Generalities and basic facts

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic in western-central Europe. The country consists of 16 states and its capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 square kilometres (137,847 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With 80.3 million inhabitants, it is the most populous member state in the European Union. Germany is the major economic and political power of the European continent and a historic leader in many theoretical and technical fields.

Germany is the world's fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth-largest by purchasing power parity. As a global leader in several industrial and technological sectors, it is the second-largest exporter and third-largest importer of goods. The country ranks highly in many international metrics of performance, has developed a very high standard of living, and features a comprehensive social security system, which 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, music composers, scientists, and inventors.

Germany's achievements in the sciences have been significant, and research and development efforts form an integral part of the economy.The Nobel Prize has been awarded to 103 German laureates. For most of the 20th century, German laureates had more awards than those of any other nation, especially in the sciences (physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine).

The work of Albert Einstein and Max Planck was crucial to the foundation of modern physics, which Werner Heisenberg and Max Born developed further. They were preceded by such key physicists as Hermann von Helmholtz, Joseph von Fraunhofer and Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, among others. Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays and was the first winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. Otto Hahn was a pioneer in the fields of radioactivity and radiochemistry and discovered nuclear fission, while Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch were founders of microbiology. Numerous mathematicians were born in Germany, including Carl Friedrich Gauss, David Hilbert, Bernhard Riemann, Gottfried Leibniz, Karl Weierstrass, Hermann Weyl and Felix Klein. Research institutions in Germany include the Max Planck Society, the Helmholtz Association and the Fraunhofer Society. The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize is granted to ten scientists and academics every year. With a maximum of €2.5 million per award it is one of highest endowed research prizes in the world.

The federated states are in charge of the cultural institutions. There are 240 subsidised theatres, hundreds of symphonic orchestras, thousands of museums and over 25,000 libraries spread in Germany. These cultural opportunities are enjoyed by many: there are over 91 million German museum visits every year; annually, 20 million go to theatres and operas; 3.6 million per year listen to the symphonic orchestras. As of 2012 the UNESCO inscribed 37 properties in Germany on the World Heritage List.

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