Berlin is both a Land (i.e. a federal state) and a city; not least it is the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. Berlin is the largest city between Paris and Moscow with 3.4 million inhabitants – including 440,000 foreigners from 182 nations. Covering an area of 892 square kilometres – as much as Munich, Stuttgart and Frankfurt/Main put together – this recently re-born city brings together a wide range of different centres, urban boroughs and districts. Berlin is governed by a coalition made up of the SPD and the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism) headed by Mayor Klaus Wowereit.
Berlin originated in the 12th century as a merchants’ town. In 1486 the city became the permanent Royal Seat of the Hohenzollern. Berlin’s importance grew with the rise of this dynasty from the position of Brandenburg’s Elector to that of the Prussian King and the German Kaiser. In 1871 Berlin became capital of the German Reich. After the First World War it experienced the Golden Twenties. After the Second World War, Berlin was divided into four sectors by the victorious powers and became a divided city after the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The Wall fell in 1989, and by 1990 Germany was reunited. In 1991 the Bundestag voted in favour of making Berlin the seat of the government.
Berlin’s economy is going through a process of change. Growth industries like information and communications technology and biotechnology are getting established in addition to traditionally strong sectors such as electrical engineering (Siemens, Osram), vehicle construction (BMW, DaimlerChrysler), pharmaceuticals (Schering), foodstuffs (Nestlé) and tobacco processing (Philip Morris). The city’s new function as the nation’s capital is strengthening the service sector. Ten newspaper publishing firms make Berlin a leading media city. Internationally, Berlin’s trade fair company ranks among the ten biggest in terms of turnover. Photo: IFA (consumer electronics), ITB (tourism), Green Week (agriculture and foodstuffs).
Berlin’s biggest raw material is knowledge. The city’s four universities – Humboldt University, Free University, Technical University and University of the Arts – form the core of the scientific sector with a total of well over 100,000 students. In addition there are ten “universities of applied sciences,” three art academies and over 80 research institutions, where 50,000 people are working on products and solutions for the world of tomorrow. The Adlershof science and business location (photograph) plans to expand and become the most important technology park in Europe.
Culture is Berlin’s biggest asset. The seventeen national museums of Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation alone make up the biggest museum complex on the continent (“Museum Island”; lower photograph: Pergamon Altar). There are also extensive special collections of international significance (Bauhaus Archive, Brücke Museum) and more than 200 private galleries. With 150 theatres Berlin is German’s most important city of drama (Deutsches Theater, Berliner Ensemble, Schaubühne, Volksbühne). The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, under Sir Simon Rattle, and eight other major orchestras with conductors of worldwide repute provide a unique range of classical music. Berlin’s Friedrichstadtpalast is Germany’s biggest revue theatre. And the lively off-scene is always a great source of fresh and unusual ideas.
Berlin has a lot of great entertainment to offer, 365 days a year – and the highlights keep coming. Numerous major events fill the city’s cultural calendar. In February the International Film Festival rolls out the red carpet for the stars. In May the Theatertreffen presents a crosssection of the best in German language theatre. At Whitsuntide (May/June) the Carnival of Cultures has the Berliners dancing in the streets. In June the international Literature Festival brings authors and readers together. In July the Love Parade attracts ravers to Berlin from all over the world. In September the international theatre and dance scene come to the Berliner Festwochen. And in November the Jazzfest takes centre stage.