20 Facts on Germany

20 FACTS ON GERMANY: Sooo, you think you know Germany. Here's a quick primer to fill in those gaps in your knowledge of the nation famed for efficiency, supermodels and bratwurst.

1. INTERNATIONAL: Instead of saying “rare” for a steak the Germans say “English”. What we know as normal sandwich bread is known as “American toast” and if you want to say something seems weird you can say Das kommt mir spanisch vor, meaning “that seems Spanish to me”!

2. BREAD: Ask a German expat what they miss most about home and they’ll probably say: “the bread”.  Germany has over 600 main kinds of bread and 1200 types of pastries and rolls, including my favorite, the delicious Nussschnecke (literally: “nut snail”).

sitzpinklerStehpinkeln verboten! You might see this
sign if you visit a bathroom in Germany.
@ 20 Facts on Germany

3. PEE: Only 71 percent of German men stand to take a pee.  They’re known as Stehpinkler (standing pee-ers).  The other 29 percent prefer to sit (the Sitzpinkler).

4. CHEAP: Germany’s capital, Berlin, is a surprisingly cheap place to live.   It’s less expensive than cities like Hamburg, Düsseldorf and especially Munich, which is Germany’s most expensive city. Housing in Berlin is at least 45 percent cheaper than in London, Paris and New York.

5. INVENT: Germans are inventive people.  The printing press, glockenspiel, automobile, motorcycle, X-ray, diesel engine, special relativity and jet aircraft were all German ideas.
They also came up with the helicopter, ballistic missile, morphine, the Z3 (first programmable computer), tachometer, coffee filter, Christmas tree, mp3 and (this is just a new one) sticky tape with serrated edges so you can rip off sections with your fingers alone – now why didn’t I think of that?!

6. SURPRISING: Ferdinand Porsche designed the Volkswagen Beetle and Hugo Boss designed the SS Nazi uniforms.

7. NUDE:
Nudist beaches, lakes, thermal baths and just generally being nude are quite popular in Germany.  They call it “FKK” or Freikörperkultur (Free Body Culture).

nudity-in-germanyNuding up at a lake near Düsseldorf, Germany. Pic: wikimedia.
@ 20 Facts on Germany

8. RELIGION: Although Germany is righty known as the birthplace of Protestantism it’s not an overwhelmingly Protestant country. The religious breakdown goes: Atheist (no religion) 34.1%, Catholic 30%, Protestant 29.9%, Muslim 4%, orthodox Christian 1.6%, Jewish 0.2%, Buddhist 0.2%. While the south is more catholic the north tends to be protestant.  The states of the former East Germany are more atheistic.

ich-bin-ein-berlinerJohn F. Kennedy gives his famous
"Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. Pic: wikipedia
@ 20 Facts on Germany

9. DOUGHNUT: John F. Kennedy didn’t call himself a jelly doughnut when he declared “Ich bin ein
Berliner
”.
It’s true that in German you usually leave off the “ein” when you talk about where you’re from or what your job is. But Kennedy’s “ein” meant that he felt like “one” of them.   The West Berliners understood this show of solidarity and despite the myth, nobody laughed.

10. NAME: The word “Germany” dates back Julius Caesar, who dubbed the lands east of the Rhine River “Germania”. The name’s root isn’t exactly clear, but it’s theorized it could mean “neighbor”, “noisy”, “spear men” or even “greedy men”! 

11. CHURCH: The Cologne Cathedral took 632 years to build. It’s the largest Gothic Church in Germany and is houses what are said to be the 2000-year-old remains of the Three Wise Men.  It was the tallest building in the world for four years until it was surpassed by the Washington Monument in 1884.

cologne-cathedralThe immense Cologne Cathedral. Pic: wikimedia.
@ 20 Facts on Germany


12. WORDS: German nouns can be tacked together to make mega-words verging on the absurd.  Though there’s technically no longest German word an oft-quoted chestnut is Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän (Danube steam-ship company captain).

13. MISCONCEPTIONS: Hitler didn't invent the Autobahn, most German men have never strapped on a pair of lederhosen and Germans know how to party with the best of them.

14. FANTA: Fanta was created in Germany during World War II when Coca-Cola imports were banned.  Its name comes from the word Fantasie meaning “imagination”.  The Germans also drink a sickly sweet cola/orange soda mix called Spezi.

15. SNACK: Germany’s most popular snack is the Döner kebab and the best ones can be found in Berlin.  This folded sandwich with chicken or turkey, salad and garlic sauce arrived with Turkish immigrants in the 1970s. Annual Döner sales amount to €2.5 billion a year!

16. KIDS: Germany has one of the lowest birth rates in the world with just 1.38 babies per mother. Critics blame the country’s poor state-run childcare system for the ensuing population shrinkage.

17. POLICE: German cops are sometimes nicknamed Schnittlauch meaning “chives” because they wear green and always show up in bunches.

german policeGerman police taken down a "perp" in Hamburg. Pic: wikimedia.
@ 20 Facts on Germany


18. ECONOMY: Germany is Europe’s powerhouse and has the world’s fourth-biggest economy after the US, China and Japan.  Germany pips the US to be the world’s second-biggest exporter after China.

19. SCHOOL: For most pupils school finishes at 1pm – a leftover from the days when kids had to help out on the farm or with the family business. Pupils take a test when they’re 10 or 11 which determines what kind of secondary school they can attend.  This can mean the difference between being able to go to university or having to enter the workforce at 17, so the test is quite a responsibility for such a young age!

20. SOCCER: Germany’s Bundesliga soccer league has some of the highest attendances of any professional sports league in the world. Bayern Munich is the most successful club in the country and has won 35 national championships and cups and four European Championship titles.

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