Germany is Europe’s most powerful economy, and the most populous country located entirely on the continent. Established in 1871, it’s rapid industrialization and economic growth quickly saw Germany challenge the other world powers on an international scale. Germany’s history in the early 20th century was then dominated by its role in both World Wars and the atrocities committed under the Nazi regime. Following the Second World War, Germany was occupied by the Allied Powers; the Soviet-controlled east would eventually split and become the German Democratic Republic (known as East Germany, or the DDR), while the other three zones formed the Federal Republic of Germany (known as West Germany). West Germany operated as a liberal democracy with a market economy, while East Germany operated under communist and socialist structures. Both countries saw significant economic growth during the post-war period, and West Germany, along with France, took a leading role in European integration throughout the remainder of the century. As the communist system collapsed across Europe during the 1980s, Germany was officially reunified on October 3, 1990; as Germany (Berlin especially) was viewed as the meeting point of democracy and communism in Europe, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 came to symbolize the fall of European communism. Since reunification, Germany has re-emerged as a world power and a de facto leader of the European Union. After a brief downturn in the early 2000s, Angela Merkel assumed power in 2005, from which point the German economy has been synonymous with stability, resilience, and growth, even during crises such as the Great Recession and the Covid pandemic. There are some challenges, however, such as an ageing population, imbalances between the west and former-DDR states, and a recent rise in right-wing populism; yet, Germany ranks very highly in terms of human development, equality, and freedom, with a strong welfare system.
In 2021, Germany had an estimated population of 83.3 million people, however population growth is very low. The largest city is Berlin, with 3.6 million people, followed by Hamburg and Munich, with 1.8 and 1.5 million inhabitants respectively; however, the largest metropolitan region is the Rhine-Ruhr area, with a population of almost 11 million people across several cities such as Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Dortmund. Since 1972, Germany’s crude death rate has consistently been higher than its crude birth rate, meaning that Germany has been experiencing a natural population decline for five decades. Because of these factors, population growth in Germany has largely been dependent migration, and in 2020, it is estimated that almost 13 percent of the population is foreign. Since the 1960s, Germany has had sizeable migrant populations, particularly through waves of Gastarbeiter (guest workers) who came from Southern Europe and Turkey in the 1960s, before waves of Eastern Europeans arrived after the collapse of communism, followed by Middle Eastern refugees in the past two decades. Of Germany’s 11.4 million foreigners, almost 70 percent are from Europe, over 20 percent are Asian, and five percent are from Africa. Turkey is the most common country of origin for foreigners, with almost 1.5 million Turks living in Germany (although there may be somewhere between four and seven million with Turkish heritage), followed by Poland and Syria, each with over 800,000 migrants.
Germany is a federal republic with a parliamentary system. Ultimate legislative power is held by the Bundestag (parliament), while the Bundesrat represents Germany’s 16 federal states on a national level. The country is led by the Chancellor, who is chosen by the party or coalition with the most seats in the Bundestag. The Chancellor is the head of government, while the President acts as the head of state in a more ceremonial capacity. Following the 2021 election, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) won the largest share of votes, and lead the so-called traffic light coalition, along with the Green Party and Free Democratic Party (FDP). This is the first time since 2005 where the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the most dominant party in German politics since the Second World War, were not in charge. The SDP’s coalition with the Green Party may result in more stringent climate initiatives, while the FDP may demand more liberal economic policies; after more than 16 years of Angela Merkel’s leadership, it remains to be seen how Germany’s position in the world will change or develop under the (likely) leadership of Olaf Scholz.
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In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 59 most important statistics relating to "Germany".