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Overview

Germany - Overview


Capital: Berlin

Population: 82,431,390 (July 2005 est.)

Languages: German

Religions: Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Muslim 3.7%, unaffiliated or other 28.3%

Currency: euro (EUR)

Timezone: GMT+1

Located in central Europe, Germany has borders with nine countries. Since 1990 it has consisted of the unified former western Federal Republic of Germany and the eastern German Democratic Republic. Reunification has presented the country with major challenges.

Germany has a wide variety of rural and urban landscapes, including big modern cities, charming historical villages and small towns, mountains, forests and lakes, upland plains and lush farmlands. There are five distinct geographical regions: the North German Plain, Central Uplands, south-western terraces, the foothills of the Alps in the south and the scenic region of the Bavarian Alps. To the east of the country is a densely forested area, while the terraces of the southwest include the upper Rhine Valley. The country is divided into 16 states, each possessing its own dialect, traditions and architectural styles.

Although the majority of the population are German, over 7 million foreigners also live in the country, including refugees and guest workers. Nearly four-fifths of the population live in cities or towns, with the most heavily populated areas being along the Rhine. Since 1990 Berlin has been Germany's capital and main city, with a population of 3,933,300. Other large cities include Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt, Essen, Dortmund, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Bremen, Hanover, and Duisburg.

Germany is one of the world's most advanced nations in terms of economic productivity, technological development and educational attainment. The country has a per capita income in excess of $22,900, and many Germans enjoy an affluent lifestyle. However, the country is facing a major challenge to bring the standard of living in the former German Democratic Republic up to that of the west. The ongoing economic difficulties in eastern Germany have contributed to outbreaks of extremist political violence.

One of the main cultural differences between Germany and many other western countries is the extent to which many aspects of daily life are regulated in Germany. For example, there are strict regulations regarding tenants' rights and obligations, the criteria for employment in particular occupations, and even recycling practice.


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Aetna

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