1. World Map/
  2. Europe /
  3. Germany /
  4. GEOGRAPHY

Germany Geography

Geography

By size, Germany is the seventh-largest European country and from north to south the topography varies quite dramatically.

The North European Plain extends across the northern reaches of the country; this flat, lowland terrain is dissected by numerous bogs, rivers and streams, and is mostly used as farmland.

The North Sea coastline is low, marshy wet land, with dikes, mudflats and scattered islands. The Baltic Sea is hillier with some jagged cliffs. Rugen, Germany's largest island, is forested and rather hilly with steep cliffs and sandy beaches.

In the northeast, and then stretching to the south of Berlin, Germany's land remains sandy and punctuated by dozens of mostly small lakes formed by retreating glaciers during the last Ice Age.

The land then rises into the forested uplands of central Germany. Major landforms here include the volcanic in origin Harz Mountains and the thickly wooded Rothaargebirge Mountains.

Further south the rounded hills and mountains of the Eifel and Huynsruck uplands front the Rhine River Valley. Moving eastward through Germany, the Vogelsberg Mountains, Rhon Plateau (or Mts.) and Thuringian Forest are the dominate features. The uplands continue eastward, eventually rising into the Ore Mountains on the Czech Republic border.

In the far south the land remains mostly hilly, with heavily forested mountains. The Bohemian Forest covers a lower mountain range along the Czech Republic border, and along the country's far-southwestern border with the Rhine River and France stands the thick (story-book famous) Black Forest.

The Bavarian Alps, the highest mountains in Germany stretch across its southern border with Austria. Snow covered Zugspitze, Germany's highest point is found here.

Stretched along the northern coastline, the Frisian Islands, East and North are separated from the mainland by the Waddenmeer. These barrier islands provide a small level of protection from the North Sea.

The country is drained by dozens of rivers. The longest river in Germany is the Rhine. Rising in the Alps of Switzerland, it's overall length runs (820 miles) (1,319 km), and along it path numerous tributaries and branches stretch in all directions.

Another river of note is the Danube, which rises in the Black Forest to then stretch across central Europe all the way to the Black Sea.

Additional rivers of size include the Elbe, Ems, Havel, Isr, Lahn, Lech, Main, Moselle, Oder, Spree and Weser.

The largest lakes include Chiemsee and Muritz, and Lake Constance along the Swiss border in the south.

Across Germany a large series of man-made canals join navigable rivers, creating thousands of miles of interconnecting inland waterways. They're used for commercial and local traffic, and by large fleets of cruising riverboats and charter barges.

Geography Germany
Location: Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, between the Netherlands and Poland, south of Denmark

Geographic coordinates:

51 00 N, 9 00 E

Map references:

Europe

Area:

total: 357,021 sq km
land: 349,223 sq km
water: 7,798 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than Montana

Land boundaries:

total: 3,621 km
border countries: 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

Coastline:

2,389 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Climate:

temperate and marine; cool, cloudy, wet winters and summers; occasional warm mountain (foehn) wind

Terrain:

lowlands in north, uplands in center, Bavarian Alps in south

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Neuendorf bei Wilster -3.54 m
highest point: Zugspitze 2,963 m

Natural resources:

coal, lignite, natural gas, iron ore, copper, nickel, uranium, potash, salt, construction materials, timber, arable land

Land use:

arable land: 33.85%
permanent crops: 0.59%
other: 65.56% (2001)

Irrigated land:

4,850 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:

flooding

Environment - current issues:

emissions from coal-burning utilities and industries contribute to air pollution; acid rain, resulting from sulfur dioxide emissions, is damaging forests; pollution in the Baltic Sea from raw sewage and industrial effluents from rivers in eastern Germany; hazardous waste disposal; government established a mechanism for ending the use of nuclear power over the next 15 years; government working to meet EU commitment to identify nature preservation areas in line with the EU's Flora, Fauna, and Habitat directive

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

strategic location on North European Plain and along the entrance to the Baltic Sea

Note: The information tabled directly above was researched by and provided by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Trending on WorldAtlas

This page was last updated on August 12, 2015.