The Federal Republic of Germany is the largest Member State of the European Union. It was one of the founding members of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957. Now that the country is reunified, the whole of Germany belongs to the European Union. Its capital city is Berlin.
Germany has a population of some 80.2 million, including 7.7 million foreign nationals, living on an area of 357,050 square kilometres. Germany is a member of Nato. It is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement, which is why there are no border controls.
Germany is a parliamentary democracy with a two-chamber parliament comprising the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. The Bundesrat currently has 631 members who are elected directly by the people every four years. The Bundesrat is made up of representatives of the 16 Land governments.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) heads a coalition government formed of the CDU/CSU and the SPD. The Chancellor determines the general guidelines of government policy. The Alliance 90/The Greens and the Left Party are currently in opposition in the German Bundestag. The head of state is President Joachim Gauck, whose role is primarily a representative one.
The Federal Republic of Germany is made up of 16 Länder, or federal states. According to the Constitution, the Basic Law, cities and municipalities have the right of local self-government.
Gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 totalled 2,737.6 billion euros; per capita GDP was 33,343 euros. The largest sectors of the economy are mechanical engineering, the chemicals industry and car manufacturing. The majority of businesses in Germany are small and medium-sized enterprises. Many of Germany’s family-run businesses are world market leaders in their branches of industry.
Germany traditionally has a large trade surplus. The balance of foreign trade in 2013 came to a surplus of 195 million euros.
France and Germany together conceived of the idea of founding the G7 in 1975. The first meeting, called the World Economic Summit, involved only six states, however. Germany has since hosted five summit meetings: in Bonn in 1978 and 1985, in Munich in 1992, in Cologne in 1999 and in Heiligendamm in 2007.