Germany

 

As Europe’s largest economy and second most populous nation, 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, which became 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 unification 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.

 

Geography:
Location: Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, between the Netherlands and Poland, south of Denmark
Geographic coordinates: 51 00 N, 9 00 E
People:
Population: 81,305,856 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.3% (male 5,569,390/female 5,282,245)

15-64 years: 66.1% (male 27,227,487/female 26,617,915)

65 years and over: 20% (male 20.6% (male 7,217,163/female 9,557,634) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Federal Republic of Germany

conventional short form: Germany

local long form: Bundesrepublik Deutschland

local short form: Deutschland

former: German Empire, German Republic, German Reich

Government type: federal republic
Capital: name: Berlin

geographic coordinates: 52 31 N, 13 24 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 45.6 million (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 105 million (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 541 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 322

over 3,047 m: 14

2,438 to 3,047 m: 48

1,524 to 2,437 m: 60

914 to 1,523 m: 70

under 914 m: 130 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr): Army (Heer), Navy (Deutsche Marine, includes naval air arm), Air Force (Luftwaffe), Joint Service Support Command (Streitkraeftebasis), Central Medical Service (ZentralerSanitaetsdienst) (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age (conscripts serve a 9-month tour of compulsory military service) (2004)

Economy:

Germany’s affluent and technologically powerful economy – the fifth largest in the world in PPP terms – showed considerable improvement in 2007 with 2.6% growth. After a long period of stagnation with an average growth rate of 0.7% between 2001-05 and chronically high unemployment, stronger growth led to a considerable fall in unemployment to about 8% near the end of 2007.

 

Among the most important reasons for Germany’s high unemployment during the past decade were macroeconomic stagnation, the declining level of investment in plant and equipment, company restructuring, flat domestic consumption, structural rigidities in the labour market, lack of competition in the service sector, and high interest rates. The modernization and integration of the eastern German economy continues to be a costly long-term process, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $80 billion. The former government of Chancellor Gerhard SCHROEDER launched a comprehensive set of reforms of labour market and welfare-related institutions.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: none
Illicit drugs: source of precursor chemicals for South American cocaine processors; transhipment point for and consumer of Southwest Asian heroin, Latin American cocaine, and European-produced synthetic drugs; major financial centre