Germany - Basic Facts

Location: Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, plus the following countries: Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and maritime borders with Sweden (Baltic Sea) and the UK (North Sea)

Area: 357,022 sq km - Country comparison to the world: #63 

Coastline: 2,389 km

Terrain: Northern lowlands, uplands in the center and Bavarian Alps in south

Lowest point: Neuendorf-Sachsenbande - 3.54 m
Highest point: Zugspitze 2,963 m

Natural resources: Coal, lignite, natural gas, iron ore, copper, nickel, uranium, potash, salt, construction materials, timber and arable land

Ethnic groups: German 91.5%, Turkish 2.5%, others 6%, made up largely of other Europeans such as Greeks, Italians, Poles, Russians, Serbo-Croatians, and Spaniards.

Religions: Protestant ~34%, Roman Catholic ~34%, Muslim ~4%, unaffiliated or other ~28%

Population: 81,305,856 (2012) - Country comparison to the world: #16

Age structure:
0-14 years: 13.3%
15-64 years: 66.1%
65 years and over: 20.6%

Major cities - population: Berlin (capital) 3.438 million, Cologne 1.001 million, Hamburg 1.786 million, Munich 1.349 million.

Health expenditures: 8.1% of GDP - Country comparison to the world: #55

Doctors’ density: 3.531 doctors/1,000 population - Country comparison to the world: #28

Hospital bed density: 8.17 beds/1,000 population - Country comparison to the world: #7

Education expenditures: 4.5% of GDP - Country comparison to the world: #82


The Cambridge Family in Canada → Day 1 (September 24th, 2016)

  • Official arrival with Prince George and Princess Charlotte at Victoria Airport’s 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron.  
  • The Duke & Duchess laid a wreath in honor of Canadian military service at the Cenotaph.
  • The Duke of Cambridge participated in an inspection of the Canadian Guard of Honour. 
  • The Duke of Cambridge addressed Canadians with a speech at the official welcoming ceremony.
  • William and Catherine signed the Government of Canada Golden Book and the British Columbia Distinguished Visitor’s Book.
  • William and Catherine held private meetings with the Governor General and Prime Minister.

Sister Republics (J.-R. Surrateau)

This is a name given to various republics that were created in the orbit of the French Republic, in imitation of it and, often, after a military intervention by France. An engraving from 1798 shows the European sovereigns gazing upon a mushroom bed with terror: the mushrooms there noticeably grew in the lee of the great French mushroom…

Before 1793, the annexation of the Comtat Venaissin and of Avignon, later the one of the Comté de Nice and of its dependencies, later the one of Savoy, in turn caused problems, because the effected « reunions » contradicted the doctrine of non-intervention, proclaimed by the Constituent Assembly. Neighbouring distracted regions of Bouches-du-Rhône, of Drôme and Basses-Alpes were added to the Comtat and to Avignon in order to form to the department of Vaucluse. Nice and Savoy formed two distinct departments: Alpes-Maritimes and Mont-Blanc.

The question arose in 1793 in Belgium at the time of the occupation of an ensemble that was much more vast and heterogeneous. Danton, on 31 January, Carnot, on 14 February, spoke out in favour of the reunion. The Convention followed them. Fifteen decrees, published between 1 and 20 March, confirmed this decision. It was the same for the principality of Salm, for 35 communes of Palatinate, for the duchy of Deux-Ponts and, in 1794, for every region comprised between Rhine and Moselle. But these decisions became irrelevant after the retreat of the French troops.

In Montbéliard — an enclave in French territory like the Comtat — the occupation ipso facto brought about the reunion with Haute-Saône at first (before the incorporation to Mont-Terrible in 1797).

All these regions were located within the « natural borders » of France. Carnot, at the Legislative Assembly, was the most remarkable representative of the doctrine of natural borders: everything that is located on this side of the Rhine, of the Jura Mountains, of the Alps and of the Pyrenees had to be reunited with France.

This axiom was proven by the attitude of France concerning the Prince-Bishopric of Basel, where the first Sister Republic was created (although the term had not yet  been invented). This small territory, which was located beyond the national border, constituted a distinct Republic for some months, the Rauracian Republic. And, then, it is not irrelevant to note that it was Carnot who, with three of his colleagues, signed an agreement in August 1792, with Swiss representatives, limiting the French occupation to the « gorges of the Jura ». Certainly, thereafter, the Rauracian Republic not being feasible, the thereby limited country was transformed into an autonomous French department, the one of Mont-Terrible. This was the exception.

In 1795, the scene changed. The  Thermidorians of all origins, former Girondins, former Montagnards or men of the Plain, had a different vision. Prussia and Spain had signed the peace treaty, the French troops, again victorious, had reoccupied Belgium and the German countries on the left bank of the Rhine, occupied the Netherlands, crossed the Rhine at several spots. The Constitution of Year III proclaimed « the inviolability and the inalienability of France » within the borders that had been reached then. All territories that were occupied at this time were located within these « constitutional borders », except for the Netherlands, whose destiny had been settled in the treaty of La Havre of 16 May 1795, and which would form the first Sister Republic, the Batavian Republic. The de facto annexations, which are always called reunions, were thus settled in an unilateral manner, and were often — but not always — approved by more or less dubious plebiscites. Furthermore, the non-annexation of the Netherlands, located beyond the Rhine, and the creation of the Batavian Republic remained consistent with the principle of natural borders.

The victorious campaign of Bonaparte accentuated the evolution in a non-definitive manner. Whereas the general successively created the Cispadane and Cisalpine Republics, at the cost of the Austrians and of the princes which were subjected to them, he acted very differently toward the pope and the king of Sardinia. He spared the former despite the hostile orders of La Revellière, and spared the latter even more. The Italian patriots sharply protested against the indulgence of Bonaparte, and the Piedmontese addressed the Parisian authorities. But Buonarotti, which they had chosen as their spokesman, was at that time compromised in the conspiracy of Babeuf and arrested with him on 10 May 1796. Thereafter, the Roman, Parthenopean and Ligurian Republics were added to the list of Sister Republics of Italy, but Piedmont and the papal State survived, despite being reduced.

Regarding Switzerland, the situation was different. Until the autumn of 1797, it was in the interest of France to preserve an islet of neutrality at its eastern frontiers, but, after Campoformio, the Directory no  longer needed this neutrality, and it esteemed that would be necessary to make the centre of intrigues disappear, which was sheltered by the Swiss cantons, above all by Bern. Reubell also thought that the creation of a satellite state beyond the Jura Mountains would constitute a protective buffer zone, which was furthermore confirmed in 1799.

In Germany, the two policies were carried out directly. The reoccupied territories below the Rhine were « reunited » again from 1795 to 1797, but Reubell attempted to overflow the Rhine and to from a protective limes on the right bank of the river, planning to also create Sister Republics there. The Italian policy of Bonaparte reduced this initiatives to nothing.

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24 September 2016 | Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge arrive at 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron near Victoria international airport in Victoria, Canada. © Andrew Chin/Getty Images North America


April 10th 1912: Titanic sets sail

On this day in 1912, the RMS Titanic, set sail from Southampton on her maiden and only voyage; the intended destination was New York, but the ship never made it across the Atlantic. The Titanic was the largest passenger liner the world had ever seen, and was remarkable for its opulence, which attracted notable dignitaries to its debut voyage. The vessel was built at Belfast for White Star Line, and was intended to trump the company’s rivals at Cunard. It was lauded as an ‘unsinkable’ ship, but subsequent examinations have suggested some fatal flaws in the ship’s design plus a lack of lifeboats, which only could accommodate half the passengers. Just four days after setting sail, on April 14th at around 11.40pm, the Titanic hit an iceberg. The collision caused a massive gash in the ship’s hull, dooming the vessel to sink. As the opulent ship filled with water and slowly sank, its over two thousand passengers rushed to lifeboats, but the evacuation was haphazard, with lifeboats being lowered not at full capacity. There are numerous famous stories of the ship’s final hours, including the elderly Straus couple who stayed in their cabin to die together, the violin players continuing to perform as the ship sank, and Benjamin Guggenheim who changed into his formal dress and declared “We are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.”  The Titanic finally sank at around 2.20am, leaving thousands to die of hypothermia in the freezing ocean. Over 1,500 people died in the tragedy, with around 700 survivors being rescued by the Cunard’s Carpathia. The demise of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic shocked the world, and the story of the tragic fate of a symbol of early twentieth century optimism continues to captivate the public mind.

They also filmed their experiences to document their journey in a film called Gyrecraft.

“Gyrecraft is an exploration into maritime crafts which exists in every coastal or island culture around the world each with its own unique identity, utilising what the sea provides. 

Many of these crafts took place onboard boats during long voyages as a way of making vital repairs or passing the time at sea.

In the swirling gyre, most of the plastics have broken down into tiny fragments which are spread over massive stretches of the Ocean. Due to their size, they are incredibly difficult to recover in any large quantity, making this once disposable material very precious.

In the Gyrecraft collection, Studio Swine uses sea plastic as a valuable and desirable material reminiscent of turtle shell and corals. 

The 5 objects represent the 5 major ocean gyres.”