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    Basic Facts About Germany

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    Basic FactsGermany is in central Europe, at 50 degrees latitude, and 10degrees longitude. It is bordered by Denmark, The Netherlands,Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Austria, CzechsRepublic, And Poland.

    The capitol of Germany is Berlin. The population of Germany is 81,264,000. The estimatedpopulation for Germany in the year 2000 is 82,583,000. Germanyis smaller than Texas, or about 4 1/2% of the size of the U. S. A.

    The German flag has black, red, and gold, horizontal stripeswithout any symbols on it. In 1950 when Germany was divided,West Germany’s flag was black, red, and dark gold, with nosymbols. East Germany’s flag was black, red and, yellow with acoat of arms symbol in the middle. After Germany becamereunited, the flag was changed to black, red, and gold stripes,with no symbols on it.

    These colors have been associated withGerman unity since the 1800’s. The LandIn Germany some interesting places are: The Rhine River,theOlympic Stadium in Munich, the Bavarian Alps where theNewschwanstein Castle is, the Black Forest, the Harz Mountains,and Berlin. There are many natural resources in Germany. Germany isbordered by the North and Baltic Seas. These have busy shippingports.

    There are also four main rivers in Germany. In the Westis the Rhine River, the Danube is in the South, the Oder is inthe East, and the Elbe and the Weser Rivers are in the north. The soil in Germany varies. The North German plains hassoil that is soft and fertile.

    Much of the rest of Germany hasrocky soil. The minerals in Germany are: Coal, potash, lignite, iron,and uranium. There are mines in Germany but are mainly coal. There is a large variety of plants in Germany. They rangefrom crops in the large German plain to fir and spruce trees inthe Black Forest.

    They have the same kinds of domestic animals we do, and aswell as forest animals. In the North German Plain which ismostly farm area, there are sheep, cattle, horses, hogs, poultry,and dairy cows. There are five different land regions in Germany. The firstis the North German Plain. It is the largest land region, and islow and nearly flat.

    The southern edge of this area has veryfertile soil. There are many farms here, and many people hereand in cities such as Bonn, and Cologne. The second land region is The Central Highlands. This areais a series of plateaus that range from almost flat tomountainous.

    There are steep, narrow valleys, and the RhineRiver runs through this area. It is one of the most beautifulsights in Germany. The South German Hills, have long parallel ridges that gofrom southwest to northeast. Sheep are raised here, and thelowlands between the ridges have some of the best farm lands inGermany. The fourth land region in Germany is The Black Forest.

    Manyold German legends and fairy tails take place here. The BlackForest gets it’s name from the thick forests of dark fir andspruce trees that are on the mountainsides. The fifth land region is the Bavarian Alps. It is part ofthe largest mountain system in Europe, the Alps.

    They rise morethan 6,000 feet, and Zugspitze is the highest point in Germany at9,721 feet. This region has many lakes formed by ancientglaciers, and mountain streams flow into the Danube River. The PeopleThe money that is used in Germany is the Deutsche Mark. TheDeutsche Mark comes in a variety of colors. For example, thetwenty marks is blue, and the one hundred marks in green. Thereare also coins.

    Education is very important in Germany. They have a publiceducation system that is controlled by the individual states. All children must go to school for 9 or 10 years. Afterelementary school there are schools to choose from.

    The Gymnasiumis a traditional junior and senior high school that preparesstudents for the university. Intermediate schools have academicsubjects and job training, and Hauptschulen are vocationalschools which mainly have job training. Comprehensive schoolscombine all three types of schools. Germany has manyuniversities and technical colleges. The University of Heidelbergwas founded in 1386, and is the oldest University in Germany.

    The main sports played in Germany are soccer, gymnastics,tennis, horse back riding, and some snow sports like ice skating,and skiing. Other recreation is biking, camping, and hiking. The holidays celebrated in Germany are the same ones as theUnited States, such as Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day. OnNovember 1, they celebrate All Saints’ Day instead of Halloweenon October 31.

    But there are many local celebrations that arespecial to each region. Munich celebrates Oktoberfest, whichactually starts in September, and has parades, singing, and lotsof food. The Oberammergau Passion Play is a festival that takesplace every year and thousands of people perform in a play aboutChrist’s suffering. This was started in 1634 when the people ofOberammergau prayed to be spared from a terrible plague, andpromised to perform a passion play every year. The plague didnot come to Oberammergau, and so the Passion Play is put on everyyear. Nearly every region has some kind of Sommerfest orTanzfest (dance festival) where people dress up in the specialcostumes for that region.

    There is always lots of music, food,and dancing. The jobs and industries in Germany are a lot like here. Manufacturing is the main source for the economy. There are manyfactories that produce iron and steel, and there are chemical andtextile industries also. The steel is often used to make cars,and Germany is the third largest automobile manufacturer in theworld.

    The service industries are in community, government andpersonal services. Community services include jobs in educationand health care, and personal services include such jobs asrepair shops and beauty salons. Mining is also an industry in Germany. Potash and rock saltare mined, as well as low quality coal called lignite. Somelead, copper, petroleum, tin, uranium and zinc are mined inGermany too.

    There is agriculture in Germany with potatoes being one ofthe largest crops. Grains are grown there such as barley, oats,rye, and wheat. Sugar beets, vegetables, apples, grapes, andother fruits are important crops. There are vineyards near theRhine and Moselle Rivers, and some farmers raise beef and dairycattle, hogs, horses, poultry and sheep.

    Many great people in art, music, and literature came fromGermany. In literature and philosophy from about 1750 to 1830,there was Johann von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Heinrech vonKleist, and many other novelists. Political writers wereImmanuel Kant, Georg Hegel, and Frederich Nietzsche, amongothers. German composers are very well known, and include Bach,Handel, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner,Strauss and Schoenberg.

    Mozart can also be considered German, asAustria was historically connected to other German states. During the Renaissance, German artists created somewonderful paintings and engravings. Albrecht Durer and HansHolbein the Younger are famous for portraits and other paintings. Matthias Grunewald painted religious art, and in the 1800’sCaspar David Friedrich was an important painter in the romanticperiod.

    Max Beckmann was among the German painters thatdeveloped the Expressionist style. Other areas of artistic accomplishments are architecture,with Walter Gropius who founded an important school of design in1919, and film making done by Fritz Lang. He directed a silentfilm in 1926 called Metropolis. Transportation in Germany is done in cars on the Autobahn,which is like a freeway. Germany has one of the highestownerships of cars in the world. They also travel by buses andairplanes like we do.

    The Germans enjoy riding bikes, and usethem for transportation sometimes, but mainly as recreation withfamilies or friends. Germany has a very big railroad, and many people ride thetrains for long trips as well as shorter commutes. Boats are used for transportation because of the many riversin Germany. Also, the North and Baltic Seas border Germany, andships and boats are used there, too. Boating on the Rhine andother rivers is often recreational as well.

    Walking is a form of transportation that the Germans enjoy. They walk a lot to get to where they want to go, but walking andhiking are part of the recreation that Germans like to do. The houses in Germany do not have as much space as many ofthe homes in the United States. They are built closer togetherand are smaller. In some cities there are housing shortages.

    Most of the houses are fairly modern. Many homes were destroyedin World War II, and were rebuilt. There are apartments inGermany, too. Some of the houses in the farmlands are very old.

    A common type of German farm home is the Bauernhof. It is asingle building containing both a house and a barn. Many havebeen remodeled inside so the people can gave more space, but somestill have animals living in the barn half. The GovernmentThe government of Germany is a federal republic. The peopleelect their representatives by secret ballot. There is aparliament which has two houses, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat.

    The main leader is the chancellor, and Helmut Kohl is the currentleader in Germany. He can remain in office for five years. TheBundestag chooses the head of the government by having the peoplevote for deputies who then choose the leader from the strongestparty. ReligionThe main religion in Germany is Christianity. It is 45 percent protestant, mainly Lutheran.

    Forty per cent are Catholic,and two per cent are Muslim. There are about 40,000 Jews inGermany. FashionThe fashion in Germany is the same as the United States. But many years ago each region had its own outfits that werespecial to that area.

    When someone from one region traveled toanother region, the people could tell where they were from justby their clothes. Today, the people of the different regionsdress up in costumes for special celebrations that show whatregion they are from. For example, in the area of Bavaria, thecostumes for the girls are black sleeveless dresses which areworn over a lacy white blouse. A white apron is worn over theskirt, and a white shawl is on the girl’s shoulders.

    On thefront of her outfit is embroidery and artificial gold coins sewnon. A little black hat with a small brim and a white feather isalso worn. The boys wear lederhosen, which are short leatherpants with a bib, like overalls. These often have embroidery onthe front, too. FoodThe German people eat meals which usually have potatoes andpork, veal or fish.

    They don’t eat as much beef as we do in theUnited States. They are famous for the many varieties of bread(called Brot), sausages (Wurst), and sauerkraut, which is pickledcabbage. Sauerkraut and sausages were created many years ago asa way of preserving cabbage and meat. They enjoy vegetables and fruit, especially apples. Theymake many different kinds of cheese, such as Munster andLimburger, which are named after the regions in Germany wherethey are made.

    Germany is also well known for beer and wine. There aremany varieties of German beer and wine, also depending on theregions where they are made. Cakes (torten) are a favorite treat in Germany, and thereare many types such as Black Forest Cherry Cake (SchwarzwalderKirschtorte), and cheesecakes topped with fruit. Many Germansenjoy an afternoon treat of “Kaffee und Kuchen”, which meanscoffee and cake. The idea of having special cakes with coffee iswhere the idea of “coffee cake” comes from.

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