Germany

 

History of Germany

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As Europe's largest economy Germany is a key member of the continents 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 France, the Soviet Union, the UK and the USA in 1945.

With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949 namely 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, i.e. the EU and NATO, while the Communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact countries and was a puppet of Moscow. The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German unification in 1990. Since then Germany has spent considerable funds to bring productivity and wages in the former GDR up to FRG standards.

Germany was a founding member of the European Economic Community (EEC) (now the European Union (EU)) in 1957 and participated in the introduction of the Euro (EUR) in a two-phased approach in 1999 (accounting phase) and 2002 (monetary phase) to replace the Deutsche Mark (DEM). It was in 1955 that the FRG joined NATO and in 1990 NATO expanded to include the former GDR. Germany is also a member country of the Schengen Area in which border controls with other Schengen members have been eliminated while at the same those with non-Schengen countries have been strengthened. In January 2011, Germany assumed a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011/12 term.

Cities

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  • Berlin - the reunified and re-invigorated capital of Germany; known for its division during the Cold War by the Berlin Wall. Today, it's a metropolis of diversity with elegant clubs, shops, galleries and restaurants
  • Bremen - one of the most important cities in northern Germany, its old town is a slice of hanseatic history
  • Cologne - city founded by the Romans 2000 years ago with a huge cathedral, Romanesque churches, and archaeological sites
  • Dresden - once called 'Florence on the Elbe' and world-famous for its Frauenkirche and rebuilt historic centre destroyed during World War II
  • Dusseldorf - Germany's capital of fashion also offers fascinating new architecture and a vibrant nightlife
  • Frankfurt - seat of the European Central Bank (ECB), with a skyline reminiscent of Manhattan ("Mainhattan")
  • Hamburg - Germany's richest and second-largest city, famous for its harbour; liberal and tolerant culture with its nightclubs and casinos along the Reeperbahn
  • Munich - Bavaria's beautiful capital city, gateway to the Alps and the site of the famous Oktoberfest
  • Nuremberg's old town has been reconstructed, including the Gothic Kaiserburg Castle. Visit the Nazi party rally grounds, the Documentation Centre and Courtroom 600 (the venue of the Nuremberg Trials)

Culture

German culture began long before the rise of Germany as a nation-state and spanned the entire German-speaking world. From its roots, culture in Germany has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular. Historically Germany has been called Das Land der Dichter und Denker (the country of poets and thinkers).

The federated states are in charge of the cultural institutions. There are 240 subsidized theatres, hundreds of symphonic orchestras, thousands of museums, and more than 25,000 libraries spread in Germany. These cultural opportunities are enjoyed by many: there are over 91 million German museum visits every year; annually, 20 million go to theatres and operas; 3.6 million per year listen to the symphonic orchestras.

Weather and Climate

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Overall, Germany has a warm, temperate, wet climate with westerly winds. Extreme fluctuations in temperature are rare. Rain falls throughout the year. Mild winters (2ºC to -6ºC) and moderately hot summers (18ºC to 20ºC) are the norm.

Public Holidays

Germany Public Holidays Year 2015
New Year's Day January 1, 2015 Thursday
Epiphany ( Baden-Wuerttemberg, 2015 Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt) January 6, 2015 Tuesday
Good Friday April 3, 2015 Friday
Easter Monday April 6, 2015 Monday
Labor Day May 1, 2015 Friday
Ascension Day May 14, 2015 Thursday
Whit Monday May 25, 2015 Monday
Corpus Christi Day ( Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland) June 4, 2015 Thursday
Assumption Day (Saarland, parts of Bavaria) August 15, 2015 Saturday
Day of German Unity October 3, 2015 Saturday
Reformation Day (Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia) October 31, 2015 Saturday
All Saints Day (Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland) November 1, 2015 Sunday
Repentance Day (Saxony) November 18, 2015 Wednesday
Christmas Day December 25, 2015 Friday
2nd Christmas Day December 26, 2015 Saturday

Travel Advisory

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Germany. Exercise normal security precautions.