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While relatively small by world standards, Germany's attractions tend to be bigger than in the surrounding European neighbour countries, which is no surprise as Germany is the biggest country in Central Europe, runs Europe’s biggest economy, and has the largest population on the continent (excluding Russia).

The country's financial capital (Frankfurt) features an unusual skyline for Europe with its many high-rise buildings, including the continent's tallest office tower.

Berlin, though not as dominant in Germany as London in England or Paris in France, has been touted as one of the world's coolest big cities since the early 90s.

The world's most famous beer culture is centered around Southern Germany's leading city (Munich), where beer is traditionally served in 1 liter mugs (not in Kneipen (pubs) and Restaurants); Munich is also the site of the annual Oktoberfest, Europe's most visited festival and the world's largest fair.

German cars such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Volkswagen (VW) are famous internationally for their quality. This quality is matched by Germany's excellent network of roadways including the famous Autobahn network, which has many sections without speed limits and lots of speed hungry drivers on it. Germany also features an extensive network of high speed trains - the InterCityExpress (ICE).

Germany was the host of the FIFA World Cup 2006, which as well as a chance to showcase a new image of Germany to the world provided a welcome boost to the tourist industry. 

Economy—overview: In 1997 the German economy the world's third most powerful benefited from robust exports particularly to other members of the EU and the US as well as strengthening equipment investment. But anemic private consumption and a contraction in the construction industry limited the expansion. Unemployment continued to set post-war monthly records through the end of 1997 and averaged 4.3 million for the year. In preparation for the 1 January 1999 start of the European Monetary Union the government has made major efforts in 1996-97 to reduce the fiscal deficit. This effort has been complicated by growing unemployment an erosion of the tax base and the continuing transfer of roughly $100 billion a year to eastern Germany to refurbish this ex-communist area. In recent years business and political leaders have become increasingly concerned about Germany's decline in attractiveness as an investment target. They cite increasing preference by German companies to locate new manufacturing facilities in foreign countries including the US rather than in Germany to be closer to the markets and to avoid Germany's high tax rates high wage costs rigid labor structures and extensive regulations. For similar reasons foreign investment in Germany has been lagging in recent years.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$1.74 trillion (western: purchasing power parity—$1.60 trillion; eastern: purchasing power parity—$144 billion) (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 2.4% (western 2.5% eastern 1.7%) (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$20 800 (western: purchasing power parity - $23 600; eastern: purchasing power parity—$9 100) (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 1.1%
industry: 34.5%
services: 64.4% (1995)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 1.8% (1997)

Labor force:
total: 38.7 million
by occupation: industry 41% agriculture 3% services 56% (1995)

Unemployment rate: 12% (1997 est.)

revenues: $755 billion
expenditures: $832.1 billion including capital expenditures of $NA (1995)

Industries: western: among world's largest and technologically advanced producers of iron steel coal cement chemicals machinery vehicles machine tools electronics food and beverages; eastern: metal fabrication chemicals brown coal shipbuilding machine building food and beverages textiles petroleum refining

Industrial production growth rate: 3% (1997)

Electricity—capacity: 109.727 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 495.875 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 6 154 kWh (1995 est.)

Agriculture—products: western: potatoes wheat barley sugar beets fruit cabbage; cattle pigs poultry; eastern: wheat rye barley potatoes sugar beets fruit; pork beef chicken milk hides

total value: $521.1 billion (f.o.b. 1996)
commodities: manufactures 88.2% (including machines and machine tools chemicals motor vehicles iron and steel products) agricultural products 5.0% raw materials 2.3% fuels 1.0% other 3.5% (1995)
partners: EU 57.7% (France 11.7% UK 8.1% Italy 7.6% Netherlands 7.5% Belgium-Luxembourg 6.5% Austria 5.5%) Eastern Europe 8.0% other West European countries 7.5% US 7.3% NICs 5.6% Japan 2.5% OPEC 2.2% China 1.4% (1996 est.)

total value: $455.7 billion (f.o.b. 1996)
commodities: manufactures 74.2% agricultural products 9.9% fuels 6.4% raw materials 5.9% other 3.6% (1995)
partners: EU 55.5% (France 10.8% Netherlands 8.6% Italy 8.4% Belgium-Luxembourg 6.6% UK 6.4% Austria 3.9%) Eastern Europe 8.7% other West European countries 7.2% US 6.8% Japan 5.3% NICs 5.3% China 2.4% OPEC 1.7% other 7.1% (1995)

Debt—external: $NA

Economic aid:
donor: ODA $9 billion (1996 est.)

Currency: 1 deutsche mark (DM) = 100 pfennige

Exchange rates: deutsche marks (DM) per US$1—1.8167 (January 1998) 1.7341 (1997) 1.5048 (1996) 1.4331 (1995) 1.6228 (1994) 1.6533 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year



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