Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the country’s three city-states. The city is located in the north-east of Germany and is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg. With 3.4 Million inhabitants, Berlin is s far the largest city in Germany, the second largest in the EU and the fourth largest in Europe. Berlin has been the capital of the German state for over 300 years, most notably being the capital of the GDR from 1949 to 1990. Since 1999 the German parliament and assembly, the Chancellor and his/her ministry, as well as the President of Germany have all resided in Berlin and it is therefore the centre of German politics.
Modern day Berlin is still marked by its recent past. Because of the destruction caused by the Second World War and the division of its districts between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Berliners identify themselves by the former dividing lines of the city. The Berlin Wall and the Luftbrücke (airbridge) that overcame the Soviet blockade of the city, as well as the freedom that resulted from the fall of the wall are defining elements of Berlin. Furthermore, the Cold War kept Berlin from developing a city centre, resulting in the decentralised layout it has today. Places like Alexanderplatz or the Kurfürstendamm were the cultural centres of the former sectors and remain the focus for Berlin life even 23 years after its reunification. In addition, four universities, formerly supported by the allied forces, and 17 universities of applied sciences have established themselves in the capital, creating a noticeably large student community, despite the size of the city.
Today, Berlin is divided into twelve districts, all with their own way of life, which have all been and still are strongly influenced by immigrants from all over the world. In the 17th century, Huguenots moved to Berlin from France and brought the potato with them amongst other things. Today, immigrants from all over the world flock to Berlin and it is unofficially the largest Turkish city outside of Turkey. Currently around 14,5% of Berlin’s population comprises of foreign nationalities. This has a great effect, not only on culture and architecture, but also on cuisine and politics.
You can experience this cultural diversity in Berlin’s 420 galleries, 153 museums, 50 theatres, 7 philharmonic orchestras and 3 operas. In addition, a large electronic and alternative music scene has evolved. Because of the division of the city, Berlin has many things in duplicate, including two zoos. The Tiergarten is a green oasis in the middle of the city and Berlin has many other parks, as well as an Olympic sports stadium. Not forgetting, Berlin is the birthplace of the two most important German fast-food innovations: the Currywurst and the German style Doner Kebab!