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The 12 maps that help explain Germany today

Where do the happiest people live in Germany? What's the average salary? We look at Germany through a series of maps.

The 12 maps that help explain Germany today
Photo: Depositphotos/bedobedo

Germany is a hugely diverse country with 81.3 million people who live across 16 states.

We've put together some interesting and helpful maps to help you understand the Bundesrepublik

Germany's states

Here are the 16 Bundesländer and their capitals. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony and Thuringia formed the communist East Germany during the separation. The other states were part of West Germany.



Photo: Depositphotos/Volina

Historical changes

Germany only became the country we know today in 1990 after reunification, so it's no wonder then that there are differences across regions when it comes to tradition, culture and dialects as well as social aspects such as wage levels.

And if you go back further, you'll see find the country looked very different.

For an idea of how it's has changed over the years, here's a map showing the German Empire in 1892.

Photo: Wikimedia commons

Population density

Back to the modern day. In terms of figures, 232 people in Germany live on one square kilometre. This makes Germany one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. However, citizens are unequally distributed regionally.

This map shows the population density across the country. The dark blue areas are where the most people live.


Photo: Demografie Portal


When it comes to buying a home in Germany, house prices are going up, especially in bigger cities. This map gives a taste of what you can expect.

The consumer magazine Finanztest evaluated data for 115 cities and districts last year. They found that in Munich, one of Germany's most expensive cities, property prices rose by 9.6 percent in 2017. Rents went up by 4.9 percent in the same period. In Stuttgart, rents also rose by 4.9 percent in 2017, while real estate went up a massive 12.4 percent.

Meanwhile, in Berlin apartments were 15.6 percent more expensive in 2017 compared to the previous year, while rents went up by 7.6 percent. 

READ ALSO: Bargain 'B cities': The places to buy property in Germany when you're on a budget

Photo: Finanztest

How happy are the Germans?

On a scale of one to 10, the Germans rated their happiness or satisfaction factor as 7.5 according to the the Deutsche Post Glücksatlas (happiness index) 2018. The happiest people in Germany live in the northern German states of Schleswig-Holstein, which had a satisfaction rating of 7.44, and Hamburg, which had a rating of 7.36.

The map below shows average happiness by region. The darker the colour, the happier the people.

Photo: Deutsche Post

Deprivation and inequality

Although Germany is seen from the outside as a prosperous country, there are inequalities.

This map made as part of a study published earlier this year by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, breaks up the country into  'five Germanys' to highlight the deprived areas, and those that are doing better.

Dark green represents the booming cities like Berlin and Hamburg. Light green is the Speckgurtel (commuter belt, literally: fat belt) where life quality is said to be even better than in the big cities.  This category includes scenic locations like Starnberg to the south of Munich or the Taunus near Frankfurt.

Cream is the solid middle, where the quality of life is neither extremely bad or excellent. Typical places include Sauerland in North Rhine Westphalia and rural Schleswig-Holstein.

Lilac is rural east Germany, such as villages on the Baltic coast or small towns in Saxony and are viewed overall as fairly undesirable places to live.

Lastly, purple shows deprived areas, including Dortmund, Duisburg, Trier and other cities that used to profit from industries such as ,coal mining and today people are more likely to be living in poverty.

Wage differences

The amount you earn doesn't just come down to your job but also where you live in Germany. The map below, which was produced by online careers portal as part of their 2019 Gehaltsatlas (salary atlas), shows how different German regions measure up to the national average salary of €45,000.

The highest salaries are paid in Hesse. On average, salaries in the central German state are €51,435 — that's 14 percent higher than the national average salary.

Meanwhile, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the average salary is €34,155 – that's 75.9 percent of the national average.

To read more on salaries in Germany, check out our coverage HERE.

Another map from which shows the wage differences in Germany is illustrated here. The average salary in the east of the country is €39,567 and in the west it's €47,320.

Train travel

It's a real treat to travel through Germany by train, where you can enjoy scenic mountains or beautiful lakes depending on where you are. The map below shows the Deutsche Bahn long distance train network. The rail operator also has an interactive map on its website.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Connected or not?

Internet and WiFi connectivity can be sketchy across Germany The map below shows the availability of super fast broadband Internet in percent for private households.

The dark blue bits mean there is more than 95 percent coverage, while the grey parts mean only up to 50 percent is covered.

READ ALSO: Germany's (dis)connectivity: Can the broadband gap be bridged?

Photo: DPA

Wie bitte?

German is the main language of Germany, although there are four recognized minority languages: Sorbian (Upper and Lower), a Slavic language spoken largely in Brandenburg and Saxony, Romani, Danish and Frisian, which is spoken in northwest Germany.

This map shows the percentage of people who can hold a conversation in German across European countries.

READ ALSO: The 25 stats that help explain Germany today

Photography heat map

Germany is a popular tourist destination, but this graphic by Sightsmap, which is based on data from geotagged photos, pinpoints the exact places where people take the most (coloured yellow) – and least (coloured purple) – pictures in Germany (and the world's) regions, towns and cities.

Note: Berlin is the top blue pin on the map below.

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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.