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Germany

Basic Information

Area: 357,021 km²

Calling code: +49

Population: 82,217,800

Official Language: German

Time zone: CET (UTC+1), Local time: 09:55

Overview

Germany is located in central Europe and spans a total of 357,022 square kilometers. Over 82 million people inhabit the area (2009 est.) making it the most populous country in Europe. Germany has 3,621 km of land boundaries and shares its borders with nine other countries: Denmark, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland and the Czech Republic. Germany is a member of NATO, G8, the WTO and founding member of the European Union. It uses the euro (EUR) as its currency system, which replaced the Deutsche Mark (DM) in 2002.

Economy

Germany has the largest economy in Europe contributing 19.8% to the total combined GDP of the European Union. It has a purchasing power polarity of $2.182 trillion, giving it the 6th largest in PPP the world. The largest economic area is the service sector which accounts for over 70% of the total GDP, and 67% of all jobs within the country. Numerous prestigious banks have offices in major cities throughout Germany, and out of all the top 500 fortune companies (measured by revenue) 37 have their headquarters located in the country. Industry makes up 27% of the total GDP (2007) and Germany currently ranks as the second largest exporter of goods in the world after China. Major exports include automobiles, chemicals, aircraft parts and machinery, with over $1.87 trillion worth of goods exported in 2009. Germany is also a centre for numerous trade-fairs and exhibitions, due to its large and modern conference centres, as well as its central European location.

Infrastructure

Germany has a dense and well structured transportation system, which allows for easy travel throughout the country. There are a total of 550 airports within the country (330 with paved runways). The largest is Frankfurt airport (FRA) which is located 12km southwest of Frankfurt city Centre; it offers frequent flights to many international destinations, and serves over 50 million passengers annually, making it the 9th busiest airport in the world (2009). Frankfurt airport also operates a large cargo system and ships more than 2 million tonnes of goods annually.

There is an extensive railway system operated by Deutsche Bahn (DGAB), it has 41,000km of routes spanning the entire country, which is more than all the railway routes in Australia. Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof is the largest railway station in the country, and has over 1800 trains departing daily. The road system is continuously being expanded, currently there are 640,000 km of paved roads and highways within the country. The E35 European road connects Rome to Amsterdam and runs trough Bonn, Frankfurt, and Heidelberg and allows easy access to other European countries. A new economic stimulus package will see $4 billion invested into further development of the transportation infrastructure in 2010. The export of goods plays a major part in Germany's economy, with 8 large ports servicing the country.

The telecommunication system in Germany is advanced and well structured, with over 100 million mobile phones in use In 2008. Increasing capital expenditure on the telecommunication infrastructure has helped develop the system into one of the most advanced in the world.

Workforce

Germany has a labour force of 43.52 million, larger than that of the United Kingdom. A total of 91.5% of the population are German born, with the remaining 8.5% holding a foreign passport. The largest ethnic groups is the Turks, who make up 2.4% of the population, the other groups are mainly Greek, Italian and Russian. The Official language is German, while some residents (particularly those working within the tourist industry) are fluent in English.

Educational facilities are established by each federal state. It is compulsory to attend school until the age of 16, yet the traditional education system is divided into 3 separate routes, which route is taken depends on the talent of the individual. This includes a traditional schooling which prepares students for university enrolment, or there is a vocational training option. The strong and structured educational system produces a skilled workforce and gives Germany a high national literacy rate of 99%. The unemployment rate increased in 2009 to 8.2%, which is higher than the rate for Italy, Austria and Luxembourg.

Business Costs

In 2008 the tax system in Germany underwent a reform and introduced new favourable tax rates for both companies and individuals. Corporate taxes are set at standard rate of 15%, there is also a solidarity tax of 5.5%, plus a municipal trade tax which varies depending in what municipality the company is operating in. This brings the total rate to between 30% - 33%, which is around the same amount as tax rates in Belgium, France and Monaco. Personal tax rates are based on a progressive scale, and range from 0% - 55%. A foreign resident employed in Germany is only required to pay taxes on income earned within the country. Vat rates are set at 19%, with a 7% rate applicable to agricultural products, medicines and some foodstuffs.

The German office rental market experienced a 5% decrease in prices in 2009. But Germany has comparatively lower rates than some other European cities. The most expensive area for office rentals is Munich, with office rental prices in the CBD averaging $54.47 per square foot per year (Cushman & Wakefield 2010) which is much lower than in Paris, Milan and Madrid.

Wage rates are set by a process of collective bargaining, therefore there is no real set minimum wage, however the government is pushing for the introduction of set minimum rates for certain industries.

Germany endeavors to attract foreign investors to the country by offering several investment grants and loans. Its efficient and well established infrastructure offers a stable base for a new company start-up.
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