Germany lies between the Baltic Sea in the north and the Alps in the south. The country could roughly be divided into three parts: the north German lowland, the middle German hills and the Alps. The has been shaped by glaciations. This part of the country is characterized by moraines, numerous small lakes and heath lands. The Baltic Sea coast rises slowly from the sea, it has many bays and some islands of which R¨gen is one of the largest in the Baltic Sea.
The largest rivers are the Danube, Rhein and Elbe. The rivers Oder and Neisse flow towards the Baltic Sea and are also the border towards Poland.
The climate at the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts is maritime further south it becomes more continental. In Berlin is the average temperature in February 0C and in July 19C. July is also the wettest month with an average precipitation of 74 mm and April the driest with 33 mm.
Germany is next to Russia the most populous country in Europe. The most densely populated part of Germany is the Ruhr area where 7% of the population lives in 1.4% of the country's total area. Other densely populated areas are the Rhein-Main area at Frankfurt and the Rhein-Neckar area around Mannheim and the great metropolitan areas.
Immigrants from Turkey, ex-Yugoslavia, Italy and Greece constitute about 8.5% of the population. Ethnic minorities are otherwise small; 50,000 Danish live in Schleswig-Holstein near the border to Denmark, 15,000 Friesians on the island in the North Sea and 60,000 Sorbs in the SE part of the former East Germany.
Population growth is negative.
Germany is the third most powerful economy in the world. However, it is characterized by the unification of the two German states in 1990. Large resources have been transferred from western Germany to the former East Germany. Especially the infrastructure has been improved. The growth of the economy has slowed down and unemployment remains a severe problem in both parts of the country.
Total labor force is total: 38.7 million, the unemployment rate is relatively high or 9.8% (2001) and has been for a long time e.g. in 1996 it was 10.8%..
Main export commodities include machinery, transport equipment, chemical and electro-technical manufactured goods. Main import commodities include electronics, transport equipment, chemical products, textiles, machinery and fuel. The most important trade partners are the other EU countries and USA and Japan.
Germany has limited amounts of domestic energy resources, coal is used in the Ruhr area and Saarland whereas lignite is used in Sachsen.
The nuclear power stations in the former East Germany have been closed. Nowadays 40% of the total energy consumption comes from oil, 29% from coal, 18% from natural gas and 10% from nuclear power stations.
Emissions from coal-burning utilities and industries and lead emissions from vehicle exhausts (the result of continued use of leaded fuels) contribute to air pollution and acid rain which has reached levels that forests are damaged. The Baltic Sea suffer heavy pollution from raw sewage and industrial effluents from rivers in eastern Germany. Hazardous waste disposal is also a problem at some places.