Germany and the Alpine Countries • The Big Idea • Germany and the Alpine Countries are prosperous countries with similar cultures. • Main Ideas • After a history of division and two world wars, Germany is now a unified country. • German culture, known for its contributions to music, literature, and science, is growing more diverse. • Germany today has Europe’s largest economy, but eastern Germany faces challenges. • The Alpine Countries reflect German culture and have strong economies based on tourism and services.
History • Tribes from northern Europe settled in what the Romans called Germania. • Over time many small states formed. Each state was ruled by a prince. • With the support of the Roman Catholic Church, these small German states became the Holy Roman Empire. • The Holy Roman Empire remained a loose association of states for hundreds of years. • In 1871 Prussia, the strongest German state, unified the others into one country—Germany.
Division and Unification War and Division • In 1914 Germany began World War I, which it lost. • In 1939 Adolf Hitler and the Nazis ordered the invasion of Poland, launching World War II. Germany also lost this war. • After the war, the victorious Allies occupied Germany and over time two countries, East Germany and West Germany, emerged. • The city of Berlin was divided and the Soviets built the Berlin Wall through it. A Reunited Germany • With U.S. aid, West Germany became an economic power. East Germany was poorer, and its people had few freedoms. • In 1989 democracy movements swept through East Germany. The Communist government collapsed, and the Berlin Wall was torn down. • In 1990 East and West Germany reunified.
German culture People • Most Germans share a common heritage. • About 90 percent are ethnic German. • Most people speak German. • Recently, immigration has increased, helping make Germany more diverse. Religion • Most people in north and central Germany are Protestant. • Most people in the south are Catholic. • People in the east are usually less religious because of their Communist past.
German Culture Customs • Religious festivals are very popular. • Lent and Christmas are among the most popular festival times. • Local festivals are also popular. • Oktoberfest, held in Bavaria, a region of southeastern Germany, celebrates the region’s food and drink. The Arts and Sciences • Music—Germany has produced famous composers like Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven. • Literature—Authors such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are among the most famous in Europe. • Science—Germans have made great advances in chemistry, engineering, medicine, and physics.
Germany today Government • Federal republic headed by a chancellor, or prime minister, and parliament • Belongs to EU and NATO Economy • Europe’s largest economy • Market economy with many exports • Based on industry, such as chemicals, engineering, and steel • The eastern region’s economy still lags. Cities • Most people live in cities. • Largest city is Berlin, the capital. • Other key cities are Hamburg and Munich.
The Alpine Countries The Alpine Countries are Austria and Switzerland. They are named for the Alps, which cover most of both countries. The beauty of the Alps draws many tourists to these two countries every year. Both Austria and Switzerland were once part of the Holy Roman Empire. Both countries have been heavily influenced by German culture.
The Alpine Countries • Austria • Most Austrians speak German and are Roman Catholic. • The country’s capital, Vienna, is filled with historic palaces and is a center of art and music. • Austria has a prosperous economy based on service industries such as banking. Tourism is also important. • Switzerland • Republic divided into 26 cantons, or districts, with capital at Bern • Has remained neutral for centuries and has not joined NATO or the EU, but remains active in international organizations • Several languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansch • Famous for banks, watches, chocolate, cheese, and for having the world’s highest standard of living