|Federal Republic of Germany|
|Capital and largest city||Berlin|
|- German Empire
- Reunification of Germany
|Drives on the
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Deutschland), is a country in Europe, located between the Alps and the Baltic Sea. It borders Denmark to the north, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France to the west, Switzerland and Austria to the south, and the Czech Republic and Poland to the east. Germany was created in the 19th century after a history of political fragmentation and warring kingdoms. United by a German cultural identity, the nation was able to quickly become a major European power. After defeats in two World Wars, Germany was split into the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. Reunified in 1989, it has once again become a powerhouse of industry and technology. Germany has a very high HDI, a developed, export-driven economy and a population of 87 million people. It is Europe's largest economy, the world's second largest exporter, and the most populous country entirely within Europe.
Main article: History of Germany
Recorded German history begins with the arrival of the Romans in the first century AD. At the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, Germanic chieftains heavily defeated the Romans, and they were never able to fully conquer Germany. In the fourth and fifth centuries, Germanic "barbarians" terrorized the Roman Empire, and in 476, Odoacer, a Scirii chieftain, sacked and conquered Rome.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the western half was open for conquest. The Franks, under the Merovingian dynasty, took over northern Gaul in the fifth century. A hundred years later, they converted to Christianity and established the Carolingian dynasty. Under Charlemagne, they conquered most of Germany, Gaul, and northern Italy. After Charlemagne's death, his empire was divided into three parts among his sons. These large kingdoms also quickly broke up into feudal fiefdoms.
In 962, Otto II became the first Holy Roman Emperor. Although he had only limited authority, he was officially the King of Germany. In reality, most of Germany was ruled by independent dukes and lords. The trading cities of Lubeck and Hamburg grew rich, and formed the Hanseatic League. German Teutonic Knights attempted to conquer Poland, Lithuania, and Russia for Christianity.
In the fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the city-state of Mainz. This innovation allowed information to spread much more rapidly. Shortly thereafter, Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation, which spread to many German cities, particularly in the north. In 1618, tensions between Catholics and Protestants flared to the point of violence. For 30 years Germany was devastated by marauding mercenaries and severe famine. Only in 1648 was the Treaty of Westphalia signed, giving Protestant city-states more rights and finally ending the war.
In the 17th century, the Protestant, German nation of Prussia began in modern-day Poland, but later gained Brandenburg and Königsberg. In 1757 the Seven Years' War broke out, when under the visionary leadership of Frederick the Great, Prussia was able to defeat the larger armies it faced and gain Silesia. Prussia also opposed France in the Napoleonic Wars. Although initially defeated, in the end Prussia won, and the rest of Germany was made into the German Confederation, which was eventually abolished in favor of the North German Confederation.
The German nationEdit
In 1870, France declared war on Prussia, but lost the decisive Battle of Sedan and was forced to capitulate. After this victory, Prussia became the German Empire under Kaiser Wilhelm I and Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who had orchestrated Prussia's rise to power. Germany quickly became one of the major European powers. At the Berlin Conference of 1885, Germany was granted Namibia, Tanzania, and Togo.
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo by Serbian terrorists. This triggered a series of alliances that quickly led to World War I. Germany mobilized and invaded Belgium to surprise the French. The Hindenburg Plan called for the quick defeat of France so that Germany could concentrate her armies on Russia, but the British Expeditionary Force managed to slow German advances and trench warfare began.
On the Eastern Front, the demoralized and poorly-led Russian military repeatedly lost to the Germans, despite the initially successful Brusilov Offensive. By 1917, Russia was in the midst of a revolution, and no longer a threat to Germany. The Western Front had stagnated and caused millions of deaths. In 1917, the United States joined the war. The fresh American troops, known as doughboys, swung the momentum in favor of the Entente, and a war-weary Germany was forced to surrender in 1918. The Treaty of Versailles imposed heavy restrictions on the German military and economy.
The democratic Weimar Republic was established after World War I. The 1920s were a period of serious economic hardship for German. Hyperinflation made the German mark almost useless. However, this was a period of culture blossoming for Germany.
The Great Depression hit Germany hard. The Hindenburg government ceded power to Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party in 1933. The Nazis quickly began rearming, against the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and the economy improved. In 1938, Germany and Austria formed a union known as the Anchluss. Soon after, Germany demanded the region of Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia.
World War IIEdit
On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, but took no major action. The conquest of Poland was complete within a month. For the rest of 1939, no major battles were fought. In spring of 1940, Germany launched a huge blitzkrieg offensive against France. French resistance quickly crumbled;Belgium and the Netherlands were also taken.
On June 22, 1941, Germany began Operation Barbarossa against her erstwhile ally, the Soviet Union. Although initially successful, by winter it had bogged down. The Germans were turned back at the Battle of Moscow, and the cities of Stalingrad and Leningrad refused to be taken. In 1943, following successes in Africa, the Allies began their invasion of Italy. The country quickly crumbled, and in 1944 it switched sides.
On June 6, 1944, the Allies landed 144,000 troops on the beaches of Normandy. They quickly liberated France and moved towards Germany. On the Eastern Front, the Soviets had liberated most of Eastern Europe and were advancing quickly across Poland. By April of 1945, Hitler was confined to the a bunker in Berlin, with Soviet forces advancing on the city. He committed suicide on April 22, and in May Germany signed an unconditional surrender.
After World War II, Germany was divided into a democratic West Germany and a communist East Germany. In 1949, East Germany cut off all supply routes to Berlin, which it completed surrounded, forcing the U.S. and the United Kingdom to airlift supplies in. This was so successful that East Germany had to back down. This incident marked the beginning of the Cold War.
In 1963, East Germany began the construction of the Berlin Wall around East Berlin to stop people from defecting to the West. This wall became a symbol of Warsaw Pact oppression and confinement. The post-war economy of West Germany boomed. Large firms like Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Siemens raked in profits, and West Germany became a major industrial power and large exporter. However, the German military was voluntarily kept small.
In 1989, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, the Berlin Wall was torn down and East Berliners and West Berliners reunited for the first time in more than 30 years. In 1991, West Germany and East Germany reunified to form the Federal Republic of Germany. Although economically a burden, the reintegration of East Germany went smoothly politically.
Since then, Germany has continued to be an economic powerhouse, and is one of the major nations of the European Union. Germany helped bail out several European nations during the 2007 economic recession.
EconomyEditGermany has a highly-developed, diverse economy based on export and manufacture. With a nominal GDP of about US$2 trillion, the economy of Germany is the fourth largest in the world after the U.S., China, and Japan. Germany is also the world's second largest exporter. Multinational engineering companies such as Siemens AG and Rheinmetall AG are based in Germany. The country is also home to many prominent automakers, including Volkswagen AG, the world's largest automobile manufacturer. Other German car makers include Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Famous German apparel companies, focused on sports, include Puma and Adidas.
The export-driven German economy is one of the most stable in Europe, and German financial companies like Deutsche Bank and Allianz are some of Europe's largest. The German defense industry is one of the largest in the world. Heckler und Koch, SIGARMS and Walther are some of the most well-known German defense companies. Germany is the largest contributor to the European Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, and has a AAA sovereign credit rating.
The primary language spoken in Germany is German. There are many dialects spoken throughout the country, but they are all mutually intelligible. The first major work in the German language was Goethe's Faust.
The most popular sport in Germany is association football. Germany has won three World Cups, in 1954, 1974, and 1990. Famous German footballers include Gerd Mueller, Franz Beckenbauer, Miroslav Klose, and Bert von Trauptmann. Germany has the third highest total medal count at the Olympic Games, and performs well in many sports. Retired Formula One driver Michael Schumacher won the most Grand Prix of any racer and is widely considered the greatest Formula One driver in history.
Germany is split between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Most Northern Germans are Lutherans, following in the tradition of Martin Luther. However, Bavaria is primarily Catholic. Sunni Islam is also practiced by Turkish immigrants.