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Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany ,is a country in Western and Central Europe. Germany is a federal parliamentary republic of sixteen states. The capital and largest city is Berlin. It covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate.HP 448007-001 battery

With 81.8 million inhabitants, it is the most populous member state and the strongest economy of the European Union. It is one of the major political powers of the European continent and a technological leader in many fields.

A region named Germania, inhabited by several Germanic peoples, was documented before AD 100.HP Pavilion DV7 battery

Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which lasted until 1806. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation while southern and western parts remained dominated by Roman Catholic denominations.HP DV6-1120SA battery

The different German states became first unified in 1871, with the inception of the German Empire. The Weimar Republic was proclaimed in 1918, followed by theThird Reich in 1933. The latter period was marked by a dictatorship and the initiation of World War II in 1939.HP DV6-1210SA battery

After 1945, Germany was divided by allied occupation, and evolved into two states, East Germany and West Germany. In 1990 Germany was reunified.

Germany was a founding member of the European Community in 1957, which became the EU in 1993. It is part of the Schengen Area and since 1999 a member of the eurozone.Compaq CQ50 battery

Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G8, the G20, the OECD and the Council of Europe, and took a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011–2012 term.

It has the world's fourth largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth largest by purchasing power parity. HP Pavilion DV8 battery

It is the second largest exporter and third largest importer of goods. In absolute terms, Germany spends the third biggest annual development aid budget in the world, while its military expenditure ranks seventh. The country has developed a very high standard of living and a comprehensive system of social security.Sony VGP-BPS13 battery

Germany has been the home of many influential scientists and inventors, and is known for its cultural and political history.

History

The English word "Germany" derives from the Latin Germania, which came into use after Julius Caesar adopted it for the peoples east of the Rhine. In other languages it has very different names.HP Pavilion TX1000 battery

Germanic tribes and Frankish Empire

The Germanic tribes are thought to date from the Nordic Bronze Age or the Pre-Roman Iron Age. From southern Scandinavia and north Germany, they expanded south, east and west from the 1st century BC, coming into contact with the Celtic tribes of Gaul as well as Iranian, Baltic, and Slavic tribes in Eastern Europe.HP Pavilion DV3500  battery

Under Augustus, the Roman General Publius Quinctilius Varus began to invade Germania (an area extending roughly from the Rhine to the Ural Mountains). In AD 9, three Roman legions led by Varus weredefeated by the Cheruscan leader Arminius. By AD 100, when Tacitus wrote Germania, HP HDX X18-1005EA battery

Germanic tribes had settled along the Rhine and the Danube (the Limes Germanicus), occupying most of the area of modern Germany; Austria, southern Bavaria and the western Rhineland, however, were Roman provinces.

In the 3rd century a number of large West Germanic tribes emerged: Alamanni, Franks, Chatti, Saxons, Frisians, Sicambri, and Thuringii. Compaq PF723A battery

Around 260, the Germanic peoples broke into Roman-controlled lands. After the invasion of the Huns in 375, and with the decline of Rome from 395, Germanic tribes moved further south-west. Simultaneously several large tribes formed in what is now Germany and displaced the smaller Germanic tribes. HP G6000 battery

Large areas (known since the Merovingian period as Austrasia) were occupied by the Franks, and Northern Germany was ruled by the Saxons and Slavs.

Holy Roman Empire

On 25 December 800, Charlemagne founded the Carolingian Empire, which was divided in 843.HP Compaq Business Notebook NW9440 battery

The Holy Roman Empire resulted from the eastern portion of this division. Its territory stretched from the Eider River in the north to the Mediterranean coast in the south. Under the reign of the Ottonian emperors (919–1024), several majorduchies were consolidated, and the German king was crowned Holy Roman Emperor of these regions in 962.Compaq Evo N800W battery

The Holy Roman Empire absorbed northern Italy andBurgundy under the reign of the Salian emperors (1024–1125), although the emperors lost power through the Investiture Controversy.

Under the Hohenstaufen emperors (1138–1254), the German princes increased their influence further south and east into territories inhabited by Slavs, preceding German settlement in these areas and further east (Ostsiedlung).Compaq Evo N620C battery

Northern German towns grew prosperous as members of the Hanseatic League. Starting with the Great Faminein 1315, then the Black Death of 1348–50, the population of Germany plummeted. The edict of the Golden Bull in 1356 provided the basic constitution of the empire and codified the election of the emperor by seven prince-electors who ruled some of the most powerful principalities and archbishoprics.HP Pavilion DV7 battery

Martin Luther publicised his 95 Theses in 1517, challenging the Roman Catholic Church and initiating the Protestant Reformation. A separate Lutheran church became the official religion in many German states after 1530. Religious conflict led to the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), which devastated German lands.HP Pavilion DV2745SE battery

The population of the German states was reduced by about 30 percent.[13] The Peace of Westphalia (1648) ended religious warfare among the German states, but the empire was de factodivided into numerous independent principalities. From 1740 onwards, dualism between the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy and the Kingdom of Prussia dominated German history. HP Pavilion DV5-1211EM battery

In 1806, the Imperium was overrun and dissolved as a result of the Napoleonic Wars.[14]

German Confederation and Empire

Following the fall of Napoleon I of France, the Congress of Vienna convened in 1814 and founded the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund), a loose league of 39 sovereign states. HP Compaq 490306-001 battery

Disagreement withrestoration politics partly led to the rise of liberal movements, followed by new measures of repression by Austrian statesman Metternich. The Zollverein, a tariff union, furthered economic unity in the German states. National and liberal ideals of the French Revolution gained increasing support among many, especially young, Germans. HP 520 battery

In the light of a series of revolutionary movements in Europe, which established a republic in France, intellectuals and commoners started the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. King Frederick William IV of Prussia was offered the title of Emperor, but with a loss of power; he rejected the crown and the proposed constitution, leading to a temporary setback for the movement.HP TouchSmart TX2-1150EG battery

Conflict between King William I of Prussia and the increasingly liberal parliament erupted over military reforms in 1862, and the king appointed Otto von Bismarck the new Prime Minister of Prussia. Bismarck successfully waged war on Denmark in 1864.HP Compaq 491278-001 battery

Prussian victory in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 enabled him to create the North German Federation (Norddeutscher Bund) and to exclude Austria, formerly the leading German state, from the federation's affairs. After the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the German Empire was proclaimed 1871 in Versailles, uniting all scattered parts of Germany except Austria (Kleindeutschland, or "Lesser Germany"). Compaq Presario CQ70 battery

With almost two thirds of its territory and population, Prussia was the dominating constituent of the new state; the Hohenzollern King of Prussia ruled as its concurrent Emperor, and Berlin became its capital.In the Gründerzeit period following theunification of Germany, Emperor William I's foreign policy secured Germany's position as a great nation by forging alliances, isolating France by diplomatic means, and avoiding war. HP Pavilion DV6000 battery

Under William II, however, Germany, like other European powers, took an imperialistic course leading to friction with neighbouring countries. As a result of the Berlin Conference in 1884 Germany claimed several colonies including German East Africa, German South-West Africa, Togo, and Cameroon.Compaq Presario CQ71 battery

Most alliances in which Germany had previously been involved were not renewed, and new alliances excluded the country.

The assassination of Austria's crown prince on 28 June 1914 triggered World War I. Germany, as part of the unsuccessful Central Powers, suffered defeat against the Allied Powers in one of the bloodiest conflicts of all time.HP Pavilion DV7-1290EO battery

An estimated two million German soldiers died in World War I. The German Revolution broke out in November 1918, and Emperor William II and all German ruling princes abdicated. An armistice ended the war on 11 November, and Germany was forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. Compaq Presario CQ50-105EL battery

Its negotiation, contrary to traditional post-war diplomacy, excluded the defeated Central Powers. The treaty was perceived in Germany as a humiliating continuation of the war, and is often cited as an influence in the rise of Nazism in the country.

Weimar Republic and Third Reich

At the beginning of the German Revolution, Germany was declared a republic and the monarchy collapsed.HP Compaq 572190-001 battery

However, the struggle for power continued, with radical-left communists seizing power in Bavaria. The revolution came to an end in August 1919, when the Weimar Republic was formally established with the signing of theWeimar Constitution by President Friedrich Ebert on 11 August 1919.HP Pavilion DV6373EA battery

Suffering from the Great Depression, the harsh peace conditions dictated by the Treaty of Versailles, and a long succession of unstable governments, Germans increasingly lacked identification with the government. This was exacerbated by a widespread right-wing (monarchist, völkisch, and Nazi) Dolchstoßlegende, which argued that Germany had lost World War I because of those who wanted to overthrow the government.HP Pavilion DV2820EA battery

The Weimar government was accused of betraying the German Nation by signing the Versailles Treaty. Discontent with the Weimar government helped fuel the growth of the German Communist Party. Many conservatives were drawn to the reactionary/revolutionary right, particularly the National Socialist German Workers Party—the Nazi Party.HP Compaq Business Notebook 6735S battery

By 1932, these two parties controlled the majority of parliament. After a series of unsuccessful cabinets, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933. On 27 February 1933 the Reichstag building went up in flames, and a consequentemergency decree abrogated basic citizens' rights. Compaq Presario 300 battery

An Enabling Act passed in parliament gave Hitler unrestricted legislative power. Only the Social Democratic Partyvoted against it, while Communist MPs had already been imprisoned.

Using his powers to crush any actual or potential resistance, Hitler established a centralised totalitarian state within months. Industry was revitalised with a focus on military rearmament.HP Pavilion DV7-2085EL battery

In 1935, Germany reacquired control of the Saar and in 1936 military control of the Rhineland, both of which had been lost in the Treaty of Versailles. In 1938 and 1939, Austria and Czechoslovakia were brought under German control and the invasion of Poland was prepared through the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact and Operation Himmler.HP Compaq Business Notebook TC4400 battery

On 1 September 1939 the German Wehrmacht launched a blitzkrieg on Poland, which was swiftly occupied by Germany and by the Soviet Red Army. The UK and France declared war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II. As the war progressed, Germany and its allies quickly gained control of much of continental Europe while the plan to occupy the United Kingdom failed. HP Pavilion ZD8227 battery

On 22 June 1941, Germany broke the Molotov–Ribbentrop pact andinvaded the Soviet Union. The same year, Japan attacked the American base at Pearl Harbor, and Germany declared war on the United States. The Battle of Stalingrad forced the German army to retreat on the Eastern front.HP Compaq HSTNN-LB51 battery

In September 1943, Germany's ally Italy surrendered, and German troops were forced to defend an additional front in Italy. D-Day opened a Western front, as Allied forces advanced towards German territory. On 8 May 1945, the German armed forces surrendered after the Red Army occupied Berlin.HP Compaq 491278-001 battery

In what later became known as The Holocaust, the Third Reich regime had enacted policies directly subjugating many dissidents and minorities. About seventeen million people were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust, including six million Jews and a sizeable number of Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Poles and other Slavs, including Soviet POWs, people with mental and/or physical disabilities, homosexuals, and members of the political opposition.HP DV9700 battery

World War II and the Nazi genocide were responsible for more than 40 million dead in Europe.[30] The Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminalswere held after World War II.

East and West Germany

The war resulted in the death of over seven million German soldiers and civilians; large territorial losses; the expulsion of about 15 million Germans from the eastern areas of Germany and other countries; mass rape of German women;Compaq CQ35-100 battery

and the destruction of multiple major cities. The remaining national territory and Berlin were partitioned by the Allies into four military occupation zones. The western sectors, controlled by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, were merged on 23 May 1949, to form the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland);Sony VGP-BPS11 battery

on 7 October 1949, the Soviet Zone became the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or DDR). They were, mainly outside Germany, informally known as "West Germany" and "East Germany". East Germany selected East Berlin as its capital, while West Germany chose Bonn.HP Pavilion DV6-1223EO Battery

However, West Germany declared its capital provisional, to emphasise its stance that the two-state solution was an artificial and temporary status quo.

West Germany, established as a federal parliamentary republic with a "social market economy", was allied with the United States, the UK and France. Sony Vaio VGN-CR190E/L Battery

The country enjoyed prolonged economic growth beginning in the early 1950s (Wirtschaftswunder). West Germany joined NATO in 1955 and was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957. East Germany was an Eastern bloc state under political and military control by theUSSR via the latter's occupation forces and the Warsaw Pact. Sony VGN-CR11M Battery

While claiming to be a democracy, political power was solely executed by leading members (Politburo) of the communist-controlled Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). Their power was ensured by theStasi, an immense secret service, and a variety of SED sub-organizations controlling every aspect of society.Sony VGN-NR11Z Battery

A Soviet-style command economy was set up; the GDR later became a Comecon state. While East German propaganda was based on the benefits of the GDR's social programmes and the alleged constant threat of a West German invasion, many of her citizens looked to the West for political freedoms and economic prosperity.Sony VGN-NR11S Battery

The Berlin Wall, built in 1961 to stop East Germans from escaping to West Germany, became a symbol of the Cold War.[16]

Tensions between East and West Germany were reduced in the early 1970s by Chancellor Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik, which included the de facto acceptance of Germany's territorial losses in World War II.Sony VGN-NR110E Battery

In summer 1989, Hungary decided to dismantle the Iron Curtain and open the borders, causing the emigration of thousands of East Germans to West Germany via Hungary. This had devastating effects on the GDR, where regular mass demonstrations received increasing support. Sony VGN-NR110E/T Battery

The East German authorities unexpectedly eased the border restrictions, allowing East German citizens to travel to the West. Originally intended to help retain East Germany as a state, the opening of the border actually led to an acceleration of the Wendereform process. Sony VGN-NR110E/S Battery

This culminated in the Two Plus Four Treaty a year later on 12 September 1990, under which the four occupying powers renounced their rights under the Instrument of Surrender, and Germany regained full sovereignty. This permitted German reunification on 3 October 1990, with the accession of the five re-established states of the former GDR (new states or "neue Länder").Sony VGN-NR110E/W Battery

Berlin Republic and the EU

Based on the Berlin/Bonn Act, adopted by the parliament on 10 March 1994, Berlin once again became the capital of the reunified Germany, while Bonn obtained the unique status of a Bundesstadt(federal city) retaining some federal ministries. The relocation of the government was completed in 1999.Sony VGN-CR11SR Battery

Since reunification, Germany has taken a more active role in the European Union and NATO. Germany sent a peacekeeping force to secure stability in the Balkans and sent a force of German troops to Afghanistan as part of a NATO effort to provide security in that country after the ousting of the Taliban.Sony VGN-CR11Z Battery

These deployments were controversial since, after the war, Germany was bound by domestic law only to deploy troops for defence roles.

In 2005, Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany. From 2005 to 2009, she led a grand coalition supported by her own parliamentary group (consisting of CDU and CSU) and theSocial Democratic Party (SPD).Sony VGN-CR11S Battery

Following general elections on 27 September 2009, Merkel built the current coalition government replacing the Social Democratic Party with the Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Geography

Germany is in Western and Central Europe, bordering Denmark in the north, Poland and the Czech Republic in the east, Austria and Switzerland in the south, France and Luxembourg in the south-west, and Belgium and the Netherlands in the north-west. Sony VGN-CR11M Battery

It lies mostly between latitudes 47° and 55° N (the tip of Sylt is just north of 55°), and longitudes 5° and 16° E. The territory covers 357,021 km2 (137,847 sq mi), consisting of 349,223 km2 (134,836 sq mi) of land and 7,798 km2 (3,011 sq mi) of water. It is the seventh largest country by area in Europe and the 62nd largest in the world.Sony VGN-CR11E Battery

Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Alps (highest point: the Zugspitze at 2,962 metres / 9,718 feet) in the south to the shores of the North Sea (Nordsee) in the north-west and the Baltic Sea(Ostsee) in the north-east. The forested uplands of central Germany and the lowlands of northern Germany (lowest point: Wilstermarsch at 3.54 metres / 11.6 feet below sea level) are traversed by such major rivers as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe. Sony VGN-CR21E Battery

Significant natural resources are iron ore, coal, potash, timber, lignite, uranium, copper, natural gas, salt, nickel, arable land and water.

Climate

Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate in which humid westerly winds predominate. The climate is moderated by theNorth Atlantic Drift, the northern extension of the Gulf Stream.Sony VGN-CR21S Battery

This warmer water affects the areas bordering the North Sea; consequently in the north-west and the north the climate is oceanic. Rainfall occurs year-round, especially in the summer. Winters are mild and summers tend to be cool, though temperatures can exceed 30 °C (86 °F). Sony VGN-CR21Z Battery

The east has a more continental climate; winters can be very cold and summers very warm, and long dry periods are frequent. Central and southern Germany are transition regions which vary from moderately oceanic to continental. In addition to the maritime and continental climates that predominate over most of the country, Sony VGN-CR21SR Battery

the Alpine regions in the extreme south and, to a lesser degree, some areas of the Central German Uplands have a mountain climate, characterised by lower temperatures and greater precipitation.

Biodiversity

The territory of Germany can be subdivided into two ecoregions: European-Mediterranean montane mixed forests and Northeast-Atlantic shelf marine.Sony VGN-CR31SR Battery

As of 2008 the majority of Germany is covered by either arable land (34 percent) or forest and woodland (30.1 percent); only 13.4 percent of the area consists of permanent pastures, 11.8 percent is covered by settlements and streets.

Plants and animals are those generally common to middle Europe.Sony VGN-CR31S Battery

Beeches, oaks, and other deciduous trees constitute one third of the forests; conifers are increasing as a result of reforestation. Spruce and fir trees predominate in the upper mountains, while pine and larch are found in sandy soil. There are many species of ferns, flowers, fungi, and mosses.Sony VGN-CR31E Battery

Wild animals include deer, wild boar, mouflon, fox, badger, hare, and small numbers of beavers.

The national parks in Germany include the Wadden Sea National Parks, the Jasmund National Park, the Vorpommern Lagoon Area National Park, the Müritz National Park, the Lower Oder Valley National Park, the Harz National Park, the Saxon Switzerland National Park and the Bavarian Forest National Park. Sony VGN-CR31Z Battery

More than 400 registered zoos and animal parks operate in Germany, which is believed to be the largest number in any country. The Zoologische Garten Berlin is the oldest zoo in Germany and presents the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.

Environment

Germany is known for its environmental consciousness.Sony VGN-CR41Z Battery

The state is committed to the Kyoto protocol and several other treaties promoting biodiversity, low emission standards, recycling, and the use of renewable energy, and supports sustainable development at a global level. The German government has initiated wide-ranging emission reduction activities and the country's overall emissions are falling.Sony VGN-CR41S Battery

Nevertheless Germany's carbon dioxide emissions per capita are among the highest in the EU, although they are significantly lower than those of the United States. Emissions contribute to air pollution and cause acid rain, which continues to damage German forests. Pollution in the Baltic Sea from raw sewage and industrial effluents has been reduced.Sony VGN-CR41E Battery

Germany's last glaciers in the Alpine region are experiencing deglaciation.

Politics

Germany is a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic republic. The German political system operates under a framework laid out in the 1949 constitutional document known as the Grundgesetz (Basic Law).Sony VGN-CR41SR Battery

Amendments generally require a two-thirds majority of both chambers of parliament; the fundamental principles of the constitution, as expressed in the articles guaranteeing human dignity, the separation of powers, the federal structure, and the rule of law are valid in perpetuity.Sony VGN-CR42ZR Battery

The president, currently Christian Wulff, is the head of state and invested primarily with representative responsibilities and powers. He is elected by the Bundesversammlung (federal convention), an institution consisting of the members of the Bundestag and an equal number of state delegates. Sony VGN-CR42Z Battery

The second-highest official in the German order of precedence is the Bundestagspräsident (President of the Bundestag), who is elected by the Bundestagand responsible for overseeing the daily sessions of the body. The third-highest official and the head of government is the Chancellor, who is appointed by the Bundespräsident after being elected by the Bundestag.Sony VGN-CR42S Battery

The chancellor, currently Angela Merkel, is the head of government and exercises executive power, similar to the role of a Prime Minister in other parliamentary democracies. Federal legislative power is vested in the parliament consisting of the Bundestag(Federal Diet) and Bundesrat (Federal Council), which together form the legislative body.Sony VGN-CR42E Battery

The Bundestag is elected through direct elections, byproportional representation (mixed-member). The members of the Bundesratrepresent the governments of the sixteen federated states and are members of the state cabinets.

Since 1949, the party system has been dominated by the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Germany with all chancellors hitherto being member of either party. Sony Vaio VGN-CR11S/L Battery

However, the smaller liberal Free Democratic Party (which has had members in the Bundestag since 1949) and the Alliance '90/The Greens (which has controlled seats in parliament since 1983) have also played important roles.

Law

The Judiciary of Germany is independent of the executive and legislative branches. Germany has a civil law system based on Roman law with some references to Germanic law. Sony Vaio VGN-CR190E/P Battery

TheBundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court), located in Karlsruhe, is the German Supreme Court responsible for constitutional matters, with power of judicial review.[51] It acts as the highest legal authority and ensures that legislative and judicial practice conforms to the Basic Law. Sony Vaio VGN-CR190E/R Battery

Germany's supreme court system, called Oberste Gerichtshöfe des Bundes, is specialised. For civil and criminal cases, the highest court of appeal is the Federal Court of Justice, located in Karlsruheand Leipzig. The courtroom style is inquisitorial. Other Federal Courts are the Federal Labour Court in Erfurt, the Federal Social Court in Kassel,Sony Vaio VGN-CR190E/W Battery

the Federal Finance Court in Munich and the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. Criminal and private laws are codified on the national level in the Strafgesetzbuch and the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch respectively. The German penal system is aimed towards rehabilitation of the criminal; its secondary goal is the protection of the general public .Sony Vaio VGN-CR21/B Battery

The Völkerstrafgesetzbuch regulates the consequences of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes, and gives German courts universal jurisdiction in some circumstances.

Foreign relations

Germany has a network of 229 diplomatic missions abroad and maintains relations with more than 190 countries.Sony Vaio VGN-CR21E/L Battery

It is the largest contributor to the budget of the European Union (providing 20 percent) and the third largest contributor to the UN (providing 8 percent). Germany is a member of NATO, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the G8, the G20, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Sony Vaio VGN-CR21E/P Battery

It has played a leading role in the European Union since its inception and has maintained a strong alliance with France since the end of World War II. Germany seeks to advance the creation of a more unified European political, defence, and security apparatus. Sony Vaio VGN-CR21S/L Battery

During the Cold War, Germany's partition by the Iron Curtain made it a symbol of East-West tensions and a political battleground in Europe. However, Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik was a key factor in the détente of the 1970s.In 1999, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government defined a new basis for German foreign policy by taking part in the NATO decisions surrounding the Kosovo War and by sending German troops into combat for the first time since World War II.Sony Vaio VGN-CR21S/P Battery

The governments of Germany and the United States are close political allies.[16] The 1948 Marshall Plan and strong cultural ties have crafted a strong bond between the two countries, although Schröder's vocal opposition to the Iraq War suggested the end of Atlanticism and a relative cooling of German-American relations.Sony Vaio VGN-CR21S/W Battery

The two countries are also economically interdependent: 8.8 percent of German exports are U.S.-bound and 6.6 percent of German imports originate from the U.S.

The development policy of the Federal Republic of Germany is an independent area of German foreign policy. It is formulated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and carried out by the implementing organisations.Sony Vaio VGN-CR21Z/N Battery

The German government sees development policy as a joint responsibility of the international community.[61] It is the world's third biggest aid donor after the United States and France.

Military

Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, is organized in Heer (Army), Marine (Navy), Luftwaffe (Air Force), Zentraler Sanitätsdienst(Central Medical Services) and Streitkräftebasis (Joint Support Service) branches. Sony Vaio VGN-CR21Z/R Battery

In 2005, military spending was an estimated 1.5 percent of the country's GDP; overall military spending is the seventh-highest in the world.In peacetime, the Bundeswehr is commanded by the Minister of Defence. If Germany went to war, which according to the constitution is allowed only for defensive purposes, the Chancellor would become commander in chief of the Bundeswehr.Sony Vaio VGN-CR220E/R Battery

The Bundeswehr employs 200,500 professional soldiers, 55,000 18–25 year-old conscripts who serve for at least six months, and 2,500 active reservists. Roughly 300,000 reservists are available to the Armed Forces and participate in defence exercises and deployments abroad.Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/B Battery

As of April 2011, the German military had about 6,900 troops stationed in foreign countries as part of international peacekeeping forces, including about 4,900 Bundeswehr troops in the NATO-led ISAF force in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, 1,150 German soldiers in Kosovo, and 300 troops with UNIFIL in Lebanon. Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/P Battery

Until 2011, military service was compulsory for men at age 18, and conscripts served six-month tours of duty; conscientious objectors could instead opt for an equal length of Zivildienst (civilian service), or a six-year commitment to (voluntary) emergency services like a fire department or the Red Cross. Conscription has been officially suspended as of 1 July 2011.Sony Vaio VGN-CR23/R Battery

Since 2001 women may serve in all functions of service without restriction, but they are not subject to conscription. There are presently some 17,500 women on active duty and a number of female reservists.

Economy

Germany has a social market economy with a highly qualified labour force, a large capital stock, a low level of corruption, and a high level of innovation.HP Pavilion DM3 battery

It has the largest national economy in Europe, the fourth largest by nominal GDP in the world, and the fifth largest by PPP in 2009. The service sectorcontributes around 70 percent of the total GDP, industry 29.1 percent, and agriculture 0.9 percent. In July 2010 the average national unemployment rate was 7.5 percent.HP Pavilion DM4 battery

First estimates indicate a 3.6 percent increase in the price-adjusted GDP for 2010, following a 4.7 percent drop in 2009.

Germany is a founding member of the EU, the G8 and the G20, and was the world's largest exporter from 2003 to 2008. In 2009 it remains the second largest exporter and third largest importer of goods.HP Pavilion DV6-1210SA battery

Most of the country's exports are in engineering, especially machinery, automobiles, chemical goods and metals. Germany is a leading producer of wind turbines and solar-power technology. Major annual international trade fairs and congresses are held in Hanover, Frankfurt, and Berlin.Dell N3010 battery

Germany is an advocate of closer European economic and political integration. Its commercial policies are increasingly determined by agreements among European Union (EU) members and by EU legislation. Germany introduced the common European currency, the euro, on 1 January 2002.Dell Inspiron N4010 battery

Its monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank. Two decades after German reunification, standards of living and per capita incomes remain significantly higher in the states of the former West Germany than in the former East. The modernisation and integration of the eastern German economy is a long-term process scheduled to last until the year 2019, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $80 billion. Dell INSPIRON 9100 battery

In January 2009 the German government approved a €50 billion economic stimulus plan to protect several sectors from a downturn and a subsequent rise in unemployment rates.

Of the world's 500 largest stock-market-listed companies measured by revenue in 2010, the Fortune Global 500, 37 are headquartered in Germany. Dell XPS 1340 battery

30 Germany-based companies are included in theDAX, the German stock market index. Well-known global brands are Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Siemens, Volkswagen, Adidas, Audi, Allianz, Porsche, Lufthansa, and Nivea. Germany is recognised for its specialised small and medium enterprises. Dell Inspiron 1464 battery

Around 1,000 of these companies are global market leaders in their segment and are labelled hidden champions.

Transport

With its central position in Europe, Germany is a transportation hub. This is reflected in its dense and modern transport networks. The motorway (Autobahn) network ranks third largest worldwide in length and has no speed limits on most routes.Dell Inspiron 1764 battery

Germany has established a polycentric network of high-speed trains. The InterCityExpress or ICE network of the Deutsche Bahn serves major German cities as well as destinations in neighbouring countries. Its maximum speed is 300 km/h. Trains run at 30-minute, hour, or two-hour intervals.Dell Inspiron 1564 battery

The largest German airports are Frankfurt International Airport and Munich International Airport, both global hubs of Lufthansa. Other major airports are Berlin Tegel, Berlin Schönefeld, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne-Bonn, and Leipzig/Halle.

Energy

As of 2008, Germany was the world's sixth largest consumer of energy, and 60 percent of its primary energy was imported.Dell Inspiron 1720 battery

Government policy promotes energy conservation and renewable energy. Energy efficiency has been improving since the early 1970s; the government aims to meet the country's electricity demands using only renewable sources by 2050. In 2010, energy sources were: oil (33.7 percent); Dell Inspiron Mini 12 battery

coal, including lignite (22.9 percent); natural gas (21.8 percent); nuclear (10.8 percent); hydro-electric and wind power (1.5 percent); and other renewable sources (7.9 percent).  In 2000, the government and the nuclear power industry agreed to phase out all nuclear power plants by 2021. Dell LATITUDE D800 battery

Science and technology

Germany's achievements in sciences have been significant, and research and development efforts form an integral part of the economy. The Nobel Prize has been awarded to 103 German laureates. For most of the 20th century, German laureates had more awards than those of any other nation, especially in the sciences (physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine). Dell Inspiron 6400 AC Adapter

The work of Albert Einstein and Max Planck was crucial to the foundation of modern physics, which Werner Heisenberg and Max Born developed further. They were preceded by physicists such as Hermann von Helmholtz, Joseph von Fraunhofer, and Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit. SONY VAIO VGN-FW31Z Battery

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays, calledRöntgenstrahlen (Röntgen-rays) in German and other languages, and was the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.Numerous mathematicians were born in Germany, including Carl Friedrich Gauss, David Hilbert, Bernhard Riemann, Gottfried Leibniz, Karl Weierstrass and Hermann Weyl. SONY VAIO VGN-FW31M Battery

Research institutions in Germany include the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz Association and the Fraunhofer Society. The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize is granted to ten scientists and academics every year. With a maximum of €2.5 million per award it is one of highest endowed research prizes in the world. SONY VAIO VGN-FW31B Battery

Germany has been the home of many famous inventors and engineers, such as Johannes Gutenberg, credited with the invention of movable type printing in Europe;Hans Geiger, the creator of the Geiger counter; and Konrad Zuse, who built the first fully automatic digital computer.SONY VAIO VGN-FW31E Battery

German inventors, engineers and industrialists such as Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, Otto Lilienthal, Gottlieb Daimler, Rudolf Diesel, Hugo Junkers and Karl Benz helped shape modern automotive and air transportation technology. Aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun developed the first space rocket and later on was a prominent member of NASASONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

and developed the Saturn V Moon rocket, which paved the way for the success of the US Apollo program. Heinrich Rudolf Hertz's work in the domain of electromagnetic radiation was pivotal to the development of modern telecommunication.

Demographics

With its estimated population of 81.8 million in January 2010, Germany is the most populous country in the European Union and ranks as the 15th most populous country in the world.Sony VGP-BPS21 Battery

Its population density stands at 229.4 inhabitants per square kilometre. The overall life expectancy in Germany at birth is 79.9 years. The fertility rate of 1.4 children per mother, or 7.9 births per 1000 inhabitants in 2009, is one of the lowest in the world. Since the 1990s, Germany'sdeath rate has continuously exceeded its birth rate.Sony VGP-BPS21A Battery

The Federal Statistical Office of Germany forecast that the population will shrink to between 65 and 70 million by 2060 (depending on the level of net migration).

Germans make up 91 percent of the population of Germany. Sony VGP-BPS21/S Battery

As of 2004, about seven million foreign citizens were registered in Germany, and 19 percent of the country's residents were of foreign or partially foreign descent (including persons descending or partially descending from ethnic German repatriates), 96 percent of whom lived in Western Germany or Berlin.Sony VGP-BPS21A/B Battery

It is estimated by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany that nearly 30 percent of Germans aged 5 years and younger have at least one parent who was born abroad. The United Nations Population Fund lists Germany as host to the third-highest number of international migrants worldwide, about 5 percent or 10 million of all 191 million migrants.SONY VGP-BPS21 Battery

As a consequence of restrictions to Germany's formerly rather unrestricted laws on asylum and immigration, the number of immigrants seeking asylum or claiming German ethnicity (mostly from the former Soviet Union) has been declining steadily since 2000.[106] In 2009, 20 percent of the population had immigrant roots, the highest since 1945.SONY VGP-BPS21A Battery

As of 2008, the largest national group was from Turkey (2.5 million), followed by Italy (776,000) and Poland (687,000).[108]Abou

t 3 million "Aussiedler"—ethnic Germans, mainly from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union—have resettled in Germany since 1987.[109]SONY VGP-BPS21B Battery

Germany has a number of large cities. The largest conurbation is the Rhine-Ruhr region (12 million), including Düsseldorf (the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia), Cologne, Essen, Dortmund, Duisburg, and Bochum.SONY VGP-BPS21/S Battery

Religion

Christianity is the largest religion in Germany, with around 49.4 million adherents (62.8 percent) in 2008[111] of which 24.5 million are Protestants (29.9 percent) belonging to the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and 24.9 million are Catholics (30.0 percent) in 2008; the remainder belong to small denominations (each considerably less than 0.5 percent of the German population).[SONY VGP-BPS21A/B Battery]

Protestantism is concentrated in the north and east and Roman Catholicism is concentrated in the south and west (Pope Benedict XVI was born in Bavaria). 1.6 percent of the country's overall population declare themselves Orthodox Christians, Serbs and Greeksbeing the most numerous.[SONY VGP-BPS13/Q Battery]

Non-religious people make up between 34 and 55 percent, especially in the former East Germany and major metropolitan areas.[113]A poll by Der Spiegel found that 45 percent of Germans believe in God.[114] In the 2005 Eurobarometer poll, 47 percent of German citizens agreed with the statement "I believe there is a God",SONY VGP-BPS13/Q Battery

whereas 25 percent agreed with "I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 25 percent said "I do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force".[115]

The second largest religion is Islam with an estimated 3.8 to 4.3 million adherents (4.6 to 5.2 percent)[116] followed by Buddhism and Judaism, both with around 200,000 adherents (0.3 percent). SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery

Hinduism has some 90,000 adherents (0.1 percent) and Sikhism 75,000 (0.1 percent). All other religious communities in Germany have fewer than 50,000 adherents. Of the roughly 4 million Muslims, most are Sunnis and Alevites from Turkey, but there are a small number of Shi'ites and other denominations.[SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery]

Germany has Europe's third largest Jewish population (after France and the United Kingdom).[117] Around 250,000 active Buddhists live in Germany; 50 percent of them are Asian immigrants.[118]

Languages

German is the official and predominant spoken language in Germany.[Toshiba Satellite M300 Battery]

It is one of 23 official languages in the European Union, and one of the three working languages of the European Commission. German has approximately 100 million native speakers worldwide and about 80 million non-native speakers.[120] Recognised native minority languages in Germany are Danish, Sorbian, Romany, andFrisian. Toshiba Satellite 1200 Battery

They are officially protected by the ECRML. The most used immigrant languages are Turkish, Kurdish, Polish, the Balkan languages, and Russian. 67 percent of German citizens claim to be able to communicate in at least one foreign language, 27 percent in at least two languages other than their own.[Toshiba Satellite A200 Battery

Standard German is a West Germanic language and is closely related to and classified alongside English, Dutch, and the Frisian languages. To a lesser extent, it is also related to the East (extinct) and North Germanic languages. Most German vocabulary is derived from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family.[Sony VGP-BPS21 battery]

Significant minorities of words are derived from Latin and Greek, with a smaller amount from French and most recently English (known as Denglisch). German is written using the Latin alphabet. German dialects are distinguished from varieties of standard German. Sony VGP-BPS14 battery

German dialects are traditional local varieties and are traced back to the different German tribes. Many of them are not easily understandable to a speaker of standard German, since they often differ in lexicon,phonology, and syntax.[122]

Education

Over 99 percent of those of age 15 and above are estimated to be able to read and write.[Sony VGP-BPL8 battery]

However, a growing number of inhabitants are functionally illiterate.[123] Responsibility for educational oversight in Germany lies primarily with the individual federated states. Since the 1960s, a reform movement attempted to unify secondary education in a Gesamtschule (comprehensive school); several West German states later simplified their school system to two or three tiers. Sony VGP-BPS22 battery

A system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung ("dual education") allows pupils in vocational training to learn in a company as well as in a state-run vocational school.[124]

Optional kindergarten education is provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is compulsory for at least nine years. Sony VGP-BPS11 battery

Primary education usually lasts for four years and public schools are not stratified at this stage.[124] In contrast, secondary education includes three traditional types of schools based on a pupil's ability as determined by teacher recommendations: the Gymnasium enrols the most gifted children and prepares students for university studies;Sony VGP-BPS9 battery

the Realschule for intermediate students lasts six years; the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education.

To enter a university in Germany, high school students are generally required to take the Abitur examination, which is similar to A-levels in the UK and typically done at the age of 18 or 19. Sony VGP-BPS10 battery

However, students possessing a diploma from a vocational school may also apply for matriculation in certain subjects. Germany's universities are recognised internationally; in the ARWU ranking for 2008, six of the top 100 universities in the world are in Germany, and 18 of the top 200.[Toshiba PA3399U-2BRS battery]

Nearly all German universities are public institutions, charging tuition fees of €50–500 per semester for each student.[126]

Health

Germany has the world's oldest universal health care system, dating back to Otto von Bismarck's Social legislation in 1883.[127]Currently the population is covered by a basic health insurance plan provided by statute.Toshiba Satellite T4900 Battery

According to the World Health Organization, Germany's health care system was 77 percent government-funded and 23 percent privately funded as of 2004.[128] In 2005, Germany spent 10.7 percent of its GDP on health care. Germany ranked 20th in the world in life expectancy with 76,5 years for men and 82,1 years for woman, Toshiba Satellite L305 Battery

and it had a very low infant mortality rate (4.3 per 1,000 live births).[39]

In 2002 the top diagnosis for male patients released from the hospital was heart disease, followed by alcohol-related disorders and hernias. For women, the top diagnoses related to pregnancies, breast cancer, and heart weakness.SONY VGN -FZ210CE Battery

At the end of 2004, some 44,000 Germans were infected with HIV/AIDS. According to a 2003 survey, 37 percent of adult males and 28 percent of adult females in Germany are smokers. A 2007 study shows Germany has the highest number of overweight people in Europe.[Dell Precision M70 Battery]

Culture

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 calledDas Land der Dichter und Denker (the land of poets and thinkers).[131] The federated states are in charge of the cultural institutions. Acer Aspire One battery 10400mAh

There are 240 subsidised theatres, hundreds of symphonic orchestras, thousands of museums and over 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.[Dell RM791 battery]

The UNESCOinscribed 33 properties in Germany on the World Heritage List.[133]

Numerous German painters have enjoyed international prestige through their work in diverse artistic styles. Hans Holbein the Younger, Matthias Grünewald, and Albrecht Dürer were important artists of the Renaissance,Dell Inspiron E1505 battery

Caspar David Friedrich of Romanticism, and Max Ernst of Surrealism. Architectural contributions from Germany include the Carolingian and Ottonian styles, which were precursors of Romanesque. The region later became the site of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art. Dell Studio 1737 battery

Germany was particularly important in the early modern movement, especially through the Bauhaus movement founded by Walter Gropius. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe became one of the world's most renowned architects in the second half of the 20th century. He conceived of the glass façade skyscraper.[Dell Inspiron 300M Battery]

Literature and philosophy

German literature can be traced back to the Middle Ages and the works of writers such as Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Well-known German authors include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. The collections of folk tales published by the Brothers Grimm popularised German folklore on an international level.Dell Latitude E4200 Battery

Influential authors of the 20th century include Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Böll, and Günter Grass.[135]

German philosophy is historically significant. Gottfried Leibniz's contributions to rationalism; the establishment of classical German idealism by Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling;Dell Latitude E5400 Battery

Arthur Schopenhauer's composition of metaphysical pessimism; the formulation of communist theory by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels;Friedrich Nietzsche's development of perspectivism; Gottlob Frege's contributions to the dawn of analytic philosophy; Martin Heidegger's works on Being;Sony VGN-FW139E/H battery

and the development of the Frankfurt school byMax Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse and Jürgen Habermas have been particularly influential. In the 21st century Germany has contributed to the development of contemporary analytic philosophy in continental Europe, along with France, Austria, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries.[Sony VGN-FW11M Battery]

Cinema

German cinema dates back to the earliest years of the medium with the work of Max Skladanowsky, which was particularly influential with German expressionists such as Robert Wiene and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. Director Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) is referred to as the first modern science-fiction film. Sony VGN-FW11S Battery

In 1930 the Austrian-American Josef von Sternberg directed The Blue Angel, the first major German sound film.[137] During the 1970s and 1980s, New German Cinema directors such as Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder put West German cinema on the international stage.[Dell Inspiron Mini 10 Battery]

More recently, films such as Good Bye Lenin! (2003), Gegen die Wand (Head-on) (2004), Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004), and Der Baader Meinhof Komplex(2008) have had international success. The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film went to the German production Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) in 1979, to Nowhere in Africa in 2002, and to Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) in 2007.[Dell Latitude D620 Battery]

Among famous German actors are Marlene Dietrich, Klaus Kinski, Hanna Schygulla, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Jürgen Prochnow, and Thomas Kretschmann. The annual European Film Awards ceremony is held every other year in Berlin, home of the European Film Academy (EFA); the Berlin Film Festival, held annually since 1951, is one of the world's foremost film festivals.[Dell Latitude D830 Battery]

Music

The contributions of German musicians and composers have been significant. Germany claims some of the world's most well-known classical music composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven,Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, and Richard Wagner.Toshiba Satellite M60 battery

As of 2008, Germany is the fourth largest music market in the world and has influenced popular music through artists such asKraftwerk, Boney M., Nico, Nina Hagen, Scorpions, Toten Hosen, Tokio Hotel, Rammstein and Paul van Dyk.

Media

Germany's television market is the largest in Europe, with some 34 million TV households. Dell Studio 1457 Battery

Around 90 percent of German households have cable or satellite TV, with a variety of free-to-view public and commercial channels.[ ] Germany is home to several media conglomerates, including Bertelsmann, the Axel Springer AG and ProSiebenSat.1 Media.Dell Latitude D610 Battery

German-speaking book publishers produce some 700 million books every year, with about 80,000 titles, nearly 60,000 of them new. Germany comes third in quantity of books published, after the English-speaking book market and the People's Republic of China.[Dell Studio 1457 Battery]

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the most important in the world for international deals and trading, with a tradition spanning over 500 years.[144]

Sports

Twenty-seven million Germans are members of a sports club and an additional twelve million pursue sports individually.[Dell Studio 1450 Battery]

Association football is the most popular sport. With more than 6.3 million official members, the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund) is the largest sports organisation of its kind worldwide.[145] The Bundesliga attracts the second highest average attendanceof any professional sports league in the world.Dell Inspiron 1320n Battery

The German national football team won the FIFA World Cup in 1954, 1974 and 1990 and the UEFA European Football Championship in 1972, 1980 and 1996. Germany hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1974 and 2006 and the UEFA European Football Championship in 1988. SONY VGP-BPS13AS Battery

Among the most well-known footballers are Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller,Jürgen Klinsmann, Lothar Matthäus, and Oliver Kahn. Other popular spectator sports include handball, volleyball, basketball, ice hockey, and tennis.[145]

Germany is one of the leading motor sports countries in the world. Constructors like BMW and Mercedes are prominent manufacturers in motor sport. SONY VGP-BPS13A/S Battery

Additionally, Porsche has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, an annual endurance race held in France, 16 times, and Audi has won it 9 times. Formula One driver Michael Schumacher has set many motor sport records during his career, having won moreFormula One World Drivers' Championships and more Formula One races than any other driver; he is one of the highest paid sportsmen in history.[SONY VGP-BPS13B/B Battery]

Historically, German sportsmen have been successful contenders in the Olympic Games, ranking third in an all-time Olympic Games medal count, combining East and West German medals. In the2008 Summer Olympics, Germany finished fifth in the medal count,[147] while in the 2006 Winter Olympics they finished first.[SONY VGP-BPS13A/B Battery]

Germany has hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice, in Berlin in1936 and in Munich in 1972. The Winter Olympic Games took place in Germany once in 1936 in the twin towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen.

Cuisine

German cuisine varies from region to region. The southern regions of Bavaria and Swabia, for instance, share a culinary culture with Switzerland and Austria. SONY VGP-BPS13/S Battery

In all regions, meat is often eaten in sausage form. More than 1,500 different types of sausage are produced in Germany. Organic food has gained a market share of around 3.0 percent, and is expected to increase further.[149] Germans have also adopted international dishes from immigrant communities. SONY VGP-BPS8 Battery

Italiandishes like pizza and pasta, and Turkish and Arab dishes like Döner Kebab and Falafel, are well established, especially in bigger cities. International burgerchains, as well as Chinese and Greek restaurants, are widespread, as are Indian, Thai, Japanese, and other Asian cuisines.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ38M Battery

The Michelin guide has awarded nine restaurants in Germany three stars, the highest designation, while 15 more received two stars.[150] German restaurants have become the world's second-most decorated after France.[151]

Although wine is becoming more popular in many parts of Germany, the national alcoholic drink is beer. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31Z Battery

German beer consumption per person is declining, but at 116 litres annually it is still among the highest in the world.[152] Beer varieties include Alt, Bock, Dunkel, Kölsch, Lager, Malzbier, Pils, and Weizenbier.

Society

Germany has established a high level of gender equality,[153] promotes disability rights, and is legally and socially tolerant towards homosexuals. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31M Battery

Gays and lesbians can legally adopt their partner's biological children, and civil unions have been permitted since 2001.[154] Vice-Chancellor Guido Westerwelle and the mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, are openly gay.[155] Germany has also changed its attitude towards immigrants; since the mid-1990s, the government and the majority of Germans have begun to acknowledge that controlled immigration should be allowed based on qualification standards.[SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31J Battery]

Since the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the internal and external evaluation of Germany's national image has changed.[157] Germany has been named the world's second most valued nation among 50 countries in 2010.[158] A global opinion poll for the BBC revealed that Germany is recognised for having the most positive influence in the world in 2011.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31B Battery

Low German or Low Saxon (Plattdüütsch, Nedderdüütsch, Standard German Plattdeutsch, Niederdeutsch; Dutch Nedersaksischin the wider sense—see Nomenclature) is any of the regional language varieties of the West Germanic languages spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ31E Battery

The historical sprachraum also includes contemporary northern Poland, the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia and a part of southern Lithuania, the German speakers of which were expelled after the post-World War II boundary changes. The former German communities in the Baltic states (see Baltic Germans) did also speak Low German. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ4000 Battery

Moreover, Low German was the Lingua Franca of theHanseatic League.

Low German in Europe

Dialects of Low German are widely spoken in the northeastern area of the Netherlands (Dutch Low Saxon) and are written there with an orthography based on Dutch orthography.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ480E Battery

Variants of Low German were widely (and are still to a far lesser extent) spoken in most parts of Northern Germany, for instance in the states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. Small portions of northern Hesse and northern Thuringia are traditionally Low Saxon speaking too.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ460E Battery

Historically, Low German was also spoken in formerly German parts ofPoland as well as in East Prussia and the Baltic States of Estonia and Latvia. The language was also formerly spoken in the outer areas of what is now the city state of Berlin but in the course of urbanisation and national centralisation in that city the language vanished. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ340E Battery

(The Berlin dialect itself is a northern outpost of High German and typologically a Missingsch variety, although rarely recognized as the latter).

Today, there are still speakers outside of Germany and The Netherlands to be found in the coastal areas of present Poland (minority of ethnic GermanPommersch speakers who were not expelled from Pomerania, as well as the regions around Braniewo) SONY VAIO VGN-FZ220E Battery

In the Southern Jutland region of Denmark there may still be some Low German speakers in some German minority communities, but the Low German and North Frisian dialects of Denmarkcan be considered moribund at this time.

Low German outside Europe and the Mennonites

There are also immigrant communities where Low German is spoken in the western hemisphere, including Canada, the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, South Africa, Central Asia, Bolivia, Argentina,Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. SONY VAIO VGN-FZ180E Battery

In some of these countries, the language is part of the Mennonite religion and culture. There are Mennonite communities in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Minnesota which use Low German in their religious services and communities;Sony VAIO VGN-NR11Z/T Battery

the people are largely ethnic Germans whose ancestors had moved to newly acquired Russianterritories in Ukraine before emigrating to the Americas in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The type of Low German spoken in these communities and in the Midwest region of the United States has diverged since emigration. Sony VAIO VGN-NR11M/S Battery

The survival of the language is tenuous in many places and has died out in some places where assimilation has occurred. Mennonite colonies in Paraguay, South America,Belize, and Chihuahua, Mexico are said  to have made Low German a "co-official language" of the community, in addition to the countries' official language, Spanish.Sony VAIO VGN-NR11S/S Battery

Nomenclature

Low German is called Plattdüütsch or Nedderdüütsch by its native speakers in the specific German area, and Nedersaksischor Nederduuts by most of its native speakers in the Netherlands.Sony VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery

Officially, Low German is called Niederdeutsch (Nether/Low German) by the German authorities. In The Netherlands, the Dutch authorities call it Nedersaksisch (Nether/Low Saxon).Plattdeutsch/Niederdeutsch and Platduits/Nedersaksisch are seen in linguistic texts from the German and Dutch linguistic communities respectively.SONY VAIO VGN-NR11Z/S Battery

In Danish it is called Plattysk, Nedertysk or, rarely, Lavtysk.

Mennonite Low German is called "Plautdietsch."

“Low” refers to the flat plains and coastal area of the northern European lowlands, contrasted with the mountainous areas of central and southern Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, where High German is spoken.SONY VAIO VGN-NR11M/S Battery

The ISO 639-2 language code for Low German (Low Saxon) has been nds (nedersaksisch) since May 2000.

Disambiguation

There are different uses of the term “Low German”:

  1. A specific name of any West Germanic varieties that neither have taken part in the High German consonant shift nor classify as Low Franconian or Anglo-Frisian; this is the scope discussed in this article.SONY VAIO VGN-NR11S/S Battery
  2. A broader term for the closely-related, continental West Germanic language family unaffected by the High German consonant shift, nor classifying as Anglo-Frisian, and thus including Low Franconian varieties such as Dutch.

The colloquial term "Platt" denotes both Low German dialects and any non-standard variety of German; this use is chiefly found in northern and western Germany and is considered not to belinguistically correct.[SONY VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery]

Many people in northern Germany are unaware that the use of Low German does not abruptly stop at the German-Dutch border, but in fact continues on into the eastern Netherlands. Among those whoare aware of it, a measure of estrangement (especially Dutch versus German influences and Dutch versus German based spelling),SONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

besides alleged sensitivities remaining from the German occupation in World War II, is often used as an argument in favor of ignoring the dialects of the Netherlands. The general attitude among Low German speakers in the Netherlands, however, is that the Dutch Low Saxon varieties belong to a continuum with the Low German varieties of Northern Germany. SONY VAIO VGN-FW31J Battery

Many Low German speakers in the Netherlands are willing and happy to participate in activities organized on the German side of the border, and Dutch people have won prizes in Low German literature contests in Germany.

Relation to German and Dutch

The question of whether Low German should be considered a separate language, as opposed to a dialect of German or Dutch, has been a point of contention.SONY VAIO VGN-FZ21E Battery

Linguistics offers no simple, generally accepted criteria to decide this question. Scholarly arguments have been put forward in favor of classifying Low German as a German dialect.

Some such arguments are:SONY VAIO VGN-FZ18 Battery

  • Low German lacks any meaningful standard form regarding grammar, orthography, or other aspects that would bridge the immense regional differences within Low German and form an equivalent to the standard forms of German, Dutch, French, or other generally accepted independent languages;HP Pavilion DV8000 battery
  • Low German is not used widely anywhere, and especially not outside of colloquial oral communication. It is spoken on a daily basis by a small minority in Northern Germany, and by some members of the the Amish and Mennonite churches in North America who are descended from these people. HP Pavilion DV6000 battery
  • Use in the media is limited to small columns or segments that typically are specifically intended to foster and promote the language;
  • Written Low German is used almost exclusively for belletristic literature, but not for technical documents, administrative or legal texts, etc. and despite this the Bible has been translated into Low German.HP Pavilion DV8000 battery

(The situation of Low German may thus be compared to that of Francoprovençal in France.) In contrast, Old Saxon and Middle Low Germanmay have met enough of these criteria to be considered separate languages in their own rights.

Claims to the contrary have also been made, ascribing to Low German the status of an independent language on a par with German, Dutch, Danish, etc. HP Pavilion DV6000 battery

They are often motivated by efforts to paint an uplifting, positive picture to combat the perceived image of Low German as a dying and irrelevant idiom, and focus on different points such as

  • The great differences between High and Low German;SONY VAIO VGN-FZ Battery
  • The successes of very recent efforts (in the 1980s and 1990s) to revive Low German in the media, the schools, and in language societies.
  • German offices are obliged to accept applications in Low German and answer them in the same. The Bundesgerichtshof ruled that this is even to be done in Non-Low German regions, where the applicant then has to pay the charge for a translator.HP PAVILION DV8000 Battery

Low German has been recognised by the Netherlands and by Germany (since 1999) as a regional language according to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Within the official terminology defined in the charter, this status would not be available to a dialect of an official language (as per article 1 (a)), HP PAVILION DV6000 Battery

and hence not to Low German in Germany if it were considered a dialect of German. Advocates of the promotion of Low German have expressed considerable hope that this political development will at once lend legitimacy to their claim that Low German is a separate language and help mitigate the functional limits of the language that may still be cited as objective criteria for a mere dialect (such as the virtually complete absence from legal and administrative contexts, schools, the media, etc.). HP Pavilion dv8000 battery

Classification and related languages

Low German is a part of the continental West Germanic dialect continuum.

To the West, it blends into the Low Franconian languages which distinguish two plural verbal endings, as opposed to a common verbal plural ending in Low German.HP Pavilion dv6000 Battery

To the South, it blends into the High German dialects of Central German that have been affected by the High German consonant shift. The division is usually drawn at the Benrath line that traces the maken – machen isogloss.

To the East, it abuts the Kashubian language (the only remnant of the Pomeranian language) and, since the expulsion of nearly all Germans from Pomerania following the Second World War, also by the Polish language. Sony VGP-BPL15 battery

The Low German dialects of Pomerania are included in thePommersch group.

To the North and Northwest, it abuts the Danish and the Frisian languages. Note that in Germany, Low German has replaced the Frisian languages in many regions. Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery

The Saterland Frisian is the only remnant of East Frisian language and is surrounded by Low German, as are the few remaining North Frisian varieties, and the Low German dialects of those regions have Frisian influences from Frisian substrates.

Some classify the northern dialects of Low German together with English, Scots, and Frisian as the North Sea Germanicor Ingvaeoniclanguages. Sony VGP-BPL9 battery

However, most exclude Low German from that group often called Anglo-Frisian languages because some distinctive features of that group of languages are only partially observed in Low German, for instance the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law (some dialects have us, os for ‘us’ whereas others have uns, ons),Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery

and because other distinctive features do not occur in Low German at all, for instance the palatalization of /k/ (compare palatalized forms such as English cheese, Frisian tsiis to non-palatalized forms such as Low German Kees or Kaise, Dutch kaas, German Käse).

Old Saxon

Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, is a West Germanic language.Sony VGP-BPS13A/B battery

It is documented from the 9th century until the 12th century, when it evolved into Middle Low German. It was spoken on the north-west coast of Germany and in Denmark by Saxon peoples. It is closely related to Old Anglo-Frisian (Old Frisian, Old English), partially participating in the Ingvaeonic nasal spirant law.Sony VGP-BPS13/S battery

Only a few texts survive, predominantly in baptismal vows the Saxons were required to perform at the behest of Charlemagne. The only literary texts preserved are Heliand and the Old Saxon Genesis.

Middle Low German

The Middle Low German language is an ancestor of modern Low German. It was spoken from about 1100 to 1500. Sony VGP-BPS13 battery

The neighbour languages within the dialect continuum of the West Germanic languages were Middle Dutch in the West and Middle High German in the South, later substituted by Early New High German. Middle Low German was the lingua franca of the Hanseatic League, spoken all around the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Dell Studio 1555 battery

Based on the language of Lübeck, a standardized written language was developing, though it was never codified.

Contemporary

After mass education in Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries the slow decline which Low German was experiencing since the end of the Hanseatic league turned into a free fall. Dell KM958 battery

Today efforts are made in Germany and in the Netherlands to protect Low German as a regional language. Various Low German dialects are understood by 10 million people, and native to about 3 million people all around northern Germany. Most of these speakers are located in rural villages and are often elderly. Dell XPS M1210 Battery

However, the KDE project supports Low German (nds) as a language for its computer desktop environment  as well as the GNOME Desktop Project does. Several Open Source Software is getting translated into Low German today and most of them are managed by the NDS umbrella Project nds.sourceforge.net. Examples here are the Linux distributions Ubuntu or Fedora.SONY VAIO VGN-FW33GW Battery

Sound change

As with the Anglo-Frisian languages and the North Germanic languages, Low German has not been influenced by the High German consonant shift except for old /ð/ having shifted to /d/. Therefore a lot of Low German words sound similar to their English counterparts.SONY VAIO VGN-FW21Z Battery

One feature that does distinguish Low German from English generally is final devoicing of obstruents, as exemplified by the words 'good' and 'wind' below. This is a characteristic of Dutch and German as well and involves positional neutralization of voicing contrast in the coda position for obstruents (i.e. t = d at the end of a syllable.) SONY VAIO VGN-FW21M Battery

This is not used in English except for in the English county of Yorkshire, where there is a process known as Yorkshire assimilation.

For instance: water [w?t?, wat?, wæt?], later [l??t?, la?t?, læ?t?], bit [b?t], dish [dis, di?], ship [??p, sk?p, sx?p], pull [p?l], good [?out, ??ut, ?u?t], clock [kl?k], sail [s?il], he [h?i, h?i, hi(j)], storm [sto?rm],wind [v??nt], grass [?ras, ?ras], hold [ho??l(t)], old [o??l(t)].SONY VAIO VGN-FW21L Battery

Low German is a West Germanic language of the lowlands and as such did not experience the High German consonant shift. The table below shows the relationship between English and Low German consonants which were unaffected by this chain shift and gives the modern German counterparts, which were affected by the sound shift.Dell Latitude E6400 ATG Battery

Dative dän

In most modern dialects, the nominative and the objective cases are primarily distinguished only in the singular of masculine nouns. In some Low German dialects, the genitive case is distinguished as well (e.g. varieties of Mennonite Low German.) It is marked in the masculine gender by changing the masculine definite determiner 'de' from de to dän. Asus M52N Battery

By contrast, German distinguishes four cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, and dative. So, for example, the definite article of the masculine singular has the forms: der (nom), den (acc), des (gen), and dem (dat.) Thus case marking in Low German is simpler than German's.SONY VAIO VGN-FW21E Battery

Verbs

In Low German verbs are conjugated for person, number, and tense. Verb conjugation for person is only differentiated in the singular. There are five tenses in Low German: present tense, preterite,perfect, and pluperfect, and in Mennonite Low German the present perfect which signifies a remaining effect from a past finished action. Ibm THINKPAD X200 Battery

For example "Ekj sie jekomen", "I am come", means that the speaker came and he is still at the place to which he came as a result of his completed action.

Unlike Dutch, German, and southern Low German, the northern dialects form the participle without the prefix ge-, like the Scandinavian languages and English. Compare to the German past participlegeschlafen.Ibm THINKPAD X200 Battery

This past participle is formed with the auxiliary verb hebben "to have". It should be noted that e- is used instead of ge- in most Southern (below Groningen in the Netherlands) dialects, though often not when the past participle ends with -en or in a few oft-used words like west (been).Ibm THINKPAD X200 Battery

The reason for the two conjugations shown in the plural is regional: dialects in the central area use -t while the dialects in East Frisia and the dialects in Mecklenburg and further east use -en. The -en suffix is of Dutch influence.

In Mennonite Low German, some verbs inflect into two moods: indicative and imperative. For the verb jäwen, for example, the imperative form is jefs.HP Pavilion DV7 battery

There are 26 verb affixes.
There is also a progressive form of verbs in present, corresponding to the same in the Dutch language. It is formed with wesen (to be), the preposition an (at) and "dat"(the/it).Compaq CQ50 battery

Writing system

Low German is written using the Latin alphabet. There is no true standard orthography, only several locally more or less accepted orthographic guidelines, those in the Netherlands mostly based onDutch orthography, and those in Germany mostly based on German orthography. Sony VGP-BPS13 battery

This diversity—being the result of centuries of official neglect and suppression—has a very fragmenting and thus weakening effect on the language as a whole, since it has created barriers that do not exist on the spoken level. Interregional and international communication is severely hampered by this. HP DV9700 battery

Most of these systems aim at representing the phonetic (allophonic) output rather than underlying (phonemic) representations. Furthermore, many writers follow guidelines only roughly. This adds numerous idiosyncratic and often inconsistent ways of spelling to the already existing great orthographic diversity.Compaq CQ35-100 battery

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