The very name of this country goes back to the Roman period, when Julius Caesar called it “Germania” – a land of barbarian tribes that his empire was unable to conquer (unlike nearby Gaul – modern day France, which he did). During the medieval period, Germany first gained historical prominence when the Holy Roman Empire was formed in 962 AD (consisting of the Kingdom of Germany, the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Italy, and the Kingdom of Burgundy by 1050 AD). Unlike other sovereigns of its time, the Holy Roman Empire consisted of various autonomous units effectively controlled by regional princes and lords – who swore allegiance to the Empire’s Emperor.
With the Holy Roman Empire still in power during the 16th century, Germany gained historic significance when theologian Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation against the Catholic Church in 1517, which broke up Germany into two parts – the northern states becoming Protestant, and the southern states remaining Catholic. This religious division led to the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), which eventually brought to an end the Holy Roman Empire (with various independent states coming to rise, such as Prussia, Bavaria, and Saxony).
Germany as a modern country first came to play in 1871, when the country was unified as the German Empire (led by Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck). With Germany actively participating in Europe’s Industrial Revolution, the country’s economic power (along with its navy) rivaled Great Britain’s. It got entangled into World War I (as a result of a defense treaty it had with the then-Austria-Hungary Empire, who first fought with Serbia, before drawing in Russia, Britain and France).
With Germany losing World War I (in effect, eliminating the country’s last monarch), an economically & politically unstable democracy (known as the Weimer Republic) was in power until 1933. With the worldwide Depression in full effect by that time, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party came to rise in 1933 – promising glory and prosperity to his followers. With the totalitarian regime that he established, Hitler led the country into conflict with his neighbors by annexation (Austria) and invasion (Poland and Czechoslovakia), with World War II engulfing most of Europe (from Britain and France, and later on USA in the western front; to Russia in the eastern front).
During the end of World War II (1945), the Cold War between the western powers and Russia broke up Germany into two parts: West Germany (under control of USA, Britain and France), and East Germany (controlled by Russia). The German capital of Berlin, geographically located deep in East German territory, was similarly divided – with the Berlin Wall dividing West Berlin, controlled by the western powers, and East Berlin controlled by Russia). The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) existed in much part to protect democratic West Germany from a possible invasion from Russia and Communist-ruled East Germany.
Germany made news again when Communism collapsed, which reunited all of Germany under western democratic rule. By 1999, Germany was one of the founding members of the Eurozone (and a major member of the European Union/EU), urging a significant portion of the continent to use the Euro as its official currency.
With Germany being an industrial powerhouse these days (with many countries buying its best-known goods — automobiles, along with appliances and other consumer goods), tourism still generates 8.6% of the country’s GDP. The majority of tourists visiting Germany are from the nearby Netherlands, USA, Switzerland, UK, Italy, Austria, Belgium and France (who are attracted to the country’s cultural heritage, modern & efficient society, gastronomy, and shopping, along with the natural beauty of areas like Bavaria).