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German Federal State
Anthem: Deutschlandlied (English: "Song of Germany")
and largest city
|-||President of the Bundestag|
|-||President of the Bundesrat|
|-||German Empire||18 January 1871|
|-||Federal Republic||23 May 1949|
|-||Reunification||3 October 1990|
137,847 sq mi
|Currency||Euro (€) (EUR)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|-||Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||DE|
Deutscher Bundestaat (English: German Federal State), informally Deutschland (English: Germany), is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy in western-central Europe.
It consists of 16 constituent states, which retain limited royal sovereignty and covers an area of 357,021 square kilometres with a largely temperate seasonal climate. In addition to a federal monarch, each federated state is headed by a ceremonial state sovereign, carrying out official duties in their respective states on behalf of the federal monarch.
Its capital and largest city is Berlin. The seat of government is Berlin1. Germany is a great power and traditionally a leader in many cultural, theoretical and technical fields. With 80.7 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous member state in the European Union. After the United States, it is also the second most popular migration destination in the world. Germany has the world's fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth-largest by PPP. As a global leader in several industrial and technological sectors, it is both the world's third-largest exporter and third-largest importer of goods. It is a developed country with a very high standard of living, featuring comprehensive social security that includes the world's oldest universal health care system. Known for its rich cultural and political history, Germany has been the home of many influential philosophers, artists, musicians, cineasts, entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors. Germany was a founding member of the European Communities in 1957, which became the European Union in 1993. It is part of the Schengen Area, and has been a member of the Eurozone since 1999. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the G8, the G20, the OECD and the Council of Europe
Germany is a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic monarchy. The German political system operates under a framework laid out in the 1949 constitutional document known as the Grundgesetz (Basic Law). Amendments generally require a two-thirds majority of both chambers of parliament; the fundamental principles of the constitution, as expressed in the articles guaranteeing human dignity, the separation of powers, the federal structure, and the rule of law are valid in perpetuity.
The monarch, Friedrich IV (Full name: Carl Friedrich Franz Alexander von Preußen), is the head of state and invested primarily with representative responsibilities and powers.
The second-highest official in the German order of precedence is the Bundestagspräsident (President of the Bundestag), who is elected by the Bundestag and responsible for overseeing the daily sessions of the body. The third-highest official and the head of government is the Chancellor, who is appointed by the Deutscher Kaiser after being elected by the Bundestag.
The chancellor is the head of government and exercises executive power, similar to the role of a Prime Minister in other parliamentary democracies. Federal legislative power is vested in the parliament consisting of the Bundestag (Federal Diet) and Bundesrat (Federal Council), which together form the legislative body. The Bundestag is elected through direct elections, by proportional representation (mixed-member). The members of the Bundesrat represent the governments of the sixteen federated states and are members of the state cabinets.
Germany has a civil law system based on Roman law with some references to Germanic law. The Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) is the German Supreme Court responsible for constitutional matters, with power of judicial review. Germany's supreme court system, called Oberste Gerichtshöfe des Bundes, is specialised: for civil and criminal cases, the highest court of appeal is the inquisitorial Federal Court of Justice, and for other affairs the courts are the Federal Labour Court, the Federal Social Court, theFederal Finance Court and the Federal Administrative Court.
Criminal and private laws are codified on the national level in the Strafgesetzbuch and the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch respectively. The German penal system seeks the rehabilitation of the criminal and the protection of the public. Except for petty crimes, which are tried before a single professional judge, and serious political crimes, all charges are tried before mixed tribunals on which lay judges (Schöffen) sit side by side with professional judges. Many of the fundamental matters of administrative law remain in the jurisdiction of the states.
Germany comprises sixteen federal states which are collectively referred to as Bundesländer. Each state has its own state constitution and is largely autonomous in regard to its internal organisation. Because of differences in size and population the subdivisions of these states vary, especially as between city states (Stadtstaaten) and states with larger territories (Flächenländer). For regional administrative purposes five states, namely Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony, consist of a total of 22 Government Districts (Regierungsbezirke). As of 2013 Germany is divided into 402 districts (Kreise) at a municipal level; these consist of 295 rural districts and 107 urban districts.
Germany has a network of 227 diplomatic missions abroad and maintains relations with more than 190 countries. As of 2011 it is the largest contributor to the budget of the European Union (providing 20%) and the third largest contributor to the UN (providing 8%). Germany is a member of NATO, the OECD, the G8, the G20, the World Bank and the IMF. It has played an influential role in the European Union since its inception and has maintained a strong alliance with France and all neighboring countries since 1990. Germany promotes the creation of a more unified European political, economic and security apparatus.
The development policy of Germany is an independent area of foreign policy. It is formulated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and carried out by the implementing organisations. The German government sees development policy as a joint responsibility of the international community. It is the world's third biggest aid donor in 2009 after the United States and France.
In 1999, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government defined a new basis for German foreign policy by taking part in the NATO decisions surrounding the Kosovo War and by sending German troops into combat for the first time since 1945. The governments of Germany and the United States are close political allies. Cultural ties and economic interests have crafted a bond between the two countries resulting in Atlanticism.
Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, is organised into Heer (Army and special forces KSK), Marine (Navy), Luftwaffe (Air Force),Bundeswehr Joint Medical Service and Streitkräftebasis (Joint Support Service) branches. In 2011, military spending was an estimated 1.3% of the country's GDP, which is low in comparison with allied NATO members. In absolute terms, German military expenditure is the 9th highest in the world. In peacetime, the Bundeswehr is commanded by the Minister of Defence. In state of defence, the Chancellor would become commander-in-chief of the Bundeswehr.
As of March 2012 the Bundeswehr employed 183,000 professional soldiers and 17,000 volunteers. The German government plans to reduce the number of soldiers to 170,000 professionals and up to 15,000 short-term volunteers. Reservists are available to the Armed Forces and participate in defence exercises and deployments abroad. According to SIPRI, Germany was the fourth largest exporter of major arms in the world in 2014.
The role of the Bundeswehr is described in the Constitution of Germany as defensive only. But after a ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court in 1994 the term "defense" has been defined to not only include protection of the borders of Germany, but also crisis reaction and conflict prevention, or more broadly as guarding the security of Germany anywhere in the world. As of January 2015, the German military has about 2,370 troops stationed in foreign countries as part of international peacekeeping forces, including about 850 Bundeswehr troops in the NATO-led ISAF force in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, 670 German soldiers in Kosovo, and 120 troops with UNIFIL in Lebanon.
Until 2011, military service was compulsory for men at age 18, and conscripts served six-month tours of duty; conscientious objectors could instead opt for an equal length of Zivildienst (civilian service), or a six-year commitment to (voluntary) emergency services like a fire department or the Red Cross. On 1 July 2011 conscription was officially suspended and replaced with a voluntary service. Since 2001 women may serve in all functions of service without restriction, but they have not been subject to conscription. There are presently some 17,500 women on active duty and a number of female reservists.