• Germany occupies 357,112 square kilometres of territory in Central Europe. It has land borders with nine countries and a coastline of 2389km on the North and Baltic seas.

Politically, Germany is a parliamentary democracy, with an upper house – the Bundesrat – and a lower chamber, the Bundestag, both in Berlin. The administrative structure is federal, with the sixteen Länder (states) having a high degree of autonomy.

Germany is the largest economy in the European Union, and it is the world’s largest exporter. As the economic heart of the euro zone it is also home to the headquarters of the European Central Bank.

With a population of around 82 million, Germany is the most populous nation in the European Union, and it is also among its most densely populated and highly urbanized. The four largest cities are Berlin (3.46 million inhabitants), Hamburg (1.8 million), Munich (1.35 million) and Cologne (1 million).

• Germans DO have a sense of humour and they DO love to sunbathe naked. DON’T feel you can’t mention the war though – nowadays Germans are avid consumers of their own history, and the Nazi era is picked over exhaustively in TV documentaries, in books, and at the cinema.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

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