Berlin, the capital of Germany and the country's largest city, is also a major center of politics, culture, media, and science. Noted for its cultural flair, Berlin is home to the world famous Berlin Opera and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, while its diverse art scene encompasses hundreds of galleries, events, and museums, including those on Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite the devastation of WWII, and following decades of decay to the east of the infamous Berlin Wall, the city has been rebuilt in a way that celebrates its successes while acknowledging a dark past. Berlin offers an eclectic mix of new and classic architecture, dynamic entertainment, shopping, and a wide variety of sports and cultural institutions. To get the most out of your sightseeing, be sure to refer often to our list of the top tourist attractions in Berlin.
Data and facts
- The current population of Berlin in 2020 is 3,562,000, a 0.14% increase from 2019.
- Berlin is over 9 times the size of Paris, BUT it only has 1/5 of Paris’ density (4K inhabitants per square Km as opposed to 21K inhabitants per square Km in Paris).
- There are 180 museums in Berlin.
- In 1848, Berlin proved itself to be way ahead of its time by banning smoking in the street. Now it is one of the few cities in Western Europe where smoking in bars is still the norm.
- The Berlin Zoo is not only the most visited Zoo in Europe but also hosts 1,380 different animal species and over 18,662 animals. The Zoo is said to have the largest stock of animals in the world.
- Berlin has more bridges than Venice – around 1,700 of them. It is also said that Berlin has more waterways than Amsterdam, Stockholm and Venice COMBINED.
- Berlin is home to 3 UNESCO world heritage sites. The Museum Island, Sansoussi Palace and Parks in Potsdam and the Modernism Housing Estates.
- Berlin is considered by many as Germany`s greenest city with over 44% of its area made of waterways, woods, rivers and green areas.
- Berlin is home to the longest open air gallery in the world with a little over 1.3 Km. The East Side Gallery showcases over 100 murals from artists from all over the world. Perhaps the most famous is “The Fraternal Kiss”.
- Berlin-born tinkerer Konrad Zuse invented the world's first programmable computer in 1941, making him the father of the modern computer.
Germany's capital, Berlin, is both a city and a federal state (Land). At the state level, the position of Governing Mayor of Berlin corresponds to that of a Minister President of one of the other federal states (Länder). The representatives of the state government are elected by the Berlin House of Representatives. The governing mayor nominates the senators. The Berlin state government comprises of the governing mayor and 10en senators.
The economy of Berlin is dominated by the service sector, with around 84% of all companies doing business in services. Important economic sectors in Berlin include life sciences, transportation, information and communication technologies, media and music, advertising and design, biotechnology, environmental services, construction, e-commerce, retail, hotel business, and medical engineering.
Berlin has developed a highly complex transportation infrastructure providing very diverse modes of urban mobility. 979 bridges cross 197 kilometers of inner city waterways, 5,334 kilometers (3,314 mi) of roads run through Berlin, of which 73 kilometers (45 mi) are motorways. Long-distance rail lines connect Berlin with all of the major cities of Germany and with many cities in neighboring European countries. Regional rail lines provide access to the surrounding regions of Brandenburg and to the Baltic Sea.
Consistent with its avant-garde reputation, Berlin is leading the way in science and technology development in Germany. The capital drives innovative, globally-recognized businesses such as SoundCloud (an online audio distribution platform with over 40 million users) and ResearchGate (a social networking site for scientists and researchers). Although previously focused on e-commerce, largely thanks to the dominant online startup incubator Rocket Internet, Berlin’s tech scene is rapidly developing in a variety of sectors, including fintech, software and media. As a city which drives the creation of innovative companies every 20 minutes, Berlin’s startup industry is predicted to generate 100,000 job opportunities by 2020. In fact, more investment goes into startups in Berlin than anywhere else in Europe. This surging startup growth indicates the next chapter in Berlin’s history, a city on the cusp of a tech Renaissance.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
Education in Berlin covers the whole spectrum from nurseries, kindergarten, primary education, secondary education, apprenticeships, higher education, adult education and research in Berlin. The German states are primarily responsible for the educational system in Germany. The city has a six-year primary education program. After completing primary school, students progress to the Sekundarschule (a comprehensive school) or Gymnasium (college preparatory school). Berlin has a special bilingual school program embedded in the "Europaschule".
No vaccinations are required for travel to Berlin, but the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travelers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio. If you are a citizen of the EU, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to reduced-cost or free medical treatment for illness or injury, but not emergency repatriation home. Check with your local health authorities for information on how to obtain an EHIC. Non-EU citizens should check if a similar reciprocal agreement exists between their country and Germany, or if their policy at home provides worldwide healthcare coverage. If you need to buy travel health insurance, be sure to get a policy that also covers emergency repatriation. While some plans pay doctors or hospitals directly, note that many healthcare providers may still demand immediate payment from nonlocal. Most do not accept credit cards.
- High-level health care is available from a Rettungsstelle (emergency department) at a Krankenhaus (hospital) or from an Arztpraxis (doctor's office). Most doctors speak at least some English, especially in the hospitals.
- The most central hospital with a 24-hour emergency room is the renowned Charité Mitte.
- For minor illnesses (headache, bruises, diarrhea), pharmacists can provide advice, sell over-the-counter medications and make doctors' referrals if further help is needed.
- Condoms are widely available in drugstores, pharmacies and supermarkets. Birth control pills require a doctor's prescription but the morning after pill does not and is sold in pharmacies for about €16.
- German chemists (drugstores, Drogerien) do not sell any kind of medication, not even aspirin. Even over-the-counter (rezeptfrei) medications for minor health concerns, such as a cold or upset stomach, are only available at an Apotheke (pharmacy).
- For more serious conditions, you will need to produce a Rezept (prescription) from a licensed physician. If you take regular medication, be sure to bring a full supply for your entire trip, as the same brand may not be available in Germany.
- The names and addresses of pharmacies open after hours (these rotate) are posted in every pharmacy window, or call 011 41 for a recorded message of after-hour and Sunday pharmacies.
The development of Berlin’s tourism sector since 1990 has been a major success story. The German capital has become one of the top travel destinations in international city tourism. With tourism spending contributing €11.6 billion to the capital and providing 235,000 full-time jobs in purely statistical terms, tourism has long been one of the main pillars of the city’s economy. Today, tourism in Berlin is a major influence on the cityscape and urban culture, so much so that this sector is also strategically importance for the entire city’s development and the quality of life of its residents. However, for some time now the global development of tourism has been caught up in an increasingly dynamic process of change, and this also impacts the future of Berlin’s tourism sector. With an annual turnover of 11.6 billion Euros, and approx. 235,000 jobs, the tourism industry is one of the city’s most important industries. The number of overnight stays has been on the rise for years, growing more than almost any other metropolis. In 2018 it grew to 32.9 million – a record. Berlin has firmly established itself among the top three travel destinations in Europe and, as the largest German cultural metropolis, is the most popular city travel destination in Germany. The relatively low price level favors this development: Berlin is an affordable world city.
Berliner (m), Berlinerin (f) (German)