Germany is one of the founding members of the European Union.
Germany has supported European integration for over 60 years.
Germany is at the heart of Europe.
It has more neighbours than any other country on the continent.
Germany has nine direct neighbours.
Eight of these countries are members of the European Union.
For Germany, cohesion in Europe is the basis for peace, security and prosperity.
The Federal Republic of Germany is a parliamentary democracy.
Parliamentary democracy is difficult to understand.
It means that people elect the members of a parliament.
The parliament then adopts laws and elects the government.
Germany is a federal state.
This means that it is made up of 16 different Länder.

Germany has more than 83 million inhabitants.
This makes Germany the country with the biggest population in the European Union.
The Head of State is Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The Head of Government is Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel © Photo 1: Federal Government, Photo 2: Federal Government/Steffen Kugler

Over three million people live in the German capital Berlin.
Berlin is the biggest city in Germany.
Berlin is also one of the Länder.
Germany is famous for its technology and research.
There are also very good conditions for start-ups in Germany.
Start-ups are newly established companies.
Germany is also very attractive as a place to study.
Companies in Germany have close links with companies abroad.
These companies create many jobs in Germany and abroad.
Small businesses are particularly important for the German economy.
And medium-sized enterprises.
These companies train skilled workers.
Skilled workers are urgently needed in Germany.
Many young people from other EU member states find the opportunities for employment and training in Germany attractive.


The Bundestag

Germany’s Parliament is called the German Bundestag.
The Parliament is in Berlin.
The Parliament makes important laws.
Germany is a parliamentary democracy.
Members of the public vote in elections to the Bundestag.
They have two votes.
They elect a specific politician to the Bundestag with their first vote.
The second vote is for a political party.
The parties must receive at least five percent of the votes.
Otherwise they cannot enter the Bundestag.
709 politicians are currently Members of the Bundestag.
The Head of Government is Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel.
Angela Merkel is a physicist.
And she is the first woman in this office.
She has been in office since 2005.
The share of women in Federal Chancellor Merkel’s government is currently about 44 percent.

That is almost half.

A glass dome above the debating chamber of the Bundestag, housed in the Reichstag, symbolises the transparency of the legislative process. Visitors can look down from above into the plenary chamber. The British architect, Sir Norman Foster, designed the glass and steel dome, which was completed in 1999. The original dome was badly damaged during the Second World War   © dpa

The Bundesrat

Germany is a federal state.
This means that there are lots of different Länder.
The Länder are part of the legislative and administrative process in the Bundesrat.
This also applies to affairs related to the European Union.
Each Land is represented in the Bundesrat by members of its regional government.
The Bundesrat has 69 members.
They represent Germany’s 16 Länder.
Here are the names of the 16 Länder:

  • Baden-Württemberg,
  • Bavaria,
  • Berlin,
  • Brandenburg,
  • Bremen,
  • Hamburg,
  • Hesse,
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania,
  • Lower Saxony,
  • North Rhine-Westphalia,
  • Rhineland-Palatinate,
  • Saarland,
  • Saxony,
  • Saxony-Anhalt,
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • und Thuringia.

The 16 Länder ensure a good political balance.
Each Land has its own constitution and is independent.
The Federal Government and the Bundestag need the approval of the Bundesrat for many important decisions.

Foundation of the state and reunification

The Basic Law is Germany’s most important law.
This law is often called a constitution in other countries.
It entered into force on 23 May 1949.
Human dignity is at the centre of the Basic Law.
The Basic Law is the basis of Germany’s parliamentary democracy.
The Federal Republic of Germany was founded in 1949.
The Federal Government established relations with many European neighbours shortly afterwards.
Germany wanted to build up economic and political relations.
Germany wanted to do this to ensure peace and unity in Europe.
Germany was one of the founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951.
A treaty was signed in 1957.
The European Economic Community (EEC) was founded.
Together with:

  • France,
  • Belgium,
  • Italy,
  • Luxemburg
  • and the Netherlands.

The European Union emerged from the EEC in 1992.
Also in 1949, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was founded in the eastern part of Germany.
The GDR later became part of the Warsaw Pact.
The GDR put up border fences with automatic firing devices.
The people there were not allowed to leave the GDR.
The GDR built the Berlin Wall in 1961.
The Wall became a famous symbol of the conflict between East and West.
This conflict was also called the Cold War.
This is what we call the period from 1945 to 1989.
Back then, the people in the West and the East were enemies.
The Berlin Wall was destroyed on 9 November 1989 after the peaceful revolution by GDR citizens.
The GDR has been part of the Federal Republic of Germany since 3 October 1990.
Since then, the Day of German Unity has been our national day.
Germany is celebrating the 30th anniversary of German unity this year.
German foreign policy promotes peace and security around the world.
It wants there to be good talks and good international rules.
Germany’s membership of the United Nations Security Council is a very important part of this.

Historic Responsibilities

Two “Stolpersteine”, set into the pavement in front of the house where this couple lived. The German artist, Gunter Demnig, designed these brass-plated “Stolpersteine”, which have been laid throughout Germany and in 25 other European countries © dpa

Germany did cruel and terrible things in the period from 1933 to 1945.
Germany takes responsibility for the crimes committed during the National Socialist period.
Everyone should remember these crimes.
So that such things never happen again.
In Germany, memorials recall the victims of these crimes.
For example, there are the “Stolpersteine” (stumbling stones) made of brass on street pavements.
They are outside the former homes of the victims of National Socialism.
Important information about the victims is written on these stones:

  • their name
  • their date of birth
  • the day on which the person was deported
  • the day on which they died.

They recall the terrible fate of these people.
They were persecuted, deported or murdered during the National Socialist period.
Germany is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
In the IHRA, Germany talks to other countries and organisations about the crimes committed during the National Socialist period.
Germany is chairing the IHRA in 2020/21.
This includes looking after memorials to the victims of the persecution of the Jews.

Culture and Europe

There are lots of different beautiful landscapes in Germany:
The Alps in the south.

A hiker takes in the “Zugspitze,” the highest mountain in Germany  © picture alliance/dpa/Angelika Warmuth

The wide sandy beaches at the Baltic Sea and North Sea.

Baltic Sea beach at sunset © picture alliance/Voelker

The many lakes, castles and palaces.

Germany is home to 46 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The Wadden Sea in the North Sea, for example.
People interested in culture will find many museums, concert halls and theatres in all of the Länder.
People who love music and dance can visit the clubs in Berlin and other cities.
They can enjoy a great vibe there.

The headquarters of various EU institutions are in Germany:

  • the European Central Bank (ECB)
  • the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA)
  • the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
  • the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC)
  • the European Astronaut Centre (EAC).

Germany’s population has become more European in the past 30 years.
The number of people from other countries has doubled.
Most immigrants come from the EU.

For his “Heimat” (“Home”) project, the German photographer, Carsten Sander, toured the whole of Germany in 2014, during which he photographed 1,000 different inhabitants. As part of the cultural programme for Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2020, Sander will engage in a similar project, for which he will photograph 1,000 Europeans © Monika Skolimowska/picture alliance/dpa


Germany sells many goods to other countries.
It earns a lot of money from this.
These goods include:

  • cars,
  • machines,
  • and chemical products.

People in Germany made a lot of money in 2019.
Only very few people were unemployed.
Some Länder have stronger economies than others.
The richer Länder support the poorer ones.

The COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is also having an impact on the German population and economy.
The member states of the European Union are working very hard to help the economy.
Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union started on 1 July 2020.
Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact is particularly important.
Economic assistance is part of the programme for the six-month Presidency.
We want to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.