Regions and Cities of Germany
- Lower Saxony
- North Rhine Westphalia
- Frisian Islands
- Harz Mountains
Berlin is the capital city and one of 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.4 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. A place with a very special past, Berlin is now an open city that never sits still. From the time it was founded as a small fishing village to the time it grew into the focal point of the Prussian Court, it has always been on the must-see list in European history. Today, as the new capital city of a reunited Germany, Berlin is undergoing growth and expansion that is singling it out as one of the world's most important cities once more.
Berlin was successively the capital of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. Following the Second World War, the city was divided into East and West Berlin. East Berlin became the capital of East Germany while West Berlin stayed part of the Federal Republic of Germany, surrounded by the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989. After the German reunification in 1990, the city regained its status as the capital of all Germany in 1999.
The foundations of this well-deserved fame as the European cultural centre are endorsed by the so-called "island of museums", three opera houses, the Philharmonic Orchestra, theatres and cinemas, the International Film Festival, three universities, four schools of Fine Arts and 250 extra-university research centres. After 90% of this city was destroyed by the bombs during World War II, it was divided into two. The Allies took the western part, traditional areas filled with bars, stores and hotels, while the Soviets took over the eastern side, where suburbs of the old imperial city were to be found. The most typical symbol of old West Berlin is the square made up of the zoo and the ruins of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche (Church in Memory of Emperor William), destroyed by an English bombing raid in 1943 and a present-day peace monument.
Toward the east is the Brandenburg Gate which leads to the Reichstag (Parliament) Building and to what used to be the Berlin Wall. In the former eastern sector, is the most important avenue, Unter den Linden , stretching from the Brandenburg Gate to the place where most sights can be found, such as the German History Museum, the Deutscher Dom (German cathedral), the Hugenottenmuseum (Hugenot Museum) and the Altes Museum (Old Museum). Around one third of the city's territory is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes.
Berlin is a cosmopolitan city of culture, politics, media, and science. Its economy concentrates mainly on the service sector and the city is one of the most visited tourist destinations in all Europe. The metropolis is home to renowned universities, research institutes, sporting events, orchestras, museums and personalities. Berlin is also recognized for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts, public transportation networks and a high quality of living. Berlin has evolved into a global focal point for young individuals and artists attracted by a liberal lifestyle and modern zeitgeist.