The official name is the Federal Republic of Germany.
Germany is a federal republic composed of 16 federal states, the so-called Länder: Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, North-Rhein/Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia.
The official language is German. Frisian, Sorbian, Danish and Romanes are spoken as minority languages.
Germany is approximately 357,050 sq. km in area, and its population is around 82.5 million, 8.9% of whom are foreign citizens. The capital is Berlin. The Federal Republic has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1950, of NATO since 1955, and of the EC since 1957. It is also a member of the OECD (since 1961), the United Nations (since 1973) and the OSCE (since 1975).
Of the population, 31.3 per cent are Protestant, 31.7 per cent Roman Catholic and 3 per cent Muslim. There are also 106,000 members of Jewish congregations and followers of other religions.
Germany attended the first world economic summit in 1975 and has since then held the presidency four times: in 1978 and 1985 (both summits being held in Bonn), in 1992 (Munich) and in 1999 (Cologne). The 2007 meeting will be held in Heiligendamm.
>> G8 Communiqué Cologne
>> G7 Statement Cologne
The Federal Republic of Germany is a parliamentary democracy. The constitution, drafted in 1949 and profoundly marked by the experience of Nazi dictatorship, is called the Basic Law. It guarantees basic human and civic rights to every citizen. The Federal Constitutional Court ensures that the Basic Law is observed. All other state institutions are bound by its decisions.
Germany is a social and constitutional state. There is a division of powers and government is bound by the rule of law. All state institutions are subject to the constitutional order.
The Head of State is the Federal President, who has for the most part a representative role. Since 2004, this office has been held by Horst Köhler.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has been head of government since 2005. She presides over a CDU/CSU – SPD grand coalition.
The Bundestag is the German federal parliament, being directly elected for a period of four years. Among its most important functions are the passage of legislation, the election of the Chancellor, and oversight of the government.
The states are represented at the federal level in the Bundesrat, through which they play a role in the federal legislative process.
The 16 Länder each have their own governments and constitutions, but their activities must comply with the Basic Law.
The Federal Republic has a social market economy. This means that while the state lays down the framework for competition, it does not intervene in the operation of the markets.
The goal of the Federal Government's strategy to "invest – reorganise - reform” is to create more jobs. Export successes have to be maintained and extended, but above all else, domestic demand has to be strengthened.
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP): 2,244 bn EUR
- GDP per capita: 25,300 EUR
- GDP grew by around 0.9% in 2005. Growth of 2.3% is forecast for 2006
- Average unemployment rate in 2005: 11.7%
- Budget deficit as percentage of GDP (2005): -3.5%
- Public debt as percentage of GDP (2005): 67.7%
- Inflation rate (2005): 1.4%
In 2004 the trade surplus increased to 156.1 bn EUR, imports being 577.4 bn EUR and exports 733.5 bn EUR. Germany accounts for 10.1% of world exports by volume. Germany's most important trade partners are the Member States of the European Union and the USA.