The People


The total population is around 82,329,758 million of whom around 7.36 million are non-Germans. Over 3 million expellees and refugees from Eastern Europe (mainly former Yugoslavs, Bulgarians and Romanians) have been integrated into Germany since 1989. Around 750,000 East Germans moved to West Germany following the reunification. In addition, there are a considerable numbers of foreign workers (Gastarbeiter), many of whose families live with them.

Of the non-Germans in the country, the largest groups include the Turkish people (± 2.1 million), concentrated in Berlin and Frankfurt, Yugoslavs (± 721,000) and Italians (± 607,900). “Aussiedler”, ethnic Germans living outside Germany have a right to live in the country.

Many people are classified as refugees, including stateless persons and those seeking asylum.

In 1999, the number of asylum-seekers was around 95,330. In recent years many of the entrants have come from developing countries such as Nigeria, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Congo Democratic Republic.

Germany has a very low birth rate. In fact, the population would be in decline were it not for immigration. Around 15% of the population are under the age of 15 and 15.5% over 65.


Berlin, the capital of Germany, has a population of around 3,459.218. (Nov. 2010) The electronics and electrical engineering industries employ one third of the workforce. Other important industries are vehicle assembly, food production, tobacco and chemicals. The city is also a conference and tourist centre.

Bonn, which is located on the banks of the river Rhine, has a population of around 320,000 and enjoyed great prosperity when it was designated as the capital of the Federal Republic in 1949. However, Bonn lost this status after the reunification of Germany.

Schleswig-Holstein is an agricultural state with a considerable tourist and recreation industry. All towns are not more than a few minutes away from the sea, a lake or the countryside. The capital is Kiel, with a population of around 238,000 and is a centre for machine engineering.

Hamburg is a city state (Land) with a population of around 1,786.278. It is the country’s biggest port and one of the richest of the German “Länder” (districts). It is a centre for oil refineries, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, shipbuilding and more recently, electronics, aerospace and aviation.

Financial services have developed in recent years and, together with Cologne, it is the acknowledged media capital of the country. The city is well placed for doing business with both northern and eastern Europe.

The state of Bremen contains the city of Bremen, with a population of around 547,685 (Dec. 2009) and is Germany’s second largest port. It is also a centre for engineering and tobacco industries as well as for the German coffee trade. Other important northern ports are Emden, Bremerhaven (±114,031 inhabitants Dec. 2009), Lübeck (± 209,890 inhabitants, March 2010) and Wilhelmshaven.

Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) contains the vast Luneberg Heath, to the south of which lies Hanover (Hannover), the state capital, with a population of ± 520,966 Dec. 2009). Hanover serves an important industrial area, bounded to the east and south by Wolfsburg (± 121,109 inhabitants, Dec. 2009), (home of Volkswagen), Brunswick (Braunschweig) and Hildesheim (± 102.903 inhabitants, Dec. 2009), which produces iron and steel, machinery, electrical goods and textiles.

Technology companies are being encouraged to set up in the area North-Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen). It is home to around 25% of the country’s population. It accounts for some 25% of GDP and a fifth of exports.

The county capital and commercial centre is Düsseldorf, which has a population of ± 586,217 (Dec. 2009) and is surrounded by numerous suburban, commuter townships. This county includes the Rhine/ Ruhr industrial complex with numerous centres of high population density.

One of them is Duisburg with a population of ± 491,931 (Dec. 2009). It is the largest inland port in Europe.

The others are Essen (± 576,259 inhabitants, Dec. 2009); Dortmund (± 581,308 inhabitants, Dec. 2009); Wuppertal (± 351,050 inhabitants, Dec. 2009); Bochum (±376,319 inhabitants, Dec. 2009); and Bielefeld (± 323,084 inhabitants, Dec. 2009).

Cologne (Köln), with a population of ± 998,105 (Dec. 2009), is the principal city in the south of the county. It is also a media centre and site of Europe’s first Media Park.

Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) has Mainz (± 197,778 inhabitants, Dec. 2009) as the county capital, but the largest city is Ludwigshafen (± 163,340 inhabitants, Dec. 2009) which forms part of the industrial area of the Rhine between the Neckar (Mannheim) and the Main (Frankfurt). The Rhineland-Palatine is a rich wine-producing region. Koblenz (±106,445 inhabitants, Dec. 2009), at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel, is located in the centre of this area.

Saarland, whose capital is Saarbrucken (± 175,810 inhabitants, Dec. 2009), is an important steel and mining area in the south.

The state capital of Hessen is Wiesbaden (± 277,493 inhabitants, Dec. 2009) but the main city is Frankfurt (± 3,000,000 inhabitants), which is the traditional centre of banking and finance and an industrial city, particularly for chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The city is also the centre of the German book trade and houses the German National Library and some 70 publishing houses. The city of Frankfurt itself has a population of around 671,927, Dec. 2009.

Baden-Württemberg contains Stuttgart, which is the capital of the county and has a population of ± 601,646, Dec. 2009. It is the centre of thriving modern industries: car, electrical and textile production and more recently, technology.

Mannheim (± 311,969, Dec. 2009) is an important rail and road crossing point, situated where three counties meet. Banking and insurance industries are being developed here and it is also an important location for transport companies.

Large parts of Bavaria (Bayern) are rural and agricultural, although it currently contributes around 18% of GDP.

Nürenburg (Nürnberg), which has a population of ± 503,673, Dec. 2009 was carefully reconstructed after the Second World War and is the centre of the ‘romantic Germany’ of the tourist brochures.

The county capital is Munich (München) whose population of ± 1,330,440, Dec. 2009 making it one of the largest cities in the country.

The city is a centre of art and industry (especially brewing and vehicle making) and its position as a gateway to Italy and the south has attracted both industrial companies and workers to an area offering outstanding facilities, sun and snow.

Many IT and data processing companies have set up in the region over the past few years.

All the major cities in eastern Germany are, or have been, centres of important industrial regions, producing heavy engineering equipment, chemicals, electronics, precision tools and optical instruments. Many are currently undergoing major new construction programmes along with extensive updating and improvement of the infrastructure, refurbishment and restoration of public buildings etc.

The major cities of Saxony (Sachsen) are Leipzig (± 518,862 inhabitants, Dec. 2009) where trade fairs are held twice a year, in March and September; it is currently being developed as a commercial and financial centre; Dresden, the capital (± 517,052 inhabitants, Dec. 2009) and Chemnitz (formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt) (± 249,089 inhabitants, Dec. 2009).

Magdeburg (± 230,4456 inhabitants, Dec. 2009) is the capital of Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt); Halle/ Saale Neustadt (±273,600 inhabitants) is another large city. Erfurt (±203,830 inhabitants, Dec. 2009) is the capital of Thuringia (Thüringen), a heavily wooded state noted for its wood carvings.

Schwerin (±95,041 inhabitants, Dec. 2009) is the capital of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Westpommern) while Rostock (±201,442 inhabitants, Dec. 2009) is an important international port situated on the Baltic Coast. A major expansion of facilities has turned Rostock into one of Europe’s largest grain handling ports.

Potsdam (± 154,606 inhabitants, Dec. 2009), a 30 minute drive from Berlin, is the capital of Brandenburg; Cottbus (±101,671 inhabitants, Dec. 2009) has some of the world’s largest lignite-fired power stations.

Other towns with populations of more than 100,000 include Zwickau (± 94,340 inhabitants, Dec. 2009); Gera (± 99,987 inhabitants, Dec. 2009) and Jena (± 104,449 inhabitants, Dec. 2009).

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