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The 20 key stats that help explain Germany today

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
The 20 key stats that help explain Germany today
Photo: Depositphotos

How many residents are non-German? How many people live in rural areas? Is obesity a problem? We look at recent key statistics about the Bundesrepublik.


1. The life expectancy in Germany as of 2019 is 81.2 years.

For women that figure stands at 83.6 years and for men at 78.8, so the average works out at 81.2 years. This places Germany behind most of its western European neighbours, especially countries like Spain and Italy. Obesity, smoking and drinking are health problems that put the health of Germans at a slightly lower level than their European neighbours.

2. The population size of Germany is 82.8 million.

As of 2018, the population size of Germany was just shy of 83 million people, making it both the largest country in the EU and in Europe as a whole. However, even though Germany's birth rate is going up, its population until recently was shrinking - a trend which has been reversed due to mass migration.

Merkel greeting triplets in 2017. Photo: DPA

3. About 15 percent of Germans live in communities with less than 15,000 residents. 

An additional 27 percent live in communities with a population between 5,000 and 20,000 people. And only 30 percent of Germans live in big cities with more than 100,000. 

While cities like Berlin, Hamburg and Munich might steal the spotlight, the majority of Germans (70 percent) are living in cities with populations under 100,000. And the smallest areas often grapple with issues such as a shortage of doctors, teachers and sufficient wifi coverage

SEE ALSO: Here's how Germany plans to fight its stark regional inequalities

SEE ALSO: Germans turn to ‘Medibus’ as doctors desert villages

4. Fourteen German cities have populations of over 500,000 residents

These cities are scattered throughout the Bundesrepublik, with two of them (Dresden and Leipzig) situated in former east Germany. 

5. The obesity rate in Germany is 23.7 percent, according to the World Health Organization.

This means that Germany has one of the highest obesity rates in Europe, but is still behind the UK, which has a rate of 26.2 percent. In addition to consuming too many calories, another culprit behind the rate is the lack of sufficient physical exercise.

SEE ALSO: Germans think they’re fit, but they’re really couch potatoes

Currywurst: A Berlin specialty high on taste and calories. Photo: DPA

6. For every 1,000 residents in Germany, 17.2 are asylum applicants or refugees.

The only countries in Europe with a higher number are Austria at 18.2 and Sweden at 28.1, according to Germany immigration office (BAMF). In 2018, the highest number of asylum applicants still came from Syria (46,146) but there were also many from Iraq (18,074) and Iran (11,846).

7. As of May 2019, Bavaria was the German city with the lowest unemployment (2.9 percent) and Bremen in north Germany had the highest, at 10 percent.

With its high costs - but also high standards of living - it may come as little surprise that industry-rich Bavaria enjoys a very low unemployment rate. In harbourside Bremen in northern Germany - where nearly one in four people is classified as poor - it is particularly high. There is hope, however: unemployment has gone down slightly from the year before and global giant Amazon is planning a shipping centre there, and looking to hire locals.

8. The average income in Germany for full-time workers is €3,770. 

There remains, however, a sharp pay gap between men and women. Men earn an average of €3,960 working full time, whereas women earn €3,330.

SEE ALSO: This is how significant the gender pay gap is in Germany

9. As of May 2019, the unemployment rate in Germany was 4.9 percent.

This is the lowest level in the country since Reunification in 1990. This is much lower than in several of its neighbouring European countries such as France, where the rate stands at 8.8 percent

10. Exports made up 35.7 percent of Germany’s GDP in 2018

There’s little doubt that Germany is an export economy, with the majority of its exports (6.2 percent) being pharmaceutical products. 

11. The average working week in Germany is 40 hours.

Many employees, however, report logging long overtime hours. Yet on the other hand, industrial workers recently won the right to a 28 hour work week for two years in order to spend more time with their families.

SEE ALSO: One-third of German workers work a year overtime ‘without pay’ 

12. The average processing length of a tax return is 56.1 days. 

The state with the longest processing time is Lower Saxony at 65.7 days, and the state with the shortest processing time is Saarland at 48.7 days.

SEE ALSO: The ultimate guide to paying taxes in Germany

Photo: DPA

13. Germany has a poverty rate of 15.7 percent.

A total of 12.5 million Germans are classified as poor, with a significant gap between the richest and poorest: the top 20 percent of the population earns a full four times more than those from the bottom 20 percent. 

SEE ALSO: Poverty rising in Germany’s industrial Ruhr region: study

14. By the end of 2018, 10.9 million German residents were foreigners, or citizens of another country. 

That number is a record high, a full 300,000 higher than the year before, and continues growing. 

15. The German city with the highest percentage of foreigners is Frankfurt (30 percent).

Frankfurt am Main, or Mainhatten as it’s often dubbed, is followed by Munich (27.5 percent), Berlin (22 percent), Cologne (21.4 percent) and Hamburg (17 percent). The top three countries which they come from are Turkey, neighbouring Poland, and Syria. 

16. Germany has four officially recognized minority languages.

They are Sorbian (Upper and Lower), a Slavic language spoken largely in Brandenburg and Saxony, Romani, Danish and Frisian, which is spoken in Northwest Germany. About five percent of the German population speaks one of these languages as their mother tongue. 

17. In 2018, Berlin was the city with the most traffic (the average resident lost 154 hours sitting in traffic). 

On average, German drivers spend 150 hours out of their year sitting in traffic. But that figure is especially hefty in Berlin, with drivers spending 154 hours a year behind the wheel.

SEE ALSO: The German cities with the worst traffic jams

The German Autobahn. Photo: DPA

18. 70 percent of German Autobahns don’t have a speed limit

In a recent survey, over half of Germans said that they would be in favour of a speed limit. The German government debating setting one earlier this year in a bid to lower emissions, but ultimately decided against it.

SEE ALSO: German government rejects speed limit on Autobahn

19. Every day a total of 1,084 people are injured by car accident in Germany.

Nine of them die, with one being a cyclist, and one being a pedestrian. There has been several recent pushes for better traffic safety.

20. There are 275 start-ups focused specifically on artificial intelligence in Germany

These include companies focused on automobile production, trade and commerce, media and IT services and consulting. The majority (102) are based in Berlin, with 50 in Munich and 17 in Hamburg.

SEE ALSO: Merkel: German ‘Mittelstand’ must not get left behind in AI race. 

This article was updated on Tuesday, July 16th.


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