World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

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Germany Travelling Guide
Germany Travelling Guide

General background: As Europe's largest economy and most populous nation, Germany remains a key member of the continent's economic, political, and defense organizations. European power struggles immersed the country in two devastating World Wars in the first half of the 20th century and left the country occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union in 1945. With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR). The democratic FRG embedded itself in key Western economic and security organizations, the EC, which became the EU, and NATO, while the communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German unification in 1990. Since then Germany has expended considerable funds to bring eastern productivity and wages up to western standards. In January 2002, Germany and 11 other EU countries introduced a common European currency, the euro.

Area comparative: Slightly smaller than Montana

Climate: Temperate and marine; cool, cloudy, wet winters and summers; occasional warm foehn wind.

Terrain: Lowlands in north, uplands in center, Bavarian Alps in south

Population: 83,251,851 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: German 91.5%, Turkish 2.4%, other 6.1% (made up largely of Serbo-Croatian, Italian, Russian, Greek, Polish, Spanish)

Religions: Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Muslim 3.7%, unaffiliated or other 28.3%

Language: German

Government type: Federal republic

Capital: Berlin

Legal system: Civil law system with indigenous concepts; judicial review of legislative acts in the Federal Constitutional Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

Economic overview: Germany's affluent and technologically powerful economy turned in a relatively weak performance throughout much of the 1990s. The modernization and integration of the eastern German economy continues to be a costly long-term problem, with annual transfers from west to east amounting to roughly $70 billion. Germany's ageing population, combined with high unemployment, has pushed social security outlays to a level exceeding contributions from workers. Structural rigidities in the labor market - including strict regulations on laying off workers and the setting of wages on a national basis - have made unemployment a chronic problem. Business and income tax cuts introduced in 2001 did not spare Germany from the impact of the downturn in international trade, and domestic demand faltered as unemployment began to rise. The government expects growth to gain pace in the second half of 2002, but to fall short of 1% for the year again. Corporate restructuring and growing capital markets are setting the foundations that could allow Germany to meet the long-term challenges of European economic integration and globalization, particularly if labor market rigidities are addressed.

Communication/Telephone system: Germany has one of the world's most technologically advanced telecommunications systems.

Places of interest: Big-city charm, picture-postcard small towns. 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.

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