Useful hints and tips for travelers in Germany
In the centre of Europe, on an area of over 370 000 square kilometers, lies the third most populated country in the G8: Germany, with about 82 million inhabitants, after the United States (315 million) and Japan (127 million). Germany stretches from the Alps in the south to the North Sea and Baltic Sea to the north and is roughly divided in two parts, with the great mountain ranges to the south and the Germanic lowlands in the north. The great rivers of Germany are the Danube, the Rhine, the Elbe, the Oder and the Weser. The capital of Germany is Berlin.
The climate is distinctive, because the more you go north, the more it gets warmer and more uniform during the year, opposed to the south, which is more continental. In the North, Atlantic winds occur and mitigate the climate but it rains often, while in the south, the seasonal temperature range is larger, though it rains less.
The official language is German, but English and French are studied in all school grades. Recently, a state law has changed the traditional habit of writing all the words, even common nouns, with the first letter capitalized.
Germany is a federal republic divided into sixteen federal states: Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia.
The major cities of Germany are, starting from the most populated: Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Dortmund, Essen, Düsseldorf, Bremen, Hanover, Leipzig, Dresden, Nuremberg.
Germany is the fourth nation in the world in terms of GDP and it is one of the major exporting countries. The service sector – trade, tourism, banking, insurance, media, etc. – accounts for more than 70% of GDP; the industrial sector – automotive, chemical, electronics, synergy, etc. – for almost 28%; the remainder is carried out by the agricultural sector.
In Germany there are over 41,000 km of railways, 645,000 km of roads and highways, almost 550 airports, of which about sixty are international and intercontinental. The main airports are those in Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Hamburg.
The fixed-line network includes nearly 50 million users, while mobile exceeds 108 million. In 2010, there were 21 million Internet hosts, and more than 61 million Internet users.
Almost 14% of population is aged between 0 and 14 years; 66% between 15 and 64, and 20% is over 65 years. 74% of the population lives in cities and the overall life expectancy at birth is 77 years for men and 82 for women. Germans make up 91% of the population, 2.5% are of Turkish origin, the remainder come from Greece, Italy, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain.
Germany has introduced the Euro on 1 January 2002. Across the country, banks are open weekdays from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.
Emergency numbers in Germany are 110 for police and 112 for the fire service and health care / ambulance. Calls from public booths are free. To call from abroad in Germany, the country code is +49.
The power voltage is 230 volts. It is recommended to have the adapter for Schuko sockets.