Germany is located in central Europe and home to 82 million people. A country that was divided after World War II, and reunited in 1990, has a socialistic government and a high standard of living.
Germany is typically known for its mountains and castles. However, northern Germany is very flat and below sea level. Bavaria, in the south, is mountainous and a well-loved tourist place. Other places, such as the Black Forest, the Rhein River, or the Neuschwanstein Castle are beautiful places to visit.
Religiously, Germany has an amazing heritage. Home of Martin Luther in the 15th century, Germany was the center of the Reformation. Today, although many Germans are members of either the Lutheran or Catholic church, church attendance is reserved mostly for Christmas Eve. Most large cities boast of a cathedral which is usually very ornate.
Although many sports are played and also watched, soccer is by far the national sport. Germany has won the World Championship in soccer 3 times. Major cities have their own soccer team and the soccer season is followed closely by many fans.
The education system is an ever changing scene. Typically, children have 4 years of grade school. Often the same teachers are with the children all 4 years. At the end of that time, a decision is made as to which school the child should attend. The Gymansium is the highest level and goes until grade 13, although most states have changed it to grade 12. Upon graduation, a student has an Abitur, which is needed to study at a university. The Realschule goes until 10th grade and the Hauptschule until 9th grade. English as a second language is required starting 3rd grade and all students except those in the Hauptschule have a second foreign language starting in the 7th grade. In many places, the Realschule and Hauptschule are being combined to a Regionalschule.