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Germany Country Guide

This guide was written by Francine Carrel, Assistant Editor of Guides.Global (office@guides.global).

It was last updated on 8 March 2017. The law and practice in England & Wales change all the time. Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.

Our guides are prepared by professionals from many countries. They are, of necessity, both brief and general and can take no account of your personal circumstances. They are intended to be a good introduction to the subject BUT ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, which our contributors will usually be happy to provide upon request.

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Introduction

flag of germany
German Flag

Germany is one of the big players in the European Union. It has the biggest population and the largest GDP in the EU.

Foreign residents come to Germany to work, to study and to raise a family. The country is politically stable, has a good job market and a well-regarded education system.

Many expats see the cities of Germany as a great combination of culture and structure: Berlin and Frankfurt are home to more the restaurants, nightclubs, museums and art galleries than you can shake a stick at - and yet the public services are efficient and the trains usually run on time.

Germany is not seen as dangerous, either - personal safety is not usually a concern in the country. There are some exceptions: public transport can be a bit dodgy at night time, and you'd be wise to stay away from crowds of drunken football fans.

Germany has suffered through a series of terrorist attacks in recent years. It is seen as a 'high risk' destination for further attacks, similar to France.

In general, though, Germany is a safe and pleasant country in which to live and work. In fact, Mercer's 2016 Quality of Living Survey, popular with potential expats, put three German cities in the top ten: Munich (4), Düsseldorf (6), and Frankfurt (7).

The basics

The Country: Germany (Deutschland)

The Nationality: German (deutsch)

The People: Germans (das Deutsch)

Languages: Around 95% of the population speak German as their first language. Many people also speak a second language: over 30% speak English, around 9% speak French and about 8% speak Russian. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Time Zone: UTC+1

Currency: Euro

Currency Code: EUR

ISO International Country Code: DEU

Internet Domain: .de

Telephone Dialling Code: +49

The geography

Capital City: Berlin (population: 3,653,000)

Area: 357,022 sq km (63 out of 252 countries in the world) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Coastline: 2,389km

Terrain: Varied. Forests, mountains, plains, lowlands and lots of rivers!

Climate: Moderate. Warm summers and cool winters, with greater temperature extremes further away from the coast.

The people

Population: 80,722,792 (19 out of 252 countries in the world) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Population growth: -0.16% per year. (US: 0.81%; France: 0.41%; Turkey: 0.9%). lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Median age: 46.8 years lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Life expectancy at Birth: 81 years

Urban population: 75% of total population lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Expat population:

Religion: Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Muslim 3.7%, unaffiliated or other 28.3% (CIA World Factbook 2016)

Ethnicity: German 91.5%, Turkish 2.4%, other 6.1% (made up largely of Greek, Italian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish) (CIA World Factbook 2016)

UN Human Development Index: 6 of 188 countries. This index attempts to measure a country's achievements in education, healthcare, wealth generation and a number of other areas. In effect, it looks at the extent to which the people in a country enjoy a long and healthy life, a good education and a decent standard of living. It is a very useful indicator of what a country will be like as a place to live. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

UN Inequality Adjusted Human Development Index: 6 of 188 countries. This index is a list measuring the lost development potential arising from all types of inequality in a country. With perfect equality this index and the HDI would show the same result. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Population Below Poverty Line: 15.5%

The medical system

Germany has a good-quality, universal healthcase system - funded by a mixture of private and public money.

Health Expenditure: 11.3% of GDP (US: 17.9%; France: 11.6%; Turkey: 6.7%; China: 5.2%) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Doctors: 3.89/1000 (US: 2.42; France: 3.38; Turkey: 1.71; China: 1.46) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Hospital Beds: 8.2/1000 (US: 3; France: 6.6; Turkey: 2.5; China: 3.8) lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

World Health Organization ranking of health systems (last release in 2000): 25 of 191 countries.

The government

The Peace Index

Germany is ranked 16 out of 163 countries included in the 2016 edition of the Vision of Humanity "Peace Index". This is just ahead of Norway and just behind Australia. Iceland comes first. Syria comes last. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

The methodology used to make this index may be open to some debate but it is a good snapshot of criminality, conflict, political attitudes and military expenditure.

The Global Terrorism Index

Germany is ranked 41 out of the 162 countries in the 2016 edition of the "Global Terrorism Index". A low rank/high number is good. Iraq is number 1 on the list. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

This is another interesting snapshot, from people behind the Peace Index.

The Legal System

Germany is ranked a very encouraging 6 out of 113 countries included in the 2016 edition of the World Justice Project's "Rule of Law Index" (with 1 being the best). Germany scored particularly well in the 'Civil Justice' and 'Regulatory Enforcement' categories.lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Germany also scores well on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index. Germany is ranked 10 out of 176 countries included in the 2016 edition of the index. They scored similarly to Luxembourg and the UK. Denmark and New Zealand are top. Somalia, South Sudan and North Korea are bottom.lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

The Economy:

GDP (purchasing power parity ('PPP'): $3.979 trillionlightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

GDP per capita: $48,200 Ranks 27 out of 229 listed countries. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

GDP Growth 2015: 1.70%. Ranks 146 out of 221 listed countries. lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Inflation: 0.4% (2016)

Public debt: 69% of GDP (2016)

Unemployment: General: 4.2%; Youth 6.5% (the lowest in the EU)

Currency: Euro

Business

The stereotypes ring true in Germany. Businesses in Germany are superb at forward-planning, fantastically thorough in fact-checking, and very averse to sudden changes or surprises.

Germany ranks 17 out of 189 on the World Bank's "Ease of doing business index". lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

As already mentioned, Germany scores well on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index. Germany is ranked 10 out of 176 countries included in the 2016 edition of the index. They scored similarly to Luxembourg and the UK. Denmark and New Zealand are top. Somalia, South Sudan and North Korea are bottom.lightbulb image - click here for more information on this subject

Our Guides

Our guides contain (or soon will do) a mass of information about living, working, doing business, retiring & investing in Germany. Check them out here.

Acknowledgments

When preparing this factsheet we made extensive use of:

In addition we would like to thank our colleagues, contributors and readers for their invaluable input.

Readers' Comments

 

Further information?

I hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact me.

Francine Carrel

8 March 2017


 

This guide was co-authored by John Howell (Email: John.Howell@Guides.Global or John@jhco.org. Web: www.jhco.org or www.Guides.Global)



 

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