Even if you are not planning to instantly visit the country, knowing a few geographical coordinates might be useful. Germany is located in Central Europe and, with 357,168 square kilometers or 137,847 square miles, is one of the larger countries in the region. However, if you compare it with the size of the United States, for example, it might appear to you as rather small. Germany is about 85 percent the size of California (423,970 square kilometers), a little smaller than Japan, and approximately 1.5 times the size of Great Britain (Traveler’s Digest 2014). If you are interested, you can use http://mapfrappe.com [currently unavailable, should hopefully come back soon] to compare Germany’s dimensions with the country or state you live in.
Germany’s biggest aviation hub is Frankfurt am Main (FRA), which is located in Germany’s fifth largest city (approximately 750,000 inhabitants). If you fly in from São Paulo or Tokyo, the journey will take you about 12 hours; 11 hours, if you board an aircraft in Beijing or Johannesburg; and eight hours, if you fly out from New York or Mumbai. Coming from Dubai, you would disembark after a seven-hour flight. Moscow is as close as 3.5 hours. The German financial metropolis is situated somewhat in the center of the country and should not be confused with Frankfurt an der Oder, which is in the east of Germany, closer to Berlin and bordering Poland. Berlin is the nation’s capital and, with about 3.7 million inhabitants, is the largest city in the country. Altogether, about 83 million people currently live in Germany.
A train ride from the second largest city Hamburg, in the north (approximately 1.8 million people), to Munich, in the south (about 1.5 million inhabitants), takes six hours. It covers about 600 kilometers (km) as the crow flies, and that is pretty much the greatest distance I can imagine you would likely travel in one day as a business person. In case you are used to measuring distances in miles (mi), just remember that with the metric system commonly used in most parts of the world, the prefix “kilo” means 1,000 times larger; in this case, larger than meters: 1 mi is about 1,609 meters, which is 1.6 km.
A journey from the sleepy provincial town of Flensburg (12 meters above the sea level), at the Danish border in the north (refer to the map displayed in Figure 1.1), to the picturesque tourist destination of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, at the foot of Germany’s highest mountain Zugspitze (2,962 m or 9,718 ft) in the very south of Germany, is the longest distance I can think of to travel (about 1,000 km are to be covered in about nine hours, if you go by car). Most Germans would only be aware of the existence of Flensburg because that is where the Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt Bundesamt (KBA)) is located. In Germany, you get points for reckless driving; not brownie points, as you might suspect looking at how Germans often consider speeding a trivial offense, but malus points, which can cost you your driver’s license. Yes, on the freeway (Autobahn), you can basically go as fast as your Volkswagen or Porsche might allow, but there are still defined speed limits that Germans often fail to notice (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt n.d.), which is a paradox, considering how we are generally happy to strictly follow just about any rule.
How may I help you?
You want to develop your business in Germany? Then you may also face some very common pitfalls; the good news is that they can be quite easily avoided! You should hire me if you want to gain a better understanding of your opportunities, and you value a local’s help in finding buyers and potential business partners. Learn more about some past projects and what I can do for you: You’ll make it in Germany!
You are (only) interested in learning more about Germany?
Above are snippets from my new book. You want to learn more about Germany? Then try to grab a copy of Doing Business in Germany : A Concise Guide to Understanding Germans and Their Business Practices. Either ask your bookseller to order a copy for you (might take a few days, though), or look out for it on amazon.