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Officially, this country is known as the Federal Republic of Germany. Casually, most people simply call it Germany. Germany's capital city is Berlin.

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Country Background
In 1945, after the end of World War II, Germany was divided into two parts: East Germany and West Germany. East Germany, also called the German Democratic Republic, was placed under Soviet rule. West Germany, or the Federal Republic of Germany, comprised the areas that the British, French, and American troops occupied during the war. In 1955, the Federal Republic of Germany gained independence as a democratic state. Until 1989, the Berlin Wall split the city of Berlin in two and served as the dividing line between the communist and democratic German republics. East Berlin was named the capital of East Germany.

In 1989, after 40 years of separation, the Berlin Wall was dismantled in the midst of demonstrations in East Germany. After the fall of the wall, East and West Germany agreed to reunite and became one unified Germany in 1990. Since reunification, Germany has undergone massive changes. Having spent decades developing different political, economic, and social structures, Germans have found consolidation more difficult than they first anticipated. For instance, the German government has had to reorganize itself. Five years after reunification, Germany joined the European Union and continues work together with other European nations.

There are many fantastic castles in Germany, several from medieval times. Kings often built these castles to defend a piece of land or a group of people under their reign. Today, some castles remain standing and have been restored to their former glory, but others only exist as ruins.

Germany boasts a great number of musical geniuses. Many famous classical composers were from Germany. One world renowned composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, was born in the town of Eisenach, Germany. Germans consider Bach so influential that this year they dedicated an entire year of musical performances to him. Another well known German composer was Richard Strauss. Strauss composed the opera Don Juan and Don Quixote, and was a talented conductor as well as a skilled musician.

Germany has hosted the Olympic Games a number of times. Though the athletic events proved thrilling at these Games, international political conflicts also colored the competitions. The 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin and the Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen of the same year were extremely controversial, as they were held during a time when Adolf Hitler was rising to power. Trouble again struck the Munich Games in 1972, when terrorists broke into the athletes' village and took some participants hostage. Despite the trauma, the Games continued and athletes posted some remarkable individual records and team times.

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