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Berlin is the capital city and a state of Germany. It is the country's largest city in area and population, and the second most populous city in the European Union.Berlin is one of the most influential centers in European politics, culture and science. The city serves as an important junction of continental transportation and is home to some of the world's most prominent universities, research faculties, and museums. Berlin is a major tourist destination and is recognized for its diverse range of conventionvenuesandmedia outlets.The rapidly changing metropolis at present enjoys an international reputation for its festivals, vibrant nightlife, contemporary architecture, and avant-garde arts. Being home to people from over 180 nations, Berlin is a magnet for individuals who are attracted by itsliberal lifestyle, urban eclecticism, and artistic freedom.



Coat of arms

Basic information

Area:891.82  km² City

Population :3,398,888 (05/2006)

Density: 3,810/km²

Elevation :34 - 115 m


Country :


Federal State :Berlin

Subdivisions :12 Bezirke

Governing Mayor :Klaus Wowereit SPD



Berlin is located in eastern Germany, about 110 kilometers (65 miles) west of the border with Poland. Berlin's landscape was shaped by ice sheets during the last ice age. The city center lies along the river Spree in the Berlin-Warsaw Urstromtal (ancient river valley), formed by water flowing from melting ice sheets at the end of the last Ice Age. The Urstromtal lies between the low Barnim plateau to the north, and the Teltow plateau to the south. In Spandau, Berlin's westernmost borough, the Spree meets the river Havel, which flows from north to south through western Berlin. The course of the Havel is more like a chain of lakes, the largest being the Tegeler See and Großer Wannsee. A series of lakes also feeds into the upper Spree, which flows through the Großer Müggelsee in eastern Berlin

Substantial parts of present-day Berlin extend onto the low plateaus on both sides of the Spree Valley. Large parts of the boroughs Reinickendorf and Pankow lie on the Barnim plateau, while most of the boroughs Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Tempelhof-Schöneberg, and Neukölln lie on the Teltow plateau. The borough of Spandau lies partly within the Berlin Urstromtal and partly on the Nauen Plain, which stretches to the west of Berlin. The highest elevations in Berlin are the Teufelsberg in the borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and the Müggelberge in the borough of Treptow-Köpenick. Both hills have an elevation of about 115 meters (377 feet). The Teufelsberg is in fact an artificial pile of rubble from the ruins of World War II.



17–19th century

The Thirty Years' War between 1618 and 1648 had devastating consequences for Berlin. A third of the houses were damaged, and the city lost half of its population. Frederick William, known as the “Great Elector”, who had succeeded his father George William as ruler in 1640, initiated a policy of promoting immigration and religious toleration. With the Edict of Potsdam in 1685, Frederick William invited the French Huguenots to Brandenburg. More than 15,000 Huguenots came, of whom 6,000 settled in Berlin. Around 1700, approximately twenty percent of Berlin's residents were French, and their cultural influence was great. Many other immigrants came from Bohemia, Poland, and Salzburg.

With the coronation of Frederick I in 1701 as king, Berlin became the capital of the kingdom of Prussia. In 1740 Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great (1740-1786) came to power. Berlin became, under the rule of the philosophically-oriented Frederick II, center of the Enlightenment. The Industrial Revolution transformed Berlin during the 19th century; the city's economy and population expanded dramatically, and it became the main rail hub and economic center of Germany. Additional suburbs soon developed and increased the area and population of Berlin. In 1861, outlying suburbs including Wedding, Moabit, and several others were incorporated into Berlin. In 1871, Berlin became capital of the newly founded German Empire.


20th century

At the end of World War I in 1918, the Weimar Republic was proclaimed in Berlin. In 1920, the Greater Berlin Act united dozens of suburban cities, villages, and estates around Berlin into a greatly expanded city and established Berlin as a separate administrative region. After this expansion, Berlin had a population of around 4 million. 1920s Berlin was an exciting city known for its liberal subcultures, including homosexuals and prostitution, and well known for its fierce political street fights.

The Nazi Party came to power in 1933 and started World War II in 1939. Nazi rule destroyed Berlin's Jewish community, which numbered 170,000 before the Nazis came to power. After the pogrom of Kristallnacht in 1938, thousands of the city's German Jews were imprisoned in the nearby Sachsenhausen concentration campor, in early 1943, were shipped to death camps such as Auschwitz. During the war, large parts of Berlin were destroyed in the 1943–45 air raids and during the Battle of Berlin. After the end of the war in Europe in 1945, Berlin received large numbers of refugees from the Eastern provinces. The victorious powers divided the city into four sectors, analogous to the occupation zones into which Germany was divided. The sectors of the Western Allies (the United States, United Kingdom, and France) formed West Berlin, while the Soviet sector formed East Berlin,

All four allies retained shared responsibility for Berlin. However, the growing political differences between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union led the latter, which controlled the territory surrounding Berlin, to impose the Berlin Blockade, an economic blockade of West Berlin. The allies successfully overcame the Blockade by airlifting food and other supplies into the city from 24 June 1948to 11 May 1949.In 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in West Germany, while the Marxist-Leninist German Democratic Republic was proclaimed in East Germany.

The founding of the two German states increased Cold War tensions. West Berlin was surrounded by East German territory. East Germany, however, proclaimed East Berlin (which it described only as "Berlin") as its capital, a move that was not recognized by the western powers. Although half the size and population of West Berlin, it included most of the historic center. The tensions between east and west culminated in the construction of Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin and other barriers around West Berlin by the East Germany on 13 August 1961 and were exacerbated by a tank standoff at Checkpoint Charlie on 27 October 1961. West Berlin was now de facto a part of West Germany with a unique legal status, while East Berlin was de facto a part of East Germany.


In this Soviet photograph from May 2, 1945,

Red Army soldiers are raising the Soviet

flag on the roof of the Reichstag.

The Berlin Wall in 1986,

brightly painted on the western side.

Those trying to cross the so-called death strip

on the eastern side could be shot.



The city and state parliament is the House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus), which currently has 141 seats. Berlin's executive body is the Senate of Berlin (Senat von Berlin). The Senate of Berlin consists of the Governing Mayor (Regierender Bürgermeister) and up to eight senators holding ministerial positions, one of them holding the official title "Mayor" (Bürgermeister) as deputy to the Governing Mayor. Each of the senators needs the confidence of the Abgeordnetenhaus and each of them can be voted out of office by the house. This happened in 2001, when the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) senators were defeated by a motion of no confidence. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) then took control of the city government after the 2001 state election.

The Governing Mayor is simultaneously lord mayor of the city (Oberbürgermeister der Stadt) and prime minister of the federal state (Ministerpräsident des Bundeslandes). The office of Berlin's governing mayor is in the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall). Presently (April 2006), this office is held by Klaus Wowereit of the SPD. The city's government is based on a coalition between the SPD and Die Linke. PDS, a party formed by a merger of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) (the successor to the former East German communist party), which renamed itself in 2005 for cooperation with the Labor and Social Justice Party. Mainly due to reunification-related expenditures, Berlin as a German state has accumulated more debt than any other city in Germany, with the most current estimate being €61,2 billion.


Berlin is subdivided into twelve boroughs (Bezirke in German, also sometimes called districtsin English), but before Berlin's 2001 administrative reform there were 23. Each borough is subdivided into a number of localities (Stadtteil in German, also sometimes called subdistricts or neighborhoods in English), which represent the traditional urbanized areas that inhabitants identify with. Some of these have been rearranged several times over the years. At present the city of Berlin consists of 96 such localities. The localities often consist of a number of city neighborhoods (usually called Kiez in colloquial German) representing small residential areas.

Each borough is governed by a borough council (Bezirksamt) consisting of five councilors (Bezirksstadträte) and a borough mayor (Bezirksbürgermeister). The borough council is elected by the borough assembly (Bezirksverordnetenversammlung). The boroughs of Berlin are not independent municipalities. The power of borough governments is limited and subordinate to the Senate of Berlin. The borough mayors form the Council of Mayors (Rat der Bürgermeister), led by the city's Governing Mayor, which advises the Senate.

The localities have no government bodies of their own, even though most of the localities have historic roots in older municipalities that predate the formation of Greater Berlin on 1 October 1920. The subsequent position of locality representative (Ortsvorsteher) was discontinued in favor of borough mayors.



Berlin is one of Germany's most important centers of higher education and research, with four universities, numerous professional, technical, and private colleges, and a large number of research institutes.


Around 140,000 students[ attend the universities and professional or technical colleges. The three largest universities alone account for around 110,000 students. These are the Freie Universität Berlin (Free University of Berlin) with 40,840 students, the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin with 36,423 students, and the Technische Universität Berlin with 31,547 students. The Universität der Künste has about 4,300 students. In addition to these universities, there is a wide range of professional and technical colleges (called Fachhochschulen in German) training students in a wide range of disciplines, from business and management to the arts. Berlin also has a large concentration of research institutions independent of, or only loosely connected to its universities with a total number of 62,000 scientists working in research and development.Together with its universities, these research institutions make Berlin one of the most important centers for research in Europe.

In addition to the libraries affiliated with the various universities, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is a major research library. It has two main locations, one near Potsdamer Platz on Potsdamer Straße and one on Unter den Linden. There are 108 public libraries to be found in the city.


Berlin has 878 schools teaching 340,658 children in 13,727 classes (for 2004/2005) and 56,787 trainees in businesses and elsewhere. The city has a six-year primary education program. After completing primary school, students progress to one of four types of secondary school for six further years: Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium, or Gesamtschule.

Berlin has unique bilingual school program embedded in the 'Europaschule'. Children get taught the curriculum in German and a foreign language starting in grammar school and later in secondary school. Throughout nearly all cityboroughs a range of 9 major European languages in 29 schools can be chosen. One of them the Französisches Gymnasium Berlin, which was founded in 1689 for the benefit of Huguenot refugees, offers (German/French) instruction. Among its former students are Wernher von Braun, Reinhard Mey, and Gesine Schwan






Berlin is noted for its numerous cultural institutions, many of which enjoy international reputation. In addition, cultural diversity and tolerance remain from the time when West Berlin took pride in its role as a "free city" with the motto "something for everyone."Berlin has a rich art scene, and it is home to hundreds of art galleries. The city is host to the Art Forum annual international art fair. Many young Germans and international artists continue to settle in the city, and Berlin has established itself as an important center of youth and popular culture in Europe. Signs of this expanding role were the 2003 announcement that the annual Popkomm, Europe's largest music industry convention, would move to Berlin after 15 years in Cologne. Shortly thereafter, MTV also decided to move its German headquarters and main studios from Munich to Berlin. Universal Music Group opened its European headquarters on the banks of the River Spree in an area known as the mediaspree. Since 2005, Berlin has been listed as a UNESCO City of Design.





Olympiastadion Berlin


Berlin hosted the 1936 Olympics and was the host city for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final. The annual Berlin Marathon and the annual Golden League event ISTAF for athletics are also held here. The WTA Tour holds the Qatar Total German Open annually in the city. Founded in 1896, it is one of the oldest tennis tournaments for women. The FIVB World Tour has chosen an inner-city site near Alexanderplatz to present a beach volleyball Grand Slam every year.

Berlin is home to Hertha BSC Berlin, a football team in the Bundesliga, and the basketball team ALBA Berlin (also known as the "Berlin Albatrosses"), which won the national championships every year from 1997 to 2003. Berlin is also home to the American football team Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe as well as the Eisbären Berlin of the German Ice Hockey League, an ice hockey team which was founded in the East German era.


Tegel International Airport

is Berlin's busiest airport

Berlin has three commercial airports—Tegel International Airport (TXL), Tempelhof International Airport (THF), and Schönefeld International Airport (SXF) serving 155 destinations (07/2006) mostly in Europe. Schönefeld lies just outside Berlin's south-eastern border in the state of Brandenburg, while the other two airports lie within the city. Tempelhof handles only short-distance and commuter flights, and there are plans to close the airport and transfer its traffic to Berlin's other two airports. There are longer-term plans to close Tegel as well. Schönefeld is currently undergoing expansion. Berlin's airport authority aims to transfer all of Berlin's air traffic in 2011 to a greatly expanded airport at Schönefeld, to be renamed Berlin Brandenburg International Airport.

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