Geography of Germany
The Germany is a country with the hinge of the Western Europe and Central Europe located between the Benelux and the France at the west, the the North Sea, the Denmark and the the Baltic in north, the Poland and the Czech Republic in the east and the Suisse and the Austria in the south. One distinguishes in Germany several big spaces: the large plain of North, average mountains of the center ( Mittelgebirge ), the Bavarian plate and the valley of the Danube in the South. The country is crossed by several large rivers, of which the the Rhine, the the Danube and the Elba.
State-nation unified tardily, the Germany knew unstable borders, upset several times following wars with the adjoining countries. Divided between the Second world war and 1990, Germany reunified is the country more populated European Union. Contrary to the Great Britain or France, no center dominates the urban network. The population is distributed in several poles of which the the Ruhr, the Région Rhine-Hand with the main thing city of Frankfort, towns of Berlin, Hamburg and secondary Munich and several metropolises.
Germany in the middle of EuropeGermany has a situation privileged on the continent of Europe: it seems a passage between the the North Sea and the Mediterranean. With the disappearance of the Iron curtain and the integration of the Eastern countries in the European Union, it is found in the center of the continent. The west of the country is crossed by the European dorsal, an area very populated and dynamic on the economic plan. The East-West axes should find a certain dynamics.
The FRG was a Rhenish republic, very centered on the West of Europe. France, hereditary enemy, became the first customer and the first supplier. With it, it was a motive fluid of the construction of political Europe. On the contrary, GDR looked towards the Soviet Union and the people's democracies of Eastern Europe. Since the reunification, the geopolitical stake of contemporary Germany is to find a new place in this “Mitteleuropa” taking shape, especially since the integration of many Central European countries and Eastern at the EU (2004). It has many assets like its economic power, its capacities of investment and its language (very spoken in Central Europe) to arrive there, even if the integration of ex-GDR much more difficult than were envisaged.
ReliefThe organization of the German relief is simple: in the South, the the Alps constitute the highest walk; however the mountains remain less low (less than 3.000 meters) that in the countries bordering. The more one moves towards North, the more altitudes decrease. The Glaciation S, in particular that of Würm, deposited Moraine S with the foot of the Alps. These landscapes of lakes are dominated by the breeding.
Then one crosses a modest zone of altitude (less than 1.500 meters) with eroded solid masses hercyniens ( Mittelgebirge or “mountains of the center”), crossed by boxed rivers (the Rhine, the Danube and their affluents). This area is rich in ores of all kinds (uranium, iron, coal, etc) which fed an industry going back sometimes to the Middle Ages. It is sown intrusions of volcanic origin like the Eiffel or the Rhön. The principal solid masses are the Rhenish schistous Massif, the Metalliferous Monts and the Harz. The Rhenish ditch is subjected to the seismic risk. On the septentrional edge of the Mittelgebirge the area of the Börde is, made fertile by the deposits of Lœss.
Lastly, all the north of the country is formed of the germano-Polish Plaine or Plaine of North. One meets there landscapes of hills, lakes, marshes and channels postglacial. On the coast of the the Baltic, many natural shelters allowed the installation of ports since the Moyen-âge. On the littoral of the the North Sea, the Frise is composed of weakened sandy islands.
The German reliefs are marked by the Glaciation of Würm. The majority of the German mountains are old solid masses, with modest altitude. Only the South of the Bavaria, in extreme cases Northern of the the Alps, includes/understands higher tops.
The mountainous chains and solid masses most outstanding are:
- the the Alps which one can separate in three areas distinct from west in east: the Alps algaviennes in the North-East of the lake of Constancy form a circle around the sources of the It (culminating point with Mädelegabel, 2.649 m); the the Bavarian Alps or préalpines starting from the Lech, where are the highest tops, the Zugspitze (2 962 m), the Hochwanner (2 746 m) and the Watzmann (2 713 m); and last buttresses of the Alps of Salzburg, beyond the Inn (Sonntags Horn, 1.962 m).
- the Black Forest in South-west, dominated by the Feldberg (1 493 m) and the Schauinsland (1 284 m).
- the Forest of Bavaria ( Bayerischer Wald ) which culminates with the Großer Arber (1 456 m).
- the Metalliferous Mounts ( Erzgebirge ) at the Czech border, where are located the Auersberg (1019 m) and the culminating point of the East of Germany, the Fichtelberg (1 215 m).
- the Harz in the South of the Lower Saxony and the West of Saxony-Anhalt where the Brocken is (1 142 m).
Other mountainous solid masses: Eiffel, Elbsandsteingebirge, Fichtelgebirge, Hunsrück, Kyffhäuser, Oberpfälzer Wald, Odenwald, Rhön, Rothaargebirge, Schwäbische Alb, Taunus, Teutoburger Wald, Thüringer Wald, the Westerwald, Wiehengebirge, Zittauer Gebirge
ClimateGermany is in the moderate zone. It is subject to the oceanic and continental influences. In winter, the masses of cold air can come from Siberia. The littoral is subjected to frequent storms, in particular in February. The mountain Climat meets only on the southernmost margins. Snow falls on the alpine range like on the solid masses hercyniens. In the east, the storms of summer are frequent and more accentuated thermal amplitudes. The climate of Germany can be qualified like a climate of transition between oceanic Europe and continental Europe.
RiversConsidering the organization of the relief in Germany, the majority of the rivers run towards north and are thrown either in the the North Sea, or in the the Baltic.
- the the Rhine mark the border with the Swiss , then the France and runs out through the Netherlands towards the the North Sea.
- the Weser crosses central Germany to join the North Sea to Bremerhaven.
- the Elba, coming from the Bohemia, passes by the Saxony, the Saxony-Anhalt and the Lower Saxony before reaching Hamburg and also throwing themselves it in the North Sea.
- Finally the Oder and the Neisse delimit the current border with the Poland.
Alphabetical list of the rivers and riversAhr, To go, Alster, Altmühl, the Danube, Dussel, Eider duck, Elba, Ems, Fulda, Havel, It, Ilz, Inn, Isar, Lahn, Lech, Leine, Lenne, Lesum, Lippe, Hand, the Moselle, Mulde, Naab, Neckar, Neiße, Oder, Pegnitz, Regen, the Rhine, the Ruhr, Saale, Saar, Sieg, Spree, Unstrut, Werra, Weser, Wupper
- See also List of the rivers of Germany
- more the big lake of Germany is the Lac of Constancy (536 km ²), at the border with the Suisse and the Austria.
- the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte includes/understands many lakes of which the Müritz (117 km ²), the Schweriner See (63 km ²), the Plauer See (38,4 km ²) and the Lac Kummerower (32,55 km ²)
- Of many important lakes are in Bavaria of which the Chiemsee (79,9 km ²), the Starnberger See (57,2 km ²), the Ammersee (46,6 km ²) and the Tegernsee (8,9 km ²)
- Other important lakes: Großer Plöner See (30 km ²) and Ratzeburger See (14,3 km ²) with the the Schleswig-Holstein, Steinhuder Meer (29,1 km ²) and Zwischenahner Meer (5,2 km ²) in Lower Saxony.
Vegetation30% of the German territory are covered by the forest (leafy trees or conifers). The moors and the peat bogs occupy part of the north of the country.
Germany, a territory with variable geometry
See also: History of Germany
One cannot include/understand Germany without examining his history quickly. The German State in its current borders is recent: the current borders go back to 1990, after the Réunification of the FRG and GDR. These borders natural, but are not chosen by Europeans to regulate the conflicts. Which is the evolution of the German territory? Which are the consequences of this evolution on the settlement?
In the Antiquity and with the the Middle Ages, the word “Germany” does not exist. For the Roman , the people which occupy the current territory of Germany are Germains and Barbare S. Among these people, the Alaman S (term meaning “ all the men ”) seem to be at the origin of the German name “ ”. After having been under the influence of Rome, the area falls under the cut from the Francs. Charlemagne conquers the Saxony and extends its domination until the Elba. In 843, its grandsons share his empire with Verdun: Francie Eastern, directed by Louis Germanic the seems distance ancestor of Germany.
The following period is marked by the establishment of a Germanic Empire (10th century) which breaks up quickly into almost autonomous principalities. At the 13th century, the teutonic Chevaliers launch out in the Colonisation of Eastern Europe, in particular of the Eastern Prussia. At the 18th century, Germanic populations Lutherans are installed on the the Volga with the invitation of the tsarina Catherine II to flee religious persecutions. They constitute the community of the German of the Volga.
The 19th century should be waited so that the Germans feel to belong to a Nation and 1871 so that the German Empire is unified by the Prussia. At the end of the 19th century, Reich of Guillaume Ier measurement 541.000 km ², including the Alsace-Lorraine. It is as at that time as Germany knows major upheavals: the entry in the demographic Transition causes strong a population growth. 5,5 million Germans emigrates with the the United States starting from the Famine of 1815. Then, the German Empire knows the Industrial revolution which affects especially the area the Rhine the Ruhr (coal, Lignite). Lastly, the great agglomerations develop.
In 1918, the German empire is overcome by the Allies at the end of the First World War. With the Treated of Versailles (1919), the German territory is amputee in his oriental party and half-compartment into two by the corridor of Dantzig. Thousands of Germans of Poland and Tchéquie settle in the new borders of the country. Adolf Hitler arrives at the capacity in 1933 and dreams to increase Germany according to the ideology of the vital Espace. It wishes to recover the areas lost in 1918 and refonder powerful Reich. It equips Germany with a modern network of highways. The Third Reich capitulates in 1945 and the peace treaties decrease the German State further (with in particular the total loss of the Eastern Prussia and the displacement of the Polish border). As after 1918, the migration S of populations are considerable, because the borders are upset: from 1945 to 1950, Germany accommodates 11 million refugees of the East.
On the geopolitical level, the Soviet armies occupy Is and the rupture of the Cold war (1947) ends up dividing the country: to the west of the Iron curtain extends the FRG, whose capital is Bonn. It chooses the democratic regime and the market economy. It is in the American camp. The German economic miracle attracts the immigrants Turkish and Yugoslavians.
In the east, GDR transforms into communist dictatorship centralized, with the orders of Moscow. Its capital is located at Berlin - is. The geographical consequences are important: the transportation routes are blocked between the two parts. Families are separate. In 1961, the authorities of the east build the Berlin Wall to prevent the exodus. 1990 should be awaited so that Germany is reunified. But this reunification has a cost: ex-GDR must reconvert its economy on the capitalist model . It is necessary to connect the transport infrastructures which had been divided by the iron curtain. The Berlin Wall destroyed east and great work are organized to accommodate the new administrations. It is also a question of rebalancing the distribution of the richnesses between the East and the West.
The reunification, carried out by the government of Helmut Kohl (1982-1998), cost nearly 900 billion euros between 1990 and 2000, approximately 5% of West German GDP. Despite everything: the areas of the ex- GDR have a definitely higher unemployment rate, the GDP per capita is lower by a third and, except for Berlin, new “the Länder ” loses inhabitants. Is followed from there what the Germans name the Ostalgie , regret of safety douillette of a directed economy.
Political organization and administration of the territoryGermany is not a centralized Republic, but a Federal state. The territory is cut out in 16 Länder or “ Regional states ”, having broad capacities. Länder are very different in the face and population and are inherited the allied occupation after 1945: widest is the Bavaria. Three of them are concentrated around cities: Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg. Competences of each Land are varied: education, culture, police force… The Federal state has a government directed by a Chancelier and keeps the load of the large files concerning all the country (economy, defense, foreign affairs…).
Pattern of the German settlement
See also: Demography of Germany
Germany is the country more populated European Union, with 82,5 million inhabitants. Its Densité (231 hab. /km ²) is twice larger than that of France. But this population is very unequally distributed: the strongest human concentrations are on two axes: that of the the Ruhr and the the Rhine, in the west of the country. Here, the agglomerations of Dortmund, Essen, Duisbourg, Düsseldorf and Cologne are touched to form large a Conurbation. The second axis is of East-West orientation and extends from Dresden at the border with the Netherlands: it includes the towns of Leipzig and Hanover. There exist moreover three very dense but isolated hearths: areas of Munich, Berlin and Hamburg.
Beside these strongly populated areas, are of them others less populated, like the Lande S and the Marais in the plains of North, the area of the Eiffel, of the the Bavarian Alps, small Palatinat, the Walk of Brandebourg and the Mecklembourg-Poméranie Western (77 hab. /km ²). However, the really natural mediums are almost absent. The country was emphasized of long time and the campaigns are populated relatively than in France because of a Périurbanisation and of a Rurbanisation early related to the excellence of the grid systems. The densities are very seldom lower than 50 hab. /km ².
The Birth rate of Germany east one of weakest of Europe (8,25 per thousand. The natural increase is negative since the years 1980 for the 11 Länder of the West. Several explanations can be given to this phenomenon: the small percentage of births except marriage, the complete absence of an inciting family policy - few cribs nor of nursery school for the children of less than 5 years -, quasi-obligation for a woman to stop working when it has an young child. Until with the beginning of the year 1990, the five Länder of the East had a fertility rate much more raised than in the West. Indeed, to support the work of the women and to support the population growth, GDR had set up a family true policy. With the reunification, all these benefits were lost. The birthrate of the East of Germany is as weak today as that of the West. Today the German population increases only thanks to one positive migratory balance. But one can note disparities of situation. Migratory balance is negative in the East. Unemployment rate is very high there. The Ossis migrate towards the West in the search of better living conditions.
Urban population and agglomerations
See also: Towns of Germany
- With 87% of townsmen, Germany is one of the countries more urbanized of planet. The urban network is not dominated by only one city. Berlin counts only 3,4 million inhabitants and is placed behind Moscow, Paris, London or Saint-Pétersbourg in term of agglomeration. The density is 6 times there lower than that of Paris. 13 cities have more than 500.000 inhabitants; 85 cities have more than 100.000 inhabitants, which represents approximately 26 million individuals. But the majority of the Germans resides in the villages and the small towns: more than seven million live in communes which do not exceed 2.000 inhabitants. 46 million lives in communes ranging between 2.000 and 100.000 inhabitants.
- the urban phenomenon is old in Germany: Trier (the Rhineland-Palatinat) is founded at the beginning of the Roman empire. The industrial towns of the west particularly suffered from the allied bombardments of 1944-1945. Hamburg, Cologne, Coblentz, Mainz or Würzbourg is martyrs cities which it is necessary to rebuild after the Second world war. The center of Freiburg-in-Brisgau (Bade-Wurtemberg) was rebuilt with the identical one. But much of others were modernized and rebuilt quickly: they have a pedestrian center, gardens, of a Tramway and department stores. In communist GDR, the collective habitat produced great whole of buildings. The historical centres of East Germany were relatively saved and some are rehabilitated (Dresden, Schwerin, Görlitz) or even classified with the inheritance world of UNESCO (Weimar, Bamberg, Stralsund, Lübeck…)
the organizations of statistics take into account four urban levels:
- the Ballungsgebiet , 12, are agglomerations gathering more than 500.000 inhabitants on less than 50 km ². The densities are higher than 1.000 hab. /km ²
- the 46 Verdichtungsraum are areas of more than 100 km ² gathering at least 150.000 inhabitants; examples: the Saar, the Rhine-Ruhr, Augsburg…
- the Kernstadt
- the Stadtregion , or " areas urbaines".
- the principal urban surfaces are (in 2005 and million inhabitants):
- Conurbation of the the Ruhr: 11,3
- Berlin: 4,1
- Hamburg: 3,2
- Frankfurt: 2,7
- Stuttgart: 2,5
- Munich: 2,3
- Mannheim: 1,5
- Typology of the German cities:
- industrial towns: they developed at the 19th century with the industrial revolution. The town of Leverkusen owes its rise with the establishment of the chemical plants Bayer.
- tertiary cities: the cities of the Hanse formed already a network of dynamic commercial cities to the Moyen-âge. Today, the tertiary sector is never absent from German cities, even in the industrial cities. The tertiary sector is majority in Berlin (political capital), Munich (head offices, tourism), Hamburg (linked activities with the port, logistics…), Frankfurt (seat of the European Central bank, district of the businesses, first airport of the country), Bonn (centers of conferences).
- university towns: oldest is Heidelberg, whose university was founded at the 14th century.
- princely cities: at the time of the Holy Empire, the principalities were sometimes reduced to a city and its countryside.
Town and country planning: to reduce imbalances and to protect the environmentGermany is divided into 97 areas of installation; they are reached today of Cancer S and Silicose. The drainage works cost some 6,5 billion euros. The intense motor vehicle traffic generates also an important atmospheric pollution. 250.000 industrial sites are always considered to be dangerous.
Elba is the river more polluted of Germany whereas the water quality of the Rhine improved because of a management concerted in the absence of being exemplary between its Coastal states. The rejections of agriculture (nitrates) but especially of industry are in question.
The littoral is subjected to violent storms in winter and the country must face recurring floods: the last are those of August 2002 in Dresden and August 2005 in Bavaria.
Germany nevertheless engaged in a durable development policy. Under the government of G. Schröder, under the pressure of the “ Grünen ” (Green), Germany gave up civil nuclear energy without the debate not being really carried out. So Germany is largely importer of energy, in particular coming from France. Since the reunification, 100.000 employment was removed in coal and the lignite. The thermo plants of the east were modernized. The energy production of origin hydraulic is little developed and concentrates in the solid mass of the Harz.
Germany is the principal producer of wind energy with: 20622 MW of installed capacity working with the end of the year 2006.
Economic and regional geography
See also: Economy of Germany
The reunification of 1990 changed the organization of German space. Rhenish space remains however the heart of Germany, as well on the economic plan as on on the demographic level. The Conurbation the Rhine-Ruhr is always the industrial heart of Germany in spite of the necessary change of the the Ruhr. Frankfurt continues to play its part of financial capital of the country.
Since the beginning of the years 1960, the areas of the south, the Bade-Wurtemberg and the Bavaria are gravitational spaces. They are areas as well industrial (state-of-the-art technologies, complexes militaro-industrialists) that tourist. Regional migratory balance is strongly positive.
Since the reunification, the center and North enjoy a strongly improved position. The ports of Hamburg and Bremen have the Interland of old the GDR of which they were private until 1990. These ports make it possible the Land of Lower Saxony to occupy a major place in mondialized space.
The five Länder of the East constitute a periphery in rebuildings. The passage of a socialist economy to an market economy involved the closing-down of many decayed and not very competing factories, the development of industrial waste lands, the regional migrations towards Länder of the West and a strong increase in unemployment. Unemployment rate was, at the end of 2006, of 16,4% whereas it is of 10,1% for the whole of Germany. This is due to a weak competitiveness which has persisted for more than 15 years, in spite of the investments authorized by the federal government. This situation led to a “désamour” between the Germans of the West and the " Oses " , ones finding that they paid too expensive the union, the others feeling forgotten by the most secured and regretting the time of GDR. This last phenomenon was called Ostalgie by the journalists.
A finer study of the German areas is possible.
Valley of the Rhine
See also: the Rhine-Ruhr
The Ruhr is an industrial and urban area located at the North-West of Germany. It profits from a favorable situation of junction between the the Rhine and its Affluent the the Ruhr (river port of Duisbourg). It is in the middle of the European Mégalopole and benefits from an important basin of population and labor: the Ruhr is also a Conurbation several million inhabitants. The urban area includes the towns of Essen, Düsseldorf, Cologne… At the 19th century, the the Ruhr based its development on the exploitation of the coal mines. The Industrial revolution made it possible Germany to rise with the very first ranks of the industrial powers at the end of the 19th century. Today, the area must reconvert its activities: the coal mining of the Ruhr became too expensive vis-a-vis the competition of the foreign coals. It is more profitable to import coal and iron by the Rhine. Some mine shafts survive thanks to the federal subsidies. But unemployment exceeds the national average.
The higher RhineThe Tourism and the Viticulture are two important activities of this area.
The the SaarThe industrial development of the Saar rested on:
- iron and steel industry: in 1994 the Iron and steel plant of Völklingen was classified with the world heritage of UNESCO.
- a pleasant framework of life
- Of the activities of point
It is also the area where the GDP per capita is highest of Germany, and where unemployment rate is weakest there.
Is in reconversionAt the time of GDR, the communist State encouraged the industrial production, in particular in heavy industry (area of Leipzig). The German investments related to new Länder: Volkswagen settled with Mosel.
Migratory flux left the east in reconversion after the reunification provided the dynamic south, Germany of the North-East, and Rhenish Germany in labor.
The North-West of Germany
Sources and references
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