|BERLIN – CENTRE OF EUROPE
A very personal view by Werner Wyss
Impressions from my latest trip to Berlin in June 2008
August 21, 2009
Berlin is the national capital of Germany and its largest city, with 3,405,469 inhabitants (as of April 2007). Berlin became the capital of the German Empire in 1871 and expanded rapidly in the following years.
On the day of the German reunification, October 3, 1990, Berlin became an independent state as one of the three city states, together with Hamburg and Bremen that form 16 federal states (Länder). Berlin is subdivided into 12 boroughs called Bezirke, which have been combined from the earlier 23 boroughs with effect from January 1, 2001.
Founded in the 13th century, Berlin has had an eventful history. Excavations from 2008 suggest that the city may be even older than was previously assumed: state archaeologists have discovered an oak beam that probably dates back to 1183.
Almost no other metropolis has experienced such frequent, radical change transforming the face of the city. Although Berlin saw steady growth in its importance, dazzling epochs alternated with darker eras. Nevertheless, the formerly divided city has succeeded in becoming a vibrant metropolis in the heart of Europe.
Facts and Figures