Basic facts on Germany
Located in Western Europe, Germany is surrounded by 9 countries. On the west side, it is bordered by The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and France and at the south by Switzerland and Austria. The Czech Republic and Poland on the east side and finally on the north side, the North Sea, Denmark and the Baltic Sea, Germany has a population of more than 82 million people, (82.400.966, July 2007). It is a federal republic with 16 states, Baden-Württemberg, Bayern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thüringen.
The size is 357,021 sq km, consisting of 349,223 sq km land and 7,798 sq km water.
The Geographic coordinates are 51 00 N, 9 00 E
Lowest point: Neuendorf bei Wilster -3.54 m
Highest point: Zugspitze 2,963 m.
Although located closer to the Arctic Circle than to the equator, Germany's climate is moderate and is generally without sustained periods of cold or heat. Northwestern and coastal Germany has a maritime climate caused by warm westerly winds from the North Sea; warm summers and mild cloudy winters characterize the climate. Further inland, the climate is continental, marked by greater seasonal variations in temperature, with warmer summers and colder winters.
Climate and other interesting data
Average temperature: Annual average: 9.6° C. January: 1.7° C; April: 8.6° C; July 18.2° C; October 10.1° C.
Total area: 755.2 square kilometres, of which port area: 74,4 square kilometres. The largest distance in East-West as well as North-South is around 40 km. Hamburg is a very green city. 16.7 % or the municipal area is made of parks, recreation areas and woodlands with bodies of water accounting for a further 8.1%, thus contributing significantly to the city’s recreational value.
Size of Outer Alster: 1.6 square kilometres, size of Ohlsdorf cemetery: 4 square kilometres. Other interesting data you will find in the Facts and Figures brochure from the Statistical Office of Hamburg or on the Internet under www.statistik-nord.de.
Hamburg consists of 7 “Bezirke” or districts (Altona, Bergedorf, Eimsbüttel, Harburg, Hamburg-Mitte, Hamburg-Nord and Wandsbek). Every district is subdivided into several precincts. Hamburg has 104 such precincts in total. You can find the details in the magazine “New in the city” which can be ordered at the Outpost office Hamburg (HAM-PEN 3.1.07) or under www.newinthecity.de. In this magazine you will also find information about how to pass free time, where to eat, how to find the right ticket for your ride on Hamburg’s subways and buses and where to shop.
The official language in Germany is German. German is a West Germanic Language. It is a member of the western group of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family and one of the world's major languages. Spoken by more than 120 million people in 38 countries of the world, German is — like English and French — a pluricentric language with Germany, Austria and Switzerland as the three main centres of usage. Worldwide, German is said to be the language with the most written translations into and from a language. Furthermore it belongs to the three most learned and to the ten most spoken languages worldwide (according to the Guinness Book of Records).
Do’s and Don’ts - Local Customs
- People tend to be quite formal. Many people, especially in business, are called by their last names, not first names. Although there has been a tendency in recent years towards less formality. Generally, the younger the person, the more likely they are to use ‘du’ instead of ‘Sie’. Visitors from outside the country are wise not to adopt this informal approach too quickly. It is better to risk being too formal rather than too familiar. When in doubt, use ‘Sie’. Think of ‘Sie’ as the proper form to use when you might address someone as Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so, rather than by his or her first name. Using a familiar, first-name approach in the wrong situation could be insulting or demeaning, a ‘faux pas’ that one usually wants to avoid in any business and social dealings.
- Always be punctual for appointments.
- There is daily “quiet time”. Quiet time is generally Mondays-Saturdays between 13:00 to 15:00 and 22:00 and 7:00, all day on Sunday. You should not make to much noise during those hours. For example, do not play loud music, mow the lawn, etc.
- You may wash cars on private property, but not in the street.
- Germans keep the sidewalks clear of snow, dirt, weeds and leaves. You should maintain the public area in front of your residence.
- Do not BBQ on a balcony.
- You may need to pay an attendant to use a public WC (toilet), app €0,50
- You will find that it is acceptable to take your dog into restaurants, stores, etc. Some stores may have signs stating that they do not permit dogs.
- Smoking is a very sensitive subject. The decision to ban smoking in public places/buildings and restaurants is now up to Germanys federal states (16 separate states), due to constitutional wrinkles that complicate an outright nationwide ban.
- Tipping in a restaurant is not common since service and VAT are already included in the price. People generally just round up to the next Euro, €3, - to €5, - increment, depending on the price of the meal and the service provided. When you have decided what your payment will be (food +tip), simply tell your server the total amount, hand over the money and he/she will return the change.
- Germans do not wear bathing suits (swimming costumes) in the saunas or hot tubs/spas. Men and woman typically share facilities, but there may be different days and times posted to each. If you plan to partake, be prepared to take off your bathing suits.
- Once or twice a year, you will be visited by your local Chimney Sweep “Schornsteinfeger”. He will check your home’s heating system and chimney. They just drop by at anytime, and will leave a note on your door if you are not at home, to make another appointment. Every suburb has its own chimneysweeper and you are not allowed to change freely. Check arrangements with your landlord in advance.
- Many pay phones do not take coins anymore. You will need to use a pre-paid phone card. This is available in different values at the post office or a little tabac shops and groceries.
- As an ecological gesture, in Germany you do not have plastic throwaway cups and plates at fairs/markets. Usually you will given biodegradable plates and cutlery, but have to pay a deposit (Pfand) for glasses, mugs, etc., which you can return at the stand.
- Germans are champions recycling. In a Hamburg household you will find around 3 garbage bins in average (one for natural garbage, one for “Wertstoffe” (which means plastic things etc.) and one for the “Hausmüll” (means the rest).
- If you are planning to buy or rent a German apartment or house, be aware that is usually comes with a “bare” kitchen. ”Bare” is indeed the right word. Your plumbing and electrical connections-even the kitchen sink may be missing!