Berlin is the capital of reunited Germany since 1990. Until that moment in time Germany was divided by force for 45 years during the Cold War.. The city of Berlin has emerged as a international cultural centre and an area of rapid development since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990.
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.
Germany’s affluent and technologically powerful economy – the fifth largest in the world in PPP terms – showed considerable improvement in 2006 with 2.2% growth. After a long period of stagnation with an average growth rate of 0.7% between 2001-05 and chronically high unemployment, stronger growth has led to a considerable fall in unemployment to about 7% at the end of 2006. 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 labor 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 labor market and welfare-related institutions. The current government of Chancellor Angela MERKEL has initiated other reform measures, such as a gradual increase in the mandatory retirement age from 65 to 67 and measures to increase female participation in the labor market. Germany’s aging population, combined with high chronic unemployment, has pushed social security outlays to a level exceeding contributions, but higher government revenues from the cyclical upturn in 2006 reduced Germany’s budget deficit to within the EU’s 3% debt limit. Corporate restructuring and growing capital markets are setting the foundations that could help Germany meet the long-term challenges of European economic integration and globalization.
Even more information:
- AudioTravel Guides – Audio city guides for Germany featuring interactive city maps online that show the locations of the cities’ attractions, cafes and restaurants including pictures and descriptions.
- German Wine Route – Pictures and information about the towns and villages on the German Wine Route in Rhineland-Palatinate in southwest Germany.
- GermanSpots.com – Facts and impressions, as well as some language snippets.
- Germany is wunderbar – Showcases the nation’s finest travel destinations and inspirations, as chosen by two independent experts.
- Germany Road Ways – Two On The Loose – Two-week car trip in Germany. Photos, history, comments, links. No tours, no reservations.
- Germany travel guide by German Places – Germany travel portal with information, sights, pictures and tips for tourists with destination Germany
- Karwendel Alps – Guide for holidays with a description of ski resorts in the Karwendel area, the sights and the hiking & mountainbiking tours.
- Live Like a German – Provides special trips, unique activities, travel ideas, and user reviews about interesting destinations.
- Logis & Bike – Providing passionate cyclists with an efficient way to search cycling paths of France and Germany. Also presenting information about recommended regions, departments and beautiful towns.
- Lonely Planet – Germany – Comprehensive facts and advice for traveling along with background material on the culture and history of the country.
- Romantic Road Germany – Guide to the tourist route from Würzburg to Füssen, with descriptions of towns, photo galleries, travel details and accommodation.
- Roy Kift, the official home page – Germany: guide books in English to the Ruhrgebiet and the Bergisch Land.
- Travel.State.Gov – Germany – Offers travel information including Quick Facts, embassies and consulates, entry and exit requirements, safety and security, local laws, health, transportation and Fact Sheet. From the U.S. Department of State.
- Travelnotes.org – Tourist information with details about travel to and around the country.
- Travels Through Germany – Travel and tourism information including sections on weather, calendar of events, accommodation and regional resources.
- The Travelzine.com – Don and Linda Freedman share their personal experience of traveling around Germany. Enjoy Baden-Baden, Freiburg and Heidelberg travelogues and great pictures.
- Welcome to the Bavarian Forest – Information about traveling, visiting and accommodation in the Bavarian Forest.
- World Travel Guide – Germany – Tourist and business travel information with facts on climate, visa, health, passport, currency and customs requirements.