Germany’s largest cities tend to be either the capitals of former or present states—for example, Berlin, the capital of former Prussia; Munich, the capital of Bavaria; and Dresden, the capital of Saxony (Sachsen). In addition, many of Germany’s largest cities are centers of important super-regional functions or part of industrial areas. For example, the Rhine-Ruhr area, the center of German heavy industry, is a vast population hub with five large cities: Cologne, Essen, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, and Duisburg.
Because many people live in adjacent areas or towns and commute to the city, each of these urban centers accounts for far more people than just those living within the city limits.
The cores of many of these large cities and many smaller ones are quite old and have maintained their historic centers with authentically preserved old buildings and cathedrals. Many small towns, such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber in northern Bavaria, boast medieval towers, gates, and parts of their ancient city walls. Many medium-sized and larger cities also pride themselves on a rich, publicly subsidized cultural life of theater, opera, music festivals, and galleries, which add modern refinement to regional traditions.
The principal and official language of Germany is German, an Indo-European language (see German Language). Standard High German is used for official, educational, and literary purposes. Spoken German, however, differs from High German in the form of dozens of distinctive dialects and simplified street usage. One version, Low German, or Plattdeutsch, resembles Dutch and is spoken in the seaboard areas of the northwest. Southern dialects such as Swabian and Bavarian may be hard to understand for North Germans or for foreign visitors who learned only High German in school. There are small language minorities, such as the Sorbs of southeastern
Brandenburg and the Danes of northern Schleswig-Holstein; both of these groups also have some cultural autonomy. The various immigrant populations also retain their separate languages, such as Turkish, Greek, Italian, and Polish. However, the public schools require all children to learn German. "Germany" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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