In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy and history, The Statesman brings to you a Weekly Focus on countries with which India shares diplomatic ties and friendship. This week’s focus is on Germany. Know all about the country.
Capital: Berlin, Currency: Euro, Ethnic groups: German 91.5%, Turkish 2.4%, other 6.1% (made up largely of Polish, Italian, Romanian, Syrian, and Greek), Languages: German (official) note: Danish, Frisian, Sorbian, and Romani are official minority languages; Low German, Danish, North Frisian, Sater Frisian, Lower Sorbian, Upper Sorbian, and Romani are recognised as regional languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Religions: Roman Catholic 29%, Protestant 27%, Muslim 4.4%, Orthodox Christian 1.9%, other 1.7%, none or members of unrecorded religious groups 36% (2015 est.)
Food and Drink
The archetypal German snack used to be cooked sausage (wurst) with a bread roll. It has been replaced by pizza and sandwiches. First-time visitors tend to be taken aback too by the variety of regional specialities, from the fresh seafood of the far north and the lamb dishes of Lower Saxony to the casseroles and stews of Rhineland-Westphalia and the noodle-based cuisine of the southwest.
Some of the specialities are Bratwurst, Eisbein mit sauerkraut, Schwäbische maultaschen,Butterbrez’n , Käsespätzle, Eintopf, Eierpfannkuchen, Schwarzwälder kirschtorte, Lebkuchen, Ebbelwoi, Schnapps, Kirschwasser. There are literally thousands of varieties of German beer.
German holidays are those of the Roman calendar and the Christian liturgical year. Especially popular are Sylvester (New Year’s), Karneval or Fastnacht (Mardi Gras), Ostern (Easter), Himmelfahrt (Ascension Day), Pfingsten (Pentecost), Advent and Weihnachten (Christmas). The new national holiday is 3 October, the Tag der Deutschen Einheit (Day of German Unity).
Weather and climate
As with most European countries, Germany is a year-round destination but not especially dependable weather-wise. In general terms though, it’s a temperate country with warm summers and cold (more and more often mild), winters prolonged periods of frost or snow are rare.
Rain falls throughout the year, with much of Germany experiencing its maximum rainfall over the high summer months. The average January daytime temperature is 3°C and in July it’s 22°C. Extremes commonly reach -10°C (5°F) in winter and 35°C (95°F) in the summer months.
Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate: Modeled on the Acropolis in Athens and built for King Frederick William II in 1791, the monumental sandstone Brandenburg Gate in Berlin’s Mitte district was the city’s first Neoclassical structure. Measuring an impressive 26 metres in height ~ including the spectacular four-horse chariot perched atop ~ its six huge columns on each side of the structure form five impressive passages. Undoubtedly Berlin’s most iconic structure, it was also once part of the infamous Berlin Wall and, for a few decades, was symbolic of the division of Berlin into East and West.many precious objects.
The Black Forest: The beautiful Black Forest, with its dark, densely-wooded hills is one of the most visited upland regions in Europe. Popular spots include Germany’s oldest ski area at Todtnau, the magnificent spa facilities of Baden-Baden, and the attractive resort of Bad Liebenzell. Other highlights include the spectacular Black Forest Railway centred on Triberg with its famous falls, and Triberg itself, home to the Black Forest Open Air Museum.
Other exciting tourist attractions are The Berlin Wall, The Ultimate Fairytale Castle (Neuschwanstein), Miniatur Wunderland and the Historic Port of Hamburg, The Rhine Valley, Museum Island in Berlin, Bamberg and the Bürgerstadt, Sea bridge of Sellin, Rügen Island, Königssee (King’s Lake), Sanssouci Park and Palace (Postdam) and Insel Mainau (the Flower Island of Lake Constance).