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People Enjoying Oktoberfest, Germany

Germany has emerged as a land of freedom and opportunity, closer in some ways to the U.S. than to the old European order. Germans who grew up under capitalism are well educated, well traveled, and well informed. They appreciate intelligent conversation but are often wary of unfamiliar ideas, many are also prone to pessimism.

They often have a strong classical education because of Germany's rich heritage in music, history, and art, and they expect others to appreciate that background. Germany's people are reflected in a rich artistic heritage from the claustrophobic beauty of its cathedrals to some of the world's most influential philosophers, from the cream of classical composers to contemporary industrial-grunge music, from the genius of Goethe to the revolutionary theatre of Brecht, Germany has it all.

The scope of German art is such that it could be the focus of an entire visit. Germans are known for being industrious, thrifty, and orderly. They appreciate punctuality, privacy, and skill. They have a strong sense of regional pride a fact that the federal system of government recognizes and accommodates. WWII contributed to the breaking down of class distinctions because most people lost their possessions during the war and had to start again from scratch .German is spoken by most of the country's citizens, though several regional dialects exist. Almost 36 percent of Germans are Protestant, the great majority of whom are Lutheran, while some 35 percent are Catholic, and 2 percent are Muslim. There are approximately 30,000 Jews living in Germany today.

Beer is the national beverage and it's one cultural phenomenon that must be adequately explored. The beer is excellent and relatively cheap. Each region and brewery produces beer with a distinctive taste and body. Impromptu visits to small breweries are better than adding your bulk to the already crowded festivals like Munich's Oktoberfest. In winter, you can experience the glorious haze induced by Glühwein, a hot, spicy mulled wine guaranteed to take the chill away.

Predominantly white European, with significant Turkish minority. Germany has absorbed most of the refugees from what was formerly Yugoslavia.

90% Christian. There are a couple of million Muslims and about 30,000 Jews (the pre-Holocaust figure was over half a million).

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