Germany is one of the most beautiful countries in Western Europe, offering a variety of geographic features, historical sites, history, and cuisine. Germany is located in western central Europe. Bordered on the north by the North Sea, to the northwest by the Baltic Sea, and to the south by the Alps, Germany offers a variety of landscapes, terrain, and geography. Germany is divided into 16 states, each of which is autonomous and enjoys its own state constitutions.
Following the First World War, the German Empire transitioned into the Weimar Republic but lost a great deal of its territory as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. Germany, after experiencing a Great Depression, rose to power once again under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler and the formation of the Third Reich in 1933. A Second World War followed. Following the conclusion of that war in 1945, Germany split into two: Eastern and Western Germany, with the Eastern German Democratic Republic becoming part of the communist bloc. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Berlin took her place on the map as the capital city of a reunified Germany. Since then the country has provided a positive influence on peacekeeping roles, economic coalitions, and economies throughout Western Europe.
Languages and Religion
The official language of Germany is German, but minority languages also exist and include lower German, Romany, Danish, and Frisian. As a country with a large number of immigrant populations, additional languages spoken in Germany today include Balkan languages, Turkish, Polish, Russian, and Kurdish. The largest and most popular religion practiced in Germany is Christianity, with the majority of Germans following the Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical church in Germany. However, the second-largest religion practiced in Germany is Islam (approximately 5%), with other inhabitants practicing Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism.
The climate in Germany is as diverse as the landscape. The bulk of Germany enjoys temperate seasonal climates, with warmer weather along the borders of the North Sea. The eastern portion of the country experiences extremely cold winters and warm summers. The central and southern portions of Germany enjoy relatively mild weather climates, although the mountainous and alpine regions of the country are cool to extremely cold year-round.
Places and Cities to Visit
Germany enjoys over 645,000 km of roadways, providing excellent access to all regions of the country via her well-maintained highways. Germany’s main runway, the Autobahn, is perhaps the most famous. Germany is also famous for Oktoberfest, with a wide variety of beer, cuisine, and culture. When in Germany, don’t pass up some other famous attractions that include:
- Schloss Neuschwanstein – Germany’s most famous castle, after which the castle at Walt Disney’s Disneyland was modeled.
- Stand in awe of the Köln (Cologne) Cathedral.
- in Berlin, visit historical Charlottenburg Palace, stroll Unter den Linden Boulevard, and view Brandenburg gate and the Tiergarten.
- Drive through the Black Forest.
- While in Munich visit Marienplatz, the Munich Botanical Garden or St. Peter’s Church.
- In Leipzig, visit the Leipzig Zoo (Zoologischer Garten Leipzig) or St. Thomas Church, where Johann Sebastian Bach served as choirmaster and where he is now buried
Every region in Germany is filled with a variety of attractions – from architectural wonders to historical landmarks to beautiful scenery. Take advantage of your drive to Germany by stopping at as many points as possible in order to totally immerse yourself in Germany’s cultural heritage.
Car Hire Services
Germany provides a variety of internationally known and domestic carriers including Avis, Alamo, Hertz, Eurocar, and Sixt. Rental cars are found at major rail stations, airports, and cities. Renting a car in Germany requires a valid driver’s license from your home country. While the minimum age for driving in Germany is 18, you have to be over 21 years old to rent a car in most locations. Car rental agencies may also request an international driver’s permit or license and a passport in order to rent a car, so always check ahead with the car rental agency you choose. Compare rates and options with some of the most popular:
Check to see if you can take the rental car across any of Germany’s borders. Be aware that most German rental cars are manual transmission, and if you request an automatic transmission option, you may pay more. Make sure that your rental car has a green insurance certificate known as the Green Card, as this is an important document that must be produced upon demand by any law enforcement while traveling through the country or following an accident.
In Germany, any fines or penalties following traffic infractions or accidents are collected on the spot. You can pay these finds with cash or credit or debit card, but always ask for an official receipt from the ticketing officer. Speed limits in Germany depend on the type of road you’re on and the type of vehicle you’re driving. Adhere to the following unless otherwise posted:
- Inside urban areas – 50 kph
- Outside urban areas – 100 kph
- Autobahn and expressways – 130 kph
Speed limit designations are represented by black numerals within a red circle for urban areas and by a square blue sign with white numbers for Autobahns and expressways. Also be aware that in adverse weather conditions including rain, snow, or fog, maximum speed limits decrease. Don’t drink and drive when driving in Germany, as their fines and penalties for doing so are severe. Limits for drunk driving start as low as 0.03 blood-alcohol, so keep in mind that the most of the social beverages offered in Germany have a high alcohol content. If you get in an accident, penalties can be quite severe even if you’re under the limit.
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