Berlin is special for a number of reasons. Before looking at its rich history, here are a few key facts about Germany’s capital.
Berlin is a vibrant city, full of contrasts. Compared to other metropolitan areas around the world, it’s not that populous. Yet first-time visitors will immediately sense its international atmosphere, note its coolness, and feel that it’s got something special going for it. Touted as “poor but sexy”, Germany’s capital retains this mantra as the city evolves from a popular hangout for alternative cultures into a gentrified metropolis driven by high-tech industries, and a thriving startup scene with international appeal. Of course, Germany’s capital is lined with consulates that bring in a stream of diplomats from across the world.
A racy metropolis at a bargain price
Considering the cost of living, and given all the opportunities that abound in terms of work and play, moving to Berlin is an attractive proposition. According Numbeo, Berlin ranks at place 184 of 536 worldwide cities in terms of *living expenses*. That’s not bad for a city that back in history was once the most populous metropolis in the world.
Contemporary Berlin where multi-culture abounds
Visitors to Berlin immediately note an international flair that exudes from the capital. Next to the foreign diplomatic corps, almost one-third of the city’s 3.7 million population have their roots outside of Germany. By current German standards, the politically correct term for any foreigner is “Einwohner mit Migrationshintergrund” which translates to citizens with a migration background. The largest ethnic group are of Turkish origin, accounting for approximately 6 % of Berlin’s population. The city is at the apex of German culture, politics, media, and science.
Advanced industries, an extensive public transport network, and the city’s green lung
Next to its vibrant startup scene, Berlin’s significant industries include IT, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, clean tech, biotechnology, construction, and electronics.
Its public transportation network is extensive, encompassing a stretch of over 2600 km covered by underground trains, trams, buses, suburban lines that boast a high density of stops (over 7000) and make getting around the city easy. No wonder that more than half of Berlin’s residents don’t own a car.
The city takes pride in its renowned universities, orchestras, museums, entertainment, trade show, and sporting venues. Visitors will never encounter a dull day in the capital for lack of festivals, events, nightlife, or recreational destinations.
Over a third of Berlin’s area consists of forests, parks, gardens, rivers, canals, and lakes. Tiergarten – a popular, inner-city park – is bigger than Hyde Park in London. The western border of the city is lined with a number of large lakes interspersed with forests of pine, beech, and oak trees, as well as moors and dunes. If you happen to drive to Berlin by car, you’ll be in awe at the seemingly endless kilometres of green that fleet by before the capital finally emerges.
On a Growth Trajectory
Before the second world war Berlin headquartered many of Germany’s largest industries such as Daimler and Siemens. After the war, the city was divided and big industry moved out to economically more attractive locations in West Germany. Many abandoned factories and warehouses turned into clubs and studios that attracted artists and younger people with a penchant for partying. Berlin became renowned by its slogan “poor but sexy”. Reunification of West and East Germany in 1989 was a watershed moment for change. Decades later Germany’s capital city now attracts entrepreneurs and technology startups that are forging the new digital economy. Tech companies such as Amazon, eBay and Google have followed suit and already have substantial office space, employees and projects ongoing in the city. Tesla is building a Gigafactory south of Berlin to supply Europe with vehicles, batteries and power trains. Investments in new technology are ramping up full speed as Berlin spearheads the new economy in Germany.