Germany wears its riches well: elegant big-city charm, small picture-postcard towns, pagan-inspired harvest festivals, a wealth of art and culture and the perennial pleasures of huge tracts of forest, delightful castles and fine wine and beer are all there for the savouring.
Deep in the heart of Europe, Germany has had a seminal impact on Continental history. From Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire to Otto von Bismarck's German Reich, Nazism and the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, no other nation has moulded Europe the way Germany has - for better or worse.
Germany's reunification in 1990 was the beginning of yet another chapter in its complex history. The cultural, social and economic divide formed over 40 years of separation will take some time to bridge; nevertheless, the integration of the two Germanys is proceeding apace.
Facts for the traveller
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Off the beaten track