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Germany, facts and history in brief

Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Berlin is the capital of Germany and its largest city, with 3,389,450 inhabitants (as of 2002; down from 4.5 million before World War II, and on the decline since German reunification in 1990).
Berlin state colours are red/white/red with a black upright Berlin Bear.
Berlin is located on the river Spree in the northeast of Germany.
It is situated in, but not part of, the Bundesland Brandenburg.

Politics of Berlin
Formerly a part of Mark Brandenburg, Berlin has been a separate state since 1920, making it one of the three city states among today's 16 German Bundesländer.
The city and state parliament is called Abgeordnetenhaus.
Berlin is governed by a Regierender Bürgermeister ("ruling mayor"), who is mayor of the city and head of the Bundesland at the same time.
Presently (2003), this office is held by Klaus Wowereit; for earlier mayors, see the list of Mayors of Berlin.
Berlin is subdivided into 12 boroughs called Bezirke, which have been combined from the earlier 23 boroughs with effect from January 1, 2001.
For a map and a list relating the old and new borough names, see Boroughs of Berlin.

Berlin was founded around 1200 as two cities, Berlin and Cölln, which only united in 1307.
Berlin is therefore quite old; however, not much is left of these ancient communities.
Instead, the impression one gets visiting Berlin today is one of great discontinuity, visibly reflecting mainly the many ruptures in Germany's difficult history in the 20th century.
After having been the residence of the Prussian kings, Berlin only became big in the 19th century, especially after becoming the capital of the 1871 German Empire.
It remained Germany's capital in the Weimar Republic and under the Nazis; it was therefore a primary target in the air raids of World War II.
After the city's separation in two, East Berlin was the capital of the GDR (East Germany), while the FRG (West Germany), had its capital in Bonn.
An island of the western world in the territory of the east, Berlin was the natural focal point of the two blocks of the Cold War.
In 1961, the Berlin Wall was constructed.
After the German reunification in 1990, the Wall was demolished and Berlin was made the capital of all of Germany again.

Even though Berlin does have a number of impressive buildings from earlier centuries, the city today is mainly stamped by the key role it played in Germany's history in the 20th century.
On the one hand, each of the governments which had their respective seat in Berlin - namely the 1871 German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, the GDR, and now the reunified Germany - initiated ambitious construction programs, each with its own distinctive character.
On the other hand, Berlin was devastated in the bombardments during World War II, and many of the old buildings that were left were eradicated in the 1950s and 1960s in both the West and the East in 'overambitious' architecture programs.
Although not much is left of the actual Berlin Wall, one can usually still tell from the architecture if one is in the former eastern or western part.

For a more information about Berlin see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This page was retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin) see Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, September 2003
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).

About Wikipedia

This information was correct in September 2003. E. & O.E.

Hui Chin and I went around the Hop On - Hop Off conducted bus for three days, and a massive lot of foot work as well, before we were satisfied that we have seen everything there was to be seen and was worth our while to see in the now reunited Berlin.

I visited Berlin before in 1978, but things were very different than.

There were two Germanys and we had some trouble getting into East Berlin and I went there with some trepidations as east Berlin was a Communist Capital and I was a Hungarian political refugee.

Any way we did get into East Berlin.
We had to catch a U-Bahn or S-Bahn, I'm not sure now, and had to get off at some Railway Station, where we had to go through a vigorous Passport and Customs check.

The fun started on our way out, though.
I collect coins as well as I collect a lot of other things, but that's another story.
Anyway, they wanted to know if we had any East German money on us, as it was illegal to take East German money (including coins) out of the country, mind you West Berlin was in East Germany, but I'm really complicating things now.


I am very interested in trains as probably you all know it by now, and even more interested in new technology, like the Maglev trains.

Before we embarked on our 2004 sojourn I found an article declaring that a Maglev will start regular operation between Berlin and Dresden on the 8th of October 2004.

So after we finished our big project of travelling and exploring Tombouctou in Mali (23-10-04), we rushed at a breakneck speed to Berlin (29-10-04), to try out the new Maglev.

When we arrived in Berlin of course no one ever herd of it. A kind young lady at the Tourist Information Office, near the Zoological Garden Station, even went on line to search the web for it, as I explained to her, that I've seen on line and that I'm not clever enough to dream this things up.

Zilch!! She came up, after a long search came up with nothing!!!

Absolute disappointment on our part.

Box on to Hungary.

You can click on these photos for an enlargement.


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Berlin buses 2004

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