The Federal Republic of Germany is the most populous country in the European Union. It has 82.3 million inhabitants, about 8.8 per cent of whom are foreigners. The capital city is Berlin, the native language is German. There are four minority languages (Danish, Sorbish, Frisian and Romani, the language of the Romani people). The country is divided into sixteen federal states (Laender), each of which has its own Parliament (Landtag) and its own Ministry of Education.
About one third of the population is Catholic, one third is Protestant, 3 per cent of the population is Muslim. There are about 108.000 Jews.
The National holiday is celebrated on the third of October, in remembrance of German reunification in 1990.
Germany was a founding member of the European Union in 1958. Its currency is the Euro.
Due to the federal structure of Germany, the school year starts on different dates. In Baden-Wuerttemberg it usually starts in early September. There is a one-week break in October and a two-week holiday at Christmas. There is another one-week break in late February for carneval and a one-week holiday at Easter. Students get another fortnight off at the end of may or in early June (around Whitsuntide) before the six-week break in August/September ("Grosse Sommerferien").
Table manners are European. Breakfast is quite substantial. Lunch is usually between noon and one o´clock, and evening meals at home are around 7 p.m.
TIPS FOR FOREIGNERS
Germans are very direct and do not mince their words.
Punctuality is very important.
A comfortable physical distance between two people who do not know each other well is 60cm - 1 m.
People shake hands when they meet for the first time. Handshakes are short, but firm.
Keep eye contact when talking to someone but do not stare.
Hello! – Guten Tag.
Bye! – Ade.
Yes. – Ja.
No. – Nein.
Thank you. – Danke.
You're welcome. – Bitte.
How are you? – Wie geht´s?
I'm fine, thanks. – Danke, gut.
Excuse me... – Entschuldigung.