Europe's strongest economic and industrial power, Germany is also the most populous European country outside Russia. Fertile northern plains stretch south from the North and Baltic Seas changing to central highlands and then rising to the rugged Schwarzwald (Black Forest) in the southwest and to the Alps in the far south.

Germans are highly urbanized; about 86 percent live in cities and towns. With one of the world's lowest birthrates, Germany is a magnet for foreign workers—some 7.3 million immigrants live here. Some German industry is well known (Daimler Chrysler, Siemens, and Volkswagen); some, like Transrapid (the maglev railway) and Nordex wind turbines, represent new environment-friendly technology.

"Wir sind ein Volk—We are one people," sang crowds on November 9, 1989, as East Germans breached the Berlin Wall. A year later, just after midnight on October 3, 1990, Germany was reborn. One people, divided since the end of World War II, had one country again. Yet German unity is relatively new. Disparate Germanic principalities did not come together until 1871, when the king of Prussia became kaiser (emperor) of Germany.

The Berlin Wall went up in 1961 to stop East Germans from fleeing west. Rejoining two populations after 45 years of separation has been difficult. The economy in eastern Germany remains weak—the population is declining as young people go west for jobs. A bright spot in the east is Berlin as the construction boom continues in Germany's capital and largest city; tourists come to see the innovative architecture, including the Reichstag building with its new glass dome. A founding member of the European Union, Germany stands to gain from increased trade with the 2004 addition of the Czech Republic, Poland, and others to EU membership.
Before its unification in 1871, Germany was a loose confederation of states, the largest of which was Prussia. And although all of the states adopted one national identity after unification, to this day they are aware of their individual traditions and histories.

Germany is now divided into 16 states, the boundaries of which were largely determined after the Second World War. Each of the states has its own capital and regional government. In some areas, people speak regional dialects of German that non-locals find difficult to understand: Plattdeutsch in the North, Sächsisch in parts of the East and Bayerisch in the South, to name a few.

Travelling between Bavaria in the South, Lower Saxony in the North and Rhineland in the West, you will see many differences in food, attitudes and culture and to really get the most out of a trip to Germany, it is well worth getting to know these variations.

Southern Germany, for instance, is predominantly rural and Catholic and feeds the touristic stereotype of fairytale castles and timber-framed houses in quaint old towns. The north of the country, on the other hand, is more urbanised and mainly Protestant.

Even stronger than the North-South division is the East-West division which grew up over 40 years of separate history. Here, the differences are less folksy and more social, political and economic.

Text source: National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition, 2004


www.handbuch-deutschland.de The Manual for Germany is intended for immigrants who are considering settling in Germany and who, before arriving or having just arrived, would like to find out about life in Germany. The manual provides current and general information on the country and people, politics and law, work and social security, as well as on everyday life.
www.bmi.bund.de German Federal Ministry of the Interior wesbite.
www.zuwanderung.de/english Contains detailed information on the Immigration Act.
www.germany-info.org Information on visas and the German labor market.
www.workpermit.com/germany Information on visas and permanent residence.

Add your Link Copyright (c) 2005 www.migrationvisa.info