Germany Basic Facts Germany is in central Europe, at 50 degrees latitude, and 10 degrees longitude. It is bordered by Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Austria, Czechs Republic, And Poland. The capitol of Germany is Berlin. The population of Germany is 81,264,000. The estimated population for Germany in the year 2000 is 82,583,000. Germany is smaller than Texas, or about 4 1/2% of the size of the U.S.A.
The German flag has black, red, and gold, horizontal stripes without any symbols on it. In 1950 when Germany was divided, West Germany’s flag was black, red, and dark gold, with no symbols. East Germany’s flag was black, red and, yellow with a coat of arms symbol in the middle. After Germany became reunited, the flag was changed to black, red, and gold stripes, with no symbols on it. These colors have been associated with German unity since the 1800’s. The Land In Germany some interesting places are: The Rhine River,the Olympic Stadium in Munich, the Bavarian Alps where the Newschwanstein Castle is, the Black Forest, the Harz Mountains, and Berlin.
There are many natural resources in Germany. Germany is bordered by the North and Baltic Seas. These have busy shipping ports. There are also four main rivers in Germany. In the West is the Rhine River, the Danube is in the South, the Oder is in the East, and the Elbe and the Weser Rivers are in the north.
The soil in Germany varies. The North German plains has soil that is soft and fertile. Much of the rest of Germany has rocky soil. The minerals in Germany are: Coal, potash, lignite, iron, and uranium. There are mines in Germany but are mainly coal. There is a large variety of plants in Germany.
They range from crops in the large German plain to fir and spruce trees in the Black Forest. They have the same kinds of domestic animals we do, and as well as forest animals. In the North German Plain which is mostly farm area, there are sheep, cattle, horses, hogs, poultry, and dairy cows. There are five different land regions in Germany. The first is the North German Plain.
It is the largest land region, and is low and nearly flat. The southern edge of this area has very fertile soil. There are many farms here, and many people here and in cities such as Bonn, and Cologne. The second land region is The Central Highlands. This area is a series of plateaus that range from almost flat to mountainous.
There are steep, narrow valleys, and the Rhine River runs through this area. It is one of the most beautiful sights in Germany. The South German Hills, have long parallel ridges that go from southwest to northeast. Sheep are raised here, and the lowlands between the ridges have some of the best farm lands in Germany. The fourth land region in Germany is The Black Forest.
Many old German legends and fairy tails take place here. The Black Forest gets it’s name from the thick forests of dark fir and spruce trees that are on the mountainsides. The fifth land region is the Bavarian Alps. It is part of the largest mountain system in Europe, the Alps. They rise more than 6,000 feet, and Zugspitze is the highest point in Germany at 9,721 feet.
This region has many lakes formed by ancient glaciers, and mountain streams flow into the Danube River. The People The money that is used in Germany is the Deutsche Mark. The Deutsche Mark comes in a variety of colors. For example, the twenty marks is blue, and the one hundred marks in green. There are also coins. Education is very important in Germany.
They have a public education system that is controlled by the individual states. All children must go to school for 9 or 10 years. After elementary school there are schools to choose from. The Gymnasium is a traditional junior and senior high school that prepares students for the university. Intermediate schools have academic subjects and job training, and Hauptschulen are vocational schools which mainly have job training.
Comprehensive schools combine all three types of schools. Germany has many universities and technical colleges. The University of Heidelberg was founded in 1386, and is the oldest University in Germany. The main sports played in Germany are soccer, gymnastics, tennis, horse back riding, and some snow sports like ice skating, and skiing. Other recreation is biking, camping, and hiking.
The holidays celebrated in Germany are the same ones as the United States, such as Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day. On November 1, they celebrate All Saints’ Day instead of Halloween on October 31. But there are many local celebrations that are special to each region. Munich celebrates Oktoberfest, which actually starts in September, and has parades, singing, and lots of food. The Oberammergau Passion Play is a festival that takes place every year and thousands of people perform in a play about Christ’s suffering. This was started in 1634 when the people of Oberammergau prayed to be spared from a terrible plague, and promised to perform a passion play every year.
The plague did not come to Oberammergau, and so the Passion Play is put on every year. Nearly every region has some kind of Sommerfest or Tanzfest (dance festival) where people dress up in the special costumes for that region. There is always lots of music, food, and dancing. The jobs and industries in Germany are a lot like here. Manufacturing is the main source for the economy. There are many factories that produce iron and steel, and there are chemical and textile industries also. The steel is often used to make cars, and Germany is the third largest automobile manufacturer in the world.
The service industries are in community, government and personal services. Community services include jobs in education and health care, and personal services include such jobs as repair shops and beauty salons. Mining is also an industry in Germany. Potash and rock salt are mined, as well as low quality coal called lignite. Some lead, copper, petroleum, tin, uranium and zinc are mined in Germany too. There is agriculture in Germany with potatoes being one of the largest crops.
Grains are grown there such as barley, oats, rye, and wheat. Sugar beets, vegetables, apples, grapes, and other fruits are important crops. There are vineyards near the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, and some farmers raise beef and dairy cattle, hogs, horses, poultry and sheep. Many great people in art, music, and literature came from Germany. In literature and philosophy from about 1750 to 1830, there was Johann von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Heinrech von Kleist, and many other novelists. Political writers were Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel, and Frederich Nietzsche, among others.
German composers are very well known, and include Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner, Strauss and Schoenberg. Mozart can also be considered German, as Austria was historically connected to other German states. During the Renaissance, German artists created some wonderful paintings and engravings. Albrecht Durer and Hans Holbein the Younger are famous for portraits and other paintings. Matthias Grunewald painted religious art, and in the 1800’s Caspar David Friedrich was an important painter in the romantic period. Max Beckmann was among the German painters that developed the Expressionist style. Other areas of artistic accomplishments are architecture, with Walter Gropius who founded an important school of design in 1919, and film making done by Fritz Lang.
He directed a silent film in 1926 called Metropolis. Transportation in Germany is done in cars on the Autobahn, which is like a freeway. Germany has one of the highest ownerships of cars in the world. They also travel by buses and airplanes like we do. The Germans enjoy riding bikes, and use them for transportation sometimes, but mainly as recreation with families or friends.
Germany has a very big railroad, and many people ride the trains for long trips as well as shorter commutes. Boats are used for transportation because of the many rivers in Germany. Also, the North and Baltic Seas border Germany, and ships and boats are used there, too. Boating on the Rhine and other rivers is often recreational as well. Walking is a form of transportation that the Germans enjoy. They walk a lot to get to where they want to go, but walking and hiking are part of the recreation that Germans like to do.
The houses in Germany do not have as much space as many of the homes in the United States. They are built closer together and are smaller. In some cities there are housing shortages. Most of the houses are fairly modern. Many homes were destroyed in World War II, and were rebuilt. There are apartments in Germany, too.
Some of the houses in the farmlands are very old. A common type of German farm home is the Bauernhof. It is a single building containing both a house and a barn. Many have been remodeled inside so the people can gave more space, but some still have animals living in the barn half. The Government The government of Germany is a federal republic.
The people elect their representatives by secret ballot. There is a parliament which has two houses, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. The main leader is the chancellor, and Helmut Kohl is the current leader in Germany. He can remain in office for five years. The Bundestag chooses the head of the government by having the people vote for deputies who then choose the leader from the strongest party.
Religion The main religion in Germany is Christianity. It is 45 per cent protestant, mainly Lutheran. Forty per cent are Catholic, and two per cent are Muslim. There are about 40,000 Jews in Germany. Fashion The fashion in Germany is the same as the United States.
But many years ago each region had its own outfits that were special to that area. When someone from one region traveled to another region, the people could tell where they were from just by their clothes. Today, the people of the different regions dress up in costumes for special celebrations that show what region they are from. For example, in the area of Bavaria, the costumes for the girls are black sleeveless dresses which are worn over a lacy white blouse. A white apron is worn over the skirt, and a white shawl is on the girl’s shoulders. On the front of her outfit is embroidery and artificial gold coins sewn on.
A little black hat with a small brim and a white feather is also worn. The boys wear lederhosen, which are short leather pants with a bib, like overalls. These often have embroidery on the front, too. Food The German people eat meals which usually have potatoes and pork, veal or fish. They don’t eat as much beef as we do in the United States.
They are famous for the many varieties of bread (called Brot), sausages (Wurst), and sauerkraut, which is pickled cabbage. Sauerkraut and sausages were created many years ago as a way of preserving cabbage and meat. They enjoy vegetables and fruit, especially apples. They make many different kinds of cheese, such as Munster and Limburger, which are named after the regions in Germany where they are made. Germany is also well known for beer and wine.
There are many varieties of German beer and wine, also depending on the regions where they are made. Cakes (torten) are a favorite treat in Germany, and there are many types such as Black Forest Cherry Cake (Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte), and cheesecakes topped with fruit. Many Germans enjoy an afternoon treat of “Kaffee und Kuchen”, which means coffee and cake. The idea of having special cakes with coffee is where the idea of “coffee cake” comes from.