Berlin är huvudstad i Tyskland och dess folkrikaste stad med 3,42 miljoner invånare (2013) . Inräknat förorter belägna utanför stadsgränsen har staden omkring 4,4 miljoner invånare. Staden utgör även en delstat i Tyskland, förbundslandet Berlin. Staden är med sina 892 kvadratkilometer Tysklands största stad till ytan.
Staden är genom sitt kulturella och historiska arv en av Europas mest kända och besökta metropoler. B är en betydande trafikknutpunkt och ett viktigt ekonomiskt och kulturellt centrum i Tyskland och Europa. Institutioner som universitet, forskningscentrum, teatrar, museer men också festivaler, nattlivet och arkitekturen i B har ett världsrykte. Historiskt har B varit huvudstad i flera av de tyska stater som föregått dagens Tyskland, som Kurfurstendömet Brandenburg, Kungadömet Preussen, Kejsardömet Tyskland, Weimarrepubliken, Nazityskland och Östtyskland. B är sedan återföreningen den 3 oktober 1990 det återförenade Tysklands huvudstad. Från Förbundsrepubliken Tysklands grundande 1949 hade Bonn fungerat som de facto huvudstad (korrekt: regeringssäte, ty: vorläufige Hauptstadt) i Västtyskland och Östberlin som huvudstad i Östtyskland. Från krigsslutet 1945 till 1949 var staden en av de fyra segermakterna besatt stad.
The foundation of Berlin was very multicultural. The surrounding area was populated by Germanic Swabian and Burgundian tribes, as well as Slavic Wends in pre-Christian times, and the Wends have stuck around. Their modern descendants are the Sorbian Slavic-language minority who live in villages southeast of Berlin near the Spree River.
In the beginning of the 13th century, two towns (Berlin and Cölln) developed on each side of the river Spree (today the Nikolaiviertel and the quarter next to it beyond the river). As the population grew, the towns merged and Berlin became a centre for commerce and agriculture. This area stayed small (about 10,000 inhabitants) up to the late 17th century, because of the 30 years’ war in the beginning of the 17th century, which led to death of about half of the population.
Since the late 17th century, when large numbers of French Huguenots fled religious persecution, Berlin has welcomed religious, economic and other asylum seekers. In 1701 Berlin became the capital of Prussia and in 1710 Berlin and surrounding former autonomous cities were merged to a bigger Berlin.
In 1871 Berlin became the capital of the new founded German Reich and a few years later, it became a city with more than one million inhabitants because of the immensely growing industry.
Shortly after the first World War, in 1920, the last of the annexations of surrounding cities of Berlin led to the foundation of the Berlin as we know it now. After the coming into power of the National Socialists (“Nazis”), Berlin became the capital of the so called Third Reich and the domicile and office of Hitler (although the triumph of Hitler and his henchmen started in the south of Germany).
WW II led to destruction of most of central Berlin, thus many of the buildings which we see nowadays are reconstructed or planned and built after the war, which led to a very fragmented cityscape in most parts of the inner town. Berlin was divided into four sectors (West Berlin into the French, American and British sector, East Berlin belonged to the USSR). In 1949 the German Democratic Republic (“East Germany”) was founded with East Berlin as its capital. West Berlin remained occupied by the western Allies and kept a close relationship with West Germany (with Bonn as the capital) and was an exclave (political island) in East Germany. Because of the growing tensions between West Germany and the GDR, the GDR built a militarized and increasingly impassable border between the states, and then in 1961 surrounded West Berlin with a wall.
In late 1989 East German citizens began rebelling in increasing numbers; this led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1990 West Germany and East Germany were united. Berlin became once again the capital of Germany.
After WW2 and the building of the wall, large numbers of immigrants from Turkey were invited to West Berlin to work in the growing industry sector; in East Berlin the jobs were done mostly by Vietnamese immigrants. But also people from other communist countries, including the former Yugoslavia, not to mention Soviet soldiers who refused to return home, have helped to make Berlin more multicultural than ever.
Berlin is also a youth-oriented city. Before German unification, West Berliners were exempt from the West German civil/military service requirement. Social activists, pacifists and anarchists of all moved to Berlin for that reason alone. Musicians and artists were given state subsidies. It was easy to stay out all night thanks to liberal bar licensing laws, and staying at university for years without ever getting a degree was a great way to kill time. In contrast with most of Germany, Prenzlauer Berg is said to have the highest per-capita birth rate in Europe (in fact it just seems so because of the high percentage of young women in the district).
After the fall of the wall, Berlin – especially the former East – has evolved into a cultural hub. Artists and other creative souls flocked to the city in swarms after reunification, primarily due to the extremely low cost of living in the East. Despite the increased prices and gentrification as a result, Berlin has become a centre for art, design, multimedia, electronic music, and fashion among other things. The particularly high number of students and young people in the city has only helped this cause. Just stroll down a street in Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, or Mitte to get a glimpse of the new East Berlin.
Some famous artists of the region and their best-known works include Lucas Cranach the Elder, Lucas Cranach the Younger, Johann Gottfried Schadow, Marlene Dietrich (The Blue Angel), Leni Riefenstahl (Triumph of the Will), Bertolt Brecht (Threepenny Opera), Käthe Kollwitz, Kurt Tucholsky, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Walter Gropius, Paul Klee, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (Nosferatu), Fritz Lang (Metropolis), Volker Schlöndorff, Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire (German: Der Himmel über Berlin)), Blixa Bargeld/Einstürzende Neubauten, Christopher Isherwood, Gunter Grass (The Tin Drum), members of the Bauhaus architectural movement and many more.
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