ABOUT The Federal Republic of Germany is situated in the heart of Europe. It has nine neighbours: Denmark in the north, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France in the west, Switzerland and Austria in the south, and the Czech Republic as well as Poland in the east. This central location has been more pronounced since 3 October 1990 when Germany was reunited. The Federal Republic is more than ever a link between east and west, but also between Scandinavia and the Mediterranean. As an integral part of the European Community and NATO, Germany is a bridge to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

CLIMATE Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate in which humid westerly winds predominate. The climate is moderated by the North Atlantic Drift, the northern extension of the Gulf Stream. This warmer water affects the areas bordering the North Sea; consequently in the northwest and the north the climate is oceanic. Germany gets an average of 31 inches precipitation per year. Rainfall occurs year-round, with no obligatory dry season. Winters are mild and summers tend to be warm, temperatures can exceed 30 °C (86 °F). The east has a more continental climate; winters can be very cold and summers very warm, and longer dry periods can occur. Central and southern Germany are transition regions which vary from moderately oceanic to continental. In addition to the maritime and continental climates that predominate over most of the country, the Alpine regions in the extreme south and, to a lesser degree, some areas of the Central German Uplands have a mountain climate, characterised by lower temperatures and greater precipitation.

BEWARE Crime levels are broadly similar to the UK. Take sensible precautions to avoid mugging, bag snatching and pick pocketing. Be particularly vigilant at airports, railway stations and Christmas markets. You should behave responsibly and respect local laws and customs. Anti-social behaviour is not tolerated by the German authorities. BACK

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