GERMANY - GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY OF GERMANY

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GEOGRAPHY: Area: 356,733 km ². Local Time: +4 h. Climate: temperate. Capital: Berlin. Cities: Berlin (3,388,400), Hamburg (1726400), Munich (1,228,000), Cologne (967,900), Frankfurt am Main (641,100) (2010).

POPULATION: 83.5 million (2010); nationality: German, composition: 95% Germans, Turks 2%, other 3% (1996). Languages​​: German (official), regional dialects. Religion: Christian 75.8% (Protestant 37%, Roman Catholic 34.9%, other 6.7% - 2.8% dual membership), no religion 17.2%, other 4.8%, atheist 2.2% (2000).

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Organizations: World Bank, IMF, G8, OECD, WTO, UN, NATO, EU.

GOVERNMENT: Parliamentary Republic. Administrative Div: 16 states. Parties: Social Democrats (SPD), Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU), Green, Liberal-Democratic party (FDP), National Democratic Party (NPD). Legislative branch: bicameral - Federal Council with 69 members, the Federal Assembly, with 603 deputies. Constitution: 1949.

Occupying a central position in Europe, Germany holds the second largest population of the continent. Its territory includes the northern plains, plateaus in the center and the Alps in the south. Heavily industrialized nation has the third largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world after the United States (U.S.) and Japão.Derrotado in two world wars, the country was divided by 40 years in East and West Germany, working as European geopolitical pivot of the balance during the Cold War. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the beginning of reunification, strengthening its role as a key country on the world stage and in the process of adopting the euro, the currency of the European Union (EU). While integration has already been completed, disparities remain between the west and east of the nation. The high cost of reunification economic problems worse. There was an increase in unemployment and, after a decade of weak growth in 1990, the economy goes into recession in late 2001 and only shows signs of improvement after two years. Germany recently assumed outstanding economic presence in countries of the former socialist bloc in Eastern Europe.

HISTORY
The origin of the peoples of the Germanic language group dates back to 1700 BC accurate historical information about the presence of the Germans on the Rhine, however, date back to Roman incursions in the time of Julius Caesar, 55 BC and 53 BC With the disintegration of the Empire Romano, in 476, various Germanic kingdoms are created, consolidated by the French emperor Charlemagne, between 772 and 802. In addition to attaching Saxony, Bavaria, the Rhineland and other areas to the newly created field of the Holy Roman Empire, Charlemagne, the German converts to Christianity. The domain free ends on 911, with the election, the German dukes, Konrad I, first king of Germany. In 962, Otto I becomes emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (the First Reich). Between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the German field expands to the east, but the struggles between the princes and the conflict with the papacy weaken the monarchical centralization. The Protestant Reformation and the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) help to maintain the political fragmentation.

Unification - In 1815, after the end of the Napoleonic wars, the German Confederation is organized under the hegemony of Austria and Prussia. The popular revolutions of 1848, marked by nationalism and liberal aspirations, leading to the formation of the first German Parliament. In 1862, Otto von Bismarck became chancellor of Prussia, introducing a program of industrial development and modernization of the Army. The German unification involves wars against Denmark (1864), Austria (1866) and France (1870). In 1871, William I is proclaimed Kaiser (emperor) of the Second Reich. From 1880, the nation knows new phase of economic expansion.

Weimar Republic - Under William II, Germany supports the Austro-Hungarian Empire against Russia, which leads the country into World War I. With the defeat, proclaimed the Republic in 1919, the city of Weimar. The Treaty of Versailles, which puts an end to the conflict, prohibits the German rearmament, territorial losses and establishes imposes heavy war reparations. The Weimar Republic (1919-1933) lived a severe economic and social crisis. Inflation shoots as a result of currency issued for the payment of war debts. In 1924, the country reorganizes its monetary system and stimulates the industry. For five years living in relative prosperity, to be hit by the global crisis of 1929. Millions of unemployed join the National Socialist German Workers, the Nazi party, led by Adolf Hitler.

Nazism - In 1933, Hitler became chancellor (head of government) and transformed Germany into a Nazi-dominated dictatorship, called the Third Reich. Starts the rearmament of the country and suppress political and civil liberties. In 1938, Austria and the Sudetenland, the German-speaking region of Czechoslovakia, are annexed by Hitler. The invasion of Poland by the Germans in 1939, triggering World War II. Germany as a military alliance with Italy and Japan, known as Axis, which gets victories between 1940 and 1942. The Nazis created concentration camps and kill millions of opponents, Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals. After the defeat to the Soviets in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, the Third Reich begins to be expelled from the occupied territories. In 1945, Allied troops invaded Germany. Hitler commits suicide in
April, and May, the country surrenders unconditionally to the Soviet Union (USSR), the United States (U.S.), the United Kingdom and France. By the agreements of Yalta and Potsdam Germany is divided: the western occupying the west and the Soviets, East. The country lost territory to Poland and the USSR.

Cold War - are created In 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or West Germany), capitalism, and the German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany), socialist. Berlin is divided into two (eastern and western), and its western part is stranded in the GDR. In the government of Prime Minister Konrad Adenauer (1949-1963), the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the RFA stage lives of prosperity, stimulated by the Marshall Plan reconstruction project of capitalist Europe, led by the United States. The two German republics become the center of conflict between the U.S. and USSR during the Cold War. In 1948, the Soviets ordered the Berlin blockade, broken by a massive U.S. airlift. In 1955 West Germany joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Western military alliance. East Germany reacts and sticks in the same year, the Warsaw Pact military bloc led by the USSR. In 1961, Eastern authorities build the Berlin Wall, in order to stem the flow of refugees to the West. In 1973, the GDR and FRG enter the United Nations (UN) as two sovereign states.

Fall of Berlin Wall - The East German leader Erich Honecker, in power since 1971, resisted liberalization in the communist bloc, broke out in the mid-1980s in the USSR. In 1989, thousands of East Germans fleeing to West Germany through Czechoslovakia by Poland and Hungary. In October, pro-democracy demonstrations led to the replacement of Honecker by Egon Krenz. The following month, under pressure, Krenz ordered the opening of the Berlin Wall, which is soon overthrown by the population. The episode begins the process of reunification. In the first free election in the GDR in 1990, wins the Alliance for Germany, pro-unification. Driven by the FRG Chancellor Helmut Kohl (CDU), is held in monetary union (July) and political (in October). The new Parliament confirms the position of Chancellor Kohl.

Reunified Germany - The country paid a high price for reunification, with rising unemployment. In a tense social climate, immigrants suffer attacks of neo-Nazi groups. The government imposes in 1996 an austerity program with a cutoff of welfare benefits. The victory of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the 1998 elections represents a major electoral defeat of the CDU in the postwar period. How to not get a parliamentary majority, the SPD coalition with the Green Party and indicates Gerhard Schröder as chancellor.

Political scandal - An investigation on bribery in the government in December 1999, results in the largest political scandal in the country recently. The Court finds that the ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl received illegal contributions in the amount of one million dollars. In January 2000, Kohl renounces the honorary presidency of the party.

As a result of the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the U.S., the German parliament approved in November, the country's participation in military action in Afghanistan. The investigations reveal that the attacks were planned in Germany, called Hamburg cell of Al Qaeda. In December, Parliament adopted a package of antiterrorism measures. Suspects are arrested, radical Islamic groups, banned and tens of millions of euros are confiscated accounts suspected of financing terror. In 2003, the Moroccan Mounir Motassadeq, resident in Germany, is sentenced to 15 years in prison as an accomplice of the terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Immigration - In recent decades, Germany has attracted thousands of immigrants, which feeds the growing xenophobic sentiment. But the demographic stagnation - characterized by low birth rates and an aging population - makes the country dependent on labor, foreign labor. A law passed in 2002 encourages the entry of highly qualified foreigners and imposes stricter illegal immigration.

War in Iraq - Germany distances itself from the U.S. in early 2003 by refusing to support the U.S. plan for military attack on Iraq. Schröder's position corresponds to the public - more than 90% of Germans, according to surveys, are against the war.

Germany is still struggling with the high cost of reunification. Known as the locomotive of Europe, for its industrial and financial power, the country is in economic stagnation since the early 1990s. In 2003, the economy is fragile signs of improvement, as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 0.75%. But unemployment remains high - reaching 10.5% at the end of the year, compared with 7.7% in late 2001. The difficulties are aggravated by the recession in the United States, the main market for exports. In 2002, the value of company stock plummets and bankruptcies hit record. The public deficit reached 3.8% of GDP, more than allowed by the rules of the monetary Union (EU). Nevertheless, the EU does not apply sanctions against the country. In an effort to revive the economy, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has, in March 2003, a package of neoliberal reforms, called Agenda 2010. Among other measures, the package helps reduce layoffs and unemployment insurance. Despite criticism of the unions, Agenda 2010 was adopted in May, more than 90% of the deputies. In August and September 2004, tens of thousands of protesters across Germany take to the streets in protest against the cut in labor rights provided for in the reforms. Demonstrations are higher in East Germany where unemployment is much higher and wages are lower than in the west.

Global Crisis - Germany suffers from recession due to the global crisis which began in August 2008. GDP, which is the sum of all the wealth that the country produces, fell 2% in 2009.