Germany

Driving Directions Germany

GERMANY is a large populous country in northern central Europe, which comprises the former East and West German Republics, reunified in 1990. In the north, lies the North German Plain, which merges with the North Rhineland in the west. Further south, a plateau that stretches across the country from east to west, is divided by the River Rhine. In the southwest, the Black Forest Mountains, or Schwarzwald, separate the Rhine Valley from the fertile valleys and scarp lands of Swabia. The Bavarian Forest is in the southeast, approaching the border with the Czech Republic. The Bohemian Uplands and Erz Mountains mark the bor­der with the Czech Republic. The beautiful River Danube, the second-longest river in Europe, rises in the Bavarian Alps and crosses most of southern Germany.

Germany’s most famous river, however, is the mighty Rhine, which flows along the border with Switzerland and France before heading northwards towards the Netherlands and the North Sea.

The Rhine has several large and important tributaries, including the Neckar, Main, Lahn, Mosel, Ruhr, and Lippe, and is a major navigable waterway used for the transportation of considerable amounts of freight. Because of heavy industrial development along much of the length of the Rhine valley, there are considerable problems with water pollution. Efforts continue to make, however, to address this situation and to improve water quality.

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Most of Germany’s lakes are in the southern Alpine region, the largest being Lake Constance (Bodensee), which straddles the border with Switzerland and Austria. Forests and woodlands are well represented in Germany, covering about 30 percent of the land area but mainly in the southern mountainous regions. Germany administered as 16 states or Lander, one of which is Berlin, with ten of the remaining 15 states being in the former West Germany and five in former East Germany.

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Generally, the country has warm summers and cold winters. Agricultural products include wheat, rye, barley, oats, potatoes, and sugar beet, but agriculture accounts for only a small percentage of employment, and a third of the country’s food has to import. The fishing fleet based in the coastal towns of the North and Baltic Seas, such as Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, Kiel and Rostock, and the species caught include herring, cod, haddock, whiting, and flatfish. Germany has a considerable timber and wood products industry based on its extensive coniferous forests, but there have been problems in recent years caused by acid rain.

Formerly, the most important mineral resource in Germany was coal from the Ruhr valley and Sauerland, which fuelled massive industrial developments in these regions. High-grade coal is now much depleted, and mining has consequently declined although Germany remains a major producer of lignite (brown coal) found in the east. Oil and natural gas deposits are found in the north and exploited, although they are insufficient to supply the country’s domestic needs. Rock salt, potash, iron, lead, zinc, and copper, along with small quantities of some other metallic ores, are also extracted and produced.

Products of the principal manufacturing industries include iron and steel, motor vehicles, mechanical and electrical equipment, aircraft, ships, computers, electronic and technical goods, chemicals and petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles, clothing and footwear, foods, beer, optical and high precision instruments. Many German products are exported and enjoy a good reputation for high quality and reliability.

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