Germany Country Profile Travel Information Guide

German population and religions Germany history Germany economy Germany language road travel and other national information

Local Guides:  Berlin / Leipzig / Efrurt / Rhine Cruises

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Germany Country Profile Information For Visitors

Germany Population About 3.5m people out of a population of 83m live in the German Capital Berlin. Approximately 94% of the population are German and 2.4% are Turkish.

Germany Religion 34% of tje people are Roman Catholics and 34% are Protestant. Nearly 4% are Muslims with approximately 28% of the population not affiliated to any religion.

Germany Language The official language is German. English is widely spoken in cities.

Germany Currency The official unit of currency is the euro.

Currency Controls Controls on the amount of cash entering or leaving the EU apply in all Member States.  Any person entering or leaving the EU has to declare the cash that they are carrying if this amounts to 10,000 euros or more – This figure this includes cheques, travellers’ cheques, money orders, etc.  This does not apply to people travelling via the EU to a non-EU country, if the original journey started outside of the EU. It does not apply to people travelling within the EU.

German Economy Business For several years the German economy has been in recession with an annual growth rate less the 0.5%. Commentators attribute one of the reasons for this being the cost of the unification East & West Germany as West Germany has had to finance the cost of high unemployment which it inherited in the former eastern sector. The annual rate of Inflation rate is around !%. Germany’s major industries are car manufacturing, engineering and increasingly banking,insurance and allied financial services. Its major trading Partners are EU countries, The United States and it is increasing its investment in former communist countries.

Germany Tourism In recent years a well established tourist industry has benefited from increasing tourism to cities like Berlin and Leipzig. This interest has been driven by the closely aligned factors such as the fall of communism and the development of Berlin as a central point of several international low cost airlines operations. The forthcoming World Cup will be a added benefit for this industry.

Travel In Germany Public transport in Germany is excellent with good local bus and rails services thoughout the country. The Intercity rail links and international rail services are first class – see  the  European rail page. There are also good national and international coach services – see the European coach page.

Road Travel In Germany Roads in Germany are very well maintained in the cities, rural areas on the extensive motorway network (autobahn). Under German law you must be at least 18 todrive. Citizens from other countries under 18 are not allowed to drive even if they hold a full national licence in their own country. c Driving licences from any EU country are valid in Germany. Driving licences fron non EU countries are generally valid for six months. After this citizens from non eu countries will have to exchange their licence for a German one. This may involve taking a new test.

Motorway Speed Limits In Germany Many people believe that on German motorways there are no speed limits. In some areas this is correct but not all. In recent years and inorder to reduce the death rate on Gerrman roads which is 20% higher than in the UK some speed limits have been introduced by the regional ‘state’ government. For example In April 2008 the state of Bremen has introduced limits to all autobahns – previously only applicable in certain areas. As each authority determines whether there should be a speed limit and the level of the same be prepared to comply with several limits on any journey. Coaches are limited to a 80 KMH limit on all autobahns. Else where in cities towns and rural areas the speed limit is generally 50KMH.

All drivers, by law should carry their driving licence, vehicle registration documents and insurance certificates with them. If you have borrowed or hired the vehicle you must have written evidence giving you permission to drive the vehicle.

Air Travel in Germany Many German cities have their own airport and these airports are well served by low cost airlines. For local airport airport information see the euromost european airports page. Use the following links for detailed information on the airports at Berlin / Leipzig / Efrurt.

Foot Travel In Germany ! Pedestriana who cross the road in German cities when the pedestrian light is red can be fined on the spot and are legally responsible for any accident that they are involved in.German Police enforce this law.

Emergency Medical Treatment In Germany Germany has a good standard of healthcare and arrangements with several countries including the UK nationals for the provision of emergency medical treatment. If you are travelling from the UK you will need a European Health Card.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) In Germany Outbreaks of this virus were confirmed in the summer of 2007 in Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia. The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is thought to be very low.

Germany History 1918 – 1945

The defeat of Germany at the end of WW1 was followed by The Treaty of Versailles. Two key aspects of this treaty were fundementally flawed. The first which established the Kingdom of The Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed Yugolsalvia in 1929) buried issues which where to come to the afore in The Balkan Wars in the 1990s.

The second flaw was the commitment by Germany to pay reparations to the Allies for the cost of the WW1. This ‘penalty’ on a bankrupt and defeated nation gave the indigenious population of Germany very little hope of a lifestyle on or above the poverty line.Against this backgound the Nazis movement, with its promises to rebuild a better country, flourished and in 1933 Hitler gained power.

Contrastingly in 1945 when the Nazis where defeated the American financed Marshall Plan invested money in West Germany to ensure that the country’s defeat did not faciltate the rise to power of another extremist organisation. Hitler and The Third Reich committed crimes against humanity in Germany and Europe on a scale beyond comprehension as most people who have visited the death camp at Auschwitz & Birkenau will agree.

Germany 1946 – Today

The Marshall plan was effective and the Germany economy was rebuilt to became one of the strongest economies in the world. In 1950, democratically elected Germany politicians formed an economic alliance with France – one their former enemies – when they signed The Treaty of Paris. This cooperation is regarded as setting the precedent for the 1957 Treaty of Rome in which Germany and France along with four other European countries founded what is now todays European Union. In November 1989, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, symbolised the end of the cold war and the unification of East and West Germany.

Post War German Responses To Holocaust

It is debateable whether any individual or nation can apologise for the actions of a man like Hitler. Not to apologise can be seen as being callous whilst given the magnitude of The Holocaust any words could be viewed as being insincere. Against this backgound succesive German leaders have in their own ways expressed publicly their regrets about what happened.

In 1965 West German President Heinreich attended the 20th Anniversary of the liberation of Belsen.

In 1970 West German Chancellor Willy Brandt (who won the Noble Peace Prize for his efforts to develop better relations with Communist controlled countries), visited Warsaw in Poland. Whilst there he fell on his knees on the Path of Rembrance in front of The The Monument of The Ghetto Hero which is dedicated to the Jewish Uprising in the Warsaw .

In 1985. The West German President Richard Von Weizsaecker delared “Anyone who closes his eyes to the past is blind to the present and whoever refuses to remember the inhumanity is prone to the risk of new infection”.

On January 27th 2005 at a ceremony at Auschwitz to commerate the 60th Anniversary of it’s liberation, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said “We carry this burden in mourning but also with a serious sense of reponsibility”.

On 11th of May 2005 at the opening of The Holocaust Memorial next to The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin he repeated the sentiment saying “Today we open a memorial that recalls Nazis Germany’s worst and most terrible crime – the attempt to exterminate an entire people.

Editorial Comment The Treaty of Versailles and therefor Britain and France in part, empowered Hitler and it is not and should not be possible for the world to forget what the Holocaust involved. Gerhard Schroeder’s recollection that this was Nazis Germany’s most terrible crime’ is correct. It was, but as he indicated – it was the crime of Nazi Germany not todays Germany.

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