Germany country profile


Germany is Europe's most industrialised and populous country. Famed for its technological achievements, it has also produced some of Europe's most celebrated composers, philosophers and poets.

Achieving national unity later than other European nations, Germany quickly caught up economically and militarily, before defeats in the two World Wars left it shattered, facing the difficult legacy of Nazism, and divided between Europe's Cold War blocs.

Germany rebounded to become the continent's economic giant, and a prime mover of European cooperation. With the end of the Cold War, the two parts of the country were once again united, although the economy of the former east continues to lag behind the rest of the country.


Federal Republic of Germany

Capital: Berlin

  • Population 82 million

  • Area 357,027 sq km (137,849 sq miles)

  • Major language German

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 78 years (men), 83 years (women)

  • Currency euro

Getty Images


Chancellor (outgoing): Angela Merkel

Image source, Getty Images

The Christian Democrat Angela Merkel, Germany's first female chancellor, governed from 2005 in coalition with either the liberal Free Democrats or centre-left Social Democrats.

She suffered a setback at the 2017 elections, as the anti-immigrant Alliance for Germany surged into third place by exploiting tensions over asylum seekers.

Mrs Merkel subsequently stepped down as party leader in 2018, and the Christian Democrats went on to lose the 2021 election to the Social Democrats.She was born in Hamburg in 1954, but grew up in Communist East Germany where her father was a Protestant clergyman.

She took over the Christian Democratic Union in 2000 after a party funding scandal tainted the reputation of her mentor, former chancellor Helmut Kohl.

President: Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Image source, Getty Images

Former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected federal president in February 2017, succeeding Joachim Gauck.

A Social Democrat, Mr Steinmeier enjoyed the support of Chancellor Angela Merkel's "grand coalition" of centre-right and centre-left parties.

In his acceptance speech, he pledged to stand up to the rising trend of xenophobic populism, and promote inter-communal dialogue and democracy.

This became all the more topical in September, when the anti-migrant Alternative for Germany broke through to become the first hard-right party to win seats in parliament since the Second World War.


Image source, Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Image caption,
Germany has a lively newspaper scene, based on regional centres but read nationwide

Germany's competitive television market is the largest in Europe, with more than 38 million TV households.

Regional and national public broadcasters vie for audiences with powerful commercial operators.

Germans are avid newspaper readers and the non-tabloid press is a trusted news source.

Internet use is near-universal. Facebook is the most popular social network,


Some key dates in Germany history:

1871 - Otto von Bismarck unifies Germany.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Germany's parliament is housed in the historic Reichstag building in the capital Berlin

1914-1918 - World War I. Germany is defeated and becomes a republic.

1933 - Adolf Hitler, head of the far-right Nazi Party, becomes chancellor.

1939-45 - Second World War sees defeat of Germany and its partition into the pro-western Federal Republic and the Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic.

1955 - West Germany joins Nato; East Germany joins the Warsaw Pact.

1957 - West Germany is a founding member of the European Economic Community.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 marked a pivotal moment in Germany's modern history

1961 - Construction of the Berlin Wall to prevent flight of East Germans to the increasingly prosperous West.

1970 - West German Chancellor Willy Brandt establishes relations with East Germany in an effort to ease tensions across the Iron Curtain.

1989 - Mass exodus of East Germans as Soviet bloc countries relax travel restrictions. Berlin Wall is torn down.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Oktoberfest - Germany's traditional beer festival is held annually

1990 - Chancellor Helmut Kohl reunites Germany as a single state.

2005 - Christian Democrat Angela Merkel becomes chancellor.

2015-2016 - Government allows more than a million asylum seekers from the Middle East and beyond to stay, raising public concerns about crime and public services that far-right groups exploit.

Related Topics

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.