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Federal Republic of Germany > Details

Country Name
Federal Republic of Germany
Geographical Area
357,021 sq km (223,138 sq miles)
Population
81,305,856 (Oct 2014 est.)
Capital City
Berlin
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People   German 91.5%, Turkish 2.4%, other 6.1% (made up largely of Greek, Italian, Polish, Russian)
Language   German
Religion   Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Muslim 3.7%, unaffiliated or other 28.3%
Government   federal republic; the chief of state is the president, the head of the government is the chancellor
Head of Government   Chancellor: Angela Merkel; President: Joachim Gauck
Embassy   The American Embassy Neustädtische Kirchstr. 4-5 10117 Berlin ph. (030) 2385 174
Visas   US citizens in possession of a valid US passport do not need a visa for airport transit, tourist or business trips (for stays up to 90 days). The passport must not expire before the end of the scheduled trip.

Health Risks   No vaccinations are required for entry into Germany.
However, in spring there is a greater risk of contracting illnesses caused by ticks such as Lyme disease and viral early summer meningoencephalitis . Ticks are blood-sucking parasites which are found all over the world. They feed on the blood of their host and are usually found in ground-covering vegetation. If you find a tick on you, remove it very carefully with a fine pair of tweezers, taking care not to squeeze it. Or, even better, seek medical attention.
The areas at highest risk are Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, as well as certain regions within Hessen, Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia. Not every tick bite leads to infection in humans. The best protection against ticks is to wear clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible.
Clothing Suggestions   The majority of Germany lies within the moderate, maritime climatic zone. Large fluctuations in temperature are rare. Rain falls throughout the year. The average winter temperature is 36°F on the North German Plain and 21°F in the mountains. Average temperatures in July range between 64°F on the North German Plain and 68°F in the sheltered valleys of the south. Exceptions include the upper Rhine plains with their very mild climate, Upper Bavaria which is influenced by the föhn, a warm Alpine wind that blows in from the south, and the Harz mountains, which have their own microclimate with harsh winds, cool summers and snowy winters.
Time Zone:   The whole of Germany lies within one time zone, Central European Time (CET). Clocks go forward in spring and back in autumn. The switch to summer time (forward one hour) happens on the last Sunday in March. Winter time (back one hour) starts on the last Sunday in October.
Banking / Exchange   Opening hours are determined by the individual banks, and can vary greatly although no branches stay open later than 6pm and on Saturdays and Sundays all banks are closed. Many banks have a foyer with ATMs which can be accessed 24 hours a day.
Currency   Euro
Electric Current   The voltage is 230V.

Credit Cards / Traveler Checks   Modern cash machines accept a variety of German and international debit and credit cards. The airports and major railway stations have electronic currency changing machines which can be used to exchange foreign currency for euros. Credit cards are not universally accepted, particularly in smaller outlets.

Foreign currency, including traveler's checks, can be exchanged at banks and special exchange shops in large towns.
Shopping   Shops open between 9am and 10am, although some bakeries and newsagents open at 6am. Pharmacies open from 8am. Most shops in the town and city centers do not close for lunch. From Monday to Saturday, shops normally close between 6pm and 8pm. Banks and post offices close by 6pm at the latest.
Shops are closed on Sunday, with the exception of bakeries which generally open on Sunday mornings. Cafés and cake shops are open on Sunday afternoons. Many filling stations have very long opening hours, sometimes around the clock. It is possible to shop there outside normal opening hours, as they often sell food, newspapers and other everyday basics as well as fuel.
Weights & measures   metric system
How to shop Tax Fee   Value added tax is charged on goods bought in Germany. This is currently 16%, with a lower rate of 7% payable on some goods such as food and books. Visitors can claim back VAT on goods intended to be taken outside the EU. The biggest provider of this refund service is Global Refund (www.globalrefund.com), although there are also a number of other providers.
National Airport   Berlin Tegel (TXL), Frankfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC), Duesseldorf (DUS), Hamburg (HAM)
Major Tourist Attractions   Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Black Forest, Rhine Valley, Weimar, Luebeck
Tipping Suggestion   There is generally no need to tip in Germany, as service is included in the bill, although it is widely considered appropriate. In restaurants a tip of between 5 and 10 per cent of the bill is recommended. When you pay, you round up the bill to include a tip. Tips are never left on the table in Germany. Ten per cent is recommended for taxi drivers. In hotels, it is conventional to tip the bell boy one euro per bag, and the room cleaner one to two euros per day. It is customary to tip tour guides 5 to 7 EUR per person per day on multiday tours and drivers 3 to 5 EUR per person per day. The suggested tip for day tours is 10 to 15 EUR for the guide and 5 EUR for the driver.
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