Capital: Berlin
Population: 82,087,361
Government type: Federal Republic
Location: Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, between the Netherlands and Poland, south of Denmark
Area: 356,910 km²
Land boundaries: Total 3,621 km; Austria 784 km, Belgium 167 km, Czech Republic 646 km, Denmark 68 km, France 451 km, Luxembourg 138 km, Netherlands 577 km, Poland 456 km, Switzerland 334 km
Ethnic groups: German (91.5%), Turkish (2.4%), Italian (0.7%), Greek (0.4%), Poles (0.4%), other (4.6%)
Religions: Protestant (38%), Roman Catholic (34%), Muslim (1.7%), unaffiliated or other (26.3%)
Languages: German


Germany – first united in 1871 – suffered defeats in successive world wars and was occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union in 1945. With the beginning of the Cold War and increasing tension between the US and the Soviet Union, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR). The newly democratic FRG embedded itself in key Western economic and security organisations, the EU and NATO, while the Communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The decline of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War cleared the path for the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and German re-unification in 1990. Germany has expended considerable funds – roughly $100 billion a year – in subsequent years working to bring eastern productivity and wages up to western standards, with mixed results. Unemployment – which in the east is nearly double that in the west – has grown over the last several years, primarily as a result of structural problems like an inflexible labour market. In January 1999, Germany and ten other members of the EU formed a common European currency, the Euro, and the German government is now looking toward reform of the EU budget and enlargement of the Union into Central Europe.

Political structure

According to its constitution, the Federal Republic is a democratic and social federal state. Accordingly, there are 16 federal states which are autonomous, federative entities and a federal authority, that constitute the link between the states. The states have their own constitutions and administrations.

State power is divided into the legislative (parliament), executive (government and administration) and judiciary (courts) branches.

Based on the principle of the constitutional state enshrined in the constitution, legislation is subject to the provisions of the constitution, the executive and judiciary branches are also subject to the law. These mechanisms prevent an abuse of power by the state.The legislative organs at federal level are:

the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, which consists of members directly elected by universal suffrage in a free and secret vote;
the Federal Council, which consists of members of the state governments.;
Legislative power in the federal states is vested in the State Legislatures, whose members are directly elected. Judicial power is vested in the Federal Constitutional Court, federal courts and state courts. The judges are independent and accountable only to the law. Executive powers are vested in the federal and state governments and administrations.


The state’s authority derives directly from sovereignty. The state has the monopoly of force. This means that only state organs may exercise force and coercion. But, and this is important, state encroachment of citizen’s and freedoms must be based on legal sanction. There is no justification for arbitrary actions.

On the basis of its monopoly of force the state guarantees external and internal security. External security for the purpose of defence of the state territory is the responsibility of the armed forces. The main agency of internal security is the executive power.This includes in particular:

the prosecuting authorities (state prosecution services and their assistants);
the state administrative authorities, which are responsible for communications, transport and so on;
the security services (the constitutional protection services at federal and state levels, the Federal Security Service (BND)
the federal and state police forces.

Germany possesses the world’s third most powerful economy, with its capitalist market system tempered by generous welfare benefits. Domestic demand contributed to a moderate economic upswing in early 1998, although unemployment remains high. Job-creation measures have helped superficially, but structural rigidities – like high wages and costly benefits – make unemployment a long-term, not just a cyclical, problem. Over the long term, Germany faces budgetary problems – lower tax revenues and higher pension outlays – as its population ages. Meanwhile, the German nation continues to wrestle with the integration of Eastern Germany, whose adjustment may take decades to complete despite annual transfers from the west of roughly $ 100 billion a year.


As the state’s executive authority the police embodies part of the state power. Its limits are set out in law. Following on from the country’s federal structure, there are state police forces and federal police forces. The federative element also prevents a strong concentration of power within the security forces.

The constitution devolves responsibility for policing to the federal states. The general police is in principle a matter for the states. They are responsible in particular for legislation concerning public order, which comprises the protection and security of the citizen.

The police forces are administered at state level, and are accountable in all states to the respective Minister of the Interior (or the senator for the interior in the city states of Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen).

The policing responsibilities of the federal government are restricted essentially to border protection (article 73, sub 5 of the Constitution), cooperation between the federal government and states in criminal investigations and international crime fighting (article 73, sub 10), and railway police (article 73, sub 6).

The key federal bodies with police tasks are the following.

Federal Border Police (BGS)
Its task is primarily to supervise the borders, end disturbances and avert border-related dangers. It also has responsibilities in the protection of federal bodies, supporting the state police forces and disaster relief. The BGS is divided into police units (border protection commandos and divisions) and border patrols.

The border patrol service
is responsible for cross-border traffic at the federal borders (with the exception of Bavaria, where this is handled by the Bavarian Border Police, and Bremen and Hamburg, where the local river police is responsible for the ports). The headquarters, based in Koblenz, operates several border protection offices with subordinate border protection stations.

Federal Criminal Office (BKA)
The main tasks of the BKA are:

cooperating with the state criminal investigation authorities (central information and communications) and with foreign criminal police authorities within the framework of Interpol;
protecting particular federal bodies and foreign state guests; and
investigating cases of international traffic in arms, counterfeit money and drugs, and particular cases of political violence.
Railway police

The German Railways (DB) is responsible for protecting the company’s property and installations against disruptions and damage and the investigation of criminal acts related to it.

Policing activities at federal level are also carried out by:

the federal water and shipping administration;
the police and security service at the federal parliament (Bundestag); and
the customs and customs investigation office.
The police authorities of the states are divided into the uniformed police (including the mobile force) and the criminal police (plain-clothes).

The main task of the police is to take the necessary measures, provided for within the law and based on professional judgement, to protect the public or the individual from danger which threaten public security and order.

The police is also charged with pursuing crimes and breaches of regulations. The tasks and powers of the police in this area are not regulated by the states but by the federal Criminal Code and the Breaches of Regulations Act. Particular groups of police officers function as assistants to the prosecution services. As their extended arm, they act on their instructions.

In addition the police has been allocated a range of tasks on the basis of particular laws, such as implementing regulations of other authorities through coercion, supporting other authorities in investigations, and so on.

The mobile police consists of self-contained units and is fully motorized. Their numbers differ from state to state.

Special features: The federal government equips the mobile force, while the states pay the personnel costs. To supervise the operational capability of the mobile force the federal authorities have created an inspectorate, which is part of the interior ministry.

The mobile police has two major responsibilities:
(a) carry out operations for the following purposes:
supporting patrols at special events within the state (e.g. major events, state visits, disasters)
supporting other states if required (e.g. in the case of natural disasters, major investigations);
acting on the instruction of the federal government in cases when the liberal democratic order is in under threat;
(b) training and further training of police recruits.
Criminal police. To control crime in its manifold manifestations, specially trained and equipped police organizations are required for particular types of offences.
The criminal police deals in particular with capital crimes and other serious crimes. For this purpose it keeps criminal files and maintains technical and scientific establishments.
In every state the central body for cooperation in criminal matters is the State Criminal Office.

Police density: around 1 per 360 (number of police officers per inhabitants)