Country profile – Germany
Population: 81 million
Minorities: Turkish (2.4%), Greek, Italian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Danish, Spanish
Size: 357.000 km2
Government: Federal parliamentary republic
Official language: German
Main religion: An estimated 68% of the country is Christian (equally divided into Protestants and Roman Catholics). 3.7% are Muslim
Date of EU accession: Germany is a founding member of the current EU
Germany was one of the first members to adopt the Euro in 1999
GDP per capita: €28.700
Unemployment rate: 5%
Public debt: 80% of GDP
Main eurosceptic parties
– Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany), a fairly new Eurosceptic political party, founded on February 6, 2013, that considers itself pro-Europe and pro-EU, but it denies the Euro. They believe the single currency has undermined European integration. AfD have no seats in either the national or EU parliaments, but they managed to obtain 4.7% of the vote in the 2013 federal parliamentary elections. AfD’s leaders are Bernd Lucke, Frauke Petry and Konrad Adam.
– Die Linke (The Left): a far-left political party, who opposes the current capitalism system and also believe that its European Union politics create exploitation, social privatisation and the “de-democratisation of Europe”. In the Bundestag, the party has 64 out of 630 seats after polling 8.6% of the vote in the 2013 federal elections and 8 out of 99 seats in the European Parliament. According to official party figures, Die Linke had 63,784 registered members in December 2013, making it the fourth largest party in Germany. Die Linke is led by Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger and it was founded on June 16, 2007.
– Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, NPD (The National Democratic Party of Germany): a far-right political party which was founded in 1964 as successor to the Deutsche Reichspartei or DRP (the German Reich Party). DRP statements self-identify the party as Germany’s “only significant patriotic force”. The party is usually seen as a neo-Nazi organisation, and has been referred to as “the most significant neo-Nazi party to emerge after 1945.” DRP also publish their own right-wing newspaper, called Deutsche Stimme (German Voice). Party leader is Udo Pastörs and the party has no seats in the Bundestag or the European Parliament.
– Die Freiheit – Bürgerrechtspartei für mehr Freiheit und Demokratie (Freedom – Civil Rights Party for More Freedom and Democracy). This party is also known as Die Freiheit (The Freedom), in short and it is a small political party in Germany which identifies itself as conservative-liberal or classical liberal party. Controversially, the party has been described by German mainstream media as right-wing populist, and is known for its disapproval of Islam. It was founded in October 2010 by Berlin city parliamentarian René Stadtkewitz who, at the time, had been expelled from the conservative CDU (Christian Democratic Union) for inviting the Dutch politician and Islam critic Geert Wilders to Berlin. The party strives for the implementation of a direct citizen democracy based on the Swiss model and extensive changes in immigration and integration policy.
– The Munich Oktoberfest actually starts in late September – so if you’re late, you can enjoy a choice between the 60 beer gardens around the city. The first Oktoberfest was a wedding celebration for Prince Ludwig of Bavaria.
– Trabant, the name given to East Germany’s response to Audi and Mercedes Benz, literally means “satellite”. It was built as a tribute to the first ever satellite, the Soviet Sputnik, which went into space in 1957.
– The world’s narrowest street is in Reutlingen. Spreuerhofstrasse is 31 cm (one foot) wide at its narrowest point.
– The American author Mark Twain, was allegedly not a fan of the German language. He once declared: “I never knew before what eternity was made for. It is to give some of us a chance to learn German.”
– Chancellor Angela Merkel has a barbie doll made after her.