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GERMANY

Germany is a country where history and culture come alive and whose complex past has made it the extraordinary country it is today.
Many of the country's historical and architectural treasures were lost in World War II, but much remains and much has been restored. The city of Berlin was also divided in half. West Germany made a rapid recovery after the War to become Europe’s most formidable economic power. The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe has no more poignant symbol than the tearing down of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

In addition, German natural scenery, particularly in the Black Forest, the Mosel Valley, the Harz Mountains, and the Bavarian Alps, is a potent lure. The Federal Republic of Germany covers an area of 357,000 square kilometers and is home to 81 million people. Stretching from the North and Baltic seas to the snow-capped Bavarian Alps, the country boasts at least five major geographical regions, each totally different in character.

As Western Europe's richest and most populous nation, Germany remains a key member of the continent's economic, political, and defense organizations. European power struggles immersed the country in two devastating World Wars in the first half of the 20th century and left the country occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union in 1945. With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR). The democratic FRG embedded itself in key Western economic and security organizations, the EC and NATO, while the communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German unification in 1990. Since then Germany has expended considerable funds to bring eastern productivity and wages up to western standards.
In the last 10 years, since East and West Germany were finally reunited in October 1990, the country has been growing and changing at an astonishing pace. The nation's capital has recently been relocated from Bonn to Berlin. Berlin's refurbished Reichstag, which in the spring of 1999 became the seat of German Parliament, in many ways represents the changing mood of the German nation. Its new glass dome glitters as a symbol of modernity. Berliners celebrated the Reichstag's rededication, not with patriotic glory and pomp, but with an oompah band, meatballs, and beer.

German culture is worldfamous  with names like Bach, Beethoven, and Wagner and the celebrated poet, dramatist and philosopher Goethe. Cosmopolitan German cities like Berlin, Cologne and Munich offer fine museums, galleries, operas and concerts combined with lively and colourful cafés, beautiful parks and gardens and exciting nightlife.  Beer is the national beverage with each region and brewery producing beer with a distinctive taste and body.  Go north and experience the breathtakingly beautiful coastal areas and miles of fine sandy beaches. Go south for the romance and mystery of Bavaria. The enchanting castles dotted among the snow-capped mountains will make you feel that you’ve stepped into a living fairytale. Cruise down one of the country’s large rivers – an excellent and delightful way to experience all that this wonderful country has to offer.

A special experience can be found in visiting the former centers of East Germany before German unification in October 1990, such as  Potsdam, Leipzig, Dresden, Meissen, and Weimar , cities that change almost every day.


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