The Federal Republic of Germany (commonly known as Germany), is a country situated in Central Europe, famous as one of the world's most popular expat destinations. Over the years, Germany 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. Germany is a welcoming country full of international experiences. The only prerogative is the knowledge of German, which not only is the second most spoken language in Europe but a proud representative of the country’s cultural heritage.

Geography and demography

The Federal Republic of Germany is the seventh-largest country by area in Europe, and the largest country by population in the European Union. It is located in the Central-Western part of Europe, right next to its neighbouring countries: Denmark (to the North); Netherlands (to the Northwest); Poland and the Czech Republic (to the East); Switzerland (to the South); and Belgium, France and Luxembourg (to the West). To the north and north-west, it is bordered by the North and the Baltic Sea. Its geographical position offers natural beauty that can also be seen through the lakes, among which the largest and the most famous is Lake Constance. Other than being the third largest lake in Europe, Constance is lying on river Rhine, one of the main rivers in Europe, and right next to the Alps.

Starting with Berlin as its capital city (with more than 3.5 million inhabitants), the country has many important cities that earn the worldwide attention, such as HamburgMunichCologneFrankfurtStuttgartDüsseldorf and Dresden. All of the German cities have a well organised public transportation network, plenty of work and study opportunities and a great cultural heritage.

Compared to other European countries, Germany is fairly decentralised, and large 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, or Schwarzwald, which is a large mountain range that offers immense natural beauty.

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Munich is known as Germany’s most expensive city. Hamburg is famous 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

The German language is known by its rules and complexity. It is one of the most important languages in Europe and is officially spoken in six European countries. In addition to this, every region in Germany 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 (since English and German have similar roots), learning the language for work, administration and a general understanding is mandatory. Some cities are exceptions, like Berlin or Hamburg, where English is widely spoken by a large number of expats. However, overall Germany is still relatively conservative and respects the efforts to learn the language. Knowledge of German offers freedom, makes life easier, contributes to landing on a better job and to getting a better salary

Expatriation in Germany

Most German cities have a high concentration of expatriates from around the world, but mainly Turkish, French, British but also American, 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, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich and Düsseldorf are popular expat cities.

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 the 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 3.386 billion US$ in 2018, according to Trading Economics figures. The country enjoys a 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 leading job-creators and income generators. The industries offer some of the best research opportunities in Europe. Tourism, agriculture, hospitality, and catering 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 in Germany

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 is 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.  Germany is the most important country of the European Union and was the founding member of the European Economic Community and the Eurozone. The country is a member of the G7, G20, NATO, United Nations and OECD.

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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 and continuous rains in the North. Long periods of snow or frost are rare except on the mountain and hill ranges.

 Useful links:

Germany - Germany Tourism Portal
Web portal by the Federal Foreign Office Berlin and Societäts-Media GmbH
The Federal Foreign Office official website
The Federal Republic of Germany official website