I finally feel that I have been in Germany long enough to have some sort of understanding of its national environment. Of course, it helps that I have been researching demographics for one of my projects at work, so now I have the facts. So here goes…
Germany has the largest economy in Europe and its population size is only second to that of Russia. It has the 6th best GDP in the entire world. This is pretty impressive considering that the ranking goes China, EU(yes, all of it), USA, India, Japan, Germany. You can see that Germany is competing with nations which dwarf it in both size and population. Not too shabby. Not to mention, the other EU countries only begin to place after the UK in 10th. It is easy to see why the UK leaving the EU is such a big deal economically speaking. The GDP of the EU will drop dramatically once the UK leaves. (PS all this info is from the CIA’s World Factbook and it was updated in 2016 so it is pre-Brexit).
Today, aside from its reputation as the backbone of the EU, Germany may be best known as an exporter of cars. The country caused quite a stir amoung us college kids a few years ago by making all of its Universities free. Moving further back, the country is also know for its role in the Cold War with the Berlin Wall and many still feel the after affects of the division. Germany is also infamous in our history books as the aggressor in both World Wars. There seems to be a large hazy void in my German history from the time of the World Wars to the time of Martin Luther and the reformation. Ill have to refresh my memory on that era, but I do remember reading Caesar’s account of the Germanic tribes from my Latin classes. He painted them as fearsome warriors, though quite uncivilized. Some of the descriptions are quite gory, but I will leave it at that.
German politics are dominated by one famous figure, Angela Merkel. She has been described as the most powerful women in the world, which is unsurprising considering her long and illustrious career in politics. She has been Germany’s Chancellor since 2005. Some like her, some don’t, though I am getting the impression that many Germans feel it is time for a change come the September election. She represents the Christian Democratic Union, just one of many, many parties here in Europe. I need to find someone knowledgeable to ask them the reason there are so many partied in Europe and so few in the US. Of course I could look it up, but I find conversations more valuable than raw information.
From what I can tell as an outsider, there are three main problems facing Germany. 1st, the country has agreed to accept more refugees from the Middle East and Sub-saharan Africa than almost any other. For more information on the problems associated with this en devour, I am sure you can turn on your TV and tune into any news channel. The sudden influx of refugees is compounding the second problem which Germany is facing, a housing crisis. The population is expanding, but residential needs and infrastructure needs can not match it. Berlin is one of many cities where rent is going through the roof, a real problem in a city where few own houses and most let apartments. Its an ideal climate the design and construction industry. The final problem; if the EU begins to flounder when the UK departs, there could be some severe economic impacts here in Germany.
On the bright side, the German national soccer team, or football if you prefer, is in excellent shape after winning the World Cup in Brazil. They are looking forward to 2018.