The Federal Republic of Germany
The biophysical features of the country
The climate in Germany is temperate and seasonal with humid winds. The country lies between the oceanic and the continental European climates and thus the sea waters significantly influence its environment. Germany has on average 789mm annual rainfall, and there are no persistent droughts as rain is quite frequent. The summer seasons are warm with temperature exceeding 30 degrees Celsius while winters, on the other hand, are not very extreme. The eastern part of Germany leans towards continental climate, and this implies cold winters and hot summers while the south and the central parts have features of continental and oceanic climates. The average annual temperature for the country is 9 degrees Celsius and the country experiences snowfall in the south and east (Climate in Germany).
The country spans over an area of 356,959 square kilometers and has an irregular shape. The coastal regions have lakes, marshes, moorlands and heaths. The inland has hills, streams, valleys, rivers, woodland, highland plateaus, and ranges of mountains. The topographical classifications are; the Alps and the Alpine Foreland, the North Germany Lowland, the Southern Germany, and the Central Germany.
The country has two eco-regions, – the Northeast-Atlantic and the European-Mediterranean mixed forests. As in other parts of Central Europe, Germany has a variety of plants and animals. The plants include trees like; oak, beeches, deciduous trees, fir and spruce trees, pine, and larch among others. There are also other plants like different species of ferns, fungi, flowers and mosses. The wild animals are: wild boar, mouflon, roe deer, hare, badger and fox and Eurasian beaver. There are numerous national parks, nature parks, and biosphere reserves as well as zoos to preserve the various species of fauna and flora. For instance, the Berlin Zoo hosts a variety of animals like the alpaca, king penguin, and polar bears among others (Zoo Berlin).
The map of the country
(Germany Physical Map)
A polar bear in the Berlin Zoo
Historical settlement pattern
In Germany, there are four groups of people considered as the “national minorities” and their forefathers resided in their current locations many centuries before. The Danish minority population is estimated at 50,000 people and they live in Schleswig-Holstein in the north. The Slavic people known as the Sorbs are estimated at 60,000, and they live in Brandenburg and Saxony. The Sinti and Roma occupy places all over the country while the Frisian live in some parts of Schleswig and Saxony (Federal Ministry of the Interior, 2010).
Characteristic features of the population
Germanys population was estimated to be 80.2 million in 2011, and this rose to 80.8 million in 2015. Populations density is 227 people per square kilometer and this figure is one of the largest in Europe. The population growth rate is 0.17%, and the age structure resembles a pyramid since by 2015, adults above 65 years made up 21.45% of the population compared to the 12.88% of children below 14 (The World Fact Sheet). The standard of living of German population is quite high due to the fact that Germany is a highly developed country that is in the stage of high mass consumption. However, the population issue might inhibit continuous development in future and therefore hinder the advancement. The dependency ratio for both the minors and the elderly is 51.8% while the birth rate and the death rate are 8.47 and 11.42 per 1,000 people respectively. Christianity is the most prevalent religion, with its adherents comprising 34% for Protestants and the Roman Catholic followed by Muslims at 3.7% and others at 28.3%. Standard German is the dominant language, but there are also regional dialects, as well as minority languages (German Society). Migration plays a very significant role in the population increase as about seven million are migrants who immigrated to Germany for studies or work (The World Fact Sheet). Heart /circulatory diseases are a serious health problem in the country, and this caused 41.1% of the deaths in 2010. In the same year, cancer was the second largest health issue that was a cause of many deaths (Federal Office of Statistics, 2011). The HIV prevalence was estimated at 0.15% in 2013 and this translated to 77,500 cases. The obesity rate is also another problem and by 2014, it reached 22.7%.
Features of German economy
Manufacturing is a central economic activity as Germany is a leading exporter of vehicles, machinery, chemicals, and households (The World Fact Sheet). The German vehicle brands like Volkswagen and others are among the most popular cars in the world. The GDP resulting from sales of these manufactured goods explains the high rate of economic growth in the country. The availability of highly skilled labor is one of the factors that favor further development of the manufacturing industry. Most of German universities are public, and thus they educate students without tuition fees, and gives an opportunity for higher education to a large numbers of people. The other factor is that Germany hosts some of the best universities in the world, and thus, local graduates are highly skilled. Innovation and low levels of corruption in the country also promote development of manufacturing industry and thus promote economic development (The World Fact Sheet). The government is concerned about the labor force, and thus, it has set a minimum wage of $11.6 per hour since 2015. The government also initiated structural reforms, tax incentives, and infrastructural development as well as reduced government spending to promote economic development. The government also considered replacing nuclear power plants with renewable energy sources in order to promote sustainability of development as well as reducing the costs of energy (The World Fact Sheet).
Germanys internal issues
Germany experiences a population challenge, and this puts long-term sustainable growth at risk. The problem results from reduced immigration rates and low fertility. This, in turn, affects the system of social welfare. The country also has low levels of investment, and this could complicate development in future. Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 that affected the Japanese nuclear power plants, Germany feels threatened by a possibility of such a scenario and thus it set out to replace nuclear power with alternative energy sources (The World Fact Sheet). The country is also under threat of air pollution resulting from industrial processes that rely on coal. Emissions of sulfur dioxide lead to acid rains, which are harmful to the forests. There is also a sewerage problem that affects the Baltic Sea and the rivers that flow in it. The nuclear plants also emit toxic waste that is potentially hazardous to the environment and human beings (The World Fact Sheet).
Germanys international role
The country has over 200 diplomatic missions in foreign countries and consequently has good relations with the hosts. The country is also a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund among others. Germany favors harmonization of the economic, political and security tools and thus its government contributed resources as well as military personnel to peacekeeping missions in Kosovo. Germany also hosts many refugees from war-torn countries, and thus, the country has high level of international significance (The World Fact Sheet). The country is one of the major foreign aid donors, either through the European Union or directly as an independent country. Germany is the source of 20% of the European Union funds and 8% of the United Nation funds. In 2009, the country was the third foreign aid donor as an individual country (OECD, 2010).
In conclusion, Germany is a federal state comprising of 16 states with a climate that is temperate seasonal and characterized by humid winds. The landscape has rivers, lakes, hills and marshy land, among other features. It is a home to a variety of different species of trees, animals, and other plants. The Danish, Sorbs, Sinti, and Roma are some of the populations with historical settlement patterns that have been trace to many centuries ago. The total population is about 80.8 million and migration has played a great role in the population growth. Cardiovascular and diseases like cancer are a significant problem for the country. Germany is a leading exporter of manufactured goods, and presence of skilled labor has influenced its development. The government offers tax incentives and undertakes infrastructural development among other projects in order to stimulate economic growth. The economy encounters environmental issues due to pollution and also the threat of a nuclear power plant disaster. The country is internationally significant due to its role in the provision of foreign aid and participation in international peacekeeping missions among other issues. Germany is a highly developed country that is in the stage of high mass consumption. However, the population problem at hand combined with the environmental issues might pose a risk to the future of development.