Test your German knowledge with these top 30 German facts – did you know a German invented the calculator and that Berlin has more bridges than Venice?
How well do you know Germany? Here is a mix of informative and interesting facts to learn more about Germany or test your German knowledge. Test yourself with these top 30 German facts on how well you know the Germans.4
- Germany was the first country in the world to adopt Daylight saving time – DST, also known as summer time. This occured in 1916 in the midst of WWI and was put in place to conserve energy.
- The capital of Berlin has more bridges than Venice – Berlin boasts 960 bridges and 59.8 square kilometres of water consisting of lakes and around 180 kilometres of navigable waterways. Combined with its surrounding state Brandenburg, it houses Europe’s largest inland water network.
- Prison escape is not punishable by law in Germany – German law maintains that it’s a basic human instinct to be free and therefore, prisoners have the right to escape jail. Escapes, however, rarely go unpunished because prisoners are held liable if they cause damage to property or inflict bodily harm against any individual upon their breakout.
- It’s illegal to run out of fuel in the German Autobahn – although not forbidden, motorists are only allowed to stop in the legendary highway for emergencies and having an empty tank of gas is not. Drivers can be fined and also have their licenses suspended for up to six months. Walking or running in the highway system is also illegal and is punishable by a fine of around EUR 90.
- Germany has legal say on what babies can be named – German law ban names that don’t denote a gender or use a family name as a first name. In 2014, the most popular children’s names were Sophie/Sofie for a girl and Maximilian for a boy.
- Fanta originated in Germany as a result of the Second World War – due to a trade embargo that prevented importing Coca-Cola syrup into Germany, the head of Coca-Cola in the country decided to create a domestic product for the market using available ‘leftover’ products like whey and apple pomace. It’s the second oldest brand of the Coca-Cola Company and its second most popular drink outside of the United States. It’s consumed 130 million times every day around the world.
- College education in Germany is free even for internationals – tuition fees for bachelor’s degrees in public universities was abolished in 2014 due to politicians thinking that having to pay for higher education as ‘socially unjust’.
- Over 800 million currywurst are eaten in Germany each year – currywurst is a sausage served with a spicy sauce, and is a street food that has become a cult classic in Germany. About 7 million currywurst are eated in Berlin alone. There’s even a museum in Berlin dedicated to the popular snack.
- Germany was once a cluster of small kingdoms, duchies and principalities – which were unified as the German Reich (Deutsches Reich) in 1871. Later it became the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich (National Socialism), and in 1949 the nation divided into the Soviet-supported East Germany (German Democratic Republic) and the democratic West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany). On October 3rd 1990, East and West were reunited.
- German remains the language with the most native speakers in Europe – besides Germany having the largest population in the EU, the German language was once the lingua franca of central, eastern and northern Europe.
- Germany’s capital centre has shifted seven times – these cities have all at one time or another been capitals of modern-day German territory: Aachen (during the Carolingian Empire), Regensburg, Frankfurt-am-Main, Nuremberg, Berlin, Weimar (unofficially, during unrest in Berlin), Bonn (and East Berlin), and, since 1990, Berlin again.
- Germany is sometimes known as ‘the land of poets and thinkers’ – or das land de dichter und denker; Bach, Beethoven and Goethe were all German, alongside composers Händel, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Wagner and R. Strauss. Some of the world’s greatest German philosophers include Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Heidegger.
- Munich is the second most punctual large airport in the world – out of the category of large airports, only Tokyo is more punctual, according to an OAG report.
- Germany boasts some of world’s most famous inventions – you can thank the Germans for the light bulb, the automated calculator, and the automobile. That’s not all – the Germans are also credited for the discovery of insulin, the invention of the clarinet, the pocket watch, television (partly), paraffin, petrol/gasoline & Diesel engines, the automobile engine, differential gear and other important devices, the motorcycle, the jet engine, the LCD screen and the Walkman.
- Germany has the largest population in the EU but it’s in decline – the population of Germany is around 80.9 million, with 3.4 million people living in the capital Berlin. Yet two out of five households are single-person households. Germany also has one of the lowest birthrates in the world, and the government expects the population to drop to 67 million by 2060. On average, German women give birth to their first child at 29 years old and statistically have 1.4 children, with about a third being single mothers.
- Germany is the second most popular expat destination in the world – the country was ranked as number two by both the OECD and the Migration Policy Institute. Most immigrants are from Europe, with the top three foreign nationalities being Turkish, Polish and Italian. The immigrant workforce helps cushion the effects of Germany’s low birth rate, rising life expectancy and aging society; the UN predicts the number of Germans in the workplace will fall to 54 percent by 2030.
- Germany is rated highly as a place to grow old – life expectancy in Germany is almost 81 years (one year higher than the OEDC average) – 83 for women and 78 for men – and just over 26 percent of the population is currently over 60. Germany is a good place to retire: it ranks fourth (out of 96 countries) in the Global AgeWatch Index 2015 for wellbeing amongst the elderly.
- Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten is the largest zoo in the world – Germany also boasts more than 400 registered zoos. Including zoological gardens, wildlife parks, aquariums, bird parks, animal reserves, or safari parkstotal, Germany has nearly 700 facilities.
- Germany’s education system produces top performers – students score higher than average on the OECD’s PISA scale, and 86 percent of adults aged 25–64 have completed at least upper secondary education (equivalent of a high school diploma). That’s well above the EU average of 74.2 percent.
- Germany has high levels of employment – in 2016, more than half of people aged 15–64 had a paid job (43.3m people) and unemployment dipped to a record low of 4.2 percent. Youth unemployment was also one of the lowest in the EU at 7.7 percent. Men are primarily in full-time work, while women, especially those with pre-school children, often work part-time. However, Germany only adopted a minimum wage in 2015 for the first time,
- Germany is the EU’s largest economy – with a gross domestic product (GDP) of EUR 3.49 trillion (USD 3.84 trillion), and lies fourth place in the world behind the US, China and Japan.
- German small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for around 52 percent of Germany’s entire economic output – these mittelstand (SMEs) employ some 14 million workers. Ninety-nine percent of German companies are SMEs and four out of every five trainees go on to work for them.
- Germany is one of the world’s largest car producers – selling 6 million cars in 2015. VW’s Golf is one of the best selling cars of all time. In 2016, the top-selling car brands in Germany were Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes and BMW.
- Germany has more cultural activities and places than any other country – it’s a cultured place, with 6,200 museums, 820 theatres, 130 professional orchestras and 8,800 libraries in 2013. There are more museums, exhibition halls and art galleries than any other country (and not only in the big cities), with more people going to exhibitions than to soccer matches.
- Germany is one of the world’s leading book nations – publishing around 94,000 titles every year. It’s also where you’ll find international book publishing’s most import event, the International Frankfurt Book Fair. The facts are perhaps not suprising, seeing the Gutenberg press – a revolution in the printing world using movable type – was invented in Germany. Also, the earliest known magazine to have been published was the Erbauliche Monaths-Unterredungen, which was started by German poet and theologian Johann Rist.
- Germany is Europe’s second largest beer consumer – Germans drank 2.55 billion gallons of beer in 2012, the lowest level since the reunification in 1990, but that’s still more than anyone else in Europe apart from the Czechs. There are more than 1,200 breweries producing over 5,000 brands of beer.
- Smoking is banned in public places but drinking is still legal – smoking has been banned in public buildings, on public transportation and in other places since 2007 but you can drink alcohol openly.
- Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany since 2005, was ranked as the world’s second most powerful person – in Forbes magazine in 2012, Merkel became the highest female ranking ever. In 2009, Mattel celebrated 50 years of Barbie by producing an Angela Merkel Barbie doll.
- Munich’s Oktoberfest is the world’s biggest folk festival – and there’s rather a lot of beer there, too. Despite its name, Oktoberfest festival actually starts in the last week of September and officially dates back to 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig threw a party to celebrate his wedding to Princess Terese on October 12.
- A person in a same-sex couple is allowed to adopt in Germany – any form of discrimination against gay and lesbian people is illegal, also. Berlin is the third biggest gay city in Europe, with an estimated 300,000 gay and lesbian residents. However, many criticise Germany’s legislation as inadequate, as only civil unions are allowed not marriage, and only ‘successive adoption’ is allowed, meaning a partner can adopt a child already adopted by their partner but they cannot file for adoption as a couple.
- Germany is a leader in climate and energy policies – it made a decision in 2011 to decommission all nuclear power stations (then producing around 18 percent of electricity consumed) by 2022 and to replace them with renewable energies and new storage for green electricity. At least a third of Germany is now also powered by renewable energy.
Other German facts
Germany is the fifth largest country in Europe, covering an area of 357,022 square kilometres; only the Ukraine, France, Spain and Sweden are bigger. Since reunification, there have been 16 länder or federal states. There are three city states – Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen – and 13 regions: Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia.
Germany shares borders with nine other countries: Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
About two-thirds of the population are Christian, split evenly between Protestant and Catholic, but you’ll find more Protestants in the north and more Catholics in the south. There are around 4 million Muslims and 100,000 Jews.
Germany has high levels of employment: in 2016, more than half of people aged 15–64 had a paid job (43.3m people) and unemployment dipped to a record low of 4.2 percent. Youth unemployment was also one of the lowest in the EU at 7.7 percent. Men are primarily in full-time work, while women, especially those with pre-school children, often work part-time. However, Germany only adopted a minimum wage in 2015 for the first time.