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Owing to labour migration in the 1960s and several waves of political refugees since the 1970s, Islam has become a visible religion in Germany. An estimate published in 2016 for 2015 calculated that there are 4.4 to 4.7 million Muslims in Germany (5.4–5.7% of the population). Of these, 1.9 million are German citizens (2.4%). There are also higher estimates, for example according to the German Islam Conference in 2012, Muslims represent 7% of the population in Germany in 2012. According to a 2019 statistical count, there are nearly 440,000 individuals from countries with a muslim majority in Berlin, constituting 11.6% of the population.

Most Muslims in Germany have roots in Turkey, followed by Arab countries, former Yugoslavia (mostly of Kosovo-Albanian or Bosnia origin), Afghanistan and Iran. There are also a significant minority originated from Sub-Saharan Africa (mostly East Africa) and South Asia (mostly Pakistan). The large majority of Muslims live in former West Germany, including Berlin. However, unlike in most other European countries, sizeable Muslim communities exist in some rural regions of Germany, especially Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and parts of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia.

Muslims in Germany belong to serval different branches of Islam (approximate data):

  • Sunnis 2,640,000
  • Alevis 500,000
  • Twelvers Shi’as 225,500
  • Alawites 70,000
  • Ahmadiyya 35,000-45,000
  • Salafis 10,300
  • Sufis 10,000
  • Ismailis 1,900
  • Zaydis 800
  • Ibadis 270

Introduction to Germany

Germany is the largest country in Central Europe and the most populous EU state. It’s bordered to the east by the Czech Republic and Poland, to the north by Denmark, to the west by Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France and to the south by Austria and Switzerland. Germany is subdivided into 16 politically powerful states that sometimes correspond to historic regions predating a unified German state, while they sometimes randomly throw vastly different peoples into the same state while separating them from their more similar kin across state lines.

Germany has historically been and still is politically, economically and culturally influential and the largest EU member state by population and economic output. Known around the world for “German engineering” as well as world leading banking and insurance companies, it is equally admired by visitors for its old-world charm and  Gemütlichkeit  (cosiness). Discard any perceptions of Germany as simply homogeneous, and a country of surprising regional diversity awaits.


Nuremberg old town, view from west

Germany has numerous cities of interest to visitors; here are just  nine  of the most famous travel destinations. They are mostly the larger cities of Germany. Some, such as Berlin and Hamburg, stand like urban islands in more rural landscapes, others, like Düsseldorf and Frankfurt, are part of metropolitan areas together with other cities.

  • Berlin – The reunified and reinvigorated capital of Germany; known for its being divided during the Cold War by the Berlin Wall. Today a metropolis of diversity with some of the world’s best clubs, shops, galleries and restaurants. Due to its long status as a divided city, Berlin also boasts more operas and museums per capita than most other places in the world. The suburb of Potsdam with its Royal-Prussian palaces and gardens shouldn’t be missed when in Berlin.
  • Bremen – its old market, the  Schnoor , the Böttcherstrasse, the  Viertel  and the maritime flair of Bremen and its harbor Bremerhaven (which together form the  Bundesland  of Bremen, the smallest  Land  in both size and population) are a great urban experience.
  • Cologne – founded by the Romans 2000 years ago and known for its huge cathedral (second largest in the world), Romanesque churches, archaeological sites and the lively old town quarter. The Cologne Carnival is a major draw around February.
  • Dresden – Once called  Elbflorenz  (‘Florence on the Elbe’), the Frauenkirche (the finest baroque Cathedral outside Italy, destroyed during the war and rebuilt from 1994 to 2005) and its rebuilt historic  Altstadt  that was also destroyed during the war. The Zwinger and Residenzschloss museums are unmatched in the world.
  • Düsseldorf – Germany’s capital of shopping that also has a wide variety of fascinating new architecture. The “Altstadt” quarter and the Rhine embankments have a vibrant nightlife.
  • Frankfurt – magnificent skyline, financial and transportation hub of Europe, headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) and an important trade fair. Small reconstructed centre with half-timbered houses, important museums and galleries around the Museumsufer  like the  Schirn  Art Hall, the  Städel  and the  Senckenberg  Natural Museum.
  • Hamburg – Germany’s second-largest city, with a metropolitan character second only to that of Berlin, famous for its harbour as well as its liberal culture. Don’t miss the bustling nightlife around St. Pauli with the Reeperbahn and its night clubs and entertainment venues. Historically one of the cities of the Hanseatic League and a leading trade center after that, it remains one of three German “city states” i.e. a city that is its own  Bundesland .
  • Munich – Germany’s third-largest city and booming capital of Bavaria is known for the Oktoberfest, the Hofbräuhaus, its manifold cultural offerings including operas, theaters and museums, a vibrant nightlife, many music festivals, its beer gardens and river surfing, and is the gateway to the Alps.
  • Nuremberg – a former  Reichsstadt  with a medieval touch, its old town was partly reconstructed after severe bombing in World War II, including the Gothic  Kaiserburg  and the major churches, and you can also visit the Nazi party rally grounds, the Documentation Center and Courtroom 600 (the venue of the Nuremberg war crime trials).

Other destinations

Baltic seaside resort Binz on Rügen, Germany’s largest island
  • Baltic Sea Coast  – once the playground for crowned heads, this region is coming into its own again after the Cold War shut much of it off from the wider world. Site of the famous  Strandkorb  picture of the 2007 G8 summit.
  • Bavarian Alps – Germany perhaps at its most clichéd, but also its most beautiful; nice skiing in winter, hiking in summer and Schloss Neuschwanstein are just the most obvious attractions
  • Black Forest – You are likely to think “cuckoo clock” or cherry pie, and you’d be forgiven, but there is much more to this region than that
  • East Frisian Islands – among Germany’s most popular summer holiday spots, those largely car free islands in the Wadden Sea still see less international visitors than they deserve
  • Franconian Switzerland  – a favorite with early 19th century poets who gave a name that stuck, this karst region is world renowned for its climbing and has some beautiful caves
  • Harz] – long forgotten due to German partition running right through it, the Harz is today attracting tourists with superb hiking and the mystic romanticism of the Brocken mountain that is reputed to attract witches (as mentioned in Goethe’s Faust)
  • Lake Constance – Germany’s largest lake, the “Swabian Ocean” (as it is jokingly) offers alpine panorama and water activities at the same time
  • Middle Rhine Valley – part of the Rhine River is a UNESCO Heritage Site between Bingen/Rüdesheim and Koblenz; the valley is famous for its wines
  • North Frisian Islands – calm islands with resorts at the North Sea coast, especially Sylt is known for its posh celebrity guests and the pristine landscape



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