Geography of Germany

Learn Information about the Central European Country of Germany

German flag on a map

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Germany is a country located in Western and Central Europe. Its capital and largest city is Berlin, but other large cities include Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, and Frankfurt. Germany is one of the most populous countries of the European Union and has one of the largest economies in Europe. It is known for its history, high standard of living, and cultural heritage.

Fast Facts: Germany

  • Official Name: Federal Republic of Germany
  • Capital: Berlin
  • Population: 80,457,737 (2018)
  • Official Language: German
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Form of Government: Federal parliamentary republic
  • Climate: Temperate and marine; cool, cloudy, wet winters and summers; occasional warm mountain wind
  • Total Area: 137,846 square miles (357,022 square kilometers)
  • Highest Point: Zugspitze at 9,722 feet (2,963 meters)
  • Lowest Point: Neuendorf bei Wilster at –11.5 feet (–3.5 meters)

History of Germany: Weimar Republic to Today

According to the U.S. Department of State, in 1919 the Weimar Republic was formed as a democratic state but Germany gradually began to experience economic and social problems. By 1929, the government had lost much of its stability as the world entered a depression and the presence of dozens of political parties in Germany's government hampered its ability to create a unified system. By 1932, the National Socialist Party (Nazi Party) led by Adolf Hitler was growing in power and in 1933 the Weimar Republic was mostly gone. In 1934 President Paul von Hindenburg died and Hitler, who had been named Reich Chancellor in 1933, became Germany's leader.

Once the Nazi Party took power in Germany, nearly all democratic institutions in the country were abolished. In addition, Germany's Jewish people were jailed, as were any members of opposing parties. Shortly thereafter, the Nazis began a policy of genocide against the country's Jewish population. This later became known as the Holocaust and around six million Jewish people in both Germany and other Nazi-occupied areas were killed. In addition to the Holocaust, Nazi governmental policies and expansionist practices eventually led to World War II. This later destroyed Germany's political structure, economy, and many of its cities.

On May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered and the United States, United Kingdom, USSR, and France took control under what was called Four Power Control. Initially, Germany was to be controlled as a single unit, but eastern Germany soon became dominated by Soviet policies. In 1948, the USSR blockaded Berlin and by 1949 East and West Germany were created. West Germany, or the Federal Republic of Germany, followed principles set forth by the U.S. and U.K., while East Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union and its communist policies. As a result, there was severe political and social unrest in Germany throughout most of the mid-1900s and in the 1950s millions of East Germans fled to the west. In 1961, the Berlin Wall was constructed, officially dividing the two.

By the 1980s, pressure for political reform and German unification was growing and in 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and in 1990 the Four Power Control ended. As a result, Germany began to unify itself and on December 2, 1990, it held the first all-German elections since 1933. Since the 1990s, Germany has continued to regain its political, economic, and social stability and today it is known for having a high standard of living and a strong economy.

Government of Germany

Today, Germany's government is considered a federal republic. It has an executive branch of government with a chief of state who is the country's president and a head of government who is known as the chancellor. Germany also has a bicameral legislature made up of the Federal Council and the Federal Diet. Germany's judicial branch consists of the Federal Constitutional Court, the Federal Court of Justice, and the Federal Administrative Court. The country is divided into 16 states for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Germany

Germany has a very strong, modern economy that is considered the fifth largest in the world. In addition, according to the CIA World Factbook, it is one of the world's most technologically advanced producers of iron, steel, coal, cement, and chemicals. Other industries in Germany include machinery production, motor vehicle manufacture, electronics, shipbuilding, and textiles. Agriculture also plays a role in Germany's economy and the main products are potatoes, wheat, barley, sugar beets, cabbage, fruit, cattle, pigs, and dairy products.

Geography and Climate of Germany

Germany is located in Central Europe along the Baltic and North Seas. It also shares borders with nine different countries—some of which include France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Belgium. Germany has a varied topography with lowlands in the north, the Bavarian Alps in the south, and uplands in the central part of the country. The highest point in Germany is Zugspitze at 9,721 feet (2,963 m), while the lowest is Neuendorf bei Wilster at -11 feet (-3.5 m).

The climate of Germany is considered temperate and marine. It has cool, wet winters and mild summers. The average January low temperature for Berlin, the capital of Germany, is 28.6 degrees (-1.9˚C) and the average July high temperature the city is 74.7 degrees (23.7˚C).

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