Federal Republic of Germany

Quick Facts

Government

Type: Democratic, federal parliamentary republic

President: Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Prime Minister: Angela Merkel

Religion

Christianity

≈55%

Language

German

≈25%

Currency

euro

$10.00 ≈ €8.48

Location

Central Europe

Bordered by Denmark, the Baltic Sea, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, the North Sea

Food

Brötchen

Bratwurst

Climate

Temperate

Cost

Beer ≈ €2.50

Ice cream ≈ €2.80

Read More About Germany

Not-So-Quick Facts

Present Day Snapshot

During the Cold War, East Germany remained behind the Iron Curtain while West Germany flourished economically until the 1970s when it was hit with another economic crisis. Germany remained split until 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell and the country was reunified. The following year the Federal Republic of Germany was formed. Germany has continued to be a progressive country with strong economic growth and is considered to be one of the most powerful European countries. Much of the destruction of World War Two and the Cold War has been rebuilt and education about the country’s history is compulsory in schools.

Follow Laws

Identification: You are required to have ID on you at all times. This can be any identification which has a photo – it does not need to be your passport.

Drugs: While drug possession is illegal it is often reported that Germany is lenient on small amounts for personal use. Selling is always criminal.

Alcohol: You must be 16 to drink beer or wine and 18 to drink all other spirits. Generally it is ok to drink on the streets.

LGBTQ: Same-sex couples have been legally allowed to enter into partnerships since 2001 and into marriage since 2017 – the same year same sex couples gained the right to adopt and a third gender option was added to legal forms.

Stay Safe

Germany is a very safe country. Do be aware of petty crimes like pick pockets. Or the common issue of bicycle theft.

Speak German

Hello: Hallo

Please: Bitte /bih-tuh/

Thank you: Danke schön /don-kuh shiin/

Can I have a beer please: Kann ich bitte ein Bier haben /can ich bih-ten oon bea haben/

Where is the train station?: Wo ist der Bahnhof /wo ist dar ban-hof/

Historical Snapshot

Founding: The German Empire was founded in 1871.

Origins: It is believed that human ancestors have been on German soil for at least 600,000 years. Around 4,500 years ago the first settlers arrived to the land. By the 1st century AD Germanic tribes had most likely been established. Over the following centuries they mixed and fought with the Romans and the Franks. By the 16th century Germany as a country – though it still covered a great deal more land than it does today – was beginning to take shape and fighting was common between classes and religions. The 17th century saw great scientific advances and large population growth. The 18th century finished with the ongoing French revolution which brought fighting to Germany, but more importantly ideas of freedom to the population. The 19th century continued in political turbulence and general chaos across the continent which ultimately brought on World War One in the early 20th century.  

Recent History: When World War One came to an end in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles, the Weimar Republic came into existence, just on the heals of the Spanish Flu epidemic. In 1929 Wall Street Crashed and by 1931 one of the largest German banks crashed as well. By the following year at least six million Germans were unemployed. That same year elections were held in which the Nazi party won the largest share of votes. It would be seven years before World War Two broke out, with early German victories resulting in the Nazi party quickly conquering huge swaths of Europe. Over the six years of the war the Nazi murdered millions – at least six million Jews, but also Poles, Serbs, Romas, the list goes on. In 1945 World War Two ended and the Nazi party fell, but Germany quickly became swept up in the Cold War with its country split between East and West by a wall and heavy military surveillance.

Clothing Rules

Germany is a very progressive and liberal country, there are no clothing laws.

albeit macht frei at sachsenhausen concentration camp in Berlin Germany - The Country Jumper
Sachsenhausen
berlin memorial
Berlin
the berlin wall artwork
Berlin Wall

Facts According to a Local

General Rules of Etiquette
Gender Relations
Rude or Offensive Things
Religious Customs
Tipping

Read More About Germany

My Time in Germany

Bavaria

I went to Munich for Oktoberfest.

Berlin

Berlin was the first place I visited in Germany for a several-day visit.

Saxony

I visited both Dresden and Leipzig for two nights each.

Additional Resources

Before Your Trip to Germany

Watch

Starring: Tom Schilling

Comedy

Movie

Berlin is the perfect place to get lost, or to lost yourself – which is essentially the plot of this 2012 comedy. An Indie film – this is in German and subtitled. 

Starring: Liam Neeson

Biography

Movie

A black and white classic, this film tells the true story of a Polish man who singlehandedly saved the lives of more than a thousand Jews. So, while it does take place in Krakow, it is a good way to grasp some of the Nazi atrocities of World War Two

Read

By: Anna Funder

History

Goodreads Stars: 4.18/5

This book does a wonderful job of making history readable. I’ve always believed the best way to learn about a place is through the people – and that’s exactly what this book is. East Germany through the experiences of those who lived it. 

Starring: Liam Neeson

Biography

Movie

A black and white classic, this film tells the true story of a Polish man who singlehandedly saved the lives of more than a thousand Jews. So, while it does take place in Krakow, it is a good way to grasp some of the Nazi atrocities of World War Two

By: Ursula Hegi

Historical fiction

Goodreads Stars: 3.82/5

Published in the 90s, this fictional story takes place in the 50s and tells of life in World War Two Germany. With larger than life characters and a prequel – it brings this world of small towns during war time to life. 

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