Germany is a major trading nation and one of the export leaders of the world, in close competition with Japan and the much larger United States. Germany’s main trading partners are countries in Europe, such as France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Italy, and the United States. Germany has been a strong promoter of European economic integration through the EU.
Germany has a highly developed transportation system including a limited-access superhighway known as the autobahn. Part of the funds transferred to eastern Germany have gone to upgrade and expand the highway system there.
The country’s extensive passenger and freight rail system played a major role in German economic development. Most of the railroads were government-owned until 1993, when legislation was approved to privatize them. Germany has major navigable inland waterways and canals. The canals, such as the Mittellandkanal, supplement the traffic routes of the major rivers; some canals, such as the Kiel Canal and the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, connect major bodies of water. Air transportation of passengers and goods is served by several international airports and many regional airports.
Germany’s beautiful scenery and varied culture attract many tourists, both foreign and domestic. Tourists who enjoy outdoor activities tend to favor the resorts of the North and Baltic seas, the Alps, the forests of the southern uplands, and the valleys of the Rhine, Main, Mosel, Neckar, upper Elbe, and Danube rivers.
Since unification, tourists have gained access to the natural parks of former East Germany, such as those of the Oder (Odra) Valley or the island of Rügen. Tourists also flock to Germany’s many medieval cities, including those along the so-called Romantic Road from Würzburg to Augsburg, and to the baroque wonders and art collections of Dresden. Large numbers of tourists attend famous music and theater festivals, such as the Wagner Opera Festival at Bayreuth and the Passion Play in Oberammergau. Ski resorts in the Alps draw many people, as do the numerous noteworthy spas and health resorts, such as Bad Kissingen and Bad Schandau. "Germany" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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