Germany is home to 82 million people, 7 million of whom originate from other countries, and it stretches over a surface area of 357,112 m², which is made up of the 16 Federal States. Berlin is the capital city and the seat of Germany’s Federal Government. There are also several State Ministries situated in the city of Bonn, which was the capital of the Federal Republic until 1990. The five most populated cities are Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt am Main.
The form of government in Germany is parliamentary democracy, with Frank-Walter Steinmeier acting as Head of State in his position as Federal President (since March 2017). State Chancellor Angela Merkel has been the Head of Government since 2005. An important distinction is made in Germany between the ‘Bund’ (Federation of Germany) and the ‘Länder’ (Bundesländer- Federal States). Certain topics, such as culture and education, are the responsibility of the Federal States and are therefore not centrally governed for the whole country.
These differences can be seen, for example, in the public holidays, which vary from state to state, depending on the prominent religious denomination. The only centrally determined public holiday is the national holiday on 3rd October, the Day of German Unity, which commemorates the reunification of 1990.
In Lower Saxony, public holidays also fall on New Year’s Day (1st of January), Good Friday and Easter Monday (the Friday before and Monday after Easter), Labour Day (1st of May), Ascension Day (the 39th day after Easter Sunday), Whit Monday (50 days after Easter Sunday) and the 1st and 2nd Christmas days (25th and 26th December).
- Make it in Germany (English)