Germany wears its riches well: elegant big-city charm, picture-postcard small towns, pagan-inspired harvest festivals, a wealth of art and culture and the perennial pleasures of huge tracts of forest, delightful castles and fine wine and beer are all there for the enjoying. Germany s reunification in 1990 was the beginning of yet another chapter in Germany s complex history. No visitor will remain untouched by this country s past and the way it affects the nation today.
Few countries have had as much impact on the world as Germany, a land of innovation that has given us the printing press, the automobile, aspirin and MP3 technology. This is the country where you can visit the birth places of Martin Luther, Albert Einstein and Karl Marx, of Goethe, Beethoven and the Brothers Grimm and other greats who, in some way, have forged the fate of humankind. The roots of modern architecture? Right here in Dessau where the Bauhaus movement began. For God’s sake (so to speak), even the pope is German!
Full country name: Federal republic of Germany
Area: 357,045 sq Km
Population: 82,41 million
People: Predominantly Caucasian, with significant Turkish minority. Germany has absorbed most of the refugees from the former Yugoslavia.
Religion: 90% Christian. There are 1.7 million Muslims and about 74,000 Jews (the pre-Holocaust figure was over half a million).
Government: Federal Republic
GDP: €2,24 trillion
Annual growth: 2,7%
Unemployment rate: 10,8%
Major industries: motor vehicles, engineering, chemicals, iron, steel, coal, electronics, environmental technology, food, clothing
Major trading partners: EU (esp. France, Netherlands, Italy, UK, Belgium/Luxembourg, USA, Japan
Visas: EU citizens can enter on an official identity card. Americans, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and Japanese just need a valid passport (no visa). Unless you re a citizen of a developing country, you can probably stay up to three months.
Health risks: The cost of medical care - come with insurance.
Time: GMT/UTC +1(+2 in summer)
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric
When to go
Any time is a good time to be somewhere in Germany, but when is the best time to visit pretty much depends on what type of holiday you envision. Most people arrive between May and September when roads are often clogged, lodging can be at a premium and you’ll be jostling for space at major attractions.
Still, summer is fabulous because skies are more likely to be sunny, much of life moves outdoors, beer gardens are in full swing, and festivals and outdoor events enliven cities and villages. Hiking, cycling, swimming and outdoor pursuits are popular during these months.
The shoulder seasons (from March to May and from October to early November) bring smaller crowds and often pleasant weather. In April and May, when wildflowers brighten meadows and fruit trees are in bloom, it can be mild and sunny. Indian summers that stretch well into autumn are not uncommon.
With the exception of winter sports, activities between November and early March are likely to focus more on culture and city life. In these months, skies are often gloomy and the mercury drops below freezing. On the plus side, there are fewer visitors and shorter queues (except in the winter resorts). Just pack the right clothes and keep in mind that there are only six to eight hours of daylight. In December the sun (if there is any) sets around 3.30pm.
The ski season usually starts in early to mid-December, moves into full swing after the New Year and closes down again with the onset of the snowmelt in March
German wine country has many small vineyards which welcome visitors. The main wine-growing regions are around the rivers Rhine, Moselle and Neckar in the west of the country and, further east, near the Saale, Unstrut and Elbe rivers.
Germany has over 300 spas and health resorts which offer a wide range of traditional and modern treatments.
Hotels with horse riding facilities are located in all tourist regions. Racecourses can be found at Baden-Baden, Frankfurt/M, Hamburg and Munich.
Attractions - Berlin
The remains of the infamous Berlin Wall have now become the largest open-air art gallery in the world. The longest section of the wall, which has been preserved, stretches from Ostbahnhof station to the Oberbaumbrucke, and has been given over to graffiti artists from around the world. A total of 118 artists from 21 countries have exerted their skills on the 4,318-foot (1,316m) long section of the wall, and this collection has become a Berlin landmark and a tourist attraction.