Country in Central Europe
Top 10 Germany related articles
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Politics
- 5 Economy
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Culture
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 Sources
- 12 External links
Federal Republic of Germany
Bundesrepublik Deutschland (German)
and largest city
and national language
|Government||Federal parliamentary republic|
|18 January 1871|
|9 November 1918|
|23 March 1933|
|23 May 1949|
|3 October 1990|
|357,022 km2 (137,847 sq mi) (63rd)|
• Water (%)
|1.27 (as of 2015)|
• 2019 estimate
|232/km2 (600.9/sq mi) (58th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2021 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2021 estimate|
• Per capita
very high · 6th
|Currency||Euro (€) (EUR)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
• Summer (DST)
|ISO 3166 code||DE|
Germany (German: Deutschland, German pronunciation: [ˈdɔʏtʃlant]), officially the Federal Republic of Germany,[e] is a country in Central Europe. It is situated between the Baltic and North seas to the north, and the Alps to the south; covering an area of 357,022 square kilometres (137,847 sq mi), with a population of over 83 million within its 16 constituent states. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, and France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands to the west. Germany is the second-most populous country in Europe after Russia, as well as the most populous member state of the European Union. Its capital and largest city is Berlin, and its financial centre is Frankfurt; the largest urban area is the Ruhr.
Various Germanic tribes have inhabited the northern parts of modern Germany since classical antiquity. A region named Germania was documented before AD 100. In the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. Following the Napoleonic Wars and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the German Confederation was formed in 1815. In 1871, Germany became a nation-state when most of the German states unified into the Prussian-dominated German Empire. After World War I and the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the Empire was replaced by the semi-presidential Weimar Republic. The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 led to the establishment of a dictatorship, World War II, and the Holocaust. After the end of World War II in Europe and a period of Allied occupation, Germany was divided into the Federal Republic of Germany, generally known as West Germany, and the German Democratic Republic, East Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany was a founding member of the European Economic Community and the European Union, while the German Democratic Republic was a communist Eastern Bloc state and member of the Warsaw Pact. After the fall of communism, German reunification saw the former East German states join the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990—becoming a federal parliamentary republic led by a chancellor.
Germany is a great power with a strong economy; it has the largest economy in Europe, the world's fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP, and the fifth-largest by PPP. As a global leader in several industrial, scientific and technological sectors, it is both the world's third-largest exporter and importer of goods. As a developed country, which ranks very high on the Human Development Index, it offers social security and a universal health care system, environmental protections, and a tuition-free university education. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the G20, and the OECD. It has the fourth-greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Germany Intro articles: 105
The English word Germany derives from the Latin Germania, which came into use after Julius Caesar adopted it for the peoples east of the Rhine. The German term Deutschland, originally diutisciu land ("the German lands") is derived from deutsch, descended from Old High German diutisc "of the people" (from diot or diota "people"), originally used to distinguish the language of the common people from Latin and its Romance descendants. This in turn descends from Proto-Germanic *þiudiskaz "of the people" (see also the Latinised form Theodiscus), derived from *þeudō, descended from Proto-Indo-European *tewtéh₂- "people", from which the word Teutons also originates.
Germany Etymology articles: 10
Ancient humans were present in Germany at least 600,000 years ago. The first non-modern human fossil (the Neanderthal) was discovered in the Neander Valley. Similarly dated evidence of modern humans has been found in the Swabian Jura, including 42,000-year-old flutes which are the oldest musical instruments ever found, the 40,000-year-old Lion Man, and the 35,000-year-old Venus of Hohle Fels. The Nebra sky disk, created during the European Bronze Age, is attributed to a German site.
Germanic tribes and Frankish Empire
The Germanic tribes are thought to date from the Nordic Bronze Age or the Pre-Roman Iron Age. From southern Scandinavia and north Germany, they expanded south, east, and west, coming into contact with the Celtic, Iranian, Baltic, and Slavic tribes.
Under Augustus, Rome began to invade Germania. In 9 AD, three Roman legions were defeated by Arminius. By 100 AD, when Tacitus wrote Germania, Germanic tribes had settled along the Rhine and the Danube (the Limes Germanicus), occupying most of modern Germany. However, Baden Württemberg, southern Bavaria, southern Hesse and the western Rhineland had been incorporated into Roman provinces. Around 260, Germanic peoples broke into Roman-controlled lands. After the invasion of the Huns in 375, and with the decline of Rome from 395, Germanic tribes moved farther southwest: the Franks established the Frankish Kingdom and pushed east to subjugate Saxony and Bavaria, and areas of what is today eastern Germany were inhabited by Western Slavic tribes.
East Francia and Holy Roman Empire
Charlemagne founded the Carolingian Empire in 800; it was divided in 843 and the Holy Roman Empire emerged from the eastern portion. The territory initially known as East Francia stretched from the Rhine in the west to the Elbe River in the east and from the North Sea to the Alps. The Ottonian rulers (919–1024) consolidated several major duchies. In 996 Gregory V became the first German Pope, appointed by his cousin Otto III, whom he shortly after crowned Holy Roman Emperor. The Holy Roman Empire absorbed northern Italy and Burgundy under the Salian emperors (1024–1125), although the emperors lost power through the Investiture controversy.
Under the Hohenstaufen emperors (1138–1254), German princes encouraged German settlement to the south and east (Ostsiedlung). Members of the Hanseatic League, mostly north German towns, prospered in the expansion of trade. Population declined starting with the Great Famine in 1315, followed by the Black Death of 1348–50. The Golden Bull issued in 1356 provided the constitutional structure of the Empire and codified the election of the emperor by seven prince-electors.
Johannes Gutenberg introduced moveable-type printing to Europe, laying the basis for the democratization of knowledge. In 1517, Martin Luther incited the Protestant Reformation; the 1555 Peace of Augsburg tolerated the "Evangelical" faith (Lutheranism), but also decreed that the faith of the prince was to be the faith of his subjects (cuius regio, eius religio). From the Cologne War through the Thirty Years' Wars (1618–1648), religious conflict devastated German lands and significantly reduced the population.
The Peace of Westphalia ended religious warfare among the Imperial Estates; their mostly German-speaking rulers were able to choose Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, or the Reformed faith as their official religion. The legal system initiated by a series of Imperial Reforms (approximately 1495–1555) provided for considerable local autonomy and a stronger Imperial Diet. The House of Habsburg held the imperial crown from 1438 until the death of Charles VI in 1740. Following the War of Austrian Succession and the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, Charles VI's daughter Maria Theresa ruled as Empress Consort when her husband, Francis I, became Emperor.
From 1740, dualism between the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and the Kingdom of Prussia dominated German history. In 1772, 1793, and 1795, Prussia and Austria, along with the Russian Empire, agreed to the Partitions of Poland. During the period of the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic era and the subsequent final meeting of the Imperial Diet, most of the Free Imperial Cities were annexed by dynastic territories; the ecclesiastical territories were secularised and annexed. In 1806 the Imperium was dissolved; France, Russia, Prussia and the Habsburgs (Austria) competed for hegemony in the German states during the Napoleonic Wars.
German Confederation and Empire
Following the fall of Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna founded the German Confederation, a loose league of 39 sovereign states. The appointment of the Emperor of Austria as the permanent president reflected the Congress's rejection of Prussia's rising influence. Disagreement within restoration politics partly led to the rise of liberal movements, followed by new measures of repression by Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich. The Zollverein, a tariff union, furthered economic unity. In light of revolutionary movements in Europe, intellectuals and commoners started the revolutions of 1848 in the German states, raising the German Question. King Frederick William IV of Prussia was offered the title of Emperor, but with a loss of power; he rejected the crown and the proposed constitution, a temporary setback for the movement.
King William I appointed Otto von Bismarck as the Minister President of Prussia in 1862. Bismarck successfully concluded the war with Denmark in 1864; the subsequent decisive Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 enabled him to create the North German Confederation which excluded Austria. After the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War, the German princes proclaimed the founding of the German Empire in 1871. Prussia was the dominant constituent state of the new empire; the King of Prussia ruled as its Kaiser, and Berlin became its capital.
In the Gründerzeit period following the unification of Germany, Bismarck's foreign policy as Chancellor of Germany secured Germany's position as a great nation by forging alliances and avoiding war. However, under Wilhelm II, Germany took an imperialistic course, leading to friction with neighbouring countries. A dual alliance was created with the multinational realm of Austria-Hungary; the Triple Alliance of 1882 included Italy. Britain, France and Russia also concluded alliances to protect against Habsburg interference with Russian interests in the Balkans or German interference against France. At the Berlin Conference in 1884, Germany claimed several colonies including German East Africa, German South West Africa, Togoland, and Kamerun. Later, Germany further expanded its colonial empire to include holdings in the Pacific and China. The colonial government in South West Africa (present-day Namibia), from 1904 to 1907, carried out the annihilation of the local Herero and Namaqua peoples as punishment for an uprising; this was the 20th century's first genocide.
The assassination of Austria's crown prince on 28 June 1914 provided the pretext for Austria-Hungary to attack Serbia and trigger World War I. After four years of warfare, in which approximately two million German soldiers were killed, a general armistice ended the fighting. In the German Revolution (November 1918), Emperor Wilhelm II and the ruling princes abdicated their positions, and Germany was declared a federal republic. Germany's new leadership signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, accepting defeat by the Allies. Germans perceived the treaty as humiliating, which was seen by historians as influential in the rise of Adolf Hitler. Germany lost around 13% of its European territory and ceded all of its colonial possessions in Africa and the South Sea.
Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany
On 11 August 1919, President Friedrich Ebert signed the democratic Weimar Constitution. In the subsequent struggle for power, communists seized power in Bavaria, but conservative elements elsewhere attempted to overthrow the Republic in the Kapp Putsch. Street fighting in the major industrial centres, the occupation of the Ruhr by Belgian and French troops, and a period of hyperinflation followed. A debt restructuring plan and the creation of a new currency in 1924 ushered in the Golden Twenties, an era of artistic innovation and liberal cultural life.
The worldwide Great Depression hit Germany in 1929. Chancellor Heinrich Brüning's government pursued a policy of fiscal austerity and deflation which caused unemployment of nearly 30% by 1932. The Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler won a special election in 1932 and Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933. After the Reichstag fire, a decree abrogated basic civil rights and the first Nazi concentration camp opened. The Enabling Act gave Hitler unrestricted legislative power, overriding the constitution; his government established a centralised totalitarian state, withdrew from the League of Nations, and dramatically increased the country's rearmament. A government-sponsored programme for economic renewal focused on public works, the most famous of which was the autobahn.
In 1935, the regime withdrew from the Treaty of Versailles and introduced the Nuremberg Laws which targeted Jews and other minorities. Germany also reacquired control of the Saarland in 1935, remilitarised the Rhineland in 1936, annexed Austria in 1938, annexed the Sudetenland in 1938 with the Munich Agreement, and in violation of the agreement occupied Czechoslovakia in March 1939. Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) saw the burning of synagogues, the destruction of Jewish businesses, and mass arrests of Jewish people.
In August 1939, Hitler's government negotiated the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact that divided Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence. On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, beginning World War II in Europe; Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September. In the spring of 1940, Germany conquered Denmark and Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, forcing the French government to sign an armistice. The British repelled German air attacks in the Battle of Britain in the same year. In 1941, German troops invaded Yugoslavia, Greece and the Soviet Union. By 1942, Germany and her allies controlled most of continental Europe and North Africa, but following the Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad, the allies' reconquest of North Africa and invasion of Italy in 1943, German forces suffered repeated military defeats. In 1944, the Soviets pushed into Eastern Europe; the Western allies landed in France and entered Germany despite a final German counteroffensive. Following Hitler's suicide during the Battle of Berlin, Germany surrendered on 8 May 1945, ending World War II in Europe. Following the end of the war, surviving Nazi officials were tried for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials.
In what later became known as the Holocaust, the German government persecuted minorities, including interning them in concentration and death camps across Europe. In total 17 million people were systematically murdered, including 6 million Jews, at least 130,000 Romani, 275,000 persons with disabilities, thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses, thousands of homosexuals, and hundreds of thousands of political and religious opponents. Nazi policies in German-occupied countries resulted in the deaths of an estimated 2.7 million Poles, 1.3 million Ukrainians, 1 million Belarusians and 3.5 million Soviet prisoners of war. German military casualties have been estimated at 5.3 million, and around 900,000 German civilians died. Around 12 million ethnic Germans were expelled from across Eastern Europe, and Germany lost roughly one-quarter of its pre-war territory.
East and West Germany
After Nazi Germany surrendered, the Allies partitioned Berlin and Germany's remaining territory into four occupation zones. The western sectors, controlled by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, were merged on 23 May 1949 to form the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland); on 7 October 1949, the Soviet Zone became the German Democratic Republic (German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik; DDR). They were informally known as West Germany and East Germany. East Germany selected East Berlin as its capital, while West Germany chose Bonn as a provisional capital, to emphasise its stance that the two-state solution was temporary.
West Germany was established as a federal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy". Starting in 1948 West Germany became a major recipient of reconstruction aid under the Marshall Plan. Konrad Adenauer was elected the first Federal Chancellor of Germany in 1949. The country enjoyed prolonged economic growth (Wirtschaftswunder) beginning in the early 1950s. West Germany joined NATO in 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community.
East Germany was an Eastern Bloc state under political and military control by the USSR via occupation forces and the Warsaw Pact. Although East Germany claimed to be a democracy, political power was exercised solely by leading members (Politbüro) of the communist-controlled Socialist Unity Party of Germany, supported by the Stasi, an immense secret service. While East German propaganda was based on the benefits of the GDR's social programmes and the alleged threat of a West German invasion, many of its citizens looked to the West for freedom and prosperity. The Berlin Wall, built in 1961, prevented East German citizens from escaping to West Germany, becoming a symbol of the Cold War.
Tensions between East and West Germany were reduced in the late 1960s by Chancellor Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik. In 1989, Hungary decided to dismantle the Iron Curtain and open its border with Austria, causing the emigration of thousands of East Germans to West Germany via Hungary and Austria. This had devastating effects on the GDR, where regular mass demonstrations received increasing support. In an effort to help retain East Germany as a state, the East German authorities eased border restrictions, but this actually led to an acceleration of the Wende reform process culminating in the Two Plus Four Treaty under which Germany regained full sovereignty. This permitted German reunification on 3 October 1990, with the accession of the five re-established states of the former GDR. The fall of the Wall in 1989 became a symbol of the Fall of Communism, the Dissolution of the Soviet Union, German Reunification and Die Wende.
Reunified Germany and the European Union
United Germany was considered the enlarged continuation of West Germany so it retained its memberships in international organisations. Based on the Berlin/Bonn Act (1994), Berlin again became the capital of Germany, while Bonn obtained the unique status of a Bundesstadt (federal city) retaining some federal ministries. The relocation of the government was completed in 1999, and modernisation of the east German economy was scheduled to last until 2019.
Since reunification, Germany has taken a more active role in the European Union, signing the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and the Lisbon Treaty in 2007, and co-founding the Eurozone. Germany sent a peacekeeping force to secure stability in the Balkans and sent German troops to Afghanistan as part of a NATO effort to provide security in that country after the ousting of the Taliban.
In the 2005 elections, Angela Merkel became the first female chancellor. In 2009 the German government approved a €50 billion stimulus plan. Among the major German political projects of the early 21st century are the advancement of European integration, the energy transition (Energiewende) for a sustainable energy supply, the "Debt Brake" for balanced budgets, measures to increase the fertility rate (pronatalism), and high-tech strategies for the transition of the German economy, summarised as Industry 4.0. Germany was affected by the European migrant crisis in 2015: the country took in over a million migrants and developed a quota system which redistributed migrants around its states.