Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is one of the largest countries in Europe and the largest economy. It is bordered to the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea; to the east by Poland and the Czech Republic; to the south by Austria and Switzerland; and to the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. With over 82 million inhabitants, it has the largest population of any member state of the European Union and is home to the third-largest number of international migrants worldwide.
A region named Germania inhabited by several Germanic peoples has been known and documented before 100 AD. Since the 10th century German territories have formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire that lasted until 1806. During the 16th century, northern Germany became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. As a modern nation-state, the country was first unified amidst the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. After World War II, Germany was divided into two separate states along the lines of allied occupation in 1949. The two states became reunified again in 1990. West Germany was a founding member of the European Community (EC) in 1957, which became the European Union in 1993. It is part of the borderless Schengen zone and adopted the European currency, the euro, in 1999.
Germany is a federal parliamentary republic of sixteen states. The capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany is the world’s third largest economy by nominal GDP and the largest exporter of goods in 2007. The country has developed a high standard of living and established a comprehensive system of social security. Definitely worth visiting on any trip to Europe – particularly Berlin and Munich!