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Tuesday 30th May
Germany Information - Page 1
Geography
The Federal Republic of Germany is bordered by the North Sea, Denmark, the Baltic Sea, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Germany consists of the states of Baden-Wurttemberg, [Free State of] Bavaria, Berlin [city state], Brandenburg, [Free Hanseatic City of] Bremen, [Free Hanseatic City of] Hamburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saarland, [Free State of] Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, and [Free State of] Thuringa.

Berlin, the capital, is Germany's most populated city. Hamburg is the second largest city followed by Munich.

Germany is divided into the north lowlands, the central uplands, the Rhineland (Black Forest) and the Bavarian Alps. Rivers include the Rhine, the Weser, the Elbe and the Danube.

Germany has a temperate climate with cold, wet winters and warm summers.

Environment
Forests cover around thirty percent of the country. Protected areas include biosphere reserves, national parks and nature parks. Over thirty sites are listed by Ramsar as Wetlands of International Importance. The Wadden Sea, shared with the Netherlands and Denmark, is the the largest coherent tidal wetland in the world.

The Dresden Elbe Valley and the Upper Middle Rhine Valley are World Heritage sites.

National Parks include the Bavarian Forest, Berchtesgaden, Eifel, Hainich, Harz, Jasmund, Kellerwald-Edersee, Lower Oder Valley, Muritz, Saxon Switzerland, Schleswig-Holstein and West-Pomeranian Boddenlandschaft.

Architecture
Aachen Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, built in the eighth century, is an example of early German architecture.

Gothic buildings, such as churches, public buildings, houses and city gates, were constructed in the twelfth century. French Gothic architecture was an important influence, especially in the highly decorated cathedrals.

The first classical building in Berlin was the Brandenburg Gate built in 1791 by Carl Gotthard Langhans. The Gate was a triumphal arch celebrating Berlin, the Prussian capital city. The Quadriga statue on the top is the work of Johann Gottfried Shadow.

During the Second World War (1939-45) much architecture was destroyed by Allied bombings. Dresden, famous for its Baroque buildings was a war-time casualty. The Berlin Dome, an Italian Renaissance style church, was also damaged and has undergone restoration.

Following the post-War division of Berlin The Wall (Die Mauer) was constructed in 1961; it remained a barrier between East (German Democratic Republic) and West (Federal Republic of Germany) Berlin until 1989.

An example of modern architecture in Berlin is the Jewish Museum, designed by Daniel Libeskind and opened in September 2001. The building, covered with metal - reflecting light, resembles a zigzag; the floor plan is similar to a Star of David worn by Jews during the Nazi regime. The lines of the windows resemble wounds, theatrical splits in the building's skin from which daylight spills. Other features in the building include sloping floors and a windowless Holocaust Tower.

Population
Germany's population was estimated at 82,369,548 in 2008.

Languages
German is the official language. There are several regional dialects.

Religion
The Reformation of the Church, led by Martin Luther, saw the beginning of Protestantism. Today around a third of the people are Protestant; a similar number are Roman Catholic.

Food
Traditional German dishes include sauerkraut, frankfurters, bratwurst, Wiener Schnitzel (veal cutlet) and dumplings. Germany is also known for cheese and dark rye bread. Apple desserts, such as apple cake, apple pancakes and apple strudel are popular. Black Forest gateau is a famous German cake.

The United Kingdom's Queen Victoria imported wine (hock) from the vineyards of Hochheim for her personal use. Germany is also well known for its numerous varieties of beer.

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