In Focus: Germany

Europe’s Largest Economy and Crossroads of Culture

In Focus: Germany
The Reichstag building in Berlin is home to the federal parliament of Germany. (Source: Lane Luckie/KLTV staff)

As Europe’s largest economy and second most populous nation (after Russia), Germany is a key member of the continent’s economic, political, and defense organizations. European power struggles immersed Germany in two devastating world wars in the first half of the 20th century and left the country occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union in 1945. With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR). The democratic FRG embedded itself in key western economic and security organizations, the EC (now the EU) and NATO, while the communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German reunification in 1990. Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds to bring eastern productivity and wages up to western standards. In January 1999, Germany and 10 other EU countries introduced a common European exchange currency, the euro.


POPULATION: 80,457,737 (July 2018 est.)

MAJOR URBAN AREAS: Berlin (capital) 3.557 million; Hamburg 1.791 million; Munich 1.521 million; Cologne 1.108 million (2019)

GOVERNMENT TYPE: Federal parliamentary republic

CHIEF OF STATE: President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (since March 19, 2017)

HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: Chancellor Angela Merkel (since November 22, 2005)

NATIONAL SYMBOLS: eagle; National colors: black, red, yellow; Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and gold; these colors have played an important role in German history and can be traced back to the medieval banner of the Holy Roman Emperor - a black eagle with red claws and beak on a gold field. National anthem name: “Das Lied der Deutschen” (Song of the Germans)

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH: bicameral Parliament or Parliament consists of Federal Council or Bundesrat (69 seats; members appointed by each of the 16 state governments) Federal Diet or Bundestag (709 seats - total seats can vary each electoral term; approximately one-half of members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote and approximately one-half directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote; members serve 4-year terms)

JUDICIAL BRANCH: highest courts: Federal Court of Justice (court consists of 127 judges, including the court president, vice presidents, presiding judges, other judges and organized into 25 Senates subdivided into 12 civil panels, 5 criminal panels, and 8 special panels); Federal Constitutional Court or Bundesverfassungsgericht (consists of 2 Senates each subdivided into 3 chambers, each with a chairman and 8 members)

LANGUAGES: German (official); Danish, Frisian, Sorbian, and Romani are official minority languages

RELIGIONS: Roman Catholic 28.2%, Protestant 26%, Muslim 5%, Orthodox 1.9%, other Christian 1.1%, other .9%, none 37% (2017 est.)

GDP: $4.199 trillion (2017 est.)

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 3.8% (2017 est.)

EXPORTS: motor vehicles, machinery, chemicals, computer and electronic products, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals, metals, transport equipment, foodstuffs, textiles, rubber and plastic products. Top export partners include: US 8.8%, France 8.2%, China 6.8%, Netherlands 6.7%, UK 6.6%, Italy 5.1%, Austria 4.9%, Poland 4.7%, Switzerland 4.2% (2017).

IMPORTS: machinery, data processing equipment, vehicles, chemicals, oil and gas, metals, electric equipment, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, agricultural products. Top import partners include: Netherlands 13.8%, China 7%, France 6.6%, Belgium 5.9%, Italy 5.4%, Poland 5.4%, Czechia 4.8%, US 4.5%, Austria 4.3%, Switzerland 4.2% (2017).

MILITARY BRANCHES: Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr): Army (Heer), Navy (Deutsche Marine, includes naval air arm), Air Force (Luftwaffe), includes air defense), Joint Support Service (Streitkraeftebasis, SKB), Central Medical Service (Zentraler Sanitaetsdienst, ZSanDstBw), Cyber and Information Space Command (Kommando Cyber- und Informationsraum, Kdo CIR) (2019).


REFUGEES AND INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS: refugees (country of origin): 532,065 (Syria), 136,463 (Iraq), 126,018 (Afghanistan), 55,334 (Eritrea), 41,150 (Iran), 24,036 (Turkey), 23,581 (Somalia), 9,155 (Serbia and Kosovo), 8,119 (Russia), 7,454 (Pakistan), 6,453 (Nigeria) (2018).

Source: 2019 CIA World Factbook

KLTV & KTRE journalist Lane Luckie is in Germany for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Click here for our special coverage.

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