|Federal Republic of Germany|
|Flag||Coat of Arms|
Third stanza of
Das Lied der Deutschen
(also called "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit")
|Federal Parliamentary republic|
- Holy Roman Empire
- Federal Republic
2 February 962
18 January 1871
23 May 1949
3 October 1990
|EU Accession||25 March 1957|
- Water (%)
137,847 sq mi
- July 2007 est.
- Per capita
|Currency||Euro (€) (|
- Summer (BST)
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is a country located in Central Europe. It is bordered in the north by the Baltic Sea, Denmark and the North Sea; to the east by Poland and the Czech Republic; to the south by Austria and Switzerland; and to the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The territory of Germany covers 357,021 square kilometers (137,847 sq mi) and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With 81.8 million inhabitants in January 2010, it has the largest population among member states of the European Union, and it is also home to the third-largest number of international migrants worldwide.
Germany is a federal parliamentary republic of sixteen states (Bundesländer). The capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, G8, G20, OECD, and the WTO. It is a major power with the world's fourth largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth largest in purchasing power parity. It is the second largest exporter and third largest importer of goods. In absolute terms, Germany allocates the second biggest annual budget of development aid in the world, while its military expenditure ranked seventh. The country has developed a high standard of living and established a comprehensive system of social security. It holds a key position in European affairs and maintains a multitude of close partnerships on a global level. Germany is recognised as a scientific and technological leader in several fields.
Recent History[edit | edit source]
During the last five years, Germany has been governed by the Free Democratic Party in coalition with the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union. For its first four years in office, some liberalisation measures were initiated with difficulty. Since the 2009 election, the FDP dominates the coalition government, and reform has proceed far more quickly. Deep tax cuts have been implemented, and the government may move forward with special economic zones, particularly in the East. Plans for a private retirement system (along the lines of Australia's superannuation scheme) are in train. The FDP advocates a stronger Bundeswehr, and a stronger role for Germany in global affairs.
States of Germany[edit | edit source]
The Federal Republic of Germany is composed of sixteen states, or Lander. Three of these are city states, the remainder are regional states.
Government[edit | edit source]
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 fundamental principles of the constitution, as expressed in the articles guaranteeing human dignity, the separation of powers, the federal structure, and the rule of law are valid in perpetuity. Despite the initial intention, the Grundgesetz remained in effect after the German reunification in 1990, with only minor amendments.
The Chancellor—currently Christof Wurmheller—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 President, Horst Köhler, is the head of state and 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 Bundestagspräsident (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 appointed by the Bundespräsident 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 has to elect a successor.
Since 1949, the party system has been dominated by the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany with all previous chancellors 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. The Free Democratic Party has since 2005 been Germany's most important party, and has increased its dominance on the right-side of politics. German party politics is now normally expressed in terms of Free Democrats versus Social Democrats rather than the old matching of Christian Democrats versus Social Democrats.
Cabinet of Germany[edit | edit source]
|Federal Chancellor||Christof Wurmheller||Free Democratic Party|
|Federal Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor||Angela Merkel||Christian Democratic Union|
|Federal Minister of Economics and Technology||Rainer Brüderle||Free Democratic Party|
|Federal Minister of Defence||Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg||Christian Social Union|
|Federal Minister of the Interior||Dirk Niebel||Free Democratic Party|
|Federal Minister of Justice||Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger||Free Democratic Party|
|Federal Minister of Health||Philipp Rösler||Free Democratic Party|
|Federal Minister of Finance||Guido Westerwelle||Free Democratic Party|
|Federal Minister of Education and Research||Thomas de Maizière||Christian Democratic Union|
|Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth||Kristina Schröder||Christian Democratic Union|
|Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety||Norbert Röttgen||Christian Democratic Union|
|Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection||Ilse Aigner||Christian Social Union|
|Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs||Alwin Schoepffer||Free Democratic Party|
|Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs||Renate Stahlschmidt||Free Democratic Party|
|Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development||Sebastian Lombard||Free Democratic Party|
|Federal Minister for Special Tasks and Head of the Chancellery||Lili Platzer||Free Democratic Party|
Economy[edit | edit source]
Germany is the largest national economy in Europe, the fourth-largest by nominal GDP in the world, and fifth by GDP (PPP) in 2008. Since the age of industrialisation, the country has been a driver, innovator, and beneficiary of an ever more globalised economy. Germany is the world's second largest exporter with $1.170 trillion exported in 2009 (Eurozone countries are included). Exports account for more than one-third of national output.
Germany is relatively poor in raw materials. Only lignite and potash salt are available in economically significant quantities. Power plants burning lignite are one of the main sources of electricity in Germany. Oil, natural gas and other resources are, for the most part, imported from other countries. Germany imports about two thirds of its energy.
The service sector contributes around 70% of the total GDP, industry 29.1%, and agriculture 0.9%. Most of the country's products are in engineering, especially in automobiles, machinery, metals, and chemical goods. Germany is the leading producer of wind turbines and solar power technology in the world. The largest annual international trade fairs and congresses are held in several German cities such as Hanover, Frankfurt, and Berlin.
Of the world's 500 largest stock market listed companies measured by revenue, the Fortune Global 500, 37 companies are headquartered in Germany. In 2007 the ten biggest were Daimler, Volkswagen, Allianz (the most profitable company), Siemens (one of Europe's largest employers), Deutsche Bank (2nd most profitable company), E.ON, Deutsche Post, Deutsche Telekom, Metro, and BASF. Among the largest employers are also Deutsche Post, Robert Bosch GmbH, and Edeka. Well known global brands are Mercedes Benz, SAP, BMW, Adidas, Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, and Nivea.
As of September 2008, as measured by ILO standards the German unemployment rate was 4.2 percent (compared with 5.4 percent as measured by German standards).
Germany's economy has been in transition from the older social market model to a more market oriented economic model.