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Discovering Germany

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The Federal Republic of Germany (commonly known as Germany), which is found in Central Europe and commonly known as Germany, is one of the world's most popular expat destinations. Over the years, it has attracted thousands of young students, professionals, as well as retirees due to its economic prosperity as well as for its rich historical and cultural heritage. Moreover, its cities offer a pleasant atmosphere and lifestyle. You will have no trouble in adapting there, especially if you come from a European Union country and know some German which is the country's official language.

Geography and demography

Stretching over some 357.021 km2, Germany is bordered by the North Sea and the Baltic Sea in the North and surrounded by Poland, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria and the Czech Republic. Germany has the largest population in the European Union and is deemed to be the most densely populated country, with more than 80.6 million inhabitants as of early 2017. Berlin, its capital city, has more than 3.5 million inhabitants. Other main cities are Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf and Dresden.

Compared to other European countries, Germany is fairly decentralised and big cities can be reached easily by the well-maintained motorway or public transport system. Germany is also very green and has many forests, the Black Forest being the most famous.

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Munich is known as Germany’s most expensive city. Hamburg is popular for its tolerant and easygoing people, despite the rainy weather. Berlin counts as an alternative, hip, and trendy start-up capital, whereas the Stuttgart area holds most job opportunities. Düsseldorf is in the middle of the Rhurpott (Ruhr valley), the industrial belt and most populated area in Germany.

German language

Although German is the country's official language, every region speaks its own dialect such as Bavarian or Low German, which may be a little tricky to understand initially. Some regions show strong identity and pride in the use of their dialects.

Minority languages such as Danish, Frisian, Romany or Sorbian are also spoken; some of them blending in with the local dialect. The largest ethnic group of non-German origin is Turkish, which makes Turkish the second most spoken language in Germany.

Although most of the younger crowd is very keen on speaking English, you’ll most likely have to learn German in order to find work. Of course, there are exceptions such as teaching English but Germany can still be fairly conservative. You’ll definitely enjoy more freedom, choice and the benefits of a German salary when speaking the local language.

Expatriation

Most German cities have a high concentration of expatriates from around the world, but mainly from neighbouring countries. Among them, you are likely to find French, British but also Americans, Polish and increasing expats from Eastern European countries. Over the last few years, Germany has also hosted many refugees from recent areas of conflict.
Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Düsseldorf are popular expat cities. Note that many foreign companies have also set up subsidiaries in the country.

Germany has a supportive social security system, which helps make it a very safe country with fewer differences between the rich and poor than in other European countries. This goes along with a relatively high tax rate of around 45% of your income.

German economy

Germany is considered to be the world's fourth biggest and most powerful economy after the US, Japan and China. It is also deemed to be the European Union's largest economy, followed by the UK and France. Moreover, the German Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was worth 3.36 billion US$ in 2015 according to Trading Economics figures. These have also estimated continuous economic growth due to efforts made by various national mechanisms.

The German economy is based on several pillars such as trade through industry. In fact, the automotive, mechanical, electrical, chemical industry, trade, finance, information and communication technology fields are the country's main job creators and income generators. Tourism, agriculture, hospitality, catering, etc., also make a significant contribution to the country's economy. Germany hosts many world-famous companies such as Siemens, Volkswagen, Bosch, Bayer, Audi, BMW and Porsche, amongst others.

Politics

Germany is a federal republic, which consists of 16 “Bundesländer” or regions. Berlin is the country's federal capital city, hosting the German Parliament's headquarters. The Constitutional Court is located in Karlsruhe. The German parliament consists of two chambers: the Bundestag, which is elected every four years in a mixed system, and the Bundesrat that is the Federal Council. The Bundesrat has a total of 69 votes of regional government representatives.

The President of the Federal Republic, currently Joachim Gauck, is indirectly elected for a five-year period, which is renewable once. The Chancellor, meanwhile, is elected for a four-year period and serves as the Head of the Government. The current German Chancellor is Angela Merkel, however, the next elections will be in autumn 2017.

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Over the past few years, Germany reinforced environmentally friendly politics. Nearly a third of Germany is powered by renewable energy and plans are to complete its nuclear power phase-out by 2022. Recycling plays an important role, too.

The climate in Germany

Germany enjoys a temperate continental climate with warm summers and cold winters due to its geographical position. It is, in fact, in the Northern hemisphere's temperate zone and has a 4-season climate. Summer usually lasts from May to October with rather high temperatures up to 35 degrees in the North and South. In winter, you are likely to experience cold airflows from Siberia, mist in the South and humidity in the North. However long periods of snow or frost are rare. Meanwhile, spring accelerates the melting of snow.

 Useful links:

Germany - Germany Tourism Portal www.germany.travel
Web portal by the Federal Foreign Office Berlin and Societäts-Media GmbH www.deutschland.de
The Federal Foreign Office official website www.auswaertiges-amt.de
The Federal Republic of Germany official website www.bundesregierung.de

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See also

Skilled foreigners wishing to settle in Stuttgart, one of Germany's major cities, will likely find a wealth of opportunity when it comes to employment.
Pets are generally welcome in Germany, provided you complete all the required formalities. It is important to check EU requirements before you travel
You can indulge in various leisure activities in Berlin. Enjoy your afternoons and week-ends by discovering its historical, cultural and natural wonders.
Germany has a well-developed communications network with numerous types of connection on offer at affordable prices. Free wi-fi can be hard to come by.
Germany has an extensive public transport network which will allow you to travel comfortably from one city to another, or to neighbouring countries.

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