- Area: 357,168 km2
- Population: 82,175,700
- Infant mortality: 4 per 1,000
- Life expectancy: 77 years (men); 82 years (women)
- Urbanisation: 75.7% of total population
- Literacy: 99%
As Europe's largest economy and second most populous nation (after Russia), Germany is a key member of the continent's economic, political, and defense organizations. European power struggles immersed Germany 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, which became the EU, 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 reunification in 1990. Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds to bring eastern productivity and wages up to western standards. In January 1999, Germany and 10 other EU countries introduced a common European exchange currency, the euro.
Germany is in Western and Central Europe, with Denmark bordering to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria to the southeast, Switzerland to the south-southwest, France, Luxembourg and Belgium lie to the west, and the Netherlands to the northwest. It lies mostly between latitudes 47° and 55° N and longitudes 5° and 16° E. Germany is also bordered by the North Sea and, at the north-northeast, by the Baltic Sea. With Switzerland and Austria, Germany also shares a border on the fresh-water Lake Constance, the third largest lake in Central Europe. German territory covers 357,021 km2 (137,847 sq mi), consisting of 349,223 km2 (134,836 sq mi) of land and 7,798 km2 (3,011 sq mi) of water. It is the seventh largest country by area in Europe and the 62nd largest in the world. Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Alps (highest point: the Zugspitze at 2,962 metres or 9,718 feet) in the south to the shores of the North Sea (Nordsee) in the northwest and the Baltic Sea (Ostsee) in the northeast. The forested uplands of central Germany and the lowlands of northern Germany (lowest point: Wilstermarsch at 3.54 metres or 11.6 feet below sea level) are traversed by such major rivers as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe. Germany's alpine glaciers are experiencing deglaciation. Significant natural resources include iron ore, coal, potash, timber, lignite, uranium, copper, natural gas, salt, nickel, arable land and water. Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate dominated by humid westerly winds. The country is situated in between the oceanic Western European and the continental Eastern European climate. The climate is moderated by the North Atlantic Drift, the northern extension of the Gulf Stream. This warmer water affects the areas bordering the North Sea; consequently in the northwest and the north the climate is oceanic. Germany gets an average of 789 mm (31 in) of precipitation per year; there is no consistent dry season. Winters are cool and summers tend to be warm: temperatures can exceed 30 °C (86 °F). The east has a more continental climate: winters can be very cold and summers very warm, and longer dry periods can occur. Central and southern Germany are transition regions which vary from moderately oceanic to continental. In addition to the maritime and continental climates that predominate over most of the country, the Alpine regions in the extreme south and, to a lesser degree, some areas of the Central German Uplands have a mountain climate, with lower temperatures and more precipitation.
Germany has a social market economy with a highly skilled labour force, a large capital stock, a low level of corruption, and a high level of innovation. It is the world's third largest exporter of goods, and has the largest national economy in Europe which is also the world's fourth largest by nominal GDP and the fifth one by PPP. The service sector contributes approximately 71% of the total GDP (including information technology), industry 28%, and agriculture 1%. The unemployment rate published by Eurostat amounts to 4.7% in January 2015, which is the lowest rate of all 28 EU member states. With 7.1% Germany also has the lowest youth unemployment rate of all EU member states. According to the OECD Germany has one of the highest labour productivity levels in the world. Germany is part of the European single market which represents more than 508 million consumers. Several domestic commercial policies are determined by agreements among European Union (EU) members and by EU legislation. Germany introduced the common European currency, the Euro in 2002. It is a member of the Eurozone which represents around 338 million citizens. Its monetary policy is set by the European Central Bank, which is headquartered in Frankfurt, the financial centre of continental Europe. Being home to the modern car, the automotive industry in Germany is regarded as one of the most competitive and innovative in the world, and is the fourth largest by production. The top 10 exports of Germany are vehicles, machinery, chemical goods, electronic products, electrical equipments, pharmaceuticals, transport equipments, basic metals, food products, and rubber and plastics. Germany is the world's third-largest arms exporter.