

Telephone country code: +49

Currency: euro (€1 = 100 cents)

German society: a diverse population

A diverse and cosmopolitan culture

Meet Erika Mustermann, aged 44.6 years. Erika is 1.66 metres tall and weighs 67 kilograms. She is a qualified office clerk and lives with her husband, Bernd, and their son, Alexander, in a 90-square-metre apartment in Berlin. Erika and Bernd read the newspaper for 23 minutes a day; their favourite meal is spaghetti bolognese; and they like to spend their holidays in Spain, on the Baltic Coast, or in the Black Forest.

In other words, Erika Mustermann and her family are fictitious people, invented by statisticians to describe average Germans. Figures like these offer an initial impression of life in Germany. Yet they only tell half the story. In reality, Germany is much more than a set of statistics – it is a diverse, open, and caring society.

For many visitors to Germany, their lasting impression is of a cosmopolitan, culturally diverse, and attractive country. This is especially true during major events, such as 2006 FIFA World Cup. The official motto back then was “A time to make friends”. Many of those who visited during the World Cup were genuinely surprised at just how friendly, interested, and outgoing the people are in Germany, the European Union’s most populous country. They saw that the Germans are focused on more than just economic success; that they also place a high priority on family, friends, and time way from work. What’s more, they realized that by far the majority of German people, both young and old, continue to reflect upon Germany’s National-Socialist past and the country’s division until reunification in 1990; and that that this process of coming to terms with the past has given rise to a living culture of remembrance and to deep-rooted values such as social solidarity and respect for diversity.

Little wonder, then, that Germany has long been a country of immigration. Some may find it surprising, but the demographics paint a picture of a vibrantly diverse society. Almost 80.7 million people live in Germany. Nearly seven million of them hold a foreign passport – more than in any other of the 28 member states of the European Union. Including those who have subsequently acquired German citizenship, although born abroad or to immigrant parents here in Germany, some 16 million people in Germany have a migrant background. In other words, practically one-fifth of the people living in Germany have foreign roots.

The richest mix of all is to be found in Berlin, the German capital, and Frankfurt am Main. Of the good 3.4 million people living in Berlin, over 900,000 are originally not from Germany but rather from one of 184 countries. Similarly, as many as 40 percent of Frankfurt’s population have a migrant background, and one in seven companies there has foreign roots.

Although this growing cultural diversity poses certain social and political challenges for Germany, it also provides an opportunity to forge a new and auspicious form of coexistence in the very heart of Europe.

Germany’s appeal and its opportunities for advancement

Why does Germany attract such a large number of immigrants? Evidently, word has spread of the diverse opportunities, good prospects, and interesting jobs on offer here.

In a survey of 27 countries conducted by the BBC World Service in 2011, Germany was once again voted the world’s most popular place. According to the polling company Globescan, as reported in UK daily newspaper The Daily Telegraph, this is because “in terms of lifestyle and its high-quality products, Germany has a successful image”.

Practically all of the larger German cities feature a rich and vibrant mix of nationalities – a veritable melting pot of different cultures, languages, and religions. Immigrants to Germany play a major part in the country’s achievements and its improved image. Many people with a migrant background have become highly successful in Germany, pursuing careers as managers, engineers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, or doctors. Others are employed as skilled labour in industry or in the restaurant trade. Others have gone into film, like Fatih Akin, a famous director of Turkish descent, or have entered politics, like Cem Özdemir from the Greens. In the world of football, too, a multicultural generation has now come to the fore. Rather than being of exclusively German origin, the players in today’s national team have Polish, Swedish, Turkish, Bosnian, Brazilian, Ghanaian, Nigerian, or Tunisian roots. And in the women’s national football team, it is the midfield player Celia Sasic, daughter of a Cameroonian father and a French mother, who is currently stealing the limelight.

One of the reasons why Germany has become pluralistic in so many areas of life is that opportunities for migrants to participate in society are better than ever before. This is also a reflection of Germany’s rigorous implementation of equal rights and participatory rights, and the high respect that they enjoy here. These rights, which apply to all social groups, are expressly stated in Article 3 of the Basic Law.

Wealth and security

Germany is a good place to live and work. Yet there are other reasons why so many nationalities feel at home here. Germany can lay claim to a host of social achievements, and these are prized by many people, irrespective of gender, age, or origin.

Such achievements include the country’s political and economic stability, its caring society with a range of social safety nets, its respect for freedom of opinion and religion, its system of comprehensive and affordable healthcare, its maintenance of the rule of law, the powerful role played by nongovernmental organizations and trade unions, and the great importance attached to education. At the same time, Germany is one of the most peaceful countries worldwide. The country has seen no social or political unrest for many decades now.

In a list of the “world’s top 10 most liveable cities”, compiled by the consulting company Mercer, there are three German entries: Düsseldorf, Munich, and Frankfurt. The ranking is based on the criteria of political stability, criminality, economic conditions, individual freedom, press freedom, healthcare, the schooling system, housing, pollution, and leisure facilities.

Politics: Germany’s vibrant democracy

The Constitution guarantees stability

Germany looks back on a long history. It has existed as state, in today’s sense of the word, since 1871. Many ups and downs have followed, including two world wars, the barbarous dictatorship of the National Socialists, and the division into two German states. Yet the Federal Republic of Germany, which was founded in 1949, has learnt from its history, and the country’s democratic constitution guarantees that those lessons will not be forgotten.

Until 1990, the Federal Republic comprised 11 federal states, or Länder. Following reunification with the German Democratic Republic in 1990, these were joined by a further five. Since then, the federal capital and seat of government has been Berlin, although several federal ministries still have a presence in Bonn, the former capital. Germany has been a stable democracy for over 60 years now, and this democratic culture is endorsed and embodied by the country’s citizens.

The constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany is known as the Basic Law. It begins with Article 1: “Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.” Among the guaranteed basic rights are freedom of opinion, information, and the press (Article 5); equality before the law (Article 3); freedom of faith and conscience (Article 4); freedom of association (Article 9); the right to choose an occupation, a workplace and a training centre (Article 12) and the right to protection from political persecution (Asylum, Article 16a). The Basic Law defines Germany as a:

    Constitutional state: all actions of the state are subject to judicial control.
    Federal state: political sovereignty is divided between the 16 Länder and the central state – a system often described as “federalist”.
    A welfare state: the government makes provisions to ensure social equity and to guarantee that citizens are provided with the requisite social welfare. This includes ensuring that citizens have a decent standard of living in the event of unemployment, disability or illness, and in old age.

The basic rights, the democratic form of government, the federal state, and the welfare state all have an irrevocable character. This means they may not be abrogated in the future either by subsequent alterations to the Basic Law or by a new constitution.
The five permanent constitutional bodies

The five permanent constitutional bodies of the Federal Republic of Germany are the Federal President (the head of state), the Bundestag (the elected representative assembly of the German people), the Bundesrat (the representative of the Länder and a second chamber of parliament, alongside the Bundestag), the Federal Government (the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers), and the Federal Constitutional Court (the supreme court).

The separation of powers – i.e., the division of state powers among a number of bodies of state – is an important component of the constitution. The legislature, the executive, and the judiciary must never fall under the control of a single authority.
Political parties and elections

According to the terms of the Basic Law, it is the task of the political parties to participate in the formation of the political will of the people.

The 18th German Bundestag, elected on 22. September 2013, is made up of the CDU (Christlich Demokratische Union) along with its sister party, the CSU (Christlich-Soziale Union), and the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands), which together form the coalition government; the opposition parties are the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen und Die Linke.

The elections to the Bundestag and the Länder parliaments are free, confidential, and equal (each vote counts the same). These elections are also direct. This means that people vote directly for members of parliament via a list. In Germany, elections to the Bundestag and the Länder parliaments are general elections. This means that all citizens aged 18 and over are eligible to vote and to stand for election.

Economy: the new Wirtschaftswunder

Small and medium-sized enterprises as a driver of the German economy

Germany is a major industrial nation and one of the world’s largest economies. It weathered the economic and financial crisis of 2008 better than most other countries.

The spotlight here must fall squarely on German industry, which has withstood the global downturn and continued to export successful products and services throughout the world. UK business magazine The Economist has spoken admiringly of “Germany’s new Wirtschaftswunder”. Its analysis of the enduring strength of the German economy focuses not merely on the major corporations but also on Germany’s so-called Mittelstand – the legion of highly specialized small and medium-sized enterprises, many of which are based in the German provinces.

The Mittelstand forms the very heart of the German economy and currently offers a variety of interesting job opportunities for applicants from abroad. Of all the companies in Germany, by far the majority (99.7 percent) have annual revenues of less than €50 million and a maximum of 500 employees. According to the German definition, this places them in the category of small and medium-sized enterprises. About 95 percent of these are family-owned operations, managed by partners with a personal liability for the company’s commercial fate.
The German model

Writing about Germany’s successful economy, Time magazine recently remarked that many German companies have specialized in the “unsexy side of the industrial spectrum: not smart phones or iPads but machinery and other heavy equipment”.

Some German companies, not least carmakers and the world’s third-largest software supplier, might well disagree and insist that their products are very much on the “sexy side” of industry. Yet the analysis is essentially correct: it is highly specialized industrial companies producing highly specialized goods that constitute the engine of growth in the German economy. Following the much-lauded era of virtual wealth creation on the financial markets, it is as well to recall the following principle: industry has always been a major plank of our prosperity. It accounts for as much as 22 percent of the German economy as a whole, a share that compares favourably worldwide. In France, Italy, the UK, and the USA, for example, industry plays a much less important role in the economy.

Almost 90 percent of Germany’s visible exports are industrial goods. German companies are the biggest exporters in many sectors and in many markets worldwide. This applies, for example, to so-called green technologies – i.e., products in the fields of environmental and climate protection. In the burgeoning sector of renewable energy, which includes photovoltaics, wind power, and highly efficient power plant technology, the German economy has a global market share of 30 percent. Moreover, there would appear to be many more innovations in the pipeline here, since almost one-quarter of the patent applications filed with the European Patent Office in the field of environmental technology originate in Germany.

This all goes to explain why Germany has an export ratio of 41,5 percent, ahead of France, the UK, Japan, and the USA. Europe’s largest economy scores highest with its excellent infrastructure, its highly developed corporate and services sector, its system of higher education, its first-rate vocational training, especially in the skilled crafts and trades, and, last but not least, its capacity to deliver technological innovations.

Germany’s innovative strength is also down to the immense creativity of its researchers and engineers, and to their boldness when it comes to putting new ideas into practice. In short, demand is high, both now and in the future, for clever and skilful people – whether from Germany or elsewhere.
The "hidden champions"

Many of today’s innovations have been produced by specialist teams at companies or in networks with other companies or with research institutes and universities. Here, again, Germany benefits from its special blend of large and small companies, all of which pursue their own research and development activities.

In fact, truly innovative products are often the work of so-called hidden champions. These companies are, in the main, largely anonymous members of Germany’s Mittelstand, yet belong to the top three in their sector worldwide.

As many as 1,300 of these hidden champions help power Germany’s economy. Since many are tucked away in the provinces, their contribution is sometimes overlooked. Quite a number of them employ a workforce of several thousand people. As employers, they are prized, since they tend to take a long-term view and generally provide secure and well-paid jobs.

Culture: a rich diversity

Germany’s lively art and culture scene

The oft-cited description of Germany as a “nation of poets and philosophers” was coined by the writer and literary critic Wolfgang Menzel. As a contemporary of the poets Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller, and of the philosophers Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Hegel, he certainly knew what he was talking about.

Back the 1820s, Menzel wrote: “The Germans may not do much, yet they write all the more for that.” Nothing has changed in Germany’s fondness for the printed word. More than 94,000 books are published or reprinted here each year. And Germany is home to the Frankfurt Book Fair, the publishing industry’s largest trade show worldwide.

Yet culture in Germany is about more than just the classics of philosophy and literature. There is also a vibrant art, theatre, music, and film scene. A major attraction in February is Berlin’s international film festival, the Berlinale, which screens up to 400 films in a range of categories. July and August, meanwhile, are the months when opera fans descend on Bayreuth for the Richard Wagner Festspiele. The 30 performances are attended by around 58,000 people. With half a million applications for tickets each year, however, the waiting lists are very long.

Aside from such famous and popular cultural highlights, there are also many exciting cultural discoveries to be made throughout the various regions of Germany. Such attractions might include an art gallery, a lively fringe theatre or cabaret scene, a bookshop or library with an interesting reading, a picturesque moated castle, or magnificent city architecture.
Fêtes, fairs, and festivals

Be sure to visit one of Germany's fairs and festivals, ranging from Munich’s famous Oktoberfest to a multitude of funfairs, commonly known as Kirmes, with their diverse stalls and rides.

Perhaps the best-known of all the traditional festivals in Germany is the carnival, which is held each year in spring, especially in the strongholds of Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Mainz. For one whole week, the streets and bars are full of people in costume, celebrating the last days before Lent. In June, Nürburgring, the formula one racing circuit in Rhineland-Palatinate, is home to Rock am Ring, one of the world’s largest weekend rock festivals.
Culture – facts and figures

Some 100,000 theatre performances and 7,000 concerts are held in Germany each year, drawing audiences numbering some 35 million people.

Germany has around 820 theatres, music theatres, and opera houses – including the world-class opera houses in Stuttgart, Hamburg, and Frankfurt – so the choice is huge. In addition, there are some 6,200 museums, 8,800 libraries, and 4,700 cinemas. A perhaps less familiar element of cultural life here is the Germans’ love of comedy. Germany has numerous comedy stars, both men and women. Throughout the world, there are only two comedians with a live act capable of filling an entire football stadium. One of them is Bülent Celyan, a Mannheim performer with Turkish roots.
The German media

Germany has a vibrant media landscape. In the print sector, for example, German readers can choose between 350 daily newspapers and around 1,500 general interest titles.

Almost 50 million German citizens above the age of 14 read a daily newspaper. National dailies include Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Welt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, and Tageszeitung, all of which can also be delivered on subscription to your very door. Bild, Germany’s most widely read tabloid newspaper, tends to be bought directly from the kiosk. The Handelsblatt is the leading German language business newspaper. Two of the best-known weekly news magazines are Der Spiegel and Focus. The weekly magazine Stern and the weekly newspaper Die Zeit likewise enjoy substantial readerships. At the same time, more and more people are using the Internet to access newspaper and magazine content online.

In the field of electronic media, Germany has two public broadcasters, ARD and ZDF, which together provide over 20 channels. Both are financed primarily through a broadcasting fee and have a broadcasting mandate that legally obliges them to contribute toward shaping public opinion and the public will. They are likewise required to provide not only entertainment and information but cultural programmes as well. Germany’s public broadcasters also include the radio broadcaster Deutschlandradio and Deutsche Welle, an international broadcaster providing radio and television programmes in 30 languages.

Germany also has numerous private TV and radio broadcasters. These commercial channels finance themselves through advertising.
The German language

Around 120 million people speak German as their native language. This makes German the most common first language in the European Union as well as one of the world’s top 10 languages. German is also spoken in Austria and Switzerland.

The German language plays a key role in enabling successful interaction and participation in society. The Goethe-Institut is one of the leading addresses for people who wish to learn German as a foreign language. There is a Goethe-Institut in 136 cities and 92 countries worldwide. These provide not only German courses on their own premises but also correspondence and online courses. In addition, immigrants who intend to take up permanent residence in Germany can sit the obligatory German language test at a Goethe-Institut. Integration courses also offer excellent opportunities to learn the German language.

Religions: guaranteed freedom

State protection for every religion

As a country of immigration, Germany is home to a wide range of religions.

People from very different religious backgrounds are to be encountered on a daily basis. Freedom of religion is highly valued in Germany. It is enshrined in Article 4 of the Basic Law:

(1) Freedom of faith and of conscience, and freedom to profess a religious or philosophical creed, shall be inviolable.

(2) The undisturbed practice of religion shall be guaranteed.

The majority of Germany’s inhabitants are Christian. Some 50 million people, or two-thirds of the German population, are members of either the Roman Catholic Church or the Evangelical Church in Germany.

Islam, which accounts for almost five percent of the population, is the third-largest religion in Germany. In addition, there are over 70 other religious communities in Germany. These include the Jewish community, which has congregations and synagogues throughout the country, and Ahmadiyya, Baha’I, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh communities.

A good third of the population is without confession.

Food and drink: more than bread and beer

Something for every taste

For some people, perhaps, France is the land of wine, Italy of pasta, and Japan of sushi. But what of Germany and its culinary traditions? Eisbein with Sauerkraut? Or Weisswurst? Or Spaetzle? The problem is that such meals only present half the picture.

While German cuisine can be every bit as hearty as a hock of cured ham, there is, in fact, no such thing as standard German fare. Because of Germany’s diverse population, the country’s cuisine is in a process of constant transformation. What’s more, culinary traditions differ from region to region and are therefore every bit as varied as the assortment of beer and bread on offer here.

The Germans set great store by good bread. That’s one explanation for the huge variety on offer in Germany – there are around 300 different sorts, more than in any other country worldwide. Another lies in Germany’s past as a loose association of disparate duchies and autonomous cities. Each of these tiny territories had its own baking traditions. There are also more than 1,300 breweries in Germany. Together, they brew over 5,000 different types of beer. This, too, is unmatched by any other country. Yet before any misunderstandings arise: Germany is not the world champion in drinking beer!

Regional cuisine

Some maintain that the regional flavour of German cuisine is down to the fact that Germany shares borders with nine other countries and has adopted something from each. There is an element of truth to this.

In Saarland, for example, the French influence is unmistakeable. Take the recipe for Lyoner Stroganoff. This is a combination of French saucisson, cucumber, onions, mushrooms, and peppers. In Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg, meanwhile, there are certain similarities with Danish cuisine: Labskaus, for example, which combines fresh or salted beef with potatoes, herring, onion, beetroot, and a fried egg. And a popular dessert in Bavaria is Palatschinken, an Austrian crêpe-style pancake with a sweet filling.

Favourite foods in Germany

Ask Germans about their favourite food, however, and neighbouring countries no longer play a role. Topping the list of the most popular main dishes here are spaghetti bolognese and pizza.

Yet Germany has no border with Italy – nor with Turkey, the supposed origin of Germany’s favourite snack, a doner kebab wrapped in pita bread. According to the history books, the person who first served up pieces of spicy meat and salad in a sandwich-like construction was certainly from Turkey. Yet Kadir Nurman, the man credited with creating the first doner in 1972, launched this new era in fast food not in Istanbul, where he grew up, but rather in Berlin, where he had formerly worked as a printing-press mechanic.

Eating out in Germany – from snack bars to Michelin stars

German cuisine is, above all, diverse. In other words, there’s something to suit every taste.

What’s more, there is ample opportunity to sample all the different types of food in Germany. For Berlin alone, various web portals list almost 190 Italian restaurants as well as 64 French, 36 Indian, 30 Spanish, 29 Chinese, 26 Greek, 23 Thai, 10 Mexican, and eight Russian restaurants. And this doesn’t include the hundreds of eateries, cafés, and bars serving either German or foreign cuisine. All in all, there are some 125,000 restaurants, pubs, and cafés throughout Germany as a whole. With such variety, there is something to please everyone, and that includes connoisseurs of haute cuisine. The Michelin Guide – the gourmet’s bible – listed a total of 237 starred restaurants for Germany in 2011, more than ever before. Apart from France, Germany has more three-star restaurants than any other country in Europe.

A healthy alternative: organic foods

Yet to eat well in Germany, there is no need to go to a restaurant. Good food at home, made from wholesome, healthy ingredients, is a more than adequate alternative. Organic foods are more and more popular in German supermarkets.

German consumers now have a choice of some 56,000 organic items, officially certified according to strict standards. This means that neither chemical pesticides nor genetically modified ingredients are used, and that all meat products come from animals reared in conditions appropriate to their needs.

While we’re on the subject of meat, some people maintain that the German national dish is the so-called Currywurst. This may well have something to do with the fact that some 800 million of these sausages topped with a curry-flavoured sauce are consumed in Germany every year. Yet there’s nothing typically German about the ingredients, even if the sausage is made in Germany. The curry sauce itself is based on ketchup or tomato puree, flavoured with a spicy Indian blend of coriander, pepper, and turmeric.

Leisure and sports: Fun for everyone

Football isn’t everything

Germans love their sport. As in other countries, many of the top performers here are as well known as Chancellor Angela Merkel or German-born former Pope Benedict XVI. No doubt, you’re familiar with a few names already – the Formula One stars Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, for example.

As drivers’ champions past and present, they have fans around the world. The former tennis stars Boris Becker and Steffi Graf also remain popular, if perhaps less well known than during their active careers. Football, too, remains a major part of Germany’s sporting identity. The attacking midfielder Mesut Özil, who has Turkish roots, has won the admiration of fans worldwide. That said, he has yet to achieve the fame of Franz Beckenbauer, who lifted the World Cup as captain of the winning German side in 1974. Being well over the age of 65, Beckenbauer hung up his boots some years ago, but the Germans still refer to him affectionately as the “Kaiser”. As is fitting for a Kaiser, he has a huge empire: Germany’s football association, the Deutsche Fußball-Bund, which has more than 6.8 million members, including almost 25,500 clubs and about 165,000 teams. This makes it the world’s largest sporting association.

Yet there is much more to sport in Germany than just football. With a total of 90,000 sports clubs with 27 million members, there are opportunities to get involved in a wide range of activities, including American football, basketball, baseball, handball, ice hockey, swimming, athletics, billiards, tae kwon do, kung fu, and even chess.

Apart from sports, you can also be sure of finding people who share a passion for your favourite hobby – be it playing the trumpet, singing in a choir, breeding horses, or playing online computer games. Much of this, of course, can be done on your own, without the support of a club and fellow club members.

Cycling is also highly popular in Germany. Despite their ongoing love affair with the automobile, the Germans have become passionate cyclists in recent years. For many, a bike is cool lifestyle accessory. At the same time, lots of cities and municipalities now have a large and expanding network of cycle paths. All in all, the combined length of these networks now extends to 75,000 kilometres – more than enough for longer tours and excursions. Known as Fernradwege, these cycle trails are used by an increasing number of people as a great way of enjoying the countryside.
Germany as a tourist destination

With 60 million tourists a year, Germany is Europe’s second most popular holiday destination after Spain. There are good reasons for this. Located in the heart of Europe, Germany borders on nine countries.

Starting from the north, these are, clockwise, as follows: Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. And depending on where you enter the country, Germany has a completely different character.

The north, for example, is bounded by the coastal region of the Baltic and the North Sea, where the intertidal zone known as the Wadden Sea is a World Heritage Site. This is the largest of Germany’s 14 national parks and boasts the richest birdlife of anywhere in Europe. The north is also home to such contrasting attractions as the Mecklenburg Lake District and St. Pauli, Hamburg’s notorious nightclub area.

Further to the east is Berlin, home to 3.4 million people. Germany’s once-divided capital attracts around 20 million visitors a year, many of whom come to enjoy not only the sights, such as the Brandenburg Gate, but also Berlin’s very reasonable prices. In fact, Berlin is substantially cheaper than many other capital cities and boasts a rich cultural programme, which makes it particularly popular among younger people.

Moving further south, between the Harz and Erzgebirge regions, we come to the Bavarian Forest, just one of Germany’s many wooded areas. Indeed, 30 percent of the total surface area in Germany is forested. In addition, there are over 100 conservation areas and a dozen or so biosphere reserves, which are committed to sustainable development and biodiversity. Further south in Bavaria lie the foothills of the Alps, which boast numerous ski resorts as well as Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze.

To the west is the Black Forest and the River Rhine, which flows northwards towards the most populous of Germany’s federal states, North Rhine-Westphalia, with its 18 million inhabitants. In the Rhine-Ruhr area, one of world’s 30 largest conurbations, the various cities more or less merge with one another. The region is also home to a variety of family-oriented amusement parks, ranging from Legoland in Oberhausen to Movie Park Germany in Bottrop and Phantasia Land in Brühl, one of the 10 most visited amusement parks in Europe.

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Australia and Germany sign new tax treaty

Australia and Germany sign new tax treaty

Australia and Germany have signed a new treaty on tax in the first step towards growing trade and investment between the nations and improving the integrity of the tax system...

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