Germany is one of the world's leading industrialized countries, located in the heart of Europe. It is bordered to the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea, to the south by Austria and Switzerland, to the west by France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and to the east by Poland and the Czech Republic. The territory covers around 350,000 square kilometers and is populated by 82 million people.
Germany is a democratic federal parliamentary state with 16 federal states, which in certain fields of political activities act independently of the Federation. The Federal Republic of Germany is a member state of the United Nations, NATO, the G8 nations, and a founding member of the European Union.
Some of Europes major rivers run through Germany, for example Rhine, Danube and Elbe. Around one third of Germany is covered by forests. In the south of Germany the elevation from the mountains of the Alps is up to almost 3000 meters, whereas the north of Germany with its shores is located at sea level.
Germany has a temperate seasonal climate. In summertime (June-August) the temperature is mainly 20-30°C with longer dry or rainfall periods. Sometimes the temperature can exceed 30°C. In wintertime (November-February) the temperature is mainly 0-10°C with periods of rain or snow. In some winters the temperature can even drop below -10°C. There is much more snow in the more elevated regions of Germany compared to the lower regions.
Germany has a number of large cities, the most popular are Berlin (capital), Hamburg, Munich and Cologne with more than 1 million inhabitants each. But there are also large areas for nature and recreation.
Christianity is the largest religious domination in Germany, almost equally divided into Catholics and Protestants. Protestantism is concentrated in the north and east and Roman Catholicism in the west and south of Germany.
German is the official and mainly spoken language in Germany and is written using the Latin alphabet. The German alphabet has three additional vowels with Umlauts: ä, ö, ü. Furthermore the letter ß (Eszett, spoken like s) is used in some words. Most of the younger German people also speak English, some also other European languages.
The currency in Germany is the Euro. 1 Euro is divided into 100 Cents. It is a European currency that is used in more than 20 European countries. Credit cards are accepted in bigger shops, but it is most common to pay cash, especially in smaller shops.
Since the age of industrialization Germany has been a global player in economy and is one of the worlds largest export nations today. Most of the country's products are developed and produced in the field of engineering, especially in automobiles, machinery, metals, and chemical goods. Many international companies have their headquarters in Germany.
Due to its central position in Europe Germany has a very good infrastructure for transportation and energy. There are is a large high-speed train network and many motorways connecting most of the German cities with each other and with the neighbor countries.
Football is the most famous sport in Germany. There are many high rated football teams in Germany also taking part in international tournaments. Motor sport is also quite popular among many people.
The German cuisine varies very much from region to region. In the south of Germany the cuisine is similar to traditional Austrian and Swiss food. Pork, beef and poultry are the most popular kinds of meat consumed in Germany. There are many different kinds of sausage produced in Germany, as well as a large variety of bread. Most Germans are used to have a good breakfast, a big meal for lunch and just some sandwiches for dinner. Although a large amount of high quality wine is produced in Germany, the most popular national drink is beer. There are thousands of different kinds of beer all over Germany, many of them are only available in certain regions. Furthermore, carbonated mineral water (sometimes mixed with juice) is quite popular as a soft drink.