Germany is officially known as the Federal Republic of
Germany. In addition to having port access to the North Sea,
Germany is bordered by Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.
As part of the Economic Union, travelers can now pass these borders
without visas or customs inspections. Germany has a population of over 80 million.
The capital and largest city is
Berlin. The Rhine River flows from the Alps, north-northwest through
Germany until it reaches the sea in the Netherlands. The Rhine is
popular for river crusing, as
is the Moselle River.
was founded by Germanic tribes around 100AD. It was subsequently
part of the Roman Empire and later was a center for Protestant
Reformation. After the end of Hitler's domination of Europe in
1945, the country was divided. It was reunified after the fall of
the Berlin wall in 1989. Germany is now one of the economic
leaders in the world.
Germany participates in the Schengen
Zone and Schengen Visa requirements. That means there
are no border controls between members and no border inspections by
rail or vehicle when traveling from Germany to Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland,
France, Luxembourg, Belgium or the Netherlands. That makes it easy
to leave Germany by train no matter what direction you are
heading. Some countries that are not
members of the Schengen Zone require a Schengen Visa to enter Europe. More
than 40 countries outside the Schengen Zone do not require a visa.
Exemptions include citizens of Australia,
Canada, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United
States. Check your specific country at VisaHQ.
For a list of exempt countries, visit Project Visa.
German has influenced many words in the English language, but it is very different than the Romance languages such as Italian, French and Spanish. The umlaut above the "u" in "ü" isn't easy to adapt to on some keyboards. It has become commonplace to use "ue" for "ü". The same applies to German passports. So expect to find Munich under Muechen on the Eurail bahn.de web site even though you will see it spelled München when you actually arrive and expect the Müller's to have a passport that says Mueller.
As a member of the European
Union, Germany participates fully in the use of the Euro since
2002. The Deutsche Mark is a thing of the past.
The climate near the sea is moderated, being
cool in summer and not extremely cold in winter. Areas to the east
experience more more variation in temperatures, while to the south the
Alps generate the most extreme variation between summer and
winter. As with the rest of Europe, the summer months are the most
popular for tourism.