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GermanyOnce the home of marauding Vikings, Denmark is now a snug and comfortable country, its ancient flag fluttering over family gardens rather than warships. Even if most Danish people suspect they live in the best of all possible worlds, they rarely have the poor taste to say so. Prosperous and orderly, Danes are also endowed with a streak of humor. They're fond of balance, understatement and good design.
Like its people, the country's sights are impressive without being imposing. Copenhagen, the country's capital, is a good example: It's a modern, international city that has managed to remain cozy and compact -- most of the sights are only a short walk away. Outside Copenhagen, the countryside offers graceful castles, stout churches and small fishing villages that seem to have been lifted from a story by Hans Christian Andersen. The mostly flat-as-a-pancake terrain connecting these sights makes touring the countryside on a bicycle a pleasant option -- though beware of the strong winds that may blow in from the sea.
Visitors who have been to other Scandinavian countries find the Danes to be surprisingly open. Sit for a while at an inn or bar and you may soon find yourself surrounded by friends: Most residents speak English and seem to make it a point to talk to travelers. And while their country may be old in appearance, the people are young in attitude -- the nightlife is vibrant and continues well into the morning.
Capital and largest city - Berlin.
Official language - German.

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GermanyWhile the German language and the feeling of "Germanhood" go back more than a thousand years, the state now known as Germany was unified as a modern nation-state only in 1871, when the German Empire, dominated by the Kingdom of Prussia, was forged. This was the second German Reich, usually translated as "empire", but also meaning "realm".

Holy Roman Empire

The first Reich – known for much of its existence as the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation – stemmed from a division of the Carolingian Empire in 843, which was founded by Charlemagne on December 25th, 800, and existed in varying forms until 1806. During these almost thousand years, the Germans expanded their influence successfully with the help of the Catholic Church, Northern Crusades and the Hanseatic League. In 1530, the attempt of Protestant Reformation of Catholicism turned out to have failed, and a separate Protestant church was acknowledged as new state religion in many states of Germany. This led to inter-German strife, the Thirty Years War (1618) and finally the Peace of Westphalia (1648), that resulted in a drastically enfeebled and politically disunited Germany, unable to resist the stroke of the Napoleonic Wars, during which the Reich was overrun and dissolved (1806). After that, France was for long perceived as Germany's arch-enemy. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Germany took revenge, but also during World War I, the invasion of France (1914) was a chief objective. The lasting effect of the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire came to be the division between Austria, formerly the leading state of Germany, from the more western and northern parts. Between 1815 and 1871 Germany consisted of dozens of independent states, thirty-nine of which formed the German Confederation.

German Empire

The second Reich, the German Empire, was proclaimed in Versailles on January 18th, 1871, after the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. This was mainly due to the work of Otto von Bismarck, Germany's most prominent statesman of the 19th century. Bismarck's domestic policies as Chancellor of Germany were characterised by his fight against perceived enemies of the Prussian-Protestant state. In the so-called Kulturkampf he tried to limit the influence of the Catholic Church through various measures. The other perceived threat was the rise of Social Democracy, which he fought partly by outlawing the Social Democratic party's organisation, and partly by reforms intended to improve the social conditions of the working classes. On foreign policy, Bismarck aimed at protecting the security of Germany through a system of alliances and various treaties (Dual Alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1879; Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy in 1882; Reinsurance Treaty between Germany and Russia in 1887). When the foreign situation proved auspicious, a number of German colonies were established overseas - South-West Africa, the Cameroons, Togo, East Africa etc. In 1890 Bismarck was dismissed by the new Emperor William II due to policy and personal differences. Soon a new course in foreign policy was taken, which was aimed at increasing Germany's influence in the world, but which also led to frictions with the other major powers. From 1898, negotiations for an alliance between Germany and Britain broke down as a result of Admiral Tirpitz's programme of warship construction. Germany became increasingly isolated. Imperialist power politics and the determined pursuit of national interests led to the outbreak in 1914 of World War I.
The SMS Emden of the German Imperial NavyThe incident which sparked off the war was the assassination of the Austrian heir apparent and his wife at Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, on July 28th 1914. The causes were the opposing policies of the European states, the armaments race, German–British rivalry, the difficulties of the Austro–Hungarian multinational state, Russia's Balkan policy and overhasty mobilisations and ultimatums. Germany declared war on Russia on August 1st, and on France on the 3rd; Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th. There was fighting in western, southern, central and eastern Europe, in the Middle East and the German colonies. In the west, Germany fought a war of position with bloody battles, while in the east no decisive victories were won. The British Naval Blockade in the North Sea seriously crippled Germany's supplies of raw materials and foodstuffs. After the Bolshevik Revolution in November 1917, Russia withdrew from the war under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, with terms highly favourable to Germany and its allies. The entry of the United States into the war, in 1917, marked a decisive turning-point. On November 4th 1918, the German Revolution broke out, and, on November 9th, Emperor Wilhelm II and all German ruling princes abdicated. On November 11th, an armistice was signed at Compiegne. The first world war was over.

Weimar Republic

The German Revolution of 1918–1919 ended the German Monarchy and laid the foundations for the Weimar Republic.Following the abdication of Wilhelm II, Social Democrats proclaimed a republic (see Weimar Republic). That same evening, the Spartacist League, a militant left-wing offshoot of the Social Democrats, proclaimed a Socialist Republic, beginning several months of struggle in Germany between republican, communist, and authoritarian groups. By January of 1919, however, the fledgling Weimar Republic, with the help of the nationalist freebooter Freikorps and the army, had crushed the Spartacists and associated movements throughout Germany. On August 11, 1919, the federal Weimar Constitution came into effect. At this time both the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) and the German Communist Party were founded, although the former was but one of many small ultra-nationalist right-wing parties in postwar Germany.
While German culture flourished, and German science retained its world-leading position, the 1920s were more characterised by hyperinflation brought on by the post-war economic hardship, which in Germany's case may have been aggravated by the conditions and reparations required by the Treaty of Versailles. There was considerable unrest, the German people's being unused to democracy and lacking confidence in the new state; German voters increasingly supported anti-democratic parties, both right- and left-wing. Anti-modernism and political reaction appealed to the voters. The situation deteriorated further after the world wide Great Depression, and in two extraordinary elections of 1932, the most aggressive anti-parliamentarian parties together got more than the half of the seats, with 37% and then 33% of the votes to the National Socialist Party, and about 16% of the votes to the Communists.
The end of the Weimar Republic came when on 30 January 1933, President Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany with support from the centre-right parties. A Reichstag fire was used as an excuse for abolishing civil and political rights, and with the Enabling Act, March 23, full legislative power was transferred to Hitler's government, establishing a centralised totalitarian state in which the remaining checks and balances were quickly abolished.

Third Reich
Nazi party's Nuremberg Rally, 1936The new regime quickly dissolved all trade unions, made Germany a one-party state, and repressed all opposition. From 1933 onwards, 412 concentration camps were set up for groups and people perceived as threats. Open persecution of Jews began. In 1934, the Nazi Party was purged of internal left-wing opposition, concentrated to the SA, in the Night of the Long Knives, ostensibly to end homosexual vices. In 1935 the Nuremberg race laws came into force: Jews were deprived of their German citizenship, were banned from marrying Germans, and locked out from most of society. Science and cultural life were hit by a massive brain drain. Many who had the opportunity chose exile, and of those who didn't, large numbers died before Nazi rule was over. It is interesting to note that Albert Einstein was one of those who escaped in this exile. He later contributed to the idea of the nuclear bomb, and helped convince America to begin the Manhatten project, racing to beat the Germans at building the first atomic weapon.
In 1936, German troops entered the demilitarised Rhineland, violating the Versailles Treaty, but rebuilding national self-esteem. This was permitted by lack of enforcement from France, Britain or other countries. Emboldend, Hitler from 1938 onwards executed a policy of expansionism. It started with the annexation of Austria, followed by the Sudetes region which had been in Czechoslovakia since 1919. On and on a policy of appeasment kept allowing Germany to expand unchallenged. In 1939, Bohemia and Moravia was annexed and a Slovakian independent state was created. To avoid a two-front war, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was concluded with the Soviet Union. The final straw was an attack on Poland. Germany led a Blitzkrieg against Poland, which was divided by Germany and Russia, and this led to the beginning of World War II.
A Red Army soldier flies the Soviet flag over the Reichstag in Berlin, on April 30th 1945.In 1940, most of Western Europe was occupied, but the Luftwaffe during the airwar over britain known as the Battle of Britain failed to defeat Britain. The Luftwaffe in the beginning of the Battle of Britain had Air Superiority. To try to break the resolve of the British it was ordered that bombing runs should be carried out on London. These bombings resulted in many deaths but the English, under Churchill were even more resolved to continue the war. With time, and new radar technology the British slowly beat back the Luftwaffe and nullified its effectiveness in attacking Britain. In 1941, Yugoslavia and Greece were conquered. Hitler decided to invade the Soviet Union and and drove the attack to Stalingrad. Russia then started to push Germany back. In December war was also declared on the United States to support their Japanese axis allies. By this point, Hitler had engaged too many enemies. He had Britain as a launching point for Allied attacks from the west, Russia attacking from the East, with little or no aid being given by the other Axis partners which were also being slowly defeated. This reversal of fortune started to become obvious in February 1943 at the Battle of Stalingrad. German cities increasingly became targets of Allied air attacks. One of the more famous air attacks firebombed a city, killing most inhabitants of the city. By 1945 all of Germany was occupied by the Allies (British, French, American, Russian). Hitler committed suicide, the European theater of World War II was over, and most of Europe's cities were left in ruins.
The Allied occupation revealed to the world and the German public the scale of the racially motivated killing of civilians: chiefly Slavs from behind the Eastern Front and virtually all Jews from the territories in German hands. Figures for the genocide in the East remain controversial and diverging, but the figure of 6 million deaths of Jews who lost their lives in the death camps of the Holocaust was established.

Division and Reunification
The Berlin Wall, described by the East German authorities as "a protection against fascists", partitioned the city from 1961 to 1989The war resulted in large losses of territory and the expulsion of millions of Germans from Eastern Germany and the deaths of around 3 million German civilians, as well as millions of soldiers. The remaining German territory was occupied by the victors. The city of Berlin, though lying in the Soviet zone, was partitioned among the four Allies as well, with West Berlin being controlled by the Western allies.
In 1949, during the Berlin Blockade, Western forces airlifted food and supplies into West Berlin, after it had been cut off from Soviet-controlled East Berlin. West Germany benefitted from the American Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after the war and was a founding state of the European Union. The reconstructed West Germany once again became one of the world's major economies. Rule of law and democracy were restored and stabilised by successive governments in Bonn to prevent a second Weimar Republic. After fierce initial anticommunism, openings were made towards the Soviet Union and East Germany during Willy Brandt's chancellorship.
The Soviet-supported East Germany, by contrast, became one of the most repressive of the communist satellite states of the Warsaw Pact under the governments of Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker in East Berlin. The flight of growing numbers of East Germans via West Berlin led on August 13, 1961, to East Germany erecting the Berlin Wall and a fortified border to West Germany.
BerlinThe Brandenburg Gate is a symbol of division and reunification.During the summer of 1989, following growing unrest, large numbers of East German citizens took refuge in West German embassies in Central and Eastern European countries in the hope of emigrating to the West. The East German government's confusion grew during the autumn of 1989, as events all over the Warsaw Pact countries turned to the favour of proponents of democracy. On November 9th, the East German authorities unexpectedly allowed East German citizens to enter West Berlin and West Germany. Hundreds of thousands of people took advantage of the opportunity; new crossing points were opened in the Berlin Wall and along the border with West Germany. This marked the de facto end of East Germany.
On July 1st 1990 the reunification of the two Germanys was prepared. The reunification came into force on October 3rd, which was declared a national public holiday (German Unity Day).

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Since reunification of the two parts of the country Germany has resumed its traditional role as the major centre between Scandinavia in the north and the Mediterranean region in the south, as well as between the Atlantic west and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
The territory of Germany stretches from the high mountains of the Alps (highest point: the Zugspitze at 2,962 m) in the south to the shores of the North Sea in the north-west and the Baltic in the north-east. In between are found the forested uplands of central Germany and the low-lying lands of northern Germany (lowest point: Neuendorfer/Wilstermarsch at 3.54 meters below sea level), traversed by some of Europe's major rivers such as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe.
Thanks to its central situation Germany has more neighbours than any other European country; these are Denmark in the north, Poland and the Czech Republic in the east, Austria and Switzerland in the south, France and Luxembourg in the south-west and Belgium and the Netherlands in the north-west.

- the greater part of Germany lies in the cool/temperate climatic zone in which humid westerly winds predominate.
In the north-west and the north the climate is extremely oceanic and rain falls all the year round. Winters there are relatively mild and summers comparatively cool.
n the east the climate shows clear continental features; winters can be very cold for long periods, and summers can become very warm. Here, too, long dry periods are often recorded.
In the centre and the south there is a transitional climate which may be predominantly oceanic or continental, according to the general weather situation.
There have been several large-scale river floodings in the last few years; while floods of such severity are quite rare in the long term, their frequency has been increasing lately, partly due to changes in land use in the flood plains.


Germany has many large cities but only three with a population of one million or more (Berlin: 3 million, Hamburg: 1.8 million, Munich: 1.2 million); the population is thus much less centralised and oriented towards a single large capital than in most other European countries. The largest cities are Berlin, Hamburg, Munich (Munchen), Cologne (Koln), Frankfurt am Main, Stuttgart, Dortmund, Essen, Dusseldorf, Bremen, Duisburg and Hanover (Hannover). By far the largest urban conurbation is the Rhine–Ruhr region including the Dusseldorf-Cologne district.
As of 31 December 2003, about 7.3 million non-citizen residents were living in Germany. By far the largest number came from Turkey, followed by Serbia and Montenegro, Italy, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Croatia, Austria, the United States, Macedonia and Slovenia [2] (http://www.destatis.de/basis/e/bevoe/bevoetab4.htm). About 2/3s of these have been in the country for more than 8 years, 20% were born in Germany; both groups qualify for citizenship after recent changes in immigration law (2002 data), if the individuals involved choose to apply for it (which regularly involves renunciation of previous citizenship(s)). Germany is still a primary destination for political and economic refugees from many developing countries, but the number of asylum seekers has been dropping in recent years, reaching about 50,000 in 2003. A new immigration law recently took effect (1 January 2005), which provides a more systematic treatment of immigration issues as well as increased support for German language classes for immigrants.
An ethnic Danish minority of about 50,000 people lives in Schleswig, mostly close to the Danish border, in the north; a small number of Slavic people known as the Sorbs lives in the states of Saxony (about 40,000) and Brandenburg (about 20.000). The Frisian language is mother tongue to about 12,000 speakers in Germany, the rest living in the Netherlands. In rural areas of Northern Germany Low Saxon is widely spoken.
There are also a large number of ethnic German immigrants from the former Soviet Union area (1.7 million), Poland (0.7 million) and Romania (0.3 million) (1980–1999 totals), who are automatically granted German citizenship, and thus do not show up in foreign resident statistics; unlike the foreigners they have been settled by the government almost evenly spread throughout Germany. Many of them speak the languages of their former resident countries at home.

Germany is the home of the Reformation launched by Martin Luther in the early 16th century. Today, Protestants (particularly in the north and east) comprise about 33% of the population and Catholics (particularly in the south and west) also 33%. In total more than 55 million people officially belong to a Christian denomination. Most German Protestants are members of the Evangelical Church in Germany. Free churches exist in all larger towns and many smaller ones, but most such churches are small.

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