As Europe’s largest economy and most populous nation, Germany remains a key member of the continent’s economic, political, and defense organizations. European power struggles immersed the country in two devastating World Wars in the first half of the 20th century and left the country occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union in 1945. With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR). The democratic FRG embedded itself in key Western economic and security organizations, the EC, which became the EU, and NATO, while the Communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German unification in 1990. Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds to bring eastern productivity and wages up to western standards. In January 2002, Germany and
11 other EU countries introduced a common European currency, the euro.
Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, between the Netherlands and Poland, south of Denmark.
total: 357,021 sq km
water: 7,798 sq km
land: 349,223 sq km
total: 3,621 km
border countries: Austria 784 km, Belgium 167 km, Czech Republic 646 km, Denmark
68 km, France 451 km, Luxembourg 138 km, Netherlands 577 km, Poland 456 km,
Switzerland 334 km
temperate and marine; cool, cloudy, wet winters and summers; occasional warm foehn wind.
lowlands in north, uplands in center, Bavarian Alps in south.
arable land: 33.88%
permanent crops: 0.65%
other: 65.47% (1998 est.)
82,398,326 (July 2003 est.)