What You Need To Know
Berlin is the capital of Germany and one of the 16 states of Germany, it is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany on the banks of Rivers Spree and Havel, it is the centre of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which has about six million residents from over 180 nations.
Area: 891.85 km²
The Berlin Wall was a barrier that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany), starting on 13 August 1961, the wall completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin until government officials opened it in November 1989. Its demolition officially began on 13 June 1990 and was completed in 1992. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the “death strip”) that contained anti-vehicle trenches, “fakir beds” and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” in building a socialist state in East Germany. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that had marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.
- The German currency is the Euro. Actually, the Euro is not “German money”, but it is the currency we use in this country, The Euro replaced the German Mark and it is the official currency of the European Union.
- The Euro was introduced as cash currency in Germany on 1st January 2002, although it was used for cashless transactions by banks and stock markets in the eurozone since 1999. An Euro starter kit, to get people used to the new German currency, was released on 17th December 2001.
- Denominations of Euro coins are €2, €1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c.
- Euro banknotes are issued in €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10, €5 notes.
- Credit cards are widely accepted, although paying with credit cards is not as common as in the USA, for example. Mastercard & Visa dominate. American Express & Diners Club are accepted in some stores and of course you can use them with the Geldautomat. Check shop windows and entrance doors for credit card logos to see which cards you can use inside.Supermarkets, department stores and restaurants, especially in smaller towns outside tourist regions, might only accept a German bank card, or cash. You will definitely have to pay cash at many locations in Germany.
Berlin has a continental climate with cold winters, hot summers and fairly mild autumns and springs. Summer (June to August) weather in Berlin is pleasant and sunny, the days are long and high temperatures average 73°F (23°C), particularly in July and August. However, the summer months are also unpredictable, and the weather can rapidly change from sunshine to cloud. It can also be fairly humid in summer in Berlin. Winter (December to February) weather in Berlin, by contrast, averages 32°F (0°C) and is bitterly cold and damp, with plentiful snow and frosty days when temperatures hover at or just below freezing. Although snow falls between December and March the city seldom stays covered in snow for long. Rain can fall all year round and it is always a good idea to have an umbrella in Berlin, no matter what the season; the wettest months are June and August, and the driest months on average are October and February.
Berlin is a year-round travel destination because so much of the city’s appeal lies in its cultural and historical attractions, which are fabulous regardless of the weather. The most popular and probably the best time to visit Berlin is in the summer months when the sidewalk cafes, parks and gardens can be enjoyed to the utmost and there are numerous fun summer events.
The language spoken is Berlin is German but English is widely spoken.
Health and security
- people in Germany are fine. About three quarters consider their health as good or very good. Life expectancy is rising, and thanks to improvements in prevention, diagnostics and therapy, less people are dying from cardiovascular diseases and cancer. However, the growing numbers of obesity and diabetes mellitus are of major concern; mental disorders also need more attention.
- According to German crime statistics the most common incidents include theft of unattended personal property, pick-pocketing, residential break-ins, vehicle vandalism, vehicle break-ins (smash and grab), and vehicle fires. 2011 was a record year for car fires in Berlin and Hamburg. Previously, most car fires were attributed to far-left wing groups, but recently car fires have been tied to copycats, insurance fraud, and revenge attacks. In addition to car fires, violence during and after soccer matches has also risen. During the 2010-2011 soccer season, over 840 people were injured in hooliganism-related incidents – some of the violence has been attributed to right-wing groups and fanatical fans. In reaction, the German government has increased security for the top two soccer divisions.
- Tourists and expatriates do occasionally have purses snatched and pockets picked in train stations, Internet cafes, crowded restaurants, and outdoor market places. There have also been some incidents of personal assaults/attacks on individuals by foreigners.Non-violent consumer fraud such as credit card skimming and credit card-related fraud is also reportedly on the rise, and there have been reports of credit card information being compromised even in well-known hotels. Visitors should practice the same sound, common sense personal security practices that are an everyday part of life in any major city.
- Crime rates dropped in 2012 and police solved a record-breaking number of crimes although the statistic was tarnished by the rise in Internet crime.Violent crime is rare in Germany but where it does occur it is mainly in larger cities or in higher risk areas such as train stations. There have also been some reports of aggravated assault against non-German citizens in higher risk urban areas. However, most incidents of street crime involve the theft of unattended items and pick pocketing.
- German society works as well as the machines it produces, but beware of disrupting the hive. Life may be regulated down to your morning walk (mind the pedestrian traffic lights!).
- Don’t even think about leaving the appliances on, or your car running at red lights, Energy excess is a big no in germany
- A trip to Berlin is incomplete without a dip in the 25-m swimming floating pool in the Spree-a must visit during the weekends. take a walking tour at the Berlin Underworld Society to see the hundreds of bunkers meant to shelter over 3500 people from nuclear attack.
- if you’re too busy with all the sightseeing, just stop at any street corner and pick up a Döner Kebab. The Kebab originates in Turkey but nowadays it is one of the most popular street food in Europe. It consists of beef, lamb or chicken wrapped up in a pita bread with veggies and sauce. Berlin is known as the Döner Kebab capital of the world.