The Federal Republic of Germany is bounded on the north by the North Sea and Denmark, on the east by Poland and the Czech Republic, on the south by Switzerland and Austria, the west by the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
The name of the country, Deutschland , comes from the word Deutsch , itself derived from the old German diutisca which was taken from the Latin theodiscus transformed into Theodischus , then Teudischus to end inDeutsch . In ancient French, the Latin theodiscus gave thodesche , then tudesque but modern French preferred German.
Germany is a federal state composed of 16 Länder , ie a federation , each with its own constitution, parliament and government ( Landesregierung ). Three Länder are city-states ( Stadtstaat ): Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin. The Land of Bremen carries the official name of Free Hanseatic City of Bremen ( Freie Hansestadt Bremen ); it consists of two cities, Bremen and Bremerhaven, at a distance of 60 kilometers, separated from each other by the Land of Lower Saxony. Hamburg, for its part, is called Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg ( Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg ).
Germany is governed by the Basic Law ( Das Grundgesetz ) adopted on May 8, 1949 by the representatives of the 11 Länder of West Germany. On 23 May of the same year, the Basic Lawentered into force and gave birth to the Federal Republic of Germany, defined as a democratic and parliamentary federal state. On 3 October 1990, the five Länder of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), now called the "new Länder" - or "neue Länder": Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Thuringia - adhered to the Basic Lawwhich has been amended to extend federal institutions to the "old eastern provinces". Since its entry into force, the 1949 Basic Law has been subject to at least 45 amendments (the most recent in 1994).
As far as language is concerned, the Länder can adopt specific laws, but they must not go against federal laws. The Federation can transfer specific areas of legislation to the Länder through framework prescriptions: this has been the case, for example, for higher education, spatial planning, nature protection and the conservation of natural sites. Finally, the Länder have the responsibility to enforce federal decisions on their territory.
Since its reunification with the former German Democratic Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany has more than 80 million inhabitants in 16 Länder . The majority of Germans speak German, a language of the Germanic group belonging to the Indo-European family , in a proportion of 92%, which indicates a very great linguistic homogeneity for a country. There are 8% of speakers speaking another language. Some speak a national minority language, either Danish, Frisian (two variants), Sorbian (two variants) or Polish, the others speak one of the many immigrant languages (Turkish, Arabic, Greek, Italian, etc.). ). However, we must distinguish between national minorities and others. The four national minorities in Germany are Frisians, Danes, Sorbs and Gypsies (Sinti and German Roma).
The languages of national minorities
As far as national minorities are concerned, there are no official statistics in Germany based on ethnic characteristics. Only estimates are available to estimate the number of members of national minorities and other ethnic groups traditionally established in Germany. Generally, the figures on this subject come from the minority groups themselves and were obtained from either the number of members registered in the associations, the number of votes collected by the lists of parties representing minorities, or the number of pupils enrolled in minority schools, or the number of participants in various cultural activities and events.
The national minorities in Germany are, de facto , five in number. They speak Danish (a Germanic language ), Frisian (a Germanic language ), Sorbian (a Slavic language ), Gypsy (anIndo-Russian language ) and Polish (a Slavic language ). However, legally speaking, there are only four national minorities recognized by the federal laws: Danes , Frisians , Sorbsand women. Gypsies . In short, the Poles have been deliberately "forgotten". These four groups constitute all those who are not part of the majority and who have acquired a specific identity in the territory of the FRG. In accordance with the wish expressed by a large majority of Frisians, the latter are not called a "national minority", but are officially designated by the term "Frisian ethnic group". The four recognized communities founded a Minority Council in 2004 on the basis of a common convention; this Council pursues objectives reconciling the common interests of the four minorities, in particular with the Federal Government and the German Bundestag.
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