British in Germany

Living in Germany


The German Economy

Germany is one of the most highly-industrialised and economically powerful countries in the world. The economic system is classed as a social, market economy within which competition has become very pronounced. Unemployment is a problem, not only in the new Federal States. The major sectors of the economy are manufacturing, service industries and trade, and transport. Great political importance is attached to environmental protection which is a major concern of most people here.

Major changes are in motion as part of agenda 2010, you can read more about this here.


German Geography

One of the interesting things about living in Germany is figuring out what some of the cities and areas are really called.

Area: 357,000 sq. km. (137,821 sq. mi.)

Capital: - Berlin (population about 3.5 million)
States (Länder):- Baden-Württemberg (10 million - Capital Stuttgart), Bavaria (Bayern) (12 million - Capital Munich (München)), Berlin (3.5 million - Capital Berlin), Brandenburg (2.5 million - Capital Potsdam), Bremen (684,000 - Capital Bremen), Hamburg (1.7 million - Capital Hamburg), Hesse (Hessen) (5.9 million - Capital Wiesbaden), Mecklenburg-Westpommerania (Mecklenburg-Westpommern) (1.9 million - Capital Schwerin), Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) (7.5 million - Capital Hanover (Hannover)), North Rhine Westfalia (Nordrhein Westfalen) (18 million - Capital Düsseldorf), Rheinland Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) (4 million - Capital Mainz), Saarland (1.1 million - Capital Saarbrücken), Saxony (Sachsen) (5 million - Capital Dresden), Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt) (3 million - Capital Magdeburg), Schleswig-Holsten (2.6 million - Capital Kiel), Thuringia (Thüringen) (2.6 million - Capital Erfurt)
Other Large Cities: - Hamburg (1.7 million), Munich (München) (1.2 million), Cologne (Köln) (964,000), Frankfurt (647,000), Essen (612,000), Dortmund (597,000), Stuttgart (585,000), Dusseldorf (571,000), Bremen (549,000), Hannover (523,000)

The Federal Republic of Germany is situated in the heart of Europe, surrounded by a total of nine neighbouring states it has the highest number of border countries in West Europe. In terms of population it is the largest country in the European Union, in terms of area, the third largest. From North to South the distance is 876 km, from East to West more than 640 km. Due to its central position Germany functions within the EU and NATO as a bridge to the Central and Eastern European states and is an important location for European and global relations.

Germany has a temperate climate. In summer the temperature is about 18-40°C, while in winter the mean temperature is about 1.5°C and can go down to -10°C in the mountains. Rain falls all the year round, especially in autumn.

The German landscape is extremely varied. The North is characterised by lakes, heath and moorland; the coast by chains of islands, estuaries and dunes. In the South is the Swabian-Bavarian plateau with its hills and large lakes as well as the German part of the Alps. In the area in between there are deciduous and coniferous forests, slate hills and a green landscape of river valleys and plains.


German Government

Type: Federal republic.
Founded: 1949 Basic Law, i.e., Constitution, promulgated on May 23, 1949 (Grundgesetz)
Reunification: On October 3, 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) and the German Democratic Republic unified in accordance with Article 23 of the FRG Basic Law. It is now known as the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland)
Branches: Executive--president (titular chief of state) (Bundespräsident), chancellor (Bundeskanzler) ; legislative--bicameral parliament (Bundesregierung); judicial--independent, Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) .
Administrative divisions: 16 states (Länder).
Major political parties: Social Democratic Party (SPD) - left of center; Christian Democratic Union (CDU) - conservative, right of center; Christian Social Union (CSU) - - conservative, right of center; Alliance 90/Greens - environmentalist; Free Democratic Party (FDP) - liberal; Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) - socialist.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

The government is parliamentary, and a democratic constitution emphasizes the protection of individual liberty and division of powers in a federal structure. The chancellor (prime minister) heads the executive branch of the federal government. The duties of the president are largely ceremonial; the chancellor exercises executive power. The lower, principal chamber of the parliament (Bundestag) elects the chancellor and cannot remove the chancellor from office during a 4-year term unless it has agreed on a successor. The president is elected every 5 years on May 23 by a special body comprising the entire Bundestag and an equal number of state delegates selected especially for this purpose.

The Bundestag, which serves a 4-year term, consists of at least twice the number of electoral districts in the country (299). When parties' directly elected seats exceed their proportional representation, they may receive more seats. The number of seats in the Bundestag will reduce to 598 for the 2002 elections. The Federal Council (Bundesrat) consists of 69 members who are delegates of the 16 states (Länder). The legislature has powers of exclusive jurisdiction and concurrent jurisdiction with the states in areas specified in the Basic Law. The Bundestag has primary legislative authority. The Bundesrat must concur on legislation concerning revenue shared by federal and state governments and those imposing responsibilities on the states.

The 16 states have state authority and pass their own state constitutions in accordance with the principles of a republican, democratic and social constitutional state. The entire educational system, for example, including higher education, falls within the political jurisdiction of the states.

Germany has an independent federal judiciary consisting of a constitutional court, a high court of justice, and courts with jurisdiction in administrative, financial, labor, and social matters. The highest court is the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht), which ensures a uniform interpretation of constitutional provisions and protects the fundamental rights of the individual citizen as defined in the Basic Law.

The German Government has kindly provided a web site (in English) with more information.



German Law

German law goes back partly to Roman law and partly to numerous other legal sources in the German regions. In the 19th century, a uniform system of private law was created for the first time. It applied to the entire German Empire. The Civil Code and Commercial Code to this day preserve the liberal spirit of those times. Their underlying principle is freedom of contract.

The German judicial system includes three separate court systems: the ordinary courts, the specialized courts, and the constitutional courts. Within the ordinary court system, there are four levels of courts: the local court (Amtsgericht), the regional court (Landgericht, the higher regional court (Oberlandesgericht), and the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof). There is also the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) which rules on constitutional disputes. The ordinary court of first instance is the Amstgericht, which hears both criminal and civil cases, including commercial cases below a certain monetary amount (€5,000 ). Landergericht is the court of first instance for cases not specifically assigned by law to Amstergericht, and the court of second instance for other cases. This study focuses on the Berlin Landgericht because it serves as the first instance for commercial cases above €5,000.

You can find even more about German law here.


The German People

Nationality and language: - German.
Population (1998 est.): 82 million.
Religions: Protestants slightly outnumber Roman Catholics.
Education: Years compulsory--10. Attendance--100%. Literacy--99%.
Persons employed (1998 avg.): 38 million.
Persons unemployed (2003): 4.5 million--11.6% of labor force source IMF

Once upon a time the German people evolved from Germanic tribes like the Franks, Saxons, Swabians, and Bavarians. Some elements of the old traditions and vernacular can still be found in the respective regions and express themselves in variations in mentality and very different dialects. However, as a result of massive post-war mass migration, the mobility of modern industrial society and, last but not least, the cultural enrichment brought about by the influx of foreigners, very few people can still be classified as absolutely typical.

Most inhabitants are ethnic German. There are, however, more than 7 million foreign residents, including asylum seekers, guest workers, and their dependents and me.

More than half the German people live in towns with a population of between 2,000 and 100,000. Since re-unification the capital and seat of government is once again Berlin. The towns boast a lively, varied cultural scene sometimes comprising distinguished theatres, orchestras, art academies, art collections, and libraries. The right to artistic freedom is guaranteed as is the right to freedom of expression. The multifarious press organs and other mass media are not censored and guarantee a democratic control of the state and society.

Germany has one of the world's highest levels of education, technological development, and economic productivity. Since the end of World War II, the number of young people entering universities has more than tripled, and the trade and technical schools here are among the world's best. With a per capita income level of more than €22,900, Germany is a broadly middle class society. A generous social welfare system provides for universal medical care, unemployment compensation, and other social needs, however there are major changes being made to the welfare and health systems.

With unification on October 3, 1990, Germany began the major task of bringing the standard of living of Germans in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) up to that of western Germany. This has been a lengthy and difficult process due to the relative inefficiency of industrial enterprises in the former GDR, difficulties in resolving property ownership in eastern Germany, and the inadequate infrastructure and environmental damage that resulted from years of mismanagement under communist rule.

Economic uncertainty in eastern Germany is often cited as one factor contributing to extremist violence, primarily from the political right. Confusion about the causes of the current hardships and a need to place blame has found expression in harassment and violence by some Germans directed toward foreigners, particularly non-Europeans. The vast majority of Germans condemn such violence. There is an active anti Nazi movement: Netz Gegen Nazis and the youth oriented Unser Welt ist Bunt.


Places to Visit

Tourists flock to Germany to visit the modern cities, legendary medieval castles, and the hundreds of additional cultural and historic wonders, both past and present. I am building a guide to some places to visit here:-



German News

The latest German news:-

German news




Living in GermanyHave we forgotten anything? You can contact us on the forum | About Us | ©1999 - 2010 InHand