is the capital and the largest city of Germany as well as one of its 16 constituent states. With a population of approximately 3.7 million, Berlin is the second most populous city proper in the European Union and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany on the banks of the rivers Spree and Havel, it is the centre of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which has roughly 6 million residents from more than 180 nations. Due to its location in the European Plain, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. Around one-third of the city's area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers, canals and lakes.
First documented in the 13th century and situated at the crossing of two important historic trade routes, Berlin became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1417–1701), the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918), the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and the Third Reich (1933–1945). Berlin in the 1920s was the third largest municipality in the world. After World War II and its subsequent occupation by the victorious countries, the city was divided; East Berlin was declared capital of East Germany, while West Berlin became a de facto West German exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989) and East German territory. Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of all of Germany.
Berlin is a world city of culture, politics, media and science. Its economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, research facilities, media corporations and convention venues. Berlin serves as a continental hub for air and rail traffic and has a highly complex public transportation network. The metropolis is a popular tourist destination. Significant industries also include IT, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, clean tech, biotechnology, construction and electronics.
Modern Berlin is home to world renowned universities, orchestras, museums, entertainment venues and is host to many sporting events. Its urban setting has made it a sought-after location for international film productions. The city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts and a high quality of living. Since the 2000s Berlin has seen the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene.
The outskirts of Berlin are covered with woodlands and numerous lakes.
Berlin has a Maritime temperate climate (Cfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system. There are significant influences of mild continental climate due to its inland position, with frosts being common in winter and there being larger temperature differences between seasons than typical for many oceanic climates. Furthermore, Berlin is classified as a temperate continental climate (Dc) under the Trewartha climate scheme.
Summers are warm and sometimes humid with average high temperatures of 22–25 °C (72–77 °F) and lows of 12–14 °C (54–57 °F). Winters are cool with average high temperatures of 3 °C (37 °F) and lows of −2 to 0 °C (28 to 32 °F). Spring and autumn are generally chilly to mild. Berlin's built-up area creates a microclimate, with heat stored by the city's buildings and pavement. Temperatures can be 4 °C (7 °F) higher in the city than in the surrounding areas.
Annual precipitation is 570 millimeters (22 in) with moderate rainfall throughout the year. Snowfall mainly occurs from December through March.
Berlin is more than 775 years old and over the decades, all generations have left their monuments and landmarks in town. The densest array of sights in Berlin lies east of the Brandenburg Gate, on either side of Unter den Linden. In the city west visitors should take a look at the broken shard of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche, which serves as a brutal reminder of World War II. Close by starts the famous boulevard Kurfürstendamm.
Alexanderplatz is a central square and traffic junction in Berlin's Mitte district. One of city's the most visited squares, Alexanderplatz is the site of many attractions and sights in Berlin.
Bebelplatz is a public square at Unter den Linden boulevard in the Mitte district in Berlin. It was the site of the notorious Nazi book burning in 1933.
The Protestant Berlin Cathedral on Museum Island in the Mitte district is Berlin's largest church and one of the major sights in the city's centre.
Checkpoint Charlie was the best-known border crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. At the height of the Berlin Crisis in 1961 U.S. and Soviet tanks faced each other here.