For centuries, Germany's geographical and geological features have been key factors in the county's economic, political and social development. With characteristic determination and efficiency, this dynamic nation, at the hub of European enterprise and commerce, deftly maintains the balance between its cultural heritage and its position as a powerful force on the world stage. Recovery from the devastation of World War II and the rigours of reunification has been swift.
The towns and cities of the 16 states that now comprise Germany illustrate the individuality and diversity that has shaped the nation. Cologne, Essen, Hannover and Düsseldorf are internationally acclaimed centres for trade fairs and conventions. Frankfurt is the home of the Börse (German Stock Exchange) and Stuttgart is the economic and cultural heart of Baden Württemberg, synonymous with the Black Forest and the home of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Zeiss. Munich hosts the world renowned annual Oktoberfest, a perfect opportunity to sample wonderful German beers in Bavaria's capital city. The rivers Rhine and Moselle flow through the country's picturesque wine-producing regions; the distinctive landscape, a mass of sloping terraced vineyards and quaint villages. The reunification of Berlin has shaken off the last vestiges of the post-war social experiment. 'New Berlin' is now the burgeoning heart of Germany's commercial aspirations. The city is the premier tourist destination in the country. Areas of historical and cultural interest abound. Examples of the enduring beauty of Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture are evident in the cathedrals, churches and fairy-tale castles of Cologne, Heidelberg, and Leipzig, thus preserving the links with Germany's ancient past.