Area: 221,843 square miles
Population Density: 226.87 per square kilometer
Capital: Berlin (population: 3,547,000)
Currency: Euro (1 euro = 1.14 USD)
Government: Federal Republic – Head of Gov’t is Angela Merkel; Head of State – Joachim Gauck
Religion: Primarily Protestant and Roman Catholic with a small Muslim community
History of Germany:
For most of its history, Germany has rarely been united. The majority of the time, the German speaking people have been in Europe. The area that is now Germany was originally divided into hundreds of states, each with a king or a prince. Charlemagne, who was Holy Roman Emperor in 800 AD, ruled over a territory that included Germany.
Medieval Germany saw many wars between local rulers. Even though the Habsburg Dynasty ruled for a long time in Germany from their Austrian Empire, many princes still battled with each other. Even religion was divided in Germany. After the Protestant Reformation, Germany’s religions were split between Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist religions. These differences led to the Thirty Years War from 1618 – 1648. The war ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. After this, two of the largest states competed for power over the area. These two states were Prussia (Berlin) and Austria (Vienna).
After defeating Napoleon, the German territory was made up of only 40 states when there used to be hundreds and their desire to unite Germany grew. Germany was almost united in 1848, but King Friedrich Wilhelm IV rejected the crown – he was worried that a united Germany would threaten his power. Finally in 1871 after the Franco – Prussian War, Germany united into a empire under Emperor Wilhelm I.
WWI began in 1914. Germany’s goal was to gain more land and territory, but they actually lost territory. The Treaty of Versailles shrank Germany’s military and forced the country to pay for the damage they caused. Germany was governed by the Weimar Republic from 1919 to 1933. The republic was not successful, since the economy was bad and Germany was making repayments from losing the First World War and in 1933 Hitler began his rise to power with the Nazi party. Hitler started WWII when he invaded Poland in 1939. The war lasted until 1945. The war devastated Europe and cost the lives of millions of Jews and other minorities in the Holocaust.
After the war, Germany was separated into two states: East and West Germany. West Germany was a successful democratic state and East Germany was not in order and was very poor and harsh while under the Soviet Union and behind the Iron Curtain. To keep East Germans from leaving to West Berlin and to the American side, the Berlin Wall was built in 1961. Germany was reunited in 1989.
Germany has an interesting history that started with smaller kingdoms and states, then became one large country that was very powerful, then a period of wars (that Germany lost, thank God!) and a dark period of Nazi power, then a split country during the Cold War and now it is unified again and a great country.