|Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland), is a country in West-central Europe. It is bordered on the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea; on the east by Poland and the Czech Republic; on the south by Austria and Switzerland; and on the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands.|
Germany is a parliamentary federal republic of sixteen states (Bundesländer). The capital city and seat of government is Berlin. As a nation-state, the country was unified amidst the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. After its defeat in World War II Germany was divided, and it became reunified in 1990. It is a founding member of the European Union, and with over 82 million people it has the largest population among the EU member states.
Germany is often called Das Land der Dichter und Denker (the land of poets and thinkers). German culture began long before the rise of Germany as a nation-state and spanned the entire German-speaking world. From its roots, culture in Germany has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular. As a result, it is difficult to identify a specific German tradition separated from the larger framework of European high culture. Another consequence of these circumstances is the fact, that some historical figures, such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Kafka and Paul Celan, though not citizens of Germany in the modern sense, must be seen in the context of the German cultural sphere to understand their historical situation, work and social relations.
German literature can be traced back to the Middle Ages and the works of writers such as Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Various German authors and poets have won great renown, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. The collections of folk tales published by the Brothers Grimm popularized German folklore on the international level. Influential authors of the 20th century include Thomas Mann, Berthold Brecht, Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Böll, and Günter Grass.
Germany claims some of the world's most renowned classical music composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner. As of 2006, Germany is the fifth largest music market in the world and has influenced pop and rock music through artists such as Kraftwerk, Scorpions and Rammstein.
Numerous German painters have enjoyed international prestige through their work in diverse artistic currents. Matthias Grünewald and Albrecht Dürer were important artists of the Renaissance, Caspar David Friedrich of Romanticism, and Max Ernst of Surrealism. Architectural contributions from Germany include the Carolingian and Ottonian styles, which were important precursors of Romanesque. The region later became the site for significant works in styles such as Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. Germany was particularly important in the early modern movement, especially through the Bauhaus movement founded by Walter Gropius. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, also from Germany, became one of world's most renowned architects in the second half of the 20th century. The glass facade skyscraper was his idea.
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