Germany is a country located in Central Europe, which is officially named the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland). On October 3, 1990 Germany's East and West became one nation under unification, the capital city now being Berlin. Germany has the second largest population in Europe with eighty two million, next to that of the Soviet Union. Germany's land borders are with Denmark on the north, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France on the west, Switzerland and Austria on the south, and Czechoslovakia and Poland on the east and southeast. The present leader of Germany is Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who was elected October 27, 1998 and is now serving his second term in office. Germany's currency is the 'Euro,' which is a common currency among twelve other European nations.
Germany's flag consists of three equal horizontal strips of black, red, and gold. The flag symbolizes German unity. Germans believe the colors in the flag have a meaning, black represents 'out of the darkness,' red represents 'through blood', and finally gold which represents 'into sunshine. ' The flag was adopted in 1990 when East and West Germany unified. Major German cities include: Berlin (3.4 million), Hamburg (1.7 million), M"u nchen (Munich) (1.2 million), K"aln (Cologne) (964,000), Frankfurt, Essen, D", Stuttgart, Dresden, Hanover, and Both. All these major cities have a wonderful cultural history; consisting of over two-hundred theatres and opera houses, one-hundred large orchestras, and more than two-thousand museums amongst them.
Most of the cultural ongoing's in Germany are financed by the state and local governments. Music plays an important role in Germany's culture with such well-known artists as: Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig von Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn, and Franz Schubert. Germans take great pride in the long list of great people who made music famous both in Germany and around the world. German people also enjoy sports and recreation; the most popular of which is soccer called Fussball. A favorite winter sport is skiing. Germany consists of four major land regions: the Northern Plains, the Central Highlands, the Alpine Foothills, and the Rhine River Valley.
Major rivers include the Danube, Elbe, Neisse, Oder, Peen e, Reknit, Rhine, Sale, War now, We rra, and W esser. The Bavarian Alps of Germany are part of the largest mountain system in Europe, while forests cover neatly 30% of Germany. The climate in Germany is mild, the average temperature in January, the coldest month in the year is about 30^0 F; the hottest month, July has an average of about 70^0 F. Germans have a very definite eating pattern, consisting of a main meal generally served at noon (our dinner time), and a light supper is served in the evening (our lunchtime). German beer and wine are world famous for their high quality. Some popular German food items are sauerkraut, sauerbraten, bratwurst, frankfurters, limburger, and munster cheeses, apple strudel, and gum mi bears (they were invented in Germany.) Germany has a good manufacturing ability; they produce iron and steel, automobiles and trucks, locomotives and ships, cement, clothing, electronics, processed foods, beer, metal, leather goods, scientific instruments, machinery, chemicals, fertilizers, drugs, plastic toys, wood pulp, and paper. Germany's principal products are agriculture, sheep, hogs, poultry, dairy products, potatoes, barley oats, rye, sugar beets, wheat's, apples, and grapes for whine making.
Germany mines coal, iron, ore, lead, petroleum, rock salt, zinc, copper, tin, uranium, and potash with great success. Germany has many varied communication sources; they have four-hundred daily newspapers, and twelve-thousand five hundred different magazines are published there. Most German homes have T. V's, radios, and computers. All postal, telegraph, and telephone systems are owned by the German government. Germany's transportation system is versatile. The railroad is run by the government, as well as, the government owned airline (Deutsche) Lufthansa; which can fly into any of Germany 30 commercial airports.
Autobagnen are well-known four-lane super highways, which have no speed limit and run East all over the country. The Rhine River and it's boundaries are very important to water transportation, where German cities Hamburg and Bremen are major seaports for trade. Germans primary religion is Protestant (38%) with Catholicism a close second (34%), 28% consists of Judaism, Islam, and other religions. Germany's educational system is free and is controlled by the state government.
Every child between the ages of six and fourteen must attend school. All children spend four years in primary school (Grund schule), followed by five years at secondary school (Gymnasium). Students who finish secondary school usually become apprentices for three years, so they can learn a trade. There are one-hundred ninety five universities, and other institutions of higher learning in Germany, as well as, more than twenty five art and music academies. The 2003 literary rate in Germany was 99%; therefore, proving a highly successful educational system. Germany has an extensive system of social security and welfare.
It covers old-age pensions, unemployment (2005 unemployment rate is 4.8 million), sickness benefits, allowances for injury, rent, and child care, as well as, grants for education and job training. About one-third of Germany's gross national product is spent on social security. Germany also suffers from a housing shortage, and rents remain high. Most people live in apartments, while few people own homes, since land is very expensive.
Germany is a strong force in Europe, which has many good cultural, educational, and social ideas. The United States and Germany have maintained a good relationship over the years, and hopefully will continue to do so.