Information about Germany
Information about Germany Geography, history, population, map, coat of arms, visa
The territory of Germany covers 357,021 km2 (137,847 sq mi), consisting of 349,223 km2 (134,836 sq mi) of land and 7,798 km2 (3,011 sq mi) of water. It is the seventh largest country by area in Europe and the 63rd largest in the world. Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Alps (highest point: the Zugspitze at 2,962 metres (9,718 ft)) in the south to the shores of the North Sea (Nordsee) in the north-west and the Baltic Sea (Ostsee) in the north-east. Between lie the forested uplands of central Germany and the low-lying lands of northern Germany (lowest point: Wilstermarsch at 3.54 metres (11.6 ft) below sea level), traversed by some of Europe's major rivers such as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe.
Germany shares borders with more European countries than any other country on the continent. Its neighbours are Denmark in the north, Poland and the Czech Republic in the east, Austria and Switzerland in the south, France and Luxembourg in the south-west and Belgium and the Netherlands in the north-west.
Main articles: States of Germany and List of administrative divisions of Germany
Germany comprises 16 states (Bundesl?nder), which are further subdivided into 439 districts (Kreise) and cities (kreisfreie St?dte).
Karte Bundesrepublik Deutschland.svg
Coat of arms of Lower Saxony.svg Lower Saxony
Bremen Wappen(Mittel).svg Bremen
Coat of arms of Hamburg.svg Hamburg
Coat of arms of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (great).svg Mecklenburg-
Wappen Sachsen-Anhalt.svg Saxony-
Coat of arms of Saxony.svg Saxony
Brandenburg Wappen.svg Brandenburg
Coat of arms of Berlin.svg Berlin
Coat of arms of Thuringia.svg Thuringia
Coat of arms of Hesse.svg Hesse
Coat of arms of North Rhine-Westfalia.svg North Rhine-
Coat of arms of Rhineland-Palatinate.svg Rhineland-
Bayern Wappen.svg Bavaria
Coat of arms of Baden-W?rttemberg (lesser).svg Baden-
Coa de-saarland.svg Saarland
Coat of arms of Schleswig-Holstein.svg Schleswig-
State ? Capital ? Area (km?) ? Population ?
Baden-W?rttemberg Stuttgart 35,752 10,717,000
Bavaria Munich 70,549 12,444,000
Berlin Berlin 892 3,400,000
Brandenburg Potsdam 29,477 2,568,000
Bremen Bremen 404 663,000
Hamburg Hamburg 755 1,735,000
Hesse Wiesbaden 21,115 6,098,000
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Schwerin 23,174 1,720,000
Lower Saxony Hanover 47,618 8,001,000
North Rhine-Westphalia D?sseldorf 34,043 18,075,000
Rhineland-Palatinate Mainz 19,847 4,061,000
Saarland Saarbr?cken 2,569 1,056,000
Saxony Dresden 18,416 4,296,000
Saxony-Anhalt Magdeburg 20,445 2,494,000
Schleswig-Holstein Kiel 15,763 2,829,000
Thuringia Erfurt 16,172 2,355,000
Alpine scenery in Bavaria.
Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate in which humid westerly winds predominate. The climate is moderated by the North Atlantic Drift, which is the northern extension of the Gulf Stream. This warmer water affects the areas bordering the North Sea including the area along the Rhine, which flows into the North Sea. Consequently in the north-west and the north, the climate is oceanic; rainfall occurs year round with a maximum during summer.
Winters are mild and summers tend to be cool, though temperatures can exceed 30 °C (86 °F) for prolonged periods. In the east, the climate is more continental; winters can be very cold, summers can be very warm, and long dry periods are often recorded. Central and southern Germany are transition regions which vary from moderately oceanic to continental. Again, the maximum temperature can exceed 30 °C (86 °F) in summer.
Deer is a widespread species to be found in the wild.
Phytogeographically, Germany is shared between the Atlantic European and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. The territory of Germany can be subdivided into four ecoregions: the Atlantic mixed forests, Baltic mixed forests, Central European mixed forests and Western European broadleaf forests. The majority of Germany is covered by either arable land (33%) or forestry and woodland (31%). Only 15% is covered by permanent pastures.
Around one third of the country's area is covered with forests. (Thuringian Forest)
Plants and animals are those generally common to middle Europe. Beeches, oaks, and other deciduous trees constitute one-third of the forests; conifers are increasing as a result of reforestation. Spruce and fir trees predominate in the upper mountains, while pine and larch are found in sandy soil. There are many species of ferns, flowers, fungi, and mosses. Fish abound in the rivers and the North Sea. Wild animals include deer, wild boar, mouflon, fox, badger, hare, and small numbers of beaver. Various migratory birds cross Germany in the spring and autumn.
The national parks in Germany include the Wadden Sea National Parks, the Jasmund National Park, the Vorpommern Lagoon Area National Park, the M?ritz National Park, the Lower Oder Valley National Park, the Harz National Park, the Saxon Switzerland National Park and the Bavarian Forest National Park.
Germany is known for its many zoological gardens, wildlife parks, aquaria, and bird parks. More than 400 registered zoos and animal parks operate in Germany, which is believed to be the largest number in any single country of the world. The Zoologischer Garten Berlin is the oldest zoo in Germany and presents the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.
The largest wind farm and solar power capacity in the world is installed in Germany.
Germany is known for its environmental consciousness. Most Germans consider anthropogenic causes to be a significant factor in global warming. The state is committed to the Kyoto protocol and several other treaties promoting biodiversity, low emission standards, recycling, and the use of renewable energy, and supports sustainable development at a global level.
The eagle is a protected bird of prey and the national heraldic animal.
The German government has initiated wide ranging emission reduction activities and the country?s overall emissions are falling. Nevertheless Germany's carbon dioxide emissions per capita are among the highest in the EU, although they are significantly lower than those of Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Emissions from coal-burning utilities and industries contribute to air pollution. Acid rain, resulting from sulphur dioxide emissions, is damaging forests. Pollution in the Baltic Sea from raw sewage and industrial effluents from rivers in former East Germany have been reduced. The government under Chancellor Schr?der announced the intention to end the use of nuclear power for producing electricity. Germany is working to meet EU commitments to identify nature preservation areas in line with the EU's Flora, Fauna, and Habitat directive. Germany's last glaciers in the Alpine region are experiencing deglaciation. Natural hazards are river flooding in spring and stormy winds occurring in all regions.
Main article: Politics of Germany
The Reichstag in Berlin is the site of the German parliament.
Germany is a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic republic. The German political system operates under a framework laid out in the 1949 constitutional document known as the Grundgesetz (Basic Law). By calling the document Grundgesetz, rather than Verfassung (constitution), the authors expressed the intention that it would be replaced by a proper constitution once Germany was reunited as one state. Amendments to the Grundgesetz generally require a two-thirds majority of both chambers of the parliament; the articles guaranteeing fundamental rights, the separation of powers, the federal structure, and the right to resist attempts to overthrow the constitution are valid in perpetuity and cannot be amended. Despite the initial intention, the Grundgesetz remained in effect after the German reunification in 1990, with only minor amendments.
President Horst K?hler.
The Bundeskanzler (Federal Chancellor)—currently Angela Merkel—is the head of government and exercises executive power, similar to the role of a Prime Minister in other parliamentary democracies. Federal legislative power is vested in the parliament consisting of the Bundestag (Federal Diet) and Bundesrat (Federal Council), which together form a unique type of legislative body. The Bundestag is elected through direct elections, by proportional representation (mixed-member). The members of the Bundesrat represent the governments of the sixteen federal states and are members of the state cabinets. The respective state governments have the right to appoint and remove their envoys at any time.
The Bundespr?sident (Federal President)—currently Horst K?hler—is the head of state, invested primarily with representative responsibilities and powers. He is elected by the Bundesversammlung (federal convention), an institution consisting of the members of the Bundestag and an equal number of state delegates. The second highest official in the German order of precedence is the Bundestagspr?sident (President of the Bundestag), who is elected by the Bundestag and responsible for overseeing the daily sessions of the body. The third-highest official and the head of government is the Chancellor, who is nominated by the Bundespr?sident after being elected by the Bundestag. The Chancellor can be removed by a constructive motion of no confidence by the Bundestag, where constructive implies that the Bundestag simultaneously elects a successor.
Since 1949, the party system has been dominated by the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany with all chancellors hitherto being member of either party. However, the smaller liberal Free Democratic Party (which has had members in the Bundestag since 1949) and the Alliance '90/The Greens (which has controlled seats in parliament since 1983) have also played important roles, as they are regularly the smaller partner of a coalition government.
Main article: Judiciary of Germany
The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany in Karlsruhe.
The Judiciary of Germany is independent of the executive and the legislative branches. Germany has a civil or statute law system that is based on Roman law with some references to Germanic law. The Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court), located in Karlsruhe, is the German Supreme Court responsible for constitutional matters, with power of judicial review. It acts as the highest legal authority and ensures that legislative and judicial practice conforms to the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Basic Law). It acts independently of the other state bodies, but cannot act on its own behalf.
Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, 1949.
Germany's supreme court system, called Oberste Gerichtsh?fe des Bundes, is specialised. For civil and criminal cases, the highest court of appeal is the Federal Court of Justice, located in Karlsruhe and Leipzig. The courtroom style is inquisitorial. Other Federal Courts are the Federal Labour Court in Erfurt, the Federal Social Court in Kassel, the Federal Finance Court in Munich and the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.
Criminal law and private law are codified on the national level in the Strafgesetzbuch and the B?rgerliches Gesetzbuch respectively. The German penal system is aimed towards rehabilitation of the criminal; its secondary goal is the protection of the general public. To achieve the latter, a convicted criminal can be put in preventive detention (Sicherungsverwahrung) in addition to the regular sentence if he is considered to be a threat to the general public. The V?lkerstrafgesetzbuch regulates the consequences of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. It gives German courts universal jurisdiction if prosecution by a court of the country where the crime was committed, or by an international court, is not possible.
German state police officer in Hamburg.
Main article: Law enforcement in Germany
Legislative power is divided between the federation and the state level. The Basic Law presumes that all legislative power remains at the state level unless otherwise designated by the Basic Law itself.
Any federal law overrides state law if the legislative power lies at the federal level. A famous example is the purported Hessian provision for the death penalty, which goes against the ban on capital punishment under the Basic Law, rendering the Hessian provision invalid. The Bundesrat is the federal organ through which the states participate in national legislation. State participation in federal legislation is necessary if the law falls within the area of concurrent legislative power, requires states to administer federal regulations, or is so designated by the Basic Law. Every state has its own constitutional court. The Amtsgerichte, Landgerichte and Oberlandesgerichte are state courts of general jurisdiction. They are competent whether the action is based on federal or state law.
Many of the fundamental matters of administrative law remain in the jurisdiction of the states, though most states base their own laws in that area on the 1976 Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz (Administrative Proceedings Act) covering important points of administrative law. The Oberverwaltungsgerichte are the highest level of administrative jurisdiction concerning the state administrations, unless the question of law concerns federal law or state law identical to federal law. In such cases, final appeal to the Federal Administrative Court is possible.