Firmly set in the heart of the continent, Western Europe’s most populous country encompasses an extraordinary diversity of cultures and traditions. From the great and modern capital of Berlin to Munich and traditional Bavaria, there is something for everyone’s tastes. Great modern provincial cities dominate their regions, while immaculate medieval villages and small towns guard their heritage with fierce pride. Industrial giants spread their shiny high-tech plants across the landscape, and the products of a successful consumer society fill the shop windows of every town, however small. F
ew places are far from the autobahn, the web of motorways which epitomizes the country’s prosperity and modernity. Forests cover almost a third of the country, their carefully signpost footpaths a welcome retreat for city dwellers. The manicured farmlands have been made as productive as possible, though nature reserves are protected and carefully managed or even recreated. To the south, the northern flank of the Alps makes a wonderful natural frontier. In the center of the country, the valleys of great rivers like the Rhine, Main, Danube, and Elbe separate wooded upland massifs, which give way to the Northern European Plain, whose landscapes and coastlines resemble those of the neighboring countries of the Netherlands, Denmark, and the Baltic lands.
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