Form of Government: Federal republic
Area: 357 582 sq km
Population: 82 792 351 inhab. (estimate 2017)
Density: 231.53 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 55° - 47° N; long. 6° - 15° E
Capital: Berlin (capital) 3 613 495 inhab. (2017); Berlin 4 571 600 inhab. (2017), urban agglomeration
Currency: euro (100 cents)
Human development index: 0.936 (rank: 5)
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 (July 2019 update): CDU-CSU (Christian Democratic Union, 200; Christian Social Union, 46), 246; SPD (Social Democratic Party), 152; AfD (Alternative for Germany, right-wing), 91; FDP (Free Democratic Party, liberal), 80; Die Linke (Left Party), 69; Greens, 67; independents, 4
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
The political scene in Germany has entered the final stage of Angela Merkel’s leadership, Chancellor since 2005, who stepped down from the leadership of her party, CDU, on 19 October 2018, announcing that she will not seek other positions once her term expires in 2021.
The coalition between CDU/CSU and the social democrats of the SPD has faced several difficulties. After a number of clashes between the allies, the elections in Bavaria on 14 October 2018 resulted in a strong decline in popularity for the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, though it nonetheless remains in power. Over the following months, the country was shaken by the rise of far-right groups, especially after the murder of Walter Lübcke (CDU), a politician who was dedicated to promoting solidarity for migrants. However, in the European elections on 26 May 2019, the real winners were The Greens, which doubled its votes with 20.5%, while CDU/CSU, despite being smaller, upheld its position as the top party, with 28.9% of the votes. The true defeat was the SPD, which reached a record low of 15.8%, putting in doubt its duration in the government coalition. The populists of AfD, increasingly shifting towards xenophobic positions, earned just 11%.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, A. Merkel’s successor, replaced Ursula von Der Leyen as the Minister of Defense on 17 July 2019, the latter becoming President-elect of the European Commission. On 22 January 2019, Germany renewed the Élysée Treaty with France, deepening bilateral rapports. The clash with Italy over the management of migration continues.
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. 1443 in 2017), as well as the Austrian enclave of Jungholz (7.06 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.
Despite the tradition of post-war peace, Germany was asked to take on more responsibility in NATO.
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. Attention towards Russia has increased: in October 2018, Germany coordinated a large naval exercise in the Baltic Sea and later confirmed its efforts in leading a battalion of 1200 NATO soldiers in Lithuania. Garrisons of American and British soldiers remain in Germany: the US’s main foreign air base is in Ramstein.
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||3 613 495||inhab.||2017|
|Hamburg||1 830 584||inhab.||2017|
|Ruhr region=Ruhrgebiet||5 614 900||inhab.||2017|
|Berlin||4 571 600||inhab.||2017|
|Population by age and gender (% - 2018)|
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, but asylum applications decreased, compared to the peak of 2015. 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.
A new immigration law in 2018 introduced new legal access channels for highly professional migrants.
|Foreigners, total||10 623 940||units||2017|
|Turks||1 483 515||units||2017|
After years of sustained economic performance, in 2018, the economy grew less than usual (1.45%), risking a technical recession in the second half of the year, and should slow to 0.5% in 2019. The trade surplus is also expected to drop to 6.5% of the GDP in 2020. Consumption and public accounts remain strong. Unemployment is still very low, registered at 3.4%.
|Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)||106.81||index||2016|
|Balance of trade||275 171.1||M US$||2018|
|Active population||43 382 300||units||2018|
|Active population, Females||46.3||%||2018|
|Unemployment rate, Females||39.9||%||2018|
|Expenses||417 364||M LCU||2018|
|Revenues||435 270||M LCU||2018|
|Currency in circulation||300.4||BN LCU||2018|
|International reserves||198 027.1||M US$||2018|
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||10 853.4||1000 t||2017|
|cereals, total||45 556.8||1000 t||2017|
|potatoes||11 720||1000 t||2017|
|roots and tubers, total||11 720||1000 t||2017|
|beans, green||51.469||1000 t||2017|
|broad beans, dry||188.8||1000 t||2017|
|grapes||1 014.235||1000 t||2017|
|rapeseed||4 275.6||1000 t||2017|
|mustard seed||8.204||1000 t||2017|
|sugar beet||34 059.9||1000 t||2017|
|barley||1 566.1||1000 ha||2017|
|carrots and turnips||12.545||1000 ha||2017|
|beans, green||4.508||1000 ha||2017|
|broad beans, dry||46.4||1000 ha||2017|
|rapeseed||1 308.9||1000 ha||2017|
|mustard seed||6.081||1000 ha||2017|
|sugar beet||406.7||1000 ha||2017|
|hemp tow waste||0||1000 ha||2013|
|timber||53 490 600||m³||2017|
|cattle||12 281.195||1000 heads||2017|
|cattle and buffaloes||12 289.869||1000 heads||2017|
|pigs||27 577.568||1000 heads||2017|
|sheep||1 579.793||1000 heads||2017|
|equines, total||448.146||1000 heads||2017|
|birds||175 593||1000 heads||2017|
|cheese||2 740.582||1000 t||2014|
|crustaceans and molluscs||27 160||t||2017|
|freshwater fishes||24 973||t||2017|
The large coal basins (Ruhr, Saarland, Aachen and Zwickau-Ölsnitz) are being mined less and less. 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. Uranium mines were in operation during the Cold War, but today the ore is imported.
The mining of hydrocarbons plays a marginal role in covering requirements. The network of oil and refined products pipelines includes the stretches from Wilhelmshaven to Frankfurt and Hamburg, 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. Other pipelines are Druzhba from Russia, whose flow was temporarily interrupted in April 2019 due to the presence of contaminants, and MERO from the Czech Republic. The natural gas basins in Lower Saxony, in the Molasse basin to the east of Munich, in Upper Hesse, as well as the fields at Rüdersdorf, Staakow, Mühl, Bad Langensalza and Roxförde are also important. Several pipelines allow the import of natural gas from the North Sea fields (Europipe, MIDAL, TENP) and from the Russian ones (Yamal-Europe). In 2012, building work on the German/Russian Nord Stream gas pipeline along the Baltic Sea bed was also completed, thus avoiding Ukraine and the Baltic states. Despite international criticism, 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 for the gradual closure by 2022 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 13% of the energy produced. In 2018, it was also established that coal-fired power stations will have to be closed down by 2038. The country initiated a wide campaign in favour of renewable energy (strongly subsidized by Energiewende), particularly wind and solar energy, which in 2018 for the first time exceeded the contribution of coal to national energy production. Against a backdrop of this policy of diversification, the government introduced measures to incentivize the development of several regasification terminals (Stade-Hamburg, Brunsbüttel and Wilhelmshaven). The transition led to an industrial reconfiguration in the energy sector: in 2018 the main utilities, E.On and Rwe, divided another larger company in the sector, Innogy. However, the agreement is subject to a European Commission investigation.
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. Products of the metal-working industry include lead, magnesium, tin, zinc, aluminium and copper. Oil refineries operate at Hamburg, Böhlen, Bremen, Brunsbuttel-Ostermoor, Burghausen, Cologne, Emden, Gelsenkirchen, Heide-Holstein, Ingolstadt, Karlsruhe, Leuna, Lingen, Mannheim, Neustadt, Salzbergen, Schwedt, Speyer, Vohburg, Wilhelmshaven, Zeitz.
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 factories are widespread throughout the national territory, while the major chemical plants are located in Frankfurt and Leipzig (for dyes) and in Leverkusen, Jena and Wolfen (pharmaceutical and photo-chemical products).
The engineering industry is of great importance. The main centres, especially in the Ruhr area, are specialized in the production of printing machines, textile machinery, and agricultural machinery.
The car industry has its major centres in Wolfsburg (headquarters of Volkswagen, which has further plants in Augsburg, Emden, Hannover, Ingolstadt, Kassel, Munich, Salzgitter and Stuttgart), Rüsselsheim (Opel), Cologne (Ford), Stuttgart (Daimler-Benz/Mercedes), Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm (Audi), Munich (BMW). Tractors, bicycles, locomotive engines and railway carriages are also manufactured. The plans to merge the German Siemens and French Alstom to create a European giant in railway production was blocked in February 2019 by the European Commission on the grounds of safeguarding competitiveness.
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 is highly developed. 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-Leipzig-Zittau triangle and other locations dotted throughout the country. The leather industry is of world renown; 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. The glass industry has centres in the Ruhr, in Saarland, in Saxony and in Thuringia; the optical industries are also important. Germany has traditional centres for the manufacture of ceramics, musical instruments, jewellery and toys. These productions are located in large cities such as Berlin, Munich and Nuremberg, but above all they are widespread in small and medium-sized centres scattered throughout the territory.
Beer production is very widespread in Bavaria (Munich, Nuremberg and Kulmbach) and in some large cities (Frankfurt, Dortmund, Bremen and Hamburg).
|coal||3 836||1000 t||2017|
|coal, total||169 031||1000 t||2018|
|iron ore||456||1000 t||2014|
|dolomite||19 000||1000 t||2015|
|- thermal||339 655.84||M kWh||2016|
|- other renew.||174 736||M kWh||2016|
|- other renew.||101 265||1000 kW||2016|
|- thermal||85 136||1000 kW||2016|
|total net generation||612 791.84||M kWh||2016|
|total installed capacity||208 500||1000 kW||2016|
|alumina||1 900||1000 t||2017|
|aluminium||1 617||1000 t||2017|
|bikes||1 014 000||no.||2017|
|cars||5 120 409||no.||2018|
|watches and clocks||286 383||no.||2016|
|air conditioners||7 894 000||no.||2017|
|bitumen||4 065||1000 t||2016|
|petrol||28 434.3||1000 t||2014|
|ammonia||2 500||1000 t||2018|
|artificial tow||149.6||1000 t||2008|
|carpets||86 066||1000 m²||2017|
|cotton fabrics||159.8||M m²||2010|
|footwear||35 208 000||pairs||2017|
|beer of barley||8 723.1||1000 t||2014|
|fish, frozen||57||1000 t||2016|
|cigarettes||149 607||M units||2017|
|cigars||2 673||M units||2017|
|chemical pulp||1 636||1000 t||2017|
|chemi-mechanical pulp||2 433||1000 t||2017|
|cement||32 000||1000 t||2016|
|sheet glass||707.2||1000 m²||2016|
|chemicals production||76 531.8||M US$||2016|
|food, beverages and tobacco production||55 211.4||M US$||2016|
Germany firmly remains one of the main players in international trade and one of the leading exporters in the world: for this reason, it is exposed to growing protectionist tensions. 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 USA and the EU countries (especially France, Italy and the Netherlands), and China.
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). After the failed attempt to merge with Commerzbank in 2019, Deutsche Bank presented an extensive restructuring program of its business model.
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||85.364||% of goods exports||2018|
|food products||5.325||% of goods exports||2018|
|United States||134 389||M US$||2018|
|France||124 223||M US$||2018|
|China||126 722||M US$||2018|
|Netherlands||104 984||M US$||2018|
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||97 597||M US$||2017|
|Number of arrivals||37 452 000||units||2017|
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 in Frankfurt, the first in Europe for freight traffic and the fourth for number of passengers (after London, Paris and Amsterdam).
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 reform was then mitigated by successive coalition governments.
|Expected years of schooling||17.1||years||2016|
|Teachers, primary level||238 361||units||2016|
|Teachers, secondary level||588 926||units||2016|
|Social protection spending||44||% of total expenses||2016|
|Social protection spending||25.1||% of GDP||2018|
|Hospital beds||8.1||per 1000 pop.||2016|
|Physicians||4.2||per 1000 pop.||2016|
|HIV||0.2||% of adults||2017|
|Museums, visitors||111 877 000||units||2016|
|Research and development spending||3.02||% of GDP||2017|
|Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking||100||%||2016|
|Access to electricity||100||%||2017|