Facts & Figures About Germany
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Area: 357,000 sq. km. (137,821 sq. mi.); about the size of Montana.
Cities: Capital--Berlin (population about 3.4 million). Other cities--Hamburg
(1.7 million), Munich (1.2 million), Cologne (964,000), Frankfurt (644,000),
Essen (603,000), Dortmund (592,000), Stuttgart (582,000), Dusseldorf (568,000),
Bremen (543,000), Hanover (516,000).
Terrain: Low plain in the north; high plains, hills, and basins in the center
and east; mountainous alpine region in the south.
Climate: Temperate; cooler and rainier than much of the United States.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--German(s).
Population (2001 est.): 83 million.
Ethnic groups: Primarily German; Danish minority in the north, Sorbian (Slavic)
minority in the east; 7.3 million foreign residents.
Religions: Protestants (27.9 million) slightly outnumber Roman Catholics (27.3
million); approximately 3.2 million Muslims.
Education: Years compulsory--10; attendance--100%; literacy--99%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (1998 est.)--5.0/1,000; life expectancy
(1999 est.)--women 80 years, men 74 years.
Persons employed (2001 avg.): 38.8 million; unemployed (2001 avg.): 3.9
million--9.1% of labor force.
Type: Federal republic.
Founded: 1949 (Basic Law, i.e., Constitution, promulgated on May 23, 1949). On
October 3, 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic
Republic unified in accordance with Article 23 of the F.R.G. Basic Law.
Branches: Executive--president (titular chief of state), chancellor
(executive head of government); legislative--bicameral parliament; judicial--independent,
Federal Constitutional Court.
Administrative divisions: 16 Laender (states).
Major political parties: Social Democratic Party (SPD); Christian Democratic
Union (CDU); Christian Social Union (CSU); Alliance 90/Greens; Free Democratic
Party (FDP); Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS).
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
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 (chief of state) are largely ceremonial;
the chancellor exercises executive power. The Bundestag (lower, principal
chamber of the parliament) 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 the Federal Assembly, a body
convoked only for this purpose, comprising the entire Bundestag and an equal
number of state delegates.
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 was reduced to 598 for the 2002
elections. The Bundesrat (upper chamber or Federal Council) consists of 69
members who are delegates of the 16 Laender (states). The legislature has powers
of exclusive jurisdiction and concurrent jurisdiction with the Laender 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.
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 Bundesverfassungsgericht
(Federal Constitutional Court), which ensures a uniform interpretation of
constitutional provisions and protects the fundamental rights of the individual
citizen as defined in the Basic Law.
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