Germany

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Germany (Deutschland), officially the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland),  is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Germany includes 16 constituent states, covers an area of 357,386 square kilometres (137,988 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With 83 million inhabitants, it is the second-most populous state of Europe after Russia, the most populous state lying entirely in Europe, as well as the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is a very decentralised country. Its capital and largest metropolis is Berlin, while Frankfurt serves as its financial capital and has the country’s busiest airport. Germany’s largest urban area is the Ruhr, with its main centres of Dortmund and Essen. The country’s other major cities are Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Leipzig, Bremen, Dresden, Hanover, and Nuremberg.

Various Germanic tribes have inhabited the northern parts of modern Germany since classical antiquity. A region named Germania was documented before AD 100. During the Migration Period, the Germanic tribes expanded southward. Beginning in the 10th century, German territories formed a central part of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. After the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire, the German Confederation was formed in 1815. The German revolutions of 1848–49 resulted in the Frankfurt Parliament establishing major democratic rights.

In 1871, Germany became a nation-state when most of the German states unified (except Switzerland and Austria) into the Prussian-dominated German Empire. After World War I and the revolution of 1918–19, the Empire was replaced by the parliamentary Weimar Republic. The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 led to the establishment of a dictatorship, the annexation of Austria, World War II, and the Holocaust. After the end of World War II in Europe and a period of Allied occupation, Austria was re-established as an independent country and two new German states were founded: West Germany, formed from the American, British, and French occupation zones, and East Germany, formed from the Soviet occupation zone. About a quarter of Germany’s pre-war territory was annexed by Poland and the Soviet Union, leading to the expulsion of Germans. Following the Revolutions of 1989 that ended communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, the country was reunified on 3 October 1990.

Today, the sovereign state of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic led by a chancellor. It is a great power with a strong economy; it has the world’s fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP, and the fifth-largest by PPP. As a global leader in several industrial and technological sectors, it is both the world’s third-largest exporter and importer of goods. As a highly developed country with a very high standard of living, it upholds a social security and universal health care system, environmental protection, and tuition-free university education.

The Federal Republic of Germany was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957 and the European Union in 1993. It is part of the Schengen Area and became a co-founder of the Eurozone in 1999. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the G20, and the OECD. Known for its rich cultural history, Germany has continuously been the home of influential and successful artists, philosophers, writers, musicians, film people, sportspeople, entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and inventors. Germany has many World Heritage sites and is among the top tourism destinations in the world.


 

Flag of Germany

The flag of Germany or German flag (Flagge Deutschlands) is a tricolour consisting of three equal horizontal bands displaying the national colours of Germany: black, red, and gold (Schwarz-Rot-Gold). The flag was first adopted as the national flag of modern Germany in 1919, during the Weimar Republic, until 1933.

Since the mid-19th century, Germany has two competing traditions of national colours, black-red-gold and black-white-red. Black-red-gold were the colours of the 1848 Revolutions, the Weimar Republic of 1919-1933 and the Federal Republic (since 1949). They were also adopted by the German Democratic Republic (1949-1990), albeit, since 1959, with an additional (‘socialist’) coat of arms.

The colours black-white-red appeared for the first time only in 1867, in the constitution of the North German Confederation. This nation-state for Prussia and other north and central German states was expanded to the south German states in 1870/1871, under the name German Empire. It kept these colours until the revolution of 1918/1919. Thereafter, black-white-red became a symbol of the political right. The national socialists in 1933 re-established these colours along with the party’s own swastika flag. After World War II, black-white-red was still used by some conservative groups or by groups of the far right – as it is not forbidden, unlike proper national socialist symbols.

Black-red-gold is the official flag of the Federal Republic of Germany. As an official symbol of the constitutional order, it is protected against defamation. According to §90 of the German penal code, the consequences are a fine or imprisonment up to five years.

The German association with the colours black, red, and gold surfaced in the radical 1840s when the black-red-gold flag was used to symbolize the movement against the Conservative European Order that was established after Napoleon’s defeat.

There are many theories in circulation regarding the origins of the colour scheme used in the 1848 flag. It has been proposed that the colours were those of the Jena Students’ League (Jenaer Burschenschaft), one of the radically minded Burschenschaften banned by Metternich in the Carlsbad Decrees; the colours are mentioned in their canonical order in the seventh verse of August Daniel von Binzer’s student song Zur Auflösung der Jenaer Burschenschaft (“On the Dissolution of the Jena Students’ League”) quoted by Johannes Brahms in his Academic Festival Overture.
Another claim goes back to the uniforms (mainly black with red facings and gold buttons) of the Lützow Free Corps, comprising mostly university students and formed during the struggle against the occupying forces of Napoleon.
Whatever the true explanation, these colours soon came to be regarded as the national colours of Germany during this brief period, and especially after their reintroduction during the Weimar period, they have become synonymous with liberalism in general. The colours also appear in the medieval Reichsadler.

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