Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany (Template:Audio-de, Template:IPA2), is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered to the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic 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 km² and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With over 82 million inhabitants, it comprises the largest population among the member states of the European Union and is home to the third-highest number of international migrants worldwide.
A region named Germania inhabited by several Germanic peoples has been known and documented before 100 AD. Since the 10th century German territories have formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire that lasted until 1806. During the period, in the 16th century, the northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. As a modern nation-state, the country was first unified amidst the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. After World War II, Germany was divided into two separate states along the lines of allied occupation in 1949. The two states became reunified again in 1990. West Germany was a founding member of the EC in 1957, which became the European Union in 1993. It is part of the borderless Schengen zone and adopted the European currency, the euro, in 1999.
Germany is a federal parliamentary republic of sixteen states (Template:Lang). The capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G8, the G4 nations, and signed the Kyoto protocol. It is the world's third largest economy by nominal GDP and the largest exporter of goods in 2007. In absolute terms, Germany allocates the second biggest annual budget of development aid in the world, while its military expenditure ranked sixth. 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 recognized as a scientific and technological leader in several fields.
- 1 Germany at the Olympics
- 2 German post-WW2 division until 1990
- 3 Germany at Olympia
- 4 Germany at Summer Games
- 5 Timeline of Germany at the Summer Olympics
- 6 Separate German teams 1952 - 1988
- 7 Medal tables
- 8 Geography
- 9 Government
- 10 Foreign relations
- 11 Law
- 12 Demographics
- 13 Economy
- 14 Science
- 15 Culture
- 16 Germany
- 16.1 Background
- 16.2 External Links
- 16.3 Insights
- 16.4 Details
- 16.5 Languages
- 16.6 People
- 16.7 A for Athlete
- 16.8 Olympics
- 16.9 Sport in Society
- 16.10 Media
- 16.11 Open Source
- 16.12 Places
- 16.13 Business
- 16.14 Government
- 16.15 Rivals
- 16.16 History
- 16.17 Travel
- 16.18 Music
- 16.19 Dates
- 16.20 Insights
Germany at the Olympics
Germany have taken part in most of the Olympic Games since the first modern Games in 1896, scoring more than 500 Gold medals, second only to the USA. Germany has hosted three Olympic Games, the 1936 Olympics (both the winter and summer) and the 1972 Olympics (summer). In addition, Germany had been selected to host the 1916 Summer Olympics as well as the 1940 Winter Olympics, which both had to be canceled due to the World Wars. After these wars, in 1920, 1924 and 1948, Germans were banned from participating, and while being divided, each German state has chosen to boycott once in the 1980s.
Up to 2006, Germans have won 1,548 medals, 503 gold, 519 silver and 526 bronze. The IOC currently splits these results among four codes, even though only the East German GDR was a separate team competing with the team that represented Germany (GER).
Some German residents get referendum on 2018 Olympics
In March 2011, there was news that the people of Garmisch-Partenkirchen will get a vote on whether they are for or against their community hosting the Alpine skiing if Munich wins its bid to stage the 2018 Olympics. 
German post-WW2 division until 1990
The IOC in 1950 recognized an Nationales Olympisches Komitee für Deutschland for all of Germany, based in (West) Germany.
Due to the Cold War, an East German state (German Democratic Republic) was created in 1949, and a separate National Olympic Committee (NOC) for East Germany was created in 1951. It was not recognized by the IOC which until 1965 required that athletes of the NOC of East Germany join the German team represented by the NOC of (West) Germany. This team, which competed together from 1956 to 1964, is nowadays called the United Team of Germany (EUA, "Equipe Unifiée Allemande"), but was Germany (GER) then. As a result of the Berlin Wall dividing Germany, since 1968 two independent teams competed at each Games, designated GER for the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and GDR for the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). In 1980 the West Germany code was changed to FRG (which is nowadays also applied in retrospect). After the GDR ceased to exist in 1990 when its states joined the Federal Republic of Germany, Germany once again was represented by a single team (designated GER, as usual).
Additionally, in the early 1950s the French-occupied Saar had its own NOC and competed at the 1952 Summer Olympics before joining the German Olympic team in 1956, and the (West) German state by 1957.
Germany at Olympia
The history of Germany at Olympia predates the First Olympics of 1896, as exclusive access rights to excavate the ancient Greek site have been granted to German Empire archaeologists in 1874. Since 1875, systematic excavations are undertaken by several German expeditions and initiatives.
Nadine Kleinert won a silver medal at the ancient site as the shot put contests of the 2004 Summer Olympics were held there.
Germany at Summer Games
Athletes from Germany (GER) have appeared in only 22 of the 25 editions of the Summer Olympic Games as they were not invited to three events after the World Wars, in 1920, 1924 and 1948. Germany hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice, the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, and the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
The nation appeared 12 times as a single country (IOC code GER), before World War II and again after German reunification in 1990. Three times, from 1956 to 1964, German athletes from the separate states in West and East competed as a United Team of Germany, which is currently listed by the IOC as EUA, not GER.
Due to partition under occupation that resulted in three post-war German states, German athletes took part seven times for the contemporary states they lived in, in 1952, and from 1968 to 1988. The all-time results of German athletes are thus divided among the designations GER, EUA, FRG, GDR and also SAA (the Saarland only took part in the 1952 Summer games and won no medal).
Germany headed into 2008 Olympics
Germany aim to stop the slide in Beijing
- July 15, 2008
Germany topped the medal table at the 2006 Olympics in Turin. The modest and precise Germans decide to keep their feet firmly planted on earth headed into Beijing as they aim to at least match the sixth-place finish they achieved in Athens in 2004.
"We have not set gold medal targets yet, but we aim to consolidate the status we have achieved in Athens. Because I believe the competition in Beijing will be very fierce," Thomas Bach, president of the German Olympic Committee (GOC), told Xinhuain a May 29, 2008 interview.
GOC downsized its projection for Beijing based on the backslide in the last Olympics.
Germany won 57 medals including 14 golds and finished fifth on the medal tally in 2000 Olympics in Sydney. But in Athens in 2004, Germany only won 49 in total with 13 golds and was surpassed by the resurgent Japan, well behind superpowers United States, China, Russia and Australia.
If they hope to stop the slide in the sweltering heat in August, the "ice and snow kings" had to fuel their medals drive on the traditional disciplines.
Canoeing, handball, women's football, and the equestrian are the Germans' favorite events in summer Olympics.
In Athens, the canoeing team gained four golds and nine medals in total. However, German's dominance on the water might be challenged with the retirement of 46-year-old ace kayaker Birgit Fisher, who has won eight gold medals over a record of six different Olympics including twice representing East Germany.
With her absence, the 21-year-old promising star Fanny Fischer, who have picked up two golds in 2007 World Championships, is tipped to play a leading role in kayak's K2 class.
Up to now, more than 200 German athletes have qualified for 29th Olympics, with a total of 450 expected to constitute the final delegation, the biggest in the Western Europe.
Among them, Britta Steffen, the former world holder of women's 100 meters freestyle, would become one of Germany's brightest prospects in the pool. However, the current holder and Sydney Olympics gold medalist, Libby Trickett from Australia, will pose threat to the 24-year-old German.
In team sports, after wining the 2007 World Cup in China, Germany's women footballers has the strength to clinch the gold and to overthrow the United States' longtime dominance in the Olympic arena.
As the 2007 world champions, the German men's handball team hopes to bounce back from the bitter defeat to Croatia in the finale in 2004 Olympics in Athens and decides to grab their first Olympic gold medal in 28 years.
German men's basketball team has not qualified yet as they finished fifth in the European Championships and missed the direct chance to progress early to Beijing. Dirk Nowitzki, the NBA All-Star forward-led team has still to battle for one of three tickets left in the Athens qualifying tournament from July 14-20.
Though the other 11 opponents including regional powerhouses like Greece and Brazil will make a desperate fight, Germany could still take the initiative as they were bolstered by the joining of Chris Kaman. The powerful center from Los Angeles Clipper has accepted his German passport and will make up the desirable inside dominance together with Dirk. Having never finished higher than seventh in Olympics arena, Germans have reason to go one better in Beijing.
In athletics, Germans could hardly challenge the United States and Russia, especially after Lars Riedel retired early this month from a discus throw career that included an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta and five world titles.
Germany's equestrian team was deprived of three gold medals in Athens due to the accusation that the champion horses "gold fever", "cockatoo" and "gold love" had taken the performance enhancing drugs.
German riders aim to prove their strength and reputation in the saddle again this time especially after they won the world championships in Aachen earlier this month.
Timeline of Germany at the Summer Olympics
1896 - 1912
Germany entered all Olympic Games starting in 1896, even though the relations between the German Empire under Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the French Third Republic where Pierre de Coubertin revived Olympic games and held the 1900 Summer Olympics, were strained following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71. The overall medals ranks varied from 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th to 7th.
The worst result, 7th overall, occurred in Paris in 1900. The German gymnasts were judged no better than 53rd in the single gymnastic contest organized by the French, behind dozens of Frenchmen which occupied the first 18 places and thus won all 3 medals. In contrast, the Gymnastics at the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens had seen 8 contests, with Germans scoring 5 Gold, 3 Silver and 2 Bronze.
The anticipated 1916 Summer Olympics, which were to be officially known as the Games of the VI Olympiad, were to have been held in Germany's capital, Berlin. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, organization continued, as no one foresaw the war dragging on for four years. Eventually, though, the games were canceled.
1920 - 1948
After World War I, the German Empire became a republic informally known as Weimar Republic, a change which was reflected in a new flag of Germany that in fact was older than the former one, dating back to early 19th century democratic movements. In the Paris Peace Conference, the outbreak of the war was blamed on Germany and other Central Powers allies. These nations, which by now had new governments, were banned from the 1920 Summer Olympics. While all other banned nations were invited again for the 1924 Summer Olympics, held for the second time in Pierre de Coubertin's home town of Paris, the ban on Germany was not lifted until 1925. This was likely related to French Occupation of the Ruhr and the Rheinland between 1923 and 1925.
After 16 years of absence, a new generation of German athletes returned in the 1928 Summer Olympics, scoring 2nd overall in a convincing comeback. Held during the worldwide Great Depression, fewer than half the number of participants from the 1928 Games appeared in the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Winning only 3 Gold, the German team was ranked as low as 9th, even though they were joint 2nd in Silver medals, with 12.
Already in spring of 1931 it had been decided that the 1936 Summer Olympics were to be held in Berlin, 20 years later than planned. From 1933 onwards, Germany became known as Nazi Germany, the change being marked also by the use of the Nazi party flag. In the games, the 348 German athletes not only outnumbered the 310 Americans, but outscored them for the first time in the medal count in which Germany ranked first. Also, German gymnasts Konrad Frey and Alfred Schwarzmann won the most medals, with 6 and 5 in total, of which 3 each were Gold, while American Jesse Owens had scored 4 Gold. Leni Riefenstahl documented the games in the film Olympia.
The 1940 Summer Olympics as well as the 1944 Summer Olympics had to be canceled due to World War II. For the 1948 Summer Olympics, with the war in recent memory, Germany and Japan were not invited.
Separate German teams 1952 - 1988
A United Team of Germany with athletes from two states appeared three times at the Olympic games from 1956 to 1964. The IOC currently does not attribute these results to Germany (GER), but lists them separately as "Equipe Unifiée Allemande" (EUA).
Before that, in the 1952 games, only athletes from the Western part of Germany took part, representing the Federal Republic of Germany (GER), which as the only independent democratic state, covering the largest part of Germany, claimed Exclusive mandate to represent all of Germany. In the 1952 Summer games, also German athletes from the Saarland (SAA) took part. They had to field a separate team as the French-occupied state could join the democratic Federal Republic of Germany only after 1955.
West Germany used the code GER at the Games from 1968 to 1976, although their athletes' participation at these Games is now coded under FRG by the IOC. The code FRG was first used in 1980.
Athletes from the Soviet-occupied German Democratic Republic (GDR) appeared in a separate team after the United Team effort was discontinued. In five events, from 1968 to 1980 and in 1988, they represented the GDR rather successfully before the East German states joined the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, and the GDR ceased to exist.
Since 1990, the enlarged Federal Republic of Germany is simply called Germany (GER). The six participations in 1952, 1968 to 1976, 1984 to 1988 are still listed by the IOC under FRG, though, and not attributed to GER.
In the 1980s, each of the two states participated once in the multinational boycotts of Summer games. Many western countries including the Federal Republic of Germany boycotted the Moscow games in 1980 due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In turn, communist bloc states including the GDR boycotted Los Angeles in 1984. Thus, only one German team was present in each of these two events.
FRG (West Germany)
The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), often called West Germany, was founded in 1949 as the largest of the three German states formed under occupation after the division of Germany following World War II. The West German NOC continued the tradition of the German NOC that had joined the IOC in 1895, and continued to represent the Germany that was enlarged after the Saar protectorate (SAA) joined the Federal Republic of Germany in 1956, and after the states of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) (East Germany) had joined in the process of German reunification in 1990.
German teams competed in the 1952 Summer Olympic Games designated as GER and SAA. In Olympic Games in 1956, 1960 and 1964, German athletes competed as United Team of Germany (EUA), but the two states sent independent teams designated as West and East Germany after that for five Games between 1968 and 1988 until the separate East German state ceased to exist.
United Team of Germany 1956-1964
After three German states had been founded in Germany under occupation after World War II, athletes from the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) competed together as the United Team of Germany (EUA for Template:Lang-fr, Template:Lang-de) in the 1956, 1960, and 1964 Winter and Summer Olympics.
Prior to that, German athletes from West Germany and the French-occupied Saarland took part in the 1952 Summer Olympics organized in different teams designated as GER and SAA. The Saarland joined the Federal Republic after 1955, while the East German authorities, which had not taken part in 1952, agreed in 1956 to let their athletes compete in a united team that used the black-red-gold tricolour Flag of Germany, but with additional Olympic rings in white placed upon the red middle stripe as East German politicians were eager not to compete under the traditional plain German flag used both by West Germany and even themselves. Only in 1959, the GDR added socialist symbols to create a distinct Flag of East Germany. As the use of the Deutschlandlied, dating back to 1841 and 1797, of the recently created East German anthem, or of possible combinations was also rejected, Beethoven's melody to Schiller's Ode an die Freude (Ode to Joy) was played for winning German athletes as a compromise in lieu of a national anthem.
During the Games of 1956, 1960 and 1964 the traditional abbrevation GER for Germany was used, or rather the equivalents in the language of the host country. In Innsbruck in 1964, the Austrians just used the International license plate codes, D for Deutschland (Germany), or F for France. The IOC code currently uses EUA (from the official French-language IOC designation, Equipe Unifiée Allemande) and applies this in hindsight for the United German Team. No reasoning is given, it may be done to allow for the political circumstances during the German divide between 1949 and 1990, and the involvement of two National Olympic Committees rather than only one.
Despite initially calling for a "united Germany" in the East German anthem, the socialist East German government intensified their separation in Germany, with the erection of the Berlin Wall in August of 1961 obstructing travel within Germany even more. The travel of GDR athletes, e.g. to contests and training sites in the Alps, was limited due to fear of Republikflucht.
As a result of this development, German athletes started in the 1968 Winter Olympics as separate West and East teams, while still using the compromise flag and Beethoven anthem in that year. The French organizers used the codes ALL (Allemagne, Germany) and ADE (Allemagne de'Est, East Germany), which roughly correspond to the IOC codes GER and GDR.
The separation was completed at the 1972 Summer Olympics with the use of separate flags and anthems. It continued until the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist after 1989, with their states joining the Federal Republic of Germany in the process of German Reunification in 1990.
Medals by Games
- Main article: All-time Olympic Games medal count
|1904 St. Louis||4||4||5||13||2nd||Template:FlagIOC|
|1920 Antwerp||–||–||–||–||–||not invited|
|1924 Paris||–||–||–||–||–||not invited|
|1932 Los Angeles||3||12||5||20||9th||Template:FlagIOC|
|1936 Berlin (host nation)||33||26||30||89||1st||Template:FlagIOC|
|1948 London||–||–||–||–||–||not invited|
|1968 Mexico City||5||11||10||26||8th||Template:FlagIOC|
|1972 Munich (host nation)||13||11||16||40||4th||Template:FlagIOC|
|1980 Moscow||boycotted||–||Template:Flagicon West Germany|
|1984 Los Angeles||17||19||23||59||3rd||Template:FlagIOC|
|boycotted||–||Template:Flagicon East Germany|
Medals by sport (as GER)
These totals do not include the one gold and one silver medal won by Germany in figure skating at the 1908 Summer Olympics.
Medals by sport (GDR)
Medals by sport (as FRG)
Medals by sport (as EUA)
Division and reunification (1945–1990)
- Main article: History of Germany since 1945
The war resulted in the death of nearly ten million German soldiers and civilians; large territorial losses; the expulsion of about 15 million Germans from its former eastern territories and other countries; and the destruction of multiple major cities. The national territory and Berlin were partitioned by the Allies into four military occupation zones. The sectors controlled by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States were merged on 23 May 1949, to form the Federal Republic of Germany; on 7 October 1949, the Soviet Zone established the German Democratic Republic. They were informally known as "West Germany" and "East Germany" and the two parts of Berlin as "West Berlin" and "East Berlin". The eastern and western countries opted for East Berlin and Bonn as their respective capitals. However, West Germany declared the status of its capital Bonn as provisional, in order to emphasize its stance that the two-state solution was an artificial status quo that was to be overcome one day.
West Germany — established as a liberal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy" — was allied with the United States, the UK and France. The country eventually came to enjoy prolonged economic growth beginning in the early 1950s (Template:Lang). West Germany joined NATO in 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1958. Across the border, East Germany was at first occupied by, and later (May 1955) allied with, the USSR. An authoritarian country with a Soviet-style command economy, but many of its citizens looked to the West for political freedoms and economic prosperity. The Berlin Wall, built in 1961 to stop East Germans from escaping to West Germany, became a symbol of the Cold War. However, tensions between East and West Germany were somewhat reduced in the early 1970s by Chancellor Willy Brandt's Template:Lang, which included the de facto acceptance of Germany's territorial losses in World War II.
In the face of a growing migration of East Germans to West Germany via Hungary and mass demonstrations during the summer of 1989, East German authorities unexpectedly eased the border restrictions in November, allowing East German citizens to travel to the West. Originally intended as a pressure valve to retain East Germany as a state, the opening of the border actually led to an acceleration of the reform process in East Germany, which finally concluded with the Two Plus Four Treaty a year later on 12 September, 1990 and German reunification on 3 October 1990. Under the terms of the treaty, the four occupying powers renounced their rights under the Instrument of Surrender, and Germany regained full sovereignty. Based on the Bonn-Berlin-Act, adopted by the parliament on 10 March 1994, the capital of the unified state was chosen to be Berlin, while Bonn obtained the unique status of a Bundesstadt (federal city) retaining some federal ministries. The move of the government was completed in 1999.
Since reunification, Germany has taken a leading role in the European Union and NATO. Germany sent a peacekeeping force to secure stability in the Balkans and sent a force of German troops to Afghanistan as part of a NATO effort to provide security in that country after the ousting of the Taliban. These deployments were controversial, since after the war, Germany was bound by law to only deploy troops for defence roles. Deployments to foreign territories were understood not to be covered by the defence provision; however, the parliamentary vote on the issue effectively legalised the participation in a peacekeeping context. Template:Clear
- Main article: Geography of Germany
The territory of Germany covers Template:Convert, consisting of Template:Convert of land and Template:Convert 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 Template:Convert) 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 Template:Convert below sea level), traversed by some of Europe's major rivers such as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe. Because of its central location, 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.
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 peninsula of Jutland and 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 there 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. Template:Clear
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.
Germany is known for its environmental consciousness. Germans consider anthropogenic causes to be a major factor in global warming. The state is committed to the Kyoto protocol and several other treaties promoting biodiversity, low emission standards, recycling, the use of renewable energy and supports sustainable development on a global level.
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 is among the highest in the EU but remains significantly lower compared to Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia or 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 eastern Germany have been reduced. The government under Chancellor Schröder announced intent to end the use of nuclear power for producing electricity. Germany is working to meet EU commitment to identify nature preservation areas in line with the EU's Flora, Fauna, and Habitat directive. Germany's last glaciers in Alpine regions is experiencing deglaciation. Natural hazards are river flooding in spring and stormy winds occurring in all regions.
- Main article: Politics of Germany
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.
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, yet abiding proportional representation. 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 Bundespräsident (President)—currently Horst Köhler—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 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 nominated 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 elects a successor.
Since 1949, the party system has been dominated by the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany although smaller parties, such as the 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.
- Main article: States of Germany
Germany comprises 16 states (Länder, Bundesländer), which are further subdivided into 439 districts (Kreise) and cities (kreisfreie Städte) (2004).
- Main article: Foreign relations of Germany
Germany has played a leading role in the European Union since its inception and has maintained a strong alliance with France since the end of World War II. The alliance was especially close in the late 1980s and early 1990s under the leadership of Christian Democrat Helmut Kohl and Socialist François Mitterrand. Germany is at the forefront of European states seeking to advance the creation of a more unified and capable European political, defence and security apparatus.
Since its establishment on 23 May 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany kept a notably low profile in international relations, because of both its recent history and its occupation by foreign powers. During the Cold War, Germany's partition by the Iron Curtain made it a symbol of East-West tensions and a political battleground in Europe. However, Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik was a key factor in the détente of the 1970s. In 1999 Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government defined a new basis for German foreign policy by taking a full part in the decisions surrounding the NATO war against Yugoslavia and by sending German troops into combat for the first time since World War II.
Germany and the United States are close allies. The 1948 Marshall Plan, U.S. support (JCS 1067) during the rebuilding process (Industrial plans for Germany) after World War II, as well as fraternisation (War children) and food support (food policy) and strong cultural ties have crafted a strong bond between the two countries, although Schröder's very vocal opposition to the Iraq War suggested the end of Atlanticism and a relative cooling of German-American relations. The two countries are also economically interdependent; 8.8% of German exports are U.S.-bound and 6.6% of German imports originate from the U.S. The other way around, 8.8% of U.S. exports ship to Germany and 9.8% of U.S. imports come from Germany. Other signs of the close ties include the continuing position of German-Americans as the largest ethnic group in the U.S. and the status of Ramstein Air Base (near Kaiserslautern) as the largest U.S. military community outside the U.S. Template:Clear
The development policy of the Federal Republic of Germany is an independent area of German foreign policy. It is formulated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and carried out by the implementing organisations. The German government sees development policy as a joint responsibility of the international community.
Germany's official development aid and humanitarian aid for 2007 amounted to 8.96 billion euros (12.26 billion dollars), an increase of 5.9 per cent from 2006. It has become the world's second biggest aid donor after the United States. Germany spent 0.37 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on development, which is below the government's target of increasing aid to 0.51 per cent of GDP by 2010. The international target of 0.7% of GNP would have not reached either.
- Main article: Bundeswehr
Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, is a defence force with Heer (Army), Marine (Navy), Luftwaffe (Air Force), Zentraler Sanitätsdienst (Central Medical Services) and Streitkräftebasis (Joint Support Service) branches. Military Service is compulsory for men at the age of 18, and conscripts serve nine-month tours of duty. Conscientious objectors may instead opt for an equal length of Zivildienst (roughly translated as civilian service), or a six year commitment to (voluntary) emergency services like a fire department, the Red Cross or the THW. In 2003, military spending constituted 1.5% of the country's GDP. In peacetime, the Bundeswehr is commanded by the Minister of Defence, currently Franz Josef Jung. If Germany went to war, which according to the constitution is allowed only for defensive purposes, the Chancellor would become commander in chief of the Bundeswehr.
As of October 2006, the German military had almost 9,000 troops stationed in foreign countries as part of various international peacekeeping forces, including 1,180 troops stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina; 2,844 Bundeswehr soldiers in Kosovo; 750 soldiers stationed as a part of EUFOR in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and 2,800 German troops in the NATO-led ISAF force in Afghanistan. As of February 2007, Germany had about 3,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, the third largest contingent after the United States (14,000) and the United Kingdom (5,200).
- Main article: Judiciary of Germany
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.
Germany's supreme court system, called Oberste Gerichtshöfe des Bundes, is specialized. 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 Bürgerliches 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 (Sicherheitsverwahrung) in addition to the regular sentence if he is considered to be a threat to the general public. The Völkerstrafgesetzbuch 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.
- 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. In some areas, federal and state level have concurrent legislative power. In such cases, the federate level has power to legislation "if and to the extent that the establishment of equal living conditions throughout the federal territory or the maintenance of legal or economic unity renders federal regulation necessary in the national interest" (Art. 72 Basic Law).
Any federal law overrides state law if the legislative power lies at the federal level. A famous example is the Hessian permission of the death penalty that goes against the ban of capital punishment by 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 if designated so by the Basic Law. Every state with the exception of Schleswig-Holstein (whose constitutional jurisdiction is exercised by the Bundesverfassungsgericht in procuration) has its own constitutional courts. 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 in 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) in important points of administrative law. The Oberverwaltungsgerichte are the highest levels in 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.
- Main article: Germans
With over 82 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous country in the European Union. However, its fertility rate of 1.39 children per mother is one of the lowest in the world, and the federal statistics office estimates the population will shrink to between 69 and 74 million by 2050 (69 million assuming a net migration of +100,000 per year; 74 million assuming a net migration of +200,000 per year). Germany has a number of larger cities, the most populous being Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt and Stuttgart. By far the largest conurbation is the Rhine-Ruhr region, including Düsseldorf (the capital of NRW) and the cities of Cologne, Essen, Dortmund, Duisburg, and Bochum.
As of December 2004, about seven million foreign citizens were registered in Germany, and 19% of the country's residents were of foreign or partially foreign descent. The young are more likely to be of foreign descent than the old. 30% of Germans aged 15 years and younger have at least one parent born abroad. In the big cities 60% of children aged 5 years and younger have at least one parent born abroad. The largest group (2.3 million) is from Turkey, and a majority of the rest are from European states such as Italy, Serbia, Greece, Poland, and Croatia. The United Nations Population Fund lists Germany as host to the third-highest number of international migrants worldwide, about 5% or 10 million of all 191 million migrants, or about 12% of the population of Germany. As a consequence of restrictions of Germany's formerly rather unrestricted laws on asylum and immigration, the number of immigrants seeking asylum or claiming German ethnicity (mostly from the former Soviet Union) has been declining steadily since 2000. Template:Clear
- Main article: Religion in Germany
Christianity is the largest religious denomination in Germany with 53 million adherents (64%). The second largest religion is Islam with 3.3 million adherents (4%) followed by Buddhism and Judaism, both with around 200,000 adherents (ca. 0.25%). Hinduism has some 90,000 adherents (0.1%). All other religious communities in Germany have fewer than 50,000 (or less than 0.05%) adherents. About 24.4 million Germans (29.6%) have no registered religious denomination.
Protestantism is concentrated in the north and east and Roman Catholicism is concentrated in the south and west. Both denominations comprise about 31% of the population each. The current Pope, Benedict XVI, was born in Bavaria. Non-religious people, including atheists and agnostics amount to 29.6% of the population, and are especially numerous in the former East Germany and major metropolitan areas.
Of the 3.3 million Muslims most are Sunnis and Alevites from Turkey, but there are a small number of Shiites. 1.7% of the country's overall population declares themselves Orthodox Christians, Serbs and Greeks being the most numerous. Germany has Western Europe's third-largest Jewish population. In 2004, twice as many Jews from former Soviet republics settled in Germany as in Israel, bringing the total Jewish population to more than 200,000, compared to 30,000 prior to German reunification. Large cities with significant Jewish populations include Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. Around 250,000 active Buddhists live in Germany; 50% of them are Asian immigrants.
According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2005, 47% of German citizens agreed with the statement "I believe there is a God", whereas 25% agreed with "I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 25% said "I do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force".
- Main article: German language
German is the official and predominantly spoken language in Germany. It is one of 23 official languages in the European Union, and one of the three working languages of the European Commission, along with English and French. Recognized native minority languages in Germany are Danish, Sorbian, Romany and Frisian. They are officially protected by the ECRML. Most used immigrant languages are Turkish, Polish, the Balkan languages and Russian.
The standard German is a West Germanic language and is closely related to and classified alongside English, Dutch and the Frisian languages. To a lesser extent, it is also related to the East (extinct) and North Germanic languages. Most German vocabulary is derived from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Significant minorities of words derived from Latin, Greek, a smaller amount from French, and most recently English (known as Denglisch). German is written using the Latin alphabet. In addition to the 26 standard letters, German has three vowels with Umlaut, namely ä, ö and ü, as well as the Eszett or scharfes S (sharp s) which is written "ß" or alternatively " ss ".
German dialects are distinguished from varieties of standard German. The German dialects are the traditional local varieties and are traced back to the different German tribes. Many of them are not easily understandable to someone who knows only standard German, since they often differ from standard German in lexicon, phonology and syntax.
Around the world, German is spoken by approximately 100 million native speakers and also about 80 million non-native speakers. German is the main language of about 90 million people (18%) in the EU. 67% of the German citizens claim to be able to communicate in at least one foreign language, 27% in at least two languages other than their own.
Germany’s solar power plants produced a record 22 gigawatts of energy on a Friday in May 2012, equivalent to the output of 20 nuclear plants. The country is already a world-leader in solar power and hopes to be free of nuclear energy by 2022.
- Main article: Economy of Germany
Germany is the largest national economy in Europe, the third largest by nominal GDP in the world, and ranked fifth by GDP (PPP) . Growth in 2007 was 2.4% and is predicted to retain this level in the following years. Since the age of industrialisation the country has been motor, innovator and beneficiary of an ever more globalized economy. The export of goods "Made in Germany" is one of the main factors of the country's wealth. Germany is the world's top exporter with $1.133 trillion exported in 2006 (Eurozone countries are included) and generates a trade surplus of €165 billion . The service sector contributes around 70% to the total GDP, the 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.
Among the world's largest stock market signed companies measured by revenue, the Fortune Global 500, 37 companies are headquartered in Germany. The ten biggest are Daimler, Volkswagen, Allianz (the most profitable company), Siemens, 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 and Edeka. Well known global brands are Mercedes Benz, SAP, BMW, adidas, Audi, Porsche and Nivea.
Germany is a strong advocate of closer European economic and political integration, and its commercial policies are increasingly determined by agreements among European Union (EU) members and EU single market legislation. Germany uses the common European currency, the euro, and its monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. After the German reunification in 1990, the standard of living and annual income remains significantly higher in the former West German states. The modernisation and integration of the eastern German economy continues to be a long-term process scheduled to the year 2019, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $80 billion. The overall unemployment rate has consistently fallen since 2005 and reached a 15-year low in June 2008 with 7.5%. The percentage is ranging from 6.2% in former Western Germany to 12.7% in former Eastern Germany. The former government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder launched a comprehensive set of reforms of labour market and welfare-related institutions. The current government runs a restrictive fiscal policy and has cut regular jobs in the public sector aiming for a balanced federal budget in 2008.
- Main article: Energy in Germany
In 2002 Germany was the world's fifth largest consumer of energy, and two-thirds of its primary energy was imported. In the same year, Germany was Europe's largest consumer of electricity; electricity consumption that year totalled 512.9 billion kilowatt-hours. Government policy emphasizes conservation and the development of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, biomass, hydro, and geothermal. As a result of energy-saving measures, energy efficiency (the amount of energy required to produce a unit of gross domestic product) has been improving since the beginning of the 1970s. The government has set the goal of meeting half the country's energy demands from renewable sources by 2050. In 2000 the government and the German nuclear power industry agreed to phase out all nuclear power plants by 2021. However, renewable energy is playing a more modest role in energy consumption. In 2006 energy consumption was met by the following sources: oil (35.7%) , coal, including lignite (23.9%) , natural gas (22.8%) , nuclear (12.6%) , hydro and wind power (1.3%) , and other (3.7%).
By its central position in Europe, Germany is an important transportation hub. This is reflected in its dense and modern transportation networks. Probably most famous is the extensive motorway (Autobahn) network that ranks worldwide third largest in its total length and features lack of blanket speed limits on the majority of routes.
Germany has established a polycentric network of high-speed trains. The InterCityExpress or ICE is predominantly serving major German cities and destinations in neighbouring countries. The train speed varies from 160 km/h to 300 km/h and is the most advanced service category of the Deutsche Bahn. Connections are offered in either 30-minute, hourly or bi-hourly intervals. Template:-
- Main article: Science and technology in Germany
Germany has been the home of some of the most prominent researchers in various scientific fields. The Nobel Prize has been awarded to 100 German laureates. The work of Albert Einstein and Max Planck was crucial to the foundation of modern physics, which Werner Heisenberg and Max Born developed further. They were preceded by physicists such as Hermann von Helmholtz, Joseph von Fraunhofer, and Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit. Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays, an accomplishment that made him the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. In Germany and many other countries X-rays are called "Röntgenstrahlen" (Röntgen-rays). Heinrich Rudolf Hertz's work in the domain of electromagnetic radiation was pivotal to the development of modern telecommunication. Through his construction of the first laboratory at the University of Leipzig in 1879, Wilhelm Wundt is credited with the establishment of psychology as an independent empirical science. Alexander von Humboldt's work as a natural scientist and explorer was foundational to biogeography.
Numerous significant mathematicians were born in Germany, including Carl Friedrich Gauss, David Hilbert, Bernhard Riemann, Gottfried Leibniz, Karl Weierstrass and Hermann Weyl. Germany has been the home of many famous inventors and engineers, such as Johannes Gutenberg, who is credited with the invention of movable type printing in Europe; Hans Geiger, the creator of the Geiger counter; and Konrad Zuse, who built the first fully automatic digital computer. German inventors, engineers and industrialists such as Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, Otto Lilienthal, Gottlieb Daimler, Rudolf Diesel, Hugo Junkers and Karl Benz helped shape modern automotive and air transportation technology.
Important research institutions in Germany are the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft and the Fraunhofer Society. They are independently or externally connected to the university system and contribute to a considerable extent to the scientific output. The prestigious award Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize is granted to ten scientists and academics every year. With a maximum of €2.5 million per award it is one of highest endowed research prizes in the world.
- Main article: Education in Germany
Responsibility for educational oversight in Germany lies primarily with the federal states individually whilst the government only has a minor role. Optional kindergarten education is provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is compulsory for at least nine years. Primary education usually lasts for four years and public schools are not stratified at this stage. In contrast, secondary education includes four types of schools based on a pupil's ability as determined by teacher recommendations: the Gymnasium includes the most gifted children and prepares students for university studies and attendance lasts eight or nine years depending on the state; the Realschule has a broader range of emphasis for intermediary students and lasts six years; the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education, and the Gesamtschule or comprehensive school combines the three approaches.
The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, assesses the skills of 15-year olds in OECD countries and a number of partner countries. In 2006, German schoolchildren improved their position on previous years, being ranked (statistically) significantly above average (rank 13) in science skills and statistically not significantly above or below average on mathematical skills (rank 20) and reading skills (rank 18). The socio-economic gradient was very high in Germany, the pupils' performance in Germany being more dependent on the socio-economic factors than in most other countries.
To enter a university, high school students are required to take the Abitur examination, similar to A-levels; however, students possessing a diploma from a vocational school may also apply to enter. A special system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung allows pupils in vocational training to learn in a company as well as in a state-run school. Most German universities are state-owned and charge for tuition fees ranging from €50–500 per semester from each student.
Germany's universities are recognised internationally, indicating the high education standards in the country. In the 2006 THES - QS World University Rankings, 10 German universities were ranked amongst the top 200 in the world. Template:-
- Main article: Culture of Germany
Germany is often called Das Land der Dichter und Denker (the land of poets and thinkers). German culture began long before the rise of Germany as a nation-state and spanned the entire German-speaking world. From its roots, culture in Germany has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular. As a result, it is difficult to identify a specific German tradition separated from the larger framework of European high culture. Another consequence of these circumstances is the fact, that some historical figures, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Kafka and Paul Celan, though not citizens of Germany in the modern sense, must be seen in the context of the German cultural sphere to understand their historical situation, work and social relations.
Germany claims some of the world's most renowned classical music composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner. As of 2006, Germany is the fifth largest music market in the world and has influenced pop and rock music through artists such as Kraftwerk, Scorpions and Rammstein.
Numerous German painters have enjoyed international prestige through their work in diverse artistic currents. Hans Holbein the Younger, Matthias Grünewald, and Albrecht Dürer were important artists of the Renaissance, Caspar David Friedrich of Romanticism, and Max Ernst of Surrealism. Architectural contributions from Germany include the Carolingian and Ottonian styles, which were important precursors of Romanesque. The region later became the site for significant works in styles such as Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. Germany was particularly important in the early modern movement, especially through the Bauhaus movement founded by Walter Gropius. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, also from Germany, became one of world's most renowned architects in the second half of the 20th century. The glass facade skyscraper was his idea.
German literature can be traced back to the Middle Ages and the works of writers such as Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Various German authors and poets have won great renown, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. The collections of folk tales published by the Brothers Grimm popularized German folklore on the international level. Influential authors of the 20th century include Thomas Mann, Berthold Brecht, Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Böll, and Günter Grass.
Germany's influence on philosophy is historically significant and many notable German philosophers have helped shape western philosophy since the Middle Ages. Gottfried Leibniz's contributions to rationalism, Immanuel Kant's, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling's and Johann Gottlieb Fichte's establishment of the classical German idealism, Karl Marx's and Friedrich Engels' formulation of Communist theory, Arthur Schopenhauer's composition of metaphysical pessimism, Friedrich Nietzsche's development of Perspectivism, Martin Heidegger's works on Being, and the social theories of Jürgen Habermas were especially influential.
Germany's television market is the largest in Europe, with some 34 million TV households. The many regional and national public broadcasters are organised in line with the federal political structure. Around 90% of German households have cable or satellite TV, and viewers can choose from a variety of free-to-view public and commercial channels. Pay-TV services have not become popular or successful while public TV broadcasters ZDF and ARD offer a range of digital-only channels.
Germany is home to some of the world's largest media conglomerates, including Bertelsmann and the publisher Axel Springer. Some of Germany's top free-to-air commercial TV networks are owned by ProSiebenSat1.
The country's news is provided in English by news magazine Der Spiegel, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle and news site The Local.
- Main article: Cinema of Germany
German cinema dates back to the very early years of the medium with the work of Max Skladanowsky. It was particularly influential during the years of the Weimar Republic with German expressionists such as Robert Wiene and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. Austria-based director Fritz Lang, who became a German citizen in 1926 and whose career flourished in pre-war German film industry, is said to be a major influence on Hollywood cinema. His silent movie Metropolis (1927) is referred to as birth of modern Science Fiction movies.
In 1930 Austrian-American Josef von Sternberg directed The Blue Angel, which was the first major German sound film and it brought world fame to actress Marlene Dietrich. Impressionist documentary Berlin: Symphony of a Great City directed by Walter Ruttmann, is a prominent example of the city symphony genre. The Nazi era produced mostly propaganda films although the work of Leni Riefenstahl still introduced new aesthetics in film.
During the 1970-80s, New German Cinema directors such as Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder placed West-German cinema back onto the international stage with their often provocative films.
More recently, films such as Das Boot (1981) , Lola rennt (Run Lola Run) (1998) , Das Experiment (2001) , Good Bye Lenin! (2003) , Gegen die Wand (Head-on) (2004) and Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004) have enjoyed international success. The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film went to the German production Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) in 1979, to Nowhere in Africa in 2002, and to Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) in 2007. Among the most famous German actors are Marlene Dietrich, Klaus Kinski, Hanna Schygulla, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Jürgen Prochnow and Thomas Kretschmann.
The Berlin Film Festival, held annually since 1951, is one of the world's foremost film festivals. An international jury places emphasis on representing films from all over the world and awards the winner with the Golden and Silver Bears. The annual European Film Awards ceremony is held every second year in the city of Berlin, where the European Film Academy (EFA) is located. The Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam are the oldest large-scale film studios in the world and a centre for international film production.
- Main article: Sport in Germany
Sport forms an integral part of German life. Twenty-seven million Germans are members of a sports club and an additional twelve million pursue such an activity individually. Football (soccer) is the most popular sport. With more than 6.3 million official members, the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund ) is the largest sports organisation of this kind worldwide. The Bundesliga attracts the second highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world. The German national football team won the FIFA World Cup in 1954, 1974 and 1990 and the European Football Championship in 1972, 1980 and 1996. Germany has hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1974 and 2006 and the UEFA European Football Championship in 1988. Among the most successful and renowned footballers are Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Jürgen Klinsmann, Lothar Matthäus, and Oliver Kahn. Other popular spectator sports include handball, volleyball, basketball, ice hockey, and tennis.
Germany is one of the leading motorsports countries in the world. Race winning cars, teams and drivers have come from Germany. The most successful Formula One driver in history, Michael Schumacher has set the most significant motorsport records during his career and won more Formula One championships and races than any other driver since Formula one's debut season in 1946. He is one of the highest paid sportsmen in history and became a Billionaire athlete. Constructers like BMW and Mercedes are among the leading teams in motorsport sponsoring. Porsche has won the 24 hours of Le Mans, a prestigious annual race held in France, 16 times. The Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters is a popular series in Germany.
Historically, German sportsmen have been some of the most successful contenders in the Olympic Games, ranking third in an all-time Olympic Games medal count, combining East and West German medals. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, Germany finished sixth in the medal count, while in the 2006 Winter Olympics they finished first. Germany has hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice, in Berlin in 1936 and in Munich in 1972. The Winter Olympic Games took place once in 1936 when they were staged in the Bavarian twin towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen. Template:-
- Main article: German cuisine
German cuisine varies greatly from region to region. The southern regions of Bavaria and Swabia, for instance, share a culinary culture with Switzerland and Austria. Pork, beef, and poultry are the main varieties of meat consumed in Germany, with pork being the most popular. Throughout all regions, meat is often eaten in sausage form. More than 1500 different types of sausage are produced in Germany. The most popular vegetables are potatoes, cabbage, carrots, turnip, spinach and beans. Organic food has gained a market share of around 3.0% and is predicted to be an increasing trend.
A popular saying in Germany is: "Breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, and dine like a beggar." Breakfast is usually a selection of cereals and jam or honey with bread. Some Germans eat cold meats or cheese with bread for breakfast. More than 300 types of breads, sold in bakery shops, are known throughout the country.
As a country with many immigrants, Germany has adopted many international dishes into its cuisine and daily eating habits. Italian dishes like Pizza and Pasta, Turkish and Arab dishes like Döner Kebab and Falafel are well established, especially in bigger cities. International burger chains, as well as Chinese and Greek restaurants, are widespread. Indian, Thai, Japanese, and other Asian cuisines have gained popularity in recent decades. Among high-profile restaurants in Germany the Michelin guide has awarded three stars, the highest designation, to nine restaurants; 15 more received two stars. German restaurants have become the world's second most decorated after eateries in France.
Although wine is becoming more popular in many parts of Germany, the national drink is beer. German beer consumption per person is declining but at 116 litres annually it is still among the highest in the world. Beer varieties include Alt, Bock, Dunkel, Kölsch, Lager, Malzbier, Pils, and Weizenbier. Among 18 surveyed western countries, Germany ranked 14th in the list of per capita consumption of soft drinks in general, while it ranked third in the consumption of fruit juices. Furthermore, sparkling mineral water and Schorle (its mixture with fruit juice) are extremely popular in Germany.
Germany has promoted itself as Land of ideas. A campaign that has started in the year 2006 accompanying the Football World Cup Finals finds its continuation in 2008. The campaign focuses recent innovations in public and private institutions, universities and research institutes, companies, as well as social and cultural projects.
Since the World Cup celebrations the internal and external perception of the country's image has changed. In regularly conducted global surveys known as the Anholt GMI Index, Germany as a nation brand, has become significantly and repeatedly higher ranked after the football tournament. Besides economic criteria people were asked to assess a country's reputation in terms of culture, politics, its people and its attractiveness to tourists. Germany has been named the world's most valued nation brand among 36 countries. Another global opinion poll for the BBC revealed that Germany is recognized for the most positive influence in the world, leading 22 investigated countries. A majority of 56% have a positive view of the country, while 18% have a negative view.
Germany is a legally and socially tolerant country towards homosexuals. Civil unions have been permitted since 2001. Gays and lesbians can legally adopt their partner's biological children (stepchild adoption). The two mayors of the largest German cities Berlin and Hamburg are openly gay politicians.
During the last decade of the 20th century Germany has transformed its attitude towards immigrants considerably. Until the mid-nineties the opinion was widespread that Germany is not a country of immigration in spite of an approximately 10% population of non-German origin. After the end of the influx of so-called Gastarbeiter (blue-collar guest-workers), refugees were a tolerated exception to this point of view. Today the government and the German society are acknowledging the opinion, that controlled immigration should be allowed based on the qualification of immigrants.
With an expenditure of €58 billion for international travel in 2005, Germans invested more money in travel than any other country. Most popular destinations were Austria, Spain, Italy and France. Template:Clear
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- Fans want Nowitzki to be German flag bearer - 07/30/08 - FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Fans of Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki have mounted an internet campaign they hope will lead to his selection as Germany's flag bearer at the Beijing Olympics.
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- German swimmers getting fast new suit for 2008 Olympics - 06/08/08 - BERLIN (AP) -- The LZR Racer has triggered a wave of world records in the pool. Now German swimmers say they could be clad in an even better high-tech suit at the Beijing Olympics.