Form of Government: Federal republic
Area: 357 578 sq km
Population: 82 521 653 inhab. (estimate 2016)
Density: 230.78 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 55° - 47° N; long. 6° - 15° E
Capital: Berlin (capital) 3 574 830 inhab. (2016); Berlin 4 386 600 inhab. (2015), urban agglomeration
Currency: euro (100 cents)
Human development index: 0.926 (rank: 4)
President: Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), since 19 March 2017
Federal Chancellor: Angela Merkel (CDU), since 22 November 2005, last re-elected on 14 March 2018
Parliament: seats based on the elections of 24 September 2017: CDU-CSU (Christian Democratic Union, 200; Christian Social Union, 46), 246; SPD (Social Democratic Party), 153; AfD (Alternative for Germany, right-wing), 92; FDP (Free Democratic Party, liberal), 80; Die Linke (Left Party), 69; Greens, 67; independents, 2
Internet: www.destatis.de (Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland)
Member of Council of Europe, EBRD, EU, NATO, OAS observer, OECD, OSCE, UN, WTO
International license plate code D
International dialling code 0049
Travel vaccinations requirement none
Electricity (Voltage) 230
Driving side rigth
Internet code .de
DST duration (start-end) late March-late October
Annual average temperature (°C) Berlin 9.7; Hamburg 8.6; Essen 9.7; Frankfurt am Main 10.1; Munich 8.7; Nuremberg 9
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Berlin -0.5/19; Hamburg -0.5/17.5; Essen 2/17.5; Frankfurt am Main 0.5/19; Munich -2/17.5; Nuremberg -1/18
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Berlin 8/1; Hamburg 8/1; Essen 6/1; Frankfurt am Main 8/1; Munich 8/2; Nuremberg 7.5/1.5
Annual average precipitation (mm) Berlin 605; Hamburg 770; Essen 945; Frankfurt am Main 675; Munich 815; Nuremberg 645
Days of rainfall (annual average) Berlin 118; Hamburg 131; Essen 142; Frankfurt am Main 116; Munich 118; Nuremberg 115
Politics and current affairs
Federal elections on 24 September 2017 upheld the difficulties facing the governing powers: despite remaining the leading power with 32%, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU lost a lot of consensus. The SPD fared even worse, with 20% of the votes. The far-right Alternative for Germany entered Parliament (12%), as did the Free Democratic Party (10%). After the failure of negotiations to form a “Jamaica” coalition (CDU/CSU, Democrats and Greens), Merkel sought a new agreement with the SPD. After months of negotiations, Social-Democrat activists approved a new government agreement, which led to the creation of a new governing Grand Coalition on 14 March 2018. Shortly thereafter, tensions over the migrant policy weakened the historic rapport between Merkel and the Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, leader of the CSU in Bavaria. In July, Seehofer threatened to resign should restrictive measures regarding immigration not be adopted: an agreement established on 5 July avoided the crisis, but it risks undermining relations with other EU member states, like Austria and Italy. Rapports with the United States under Donald Trump are problematic: tensions emerged regarding Germany’s contribution to NATO, the country’s large trade surplus and the Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia being doubled.
Germany is bordered to the north by Denmark, to the east by Poland and the Czech Republic, to the south-east and the south by Austria, to the south-west by Switzerland, to the west by France, Luxembourg and Belgium, and to the north-west by the Netherlands. To the north, it lies on the Baltic and North Seas. In the south the country reaches as far as the southern slopes of the Alps mountain chain between Lake Constance and the River Salzach. The stark wooded peaks slope down towards the rolling Swabian and Bavarian plains. The central part of the country is made up of a mountainous region, broken up by a series of river basins and valleys that gradually open out towards the northern plain. To the north of the River Danube the central hills (Thuringian Forest, Franconian Jura, Swabian Jura and the Black Forest) form a crown around the Swabian and Franconian basin, crossed by the River Neckar and the River Main. The Upper Rhine Plain lies between the Black Forest and the French Vosges region. The Thuringian Basin and Saxony lie to the east, descending from the Ore Mountains towards the northern plains. To the north-east the plain is crossed by a dense network of rivers formed by the River Elbe and smaller rivers flowing from it to the west (the River Saale and the River Mulde) and to the east (the River Havel). The coasts are low-lying with dunes, with groups and chains of islands facing it (the Eastern Frisian Islands). They are also broken up by the deep estuaries of the Rivers Elbe, Weser and Ems.
The climate is a mixture of the oceanic climate of north-west Europe, and a more continental climate.
Germany has an exclave in Switzerland, the town of Büsingen am Hochrhein (7.62 km²; pop. 1419 in 2016), as well as the Austrian enclave of Jungholz (7,05 km²; pop. 301 in 2018).
Defeated and divided by the Second World War, Germany was reunited following the disintegration of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe.
On 3 October 1990 the German Democratic Republic (DDR, established on 7 October 1949 in the Soviet-occupied zone) ceased to exist and became a part of the German Federal Republic (BRD, established on 23 May 1949 in the sectors occupied by the USA, France and the United Kingdom), according to procedures laid down by the Basic Law of 25 May 1949 (Grundgesetz) and by the Treaty of the State signed by the two Germanies on 31 August 1990.
After reunification, the BRD is made up of 16 confederated states (Länder), each one with its own legislative and executive bodies. Whilst the DDR was subjected to a communist regime, in the BRD government alternated between the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD).
According to the Grundgesetz, executive power lies with the Chancellor and his ministers, while legislative power is exercised by the Parliament, made up of two chambers with different powers: the Bundestag (the lower house with 598 members elected by direct suffrage for four years, even if the number may vary in each legislature because the parties can gain supplementary seats in constituencies: there are currently 709 members) and the Bundesrat (the upper house or the federal council, 69 members designated by the regional governments in proportion to population). The Chancellor must win approval from the Bundestag and may not be dismissed without a successor being designated (“a constructive vote of no confidence”). The Federal President is elected for five years by the members of the Bundestag and by as many electors designated by the Länder parliaments, in proportion to their political importance.
After reunification and between 1990 and 1994, Russian troops withdrew from eastern Germany. Instead, garrisons of US and British soldiers remained: the main US airbase abroad is in Ramstein. In 1989, the Franco-German brigade was set up (5000 soldiers).
By taking part in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan (2001-14), deploying 5300 forces, Germany carried out its first military intervention abroad since the end of the Second World War. As of 2014, it has assisted in training Afghan forces.
In 2011, military service was abolished and the armed forces became a completely professional institution.
The legal system is based on continental civil law. Civil and penal justice is administered by the federal tribunals (Federal Constitutional Court and Upper Federal Courts) and by the tribunals of the Länder (split into local and regional tribunals and courts of appeal). On 30 June 2017, Germany’s Bundestag approved a law allowing same-sex marriages and adoptions.
|Berlin||3 574 830||inhab.||2016|
|Hamburg||1 810 438||inhab.||2016|
|Ruhr region=Ruhrgebiet||5 549 600||inhab.||2015|
|Berlin||4 386 600||inhab.||2015|
|Population by age and gender (% - 2017)|
The rate of natural increase in the population has been below zero for several years. A foreign presence is increasing rapidly. At the end of 2017, foreigners in Germany were about 10.6 million (in the same year, there were 15 414 asylum applications). According to the law on citizenship, in force since 2000, only citizens born in Germany with at least one parent who has been resident for a minimum of 8 years may be considered a German citizen. The law on immigration approved in 2002 established a preferential channel for specialized workers and introduced compulsory courses in order to speed up integration.
|Foreigners, total||10 039 080||units||2016|
|Turks||1 492 580||units||2016|
Strong economic growth continues, which brought unemployment to 3.8%, a historic record since reunification. Foreign trade remains one of the main economic drivers, maintaining a high trade surplus despite an increase in exports.
Public accounts are strong.
|Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)||106.81||index||2016|
|Balance of trade||281 267||M US$||2017|
|Active population||43 284 800||units||2017|
|Active population, Females||46.3||%||2017|
|Unemployment rate, Females||41||%||2017|
|Expenses||409 327||M LCU||2017|
|Revenues||415 028||M LCU||2017|
|Currency in circulation||284.7||BN LCU||2017|
|International reserves||199 983.1||M US$||2017|
The main agricultural crops are cereals, potatoes, oats, sugar beet, hops (for the flourishing beer industry), rape, sunflowers and tobacco (areas of Baden and the Palatinate). Vines are widespread in the Rhineland Palatinate and in the areas close to the Rhine, the Moselle, the Main and the Neckar.
The forests are relatively large and provide the raw materials for the timber, cellulose and paper industries.
Livestock and fishing.
Livestock farming (especially pigs and cattle) contributes 70% to the primary sector of the economy. Sea fisheries are large in scale (in the North Sea, the Barents Sea and along the coasts of Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland). The main fishing ports are those at Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Sassnitz, Kiel, Stralsund, Rostock and Wismar.
|barley||10 730.5||1000 t||2016|
|cereals, total||45 364.4||1000 t||2016|
|potatoes||10 772.1||1000 t||2016|
|roots and tubers, total||10 772.1||1000 t||2016|
|beans, green||45.634||1000 t||2016|
|broad beans, dry||153.7||1000 t||2016|
|grapes||1 225.57||1000 t||2016|
|rapeseed||4 579.6||1000 t||2016|
|mustard seed||8.261||1000 t||2016|
|sugar beet||25 497.2||1000 t||2016|
|apples||1 032.913||1000 t||2016|
|barley||1 605||1000 ha||2016|
|carrots and turnips||11.209||1000 ha||2016|
|beans, green||4.158||1000 ha||2016|
|broad beans, dry||38.8||1000 ha||2016|
|rapeseed||1 325.7||1000 ha||2016|
|mustard seed||6.096||1000 ha||2016|
|sugar beet||334.5||1000 ha||2016|
|hemp tow waste||0||1000 ha||2013|
|timber||52 193 500||m³||2016|
|cattle||12 466.586||1000 heads||2016|
|cattle and buffaloes||12 473.898||1000 heads||2016|
|pigs||27 376.056||1000 heads||2016|
|sheep||1 574.269||1000 heads||2016|
|equines, total||441.954||1000 heads||2016|
|birds||201 021||1000 heads||2016|
|cheese||2 740.582||1000 t||2014|
|crustaceans and molluscs||53 494||t||2016|
|freshwater fishes||27 436||t||2016|
The large coal basins (Ruhr, Saarland, Aachen and Zwickau-Ölsnitz) are being mined less and less: the new government has pledged to publish in 2019 a plan for the complete closure of all mines. There are considerable deposits of lignite (in North Rhine-Westphalia, northern Hesse, Upper Palatinate, the Leipzig-Halle-Bitterfeld-Merseburg and Lower Lusatia areas), of which Germany is the second largest producer in the world after China, but this mining activity is also in constant decline. Radio-active minerals and uranium are mined at Menzenschwand (Black Forest) and in the areas around Aue and Ronneburg.
The mining of hydrocarbons plays a marginal role in covering requirements: oil is extracted above all from the Dithmarschen, in the region of Hannover and in Emsland area, near the Dutch border. The network of oil pipelines includes the stretches between Wilhelmshaven and Frankfurt, between Karlsruhe and Mannheim and between Karlsruhe and Ingolstadt. An oil pipeline connects Cologne and Frankfurt to Rotterdam, and a further three oil pipelines connect Ingolstadt to Marseilles, Genoa and Trieste. The natural gas basins in Lower Saxony (Weser-Ems and the estuary of the River Ems), in the Molasse basin to the east of Munich, in Upper Hesse (at Stockstadt and Eich) as well as the fields at Rüdersdorf, Staakow, Mühl, Bad Langensalza and Roxförde are also important.
A 220 km-long gas pipeline connects Hamburg to the Dutch reserves at Groningen. In 2011-12 building work was completed on the German/Russian Nord Stream gas pipeline between Vyborg and Greifswald, along the Baltic Sea bed, avoiding Poland and the Baltic states. Work on a second pipeline in the Baltic Sea began near the German coast in 2018, in order to double the capacity of Nord Stream.
In 2011, the German government launched a plan, scheduled for completion in 2022, or the gradual closure of its 17 oldest nuclear reactors which provided about one quarter of the national electrical energy requirement; currently, seven nuclear reactors are still in operation, which supply about 11% of the energy produced.
The country initiated a wide campaign in favour of renewable energy (strongly subsidized by Energiewende), particularly wind and solar energy, which in 2018 contributed to around 33% of energy production. The transition led to an industrial reconfiguration in the sector: in March 2018, the main utilities, REW and E.ON, divided another larger company in the sector, Innogy. Meanwhile, in 2017, greenhouse gas emissions decreased, thanks in particular to the closure of some coal-fired power stations.
The industrial sector is very solid and well-developed and covers the whole range of industrial activity: the German Mittelstand, the SME system, is highly specialized and dedicated to exports. Although nowadays scaled down, the German iron and steel industry enjoys a leading role in Europe; most of the plants are concentrated in the coalmining area of the Ruhr (at Duisburg, Rheinhausen, Hattingen, Hagen-Haspe, Mülheim-Ruhr, Oberhausen, Bochum and Gelsenkirchen). Products of the metal-working industry include lead, magnesium, tin, zinc, aluminium and copper.
Oil refineries operate at Hamburg, Bremen, Burghausen, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Emden, Gelsenkirchen, Heide-Holstein, Ingolstadt, Karlsruhe, Leuna, Lingen-Ems, Misburg-Hannover, Mannheim, Neustadt an der Donau, Salzbergen, Schwedt, Speyer, Vohburg, Wilhelmshaven, Zeitz. A regasification terminal in Hamburg is being planned.
The petrochemical industry is present with large plants at Dormagen and Hüls. Among basic chemical products there are synthetic rubber, artificial fibres, plastic materials, resins and synthetic fibres.
Cement production takes place in the main plants at Beckum, Bremen, Osnabrück, Paderborn, Neuwied, Heidelberg-Leimen, Karlstadt, Hennickendorf, Rüdersdorf, Eisenhüttenstadt, Berburg, Coswig, Wolfen, Karsdorf and Unterwellenborn. The chemical industry is concentrated in the lower Rhine valley (between Cologne, Leverkusen and the Ruhr), in the Middle Rhine valley (Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Oppau, Frankfurt, Höchst and Griesheim) and in the areas of Leuna, Bitterfeld, Wolfen, Schkopau and Schwedt. Among the most important plants there are those at Frankfurt and Leipzig (for dyes) and at Leverkusen, Jena and Wolfen (pharmaceutical and photo-chemical products).
The engineering industry is of great importance. The main centres, other than those in the Ruhr, include Augsburg, Frankenthal, Offenbach, Plauen and Coswig (for print machines), Mönchengladbach, Esslingen and Chemnitz (textile machines), Mannheim, Hannover, Esslingen, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Halle, Weimar and Stralsund (agricultural machinery).
The car industry has centres in Wolfsburg (headquarters of Volkswagen, which has further plants in Hannover, Ingolstadt, Salzgitter, Kassel and Emden), Rüsselsheim (Opel, with another plant in Bochum closed recently), Cologne (Ford), Stuttgart (Daimler-Benz/Mercedes, with further plants in Sindelfingen, Gaggenau and Mannheim), Heilbronn and Neckarsulm (Audi), Munich (BMW, with another plant in Dingolfing) and Kassel, Augsburg, Düsseldorf, Brunswick, Zwickau and Eisenach. Locomotive engines, railway carriages, tractors and bicycles are also manufactured.
There are shipyards in Hamburg, Bremen, Emden, Flensburg, Rostock and Wismar. There are electronic and electro-technical centres in Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, Erfurt, Radeberg, Weimar, Stuttgart and Munich. Precision mechanics are being developed in Berlin, Oberkochen, Munich, Böblingen, Kassel, Göttingen, Lahn, Kempten, Jena, Leipzig, Freiberg and Dresden. In Karlsruhe, Munich and Berlin, there are technological parks specializing in the sectors of information technology and other leading-edge technologies.
The textile industry is concentrated on the Rhine valley area parallel to the Dutch border, in the south-west, in the Plauen-Lipsia-Zittau triangle and other locations dotted throughout the country. The leather industry is of world renown with centres in Offenbach, Hanau, Nuremberg, Berlin, Leipzig and Apolda. Furthermore, Germany is one of the most important countries in the world for the fur trade.
The rubber industry is well-developed in the northern regions, in Westphalia and the Rhineland, and, in the south, in the Munich area; there are further plants in Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden and Waltershausen. The glass industry has centres in the Ruhr, in Saarland, in Saxony and in Thuringia; the optical industries are also important. Traditional centres for the production of ceramics are found in Berlin-Charlottenburg, Munich-Nymphenburg, Meissen, Selb and, in Thuringia, Ilmenau, Kahla and Eisenberg. Locations famous for musical instruments are in Trossingen, Mittenwald, Markneukirchen, Erlbach, Zwota and Klingenthal; for jewellery, Pforzheim, Kempten-Neugablonz and Idar-Oberstein; for toys, Nuremberg, Seiffen and Brunsbüttel. Beer production is very widespread in Bavaria (in Munich, Nuremberg and Kulmbach) and in some large cities (Frankfurt, Dortmund, Bremen and Hamburg).
|coal||6 650||1000 t||2015|
|coal, total||175 136||1000 t||2017|
|iron ore||456||1000 t||2014|
|- thermal||331 759.84||M kWh||2015|
|- other renew.||175 068||M kWh||2015|
|- other renew.||94 875||1000 kW||2015|
|- thermal||86 979||1000 kW||2015|
|total net generation||612 304.84||M kWh||2015|
|total installed capacity||204 052||1000 kW||2015|
|alumina||1 900||1000 t||2017|
|aluminium||1 130||1000 t||2014|
|cars||5 645 581||no.||2017|
|watches and clocks||324 712||no.||2015|
|air conditioners||11 217 182||no.||2013|
|computers||1 031 439||no.||2015|
|bitumen||3 525||1000 t||2015|
|petrol||28 434.3||1000 t||2014|
|ammonia||2 500||1000 t||2017|
|artificial tow||149.6||1000 t||2008|
|carpets||79 023||1000 m²||2014|
|cotton fabrics||159.8||M m²||2010|
|footwear||30 053 686||pairs||2015|
|beer of barley||8 723.1||1000 t||2014|
|fish, frozen||67.8||1000 t||2015|
|cigarettes||185 681.4||M units||2015|
|cigars||2 582||M units||2014|
|chemical pulp||1 612||1000 t||2016|
|chemi-mechanical pulp||2 485||1000 t||2016|
|cement||31 160||1000 t||2015|
|sheet glass||843.7||1000 m²||2015|
|chemicals production||77 830.9||M US$||2014|
|food, beverages and tobacco production||56 606.2||M US$||2014|
Germany firmly remains one of the main players in international trade and one of the leading exporters in the world, with an actively positive trading budget. The country exports cars and other machinery, electronics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. It imports hydrocarbons and raw materials, industrial components, food and textiles. The major trading partners are the EU countries, followed by China and the US. In recent years, Germany has recorded trade deficits with Norway, Russia, China and Vietnam.
Main exports (M US$ - 2017) machinery 231 237, cars 157 403, electrical and electronic equipment and appliances 149 970, vehicles and parts thereof 100 884, pharmaceuticals 84 468, technical and electro-medical appliances 72 539, plastics 63 604, chemicals 59 008, iron and steel 56 932, aircraft and parts thereof 41 798, apparel and accessories 20 753, paper and paperboard 20 278, furniture and accessories 17 422, tyres and rubber articles 17 218, aluminium 16 448, computers and accessories 14 921, petroleum products 13 466, dyes 12 984, refined copper 12 371, glass and ceramic products 10 721, cosmetics and perfumes 10 604, tools and implements 9 455, cheese and dairy products 9 146, meat 9 038, timber 9 023, articles of base metal 8 497, soap and detergents 8 488, footwear 7 615, natural gas 7 265, ships and boats 6 930, beverages 6 736
Finance and banking.
The European Central Bank has its headquarters in Frankfurt; the Deutsche Bundesbank has headquarters in each of the 16 Länder (Landeszentralbanken). The other banks are divided into three groups: merchant banks, including Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank; public law credit institutes, such as savings banks (Sparkassen), and rural and crafts saving banks (Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken). The insurance group, Allianz, is one of the most important in Europe. The Frankfurt Stock Exchange is one of the key financial centres in the world.
|manufactures||83.998||% of goods exports||2016|
|food products||5.522||% of goods exports||2016|
|United States||126 360||M US$||2017|
|France||118 773||M US$||2017|
|China||115 179||M US$||2017|
|Netherlands||95 303||M US$||2017|
Tourism. The main tourist destinations are: the Black Forest, the Thuringian Mountains, the Rhine Valley, the large cities (Berlin and Munich), the old university cities (such as Heidelberg and Mainz) and the villages along the Romantische Strasse.
|Expenditures||87 423||M US$||2016|
|Number of arrivals||35 555 000||units||2016|
The Rhine Valley is the main German transport axis. The motorway network covers the whole country. Rail communications are well developed and include a highly diversified network of high-speed services (ICE trains) which are in the process of being integrated with the European rail network. The most important rivers for transport are the Rhine, the Neckar-Danube and the Elbe.
The main airport is at Frankfurt (the third in Europe after London and Paris), followed by Munich and Berlin.
Media and telecommunication.
Deutsche Telekom is the most important European telecommunications company.
|Civil aviation, km flown||1 198 400||km flown||2004|
|Civil aviation, passengers carried||116 847||1000 units||2017|
|Broadband subscribers||404.521||per 1000 pop.||2017|
|Computers||656||per 1000 pop.||2008|
Social and welfare
Education, culture & research.
Education begins at 6 years of age and is compulsory for nine years (in some Länder for ten). Primary education (Grundschule) lasts for four years and is free. The first secondary cycle includes four courses of study of five or six years: the Hauptschule, general, the Realschule, cultural and technical, the Gymnasium, with four large thematic areas, in preparation for university and for higher professional training, and lastly the Gesamtschule, offering a course that combines the main features of the three previous cycles. The second secondary cycle is divided into two courses of study: general culture, leading to the attainment of the Abitur (secondary school leaving certificate) and enabling access to university, and higher professional training.
Social security and health.
Social legislation has established full insurance cover for illness, accident, old age, disability and unemployment. The pension reform of 2007 anticipates a gradual increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67 years of age. The 2013 government agreement added the possibility to return at 63 years with 45 years of contributions.
|Expected years of schooling||17||years||2015|
|Teachers, primary level||238 361||units||2016|
|Teachers, secondary level||588 693||units||2016|
|Social protection spending||43.2||% of total expenses||2015|
|Social protection spending||29.1||% of GDP||2015|
|Hospital beds||8.1||per 1000 pop.||2016|
|Physicians||4.2||per 1000 pop.||2016|
|HIV||0.2||% of adults||2011|
|Museums, visitors||110 425 000||units||2013|
|Research and development spending||2.94||% of GDP||2016|
|Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking||100||%||2016|
|Access to electricity||100||%||2016|