Germany has three major natural regions: a lowland plain in the north, an area of uplands in the center, and a mountainous area in the south. The northern lowlands, called the North German Plain, lie along and between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea and extend southward into eastern Germany. The lowest point in Germany is sea level along the coast, where there are areas of dunes and marshland. Off the coast are several islands, including the Frisian Islands, Helgoland, and Rügen.
The flat area was originally formed by glacial action during the Ice Age and includes an alluvial belt, southwest of Berlin, which is Germany’s richest farming area. Farther west, this belt supported the development of the coal and steel industries of the Ruhr Valley in cities such as Essen and Dortmund. Historically, the north German lowlands have been wide open to invasions, migrations, and trade with Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. East of the Elbe River, they also sustained large-scale agriculture and huge feudal estates once owned by the Prussian aristocratic elite.
The central uplands feature mountain ranges of modest height, separated by river valleys. Navigable rivers facilitated economic development by providing inexpensive transportation before the age of railroads and trucking.
This region is located between the latitude of the city of Nürnberg and the Main River in the south and the latitude of Hannover in the north. Much of it is heavily forested and exploited for its timber. The region is marked by an abundance of waterpower. Intense cultivation and industrial development have occurred in cities such as Dresden and Kassel, located in the river valleys.
The mountainous region, or Alpine zone, in the south includes the Swabian and Franconian mountains, the foothills of the Alps, and two large forests, the Black Forest in the southwest and the Bavarian and Bohemian Forest in the east. Germany’s highest point is Zugspitze (2,962 m/9,718 ft) in the Bavarian Alps. Major cities in this area include Stuttgart and Munich. The region has traditionally relied on small-scale agriculture and tourism, but many high-technology industries developed there during the late 20th century. "Germany" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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