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Germany

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Located in central Europe, Germany is made up of the North German Plain, the Central German Uplands (Mittelgebirge), and the Southern German Highlands. The Bavarian plateau in the southwest averages 1,600 ft (488 m) above sea level, but it reaches 9,721 ft (2,962 m) in the Zugspitze Mountains, the highest point in the country. Germany's major rivers are the Danube, the Elbe, the Oder, the Weser, and the Rhine. Germany is about the size of Montana.

The capital Berlin is also Germany's largest city, with a population of 3.4 million. Other cities with more than one million residents are Hamburg (1.8 million) and Munich (1.3 million). Cologne is just below the one-million mark. Frankfurt am Main (pop. 662,000) is a centre of international finance.

Germany is a country rich in natural beauty. Between the North Sea and Baltic coasts in the north and the peaks of the Alps in the south lie extremely diverse landscapes, with everything from wide expanses of river and lake land scenery, hilly uplands and densely wooded regions to agricultural plains and industrial conurbations. The Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany at 2,963 metres. Germany's longest river is the Rhine, which flows through the country for a total of 865 kilometres. Germany has 16 national parks, 104 nature reserves and 15 biosphere reserves.

Today, life in Germany is subject to a great diversity of cultural influences. It can generally be described as modern and cosmopolitan. The people of Germany love nothing more than getting together and celebrating, in traditional style during carnival season, at wine festivals, at the Oktoberfest and other beer festivals, or during music festivals from classical to rock – all helped along by great food and fine wines from the 13 vineyard regions.

Germany has the largest population of any European country, around 82 million – a density of 230 people per square kilometre.