Friday, October 8, 2010

FINLAND - Huittinen city




Huittinen (Swedish : Vittis) is a town and municipality of Finland, located in the South-Western province of Satakunta.

The town has a population of about 10 000.
The town is unilingually Finnish.

Risto Ryti, the president of Finland from 1940-44, was born in Huittinen in 1889.

Huittinen has been a meeting place for travel routes and rivers for 7000 years, as shown by the elk’s head carving that made its way here thousands of years ago, to be unearthed a hundred years ago. Because of its location, Huittinen is a busy junction for coach traffic, making us easy to reach from any direction, including the airports.

Five beautiful rivers run through Huittinen. The wide Kokemäki River, with its large islands, offers an excellent setting for boating and fishing. On the banks of the river lies the Puurijärvi-Isonsuo national park, where one can find one of southern Finland’s finest bird lakes. The vantage point at Ripovuori offers spectacular views over the Kokemäki River and Satakunta, and nature lovers will love to stroll along the nature trail through the protected woods of Vanhakoski.

Saint Catharine’s Church, built in the 1300s, is the jewel of Huittinen town centre. In a stone warehouse building opposite the church, built in the early 20th century, is the Huittinen museum of local cultural history. The ground and first floors of the museum hold exhibits of the local peasant culture. The first floor also houses an exhibition on the life of former President Risto Ryti. Over a hundred examples of the work of sculptor Professor Lauri Leppänen are on display on the second floor.


Postcard sent by Hessu, as "Hessu666"
Postcrossing - Reference FI-917997

Terveiset Huittisista
"Greetings from HUITTINEN !"
Loimijoki : river
Huittisten kirkko : church
Keskusta : town's center
Kaupungintalo : city building


Thursday, October 7, 2010

GERMANY - Moritzburg castle


Schloss Moritzburg is a Baroque castle in the municipality of Moritzburg in the German state of Saxony, about 13 km northwest of the Saxon capital Dresden.

The original castle was built from 1542–1546 as a hunting lodge for Moritz of Wettin, then Duke of Saxony. Elector John George II of Saxony had it extended and between 1661 and 1671 the chapel was added after designs by his architect Wolf Caspar von Klengels, a fine example of the early Baroque style. After in 1697 John George's grandson Elector Frederick Augustus I had converted to Catholicism in order to secure his election as King of Poland, the chapel was consecrated in the Catholic rite. Between 1723 and 1733, Augustus had the castle largely remodelled as a pleasure seat by the architects Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann and Zacharias Longuelune, including a formal park, several ponds and a game preserve. The last resident from the House of Wettin was Prince Ernst Heinrich of Saxony, dispossessed in 1945 by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany.

The displays of many areas within the castle are dedicated to the courtly art of formal hunting. The collection of red deer antlers is considered to be the largest in the world. In the Monströsensaal ("Monstrosity Room") are 39 morbidly contorted antlers, one of them the famous 66-point antler. The Elector's apartments contain excellent examples of lacquer and splendid parade furniture, the silver furniture made in Augsburg in emulation of Louis XIV's silver furniture at Versailles, and Chinese, Japanese and Meissen porcelain as well as fine engraved and inlaid hunting weapons. In the Stone Hall one can visit the antlers collection, in the Billiardsaal (billiards hall) a painting of Louis de Silvestre, and in the entrance hall a collection of gala carriages. The castle is also famous for its sandstone decorations and stuccos.

The shell-pink Fasanenschlösslein ("Little Pheasant Castle") in the park stands at the end of a cross axis to the main axial entrance route leading to the main castle on its formal island in the lake. It stands high and cubical, five bays wide on each face, under a high roof with an ogee profile that is capped by an open cupola that has a pair of Chinese figures under a parasol for a finial. On its garden side, paired staircases descend to a sunken parterre, now planted with turf. The Rococo design was commissioned from Johann Daniel Schade (1730-1798) who had been the architect in charge of the royal building projects, and was completed about 1776, then a summer residence of Elector Frederick Augustus III of Saxony. An old pavilion by Johann Christoph Knöffel was completely rebuilt on its foundations. Its outbuildings, concealed behind plantings to give the pavilion an isolated air, were bird breeding pens, where pheasants were raised to be shot at. Closed for some time for renovation, the Fasanenschloss was expected to reopen in 2007 as a museum showing court life.

In 1972 Schloss Moritzburg was one of the locations of the Czechoslovak-German film Tři oříšky pro Popelku ("Three Nuts for Cinderella").


Postcard sent by Winona , as "mspaddington"
Postcrossing - Reference DE-713701

Barockes Jagdschloss Augusts des Starken


Thursday, September 2, 2010

RUSSIA - St Petersburg : Kriuokov Canal & St Nicholas Naval Cathedral

RUSSIA stamp :



KRYUKOV CANAL runs from the Admiralty Canal by Truda Square to the Fontanka River. 1015 meters long, it was dug from the Neva River to the Moika River in 1719-20 and was named after the contractor Semen Kyukov in 1738 (the section from the Neva to the Admiralty Canal was filled up in 1842). In 1830, it received the common name with the former Nikolsky Canal dug from the Moika River to the Fontanka River in 1782-87 (before 1800, the Poperechny Canal). Granite embankments were constructed in 1801-07 (engineer Ivan Gerard, maker Samson Sukhanov). Six bridges span the canal : Smezhny (the Fontanka Embankment), Staro-Nikolsky (Sadovaya Street), Kashin (Rimsky-Korsakov Avenue), Torgovy (Soyuza Pechatnikov Street), Dekabristov (Dekabristov Street), and Matveevsky (the Moika River). The New Holland complex is located on the right bank of the canal. The composer Eduard Napravnik lived and died in No 6 ; Igor Stravinsky spent time here his younger years. The Mariinsky Theatre is located on the left bank between Dekabristov Street and Souyuza Pechatnikov Street. The poet Vasily Zhukovsky lived here in No 11/43 in 1818 and Modest Mussorgsky in 1865-68. The Documentary Film Studio is located in No 12 (1887, architect Maximilian Messmacher). Number 14 was constructed in Neoclassic style in 1912-14 (architect Sergey Ovsyannikov). The belfry of St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral overlooks the Kryukov Canal. Alexander Suvorov died in No 23 owned by the poet and statesman Duke Dmitry Khvostov on May 6, 1800.


ST. NICHOLAS' NAVAL CATHEDRAL, St. Nicholas Cathedral of Epiphany, located at 1-3 Nikolskaya Square. An architectural monument in the Baroque style. Built in 1753-62 by architect S. I. Chevakinsky on the naval regimental grounds on the site where a wooden church had once stood, the church holds 5,000 people. A separately standing four-tier belfry crowned with a high spire was built in 1755-58. The cross-shaped building of St. Nicholas' Naval Cathedral is decorated with Corinthian columns with clustered tops, moulded window-frames and a wide entablature. The Cathedral is crowned with five gilded cupolas. Balconies with tracery wrought railings add to the dynamic decor of the facade. The St. Nicholas Church with three side-altars is located on the ground floor, and the single-altar Epiphany Church is on the upper level. The 18th century iconostases, carved by I. F. Kanaev and S. Nikulin, have been preserved. The brothers Kolokolnikov painted the icons : Fedot Kolokolnikov in the Upper church, and Mina Kolokolnikov in the Lower church. During consecration, the cathedral was named Naval ; the victories of the Russian Navy were celebrated here. The most revered church treasure was the icon of St. Nicholas, dating to the 17th century, with some of his relics. In 1870, the cathedral established a charitable society with a school, a hospital, an orphanage and a women’s hospice. After October 1917, St. Nicholas' Naval Cathedral continued to be in service and in 1941-99 functioned as the main metropolitan cathedral. It gave its name to Nikolskaya Square, Nikolsky Lane, Nikolsky Market and Nikolsky Bridge. A chapel in the lower tier of the belfry was consecrated in 2000.


Postcard sent by Yulia, as "PrincessYulianna"
Postcrossing - Reference RU004

The Krioukov Canal
The St Nicholas Naval Cathedral of the Epiphany


RUSSIA - St Petersburg : The Alexander Nevsky Lavra

RUSSIA stamp :


Alexander Nevsky Lavra or Alexander Nevsky Monastery was founded by Peter the Great in 1710 at the eastern end of the Nevsky Prospekt in St Petersburg to house the relics of Alexander Nevsky, patron saint of the newly-founded Russian capital. In 1797, it was raised to the rank of lavra, previously bestowed only upon Kiev Monastery of the Caves and the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius.

The monastery premises contain two baroque churches, designed by father and son Trezzini and built in 1717–22 and 1742–50, respectively; a majestic Neoclassical cathedral, built in 1778–90 to a design by Ivan Starov and consecrated to the Holy Trinity; and numerous structures of lesser importance. It also contains the Lazarev and Tikhvin Cemeteries, where ornate tombs of Leonhard Euler, Mikhail Lomonosov, Alexander Suvorov, Nikolay Karamzin, Modest Mussorgsky, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Karl Ivanovic Rossi, Prince Garsevan Chavchavadze, a Georgian aristocrat, Sergei Witte and other famous Russians are preserved.

Today Alexander Nevsky Lavra sits on Alexander Nevsky Square where shoppers can buy bread baked by the monks. Visitors may also visit the cathedral and cemeteries for a small admission fee. While many of the grave sites are situated behind large concrete walls, especially those of famous Russians, many can be seen by passers-by while strolling down Obukovskoy Oburoni Street.


Postcard sent by Yulia, as "PrincessYulianna"
Postcrossing - Reference RU003

The Alexander Nevsky Lavra


RUSSIA - Ulyanovsk : Monument of I.N. Ulyanov, father of Lenin


Location of ULYANOVSK in the OBLAST :


Ulyanovsk (Russian : Улья́новск, formerly Simbirsk : Симби́рск), is a city on the Volga River in Russia, 893 km east from Moscow. It is the administrative center of Ulyanovsk Oblast, and is the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin (originally named Ulyanov), for whom it is named.

Simbirsk was founded in 1648 by the boyar Bogdan Khitrovo. The fort of "Simbirsk" (alternatively "Sinbirsk") was strategically placed on a hill on the Western shore of the Volga River. The fort was meant to protect the eastern frontier of the Russian Empire from the nomadic tribes and to establish a permanent Imperial presence in the area.

In 1668 Simbirsk withstood a month-long siege by a 20,000-strong army led by rebel Cossack commander Stenka Razin. Also in Simbirsk another country rebel - Yemelyan Pugachev was imprisoned before execution. At the time Simbirsk possessed a wooden kremlin which was destroyed by a fire during the 18th century.

As the eastern border of the Russian Empire was rapidly pushed into Siberia, Simbirsk rapidly lost its strategic importance, but nonetheless began to develop into an important regional center. Simbirsk was designated a city in 1796.

In the summer of 1864 Simbirsk was severely damaged by fire, however the city was quickly rebuilt and continued to grow. The Holy Trinity Cathedral was constructed in a restrained Neoclassical style between 1827–1841. The population of Simbirsk reached 26,000 by 1856 and 43,000 by 1897.

In 1924, the city was renamed Ulyanovsk in honor of Vladimir Ulyanov, better known as Lenin, who was born in Simbirsk in 1870. Another Russian political leader, Alexander Kerensky was also born in Simbirsk.

The construction of the Kuybyshev hydroelectric plant (completed in 1957) 200 km downstream of Ulyanovsk resulted in the flooding of significant tracts of land both north and south of Ulyanovsk and increasing the width of the Volga by up to 35 km in some places. To this day, some populated neighborhoods of Ulyanovsk remain well below the level of the reservoir, protected from flooding by a dam: it is estimated that its catastrophic failure would submerge parts of the city comprising around 5% of its total population with as much as 10 m of water.

During the Soviet period Ulyanovsk was an important tourist center, drawing visitors from around the USSR because of its revolutionary importance.


Ilya Nikolayevich ULYANOV

Ilya Nikolayevich Ulyanov (Илья Николаевич Ульянов in Russian) (1831— 1886, Simbirsk) was a Russian public figure in the field of public education and a teacher. He was the father of Aleksandr Ulyanov and Vladimir Lenin who became the Bolshevik revolutionary leader and founder of the Soviet Union.


Vladimir Ilyich LENIN

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (22 April 1870 – 21 January 1924) was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years (1917–1924), as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a socialist economic system.

As a politician, Vladimir Lenin was a persuasive orator, as a political scientist his extensive theoretic and philosophical developments of Marxism produced Marxism–Leninism, the pragmatic Russian application of Marxism.


Postcard sent by Yulia, as "PrincessYulianna"
Postcrossing - Reference RU002

Monument of Ilya Nikolayevich ULYANOV
Sculptor : M. MANIZER, architect : I. ROZHIN


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

GERMANY - Hamburg : Rathaus (City Hall)

GERMANY stamps :

Location of HAMBURG in GERMANY :

The Hamburg Rathaus is the Rathaus—the city hall or town hall—of Hamburg, Germany, it is the seat of the government of Hamburg, located in the Altstadt quarter in the city centre, near the lake Binnenalster and the central station. Constructed from 1886 to 1897, the city hall still houses its original governmental functions with the office of the First Mayor of Hamburg and the meeting rooms for Hamburg's parliament and senate (the city's executive).


After the old city hall was destroyed in the great fire of 1842, it took almost 44 years to build a new one. The present building was designed by a group of seven architects, led by Martin Haller. Construction started in 1886 and the new city hall was inaugurated in 1897. Its cost was 11 million German gold marks, about €80 million. On October 26, 1897 at the official opening ceremony the First Mayor Dr. Johannes Versmann received the key of the city hall.

The city hall took center stage at many historical moments for Hamburg. On May 3, 1945 the Nazi commander in chief General Woltz surrendered Hamburg to the British Army. Heads of state visited Hamburg and its city hall, among them were Emperor Haile Selassie I, the Shahanshah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in 1955, and in 1965 Queen Elizabeth II. An emotionally moving service of remembrance was held on the market-square for the victims of the North Sea flood of 1962. Happier moments were the celebrations of the German football champions Hamburger SV.

In 1971 a room in the tower was only discovered accidentally during a search for a document fallen behind a filing cabinet. So there is a probability that there are even more rooms than the currently counted 647 rooms.


On the outside the architectural style is neo-renaissance, which is abandoned inside for several historical elements. It is one of the few completely preserved buildings of historicism in Hamburg. Built in a period of wealth and prosperity, in which the Kingdom of Prussia and its confederates defeated France in the Franco-German War and the German Empire was formed, the look of the new Hamburg Rathaus should express this wealth and also the independence of the State of Hamburg and Hamburg's republican traditions. The city hall has a total area of 17,000 m2, not including the restaurant Ratsweinkeller of 2 900 m2. The tower is 112 metres high with 436 steps. The city hall of Hamburg has 647 rooms, six rooms more than Buckingham Palace, on a building area of 5 400 m2.

The balcony is surmounted by a mosaic of Hamburg's patron goddess Hammonia, an inscription of the city's Latin motto "Libertatem quam peperere maiores digne studeat servare posteritas" (English : May posterity strive to preserve the freedom won by our elders) and the city's coat of arms.

The courtyard is decorated with a Hygieia fountain. Hygieia as the goddess of health in Greek mythology and its surrounding figures represents the power and pureness of the water. It was built in remembrance of the cholera epidemic in 1892, the former technical purpose was air cooling in the city hall.


Postcard sent by Julia , as "Kriechbumms"
Postcrossing - Reference DE-677566

Das Hamburger Rathaus


GERMANY - Country profile

As Europe's largest economy
and second most populous nation (after Russia),
Germany is a key member of the continent's economic, political,
and defense organizations.
European power struggles immersed Germany
in two devastating World Wars in the first half of the 20th century
and left the country occupied by the victorious Allied powers
of the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union in 1945.
With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949 :
the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG)
and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR).
The democratic FRG embedded itself in key Western economic
and security organizations, the EC, which became the EU, and NATO,
while the Communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact.
The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War
allowed for German unification in 1990.
Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds
to bring Eastern productivity and wages up to Western standards.
In January 1999, Germany and 10 other EU countries
introduced a common European exchange currency, the euro.

Flag of GERMANY :

The flag of Germany is a tricolour consisting of three equal horizontal bands displaying the national colours of Germany : black, red and gold.

The black-red-gold tricolour first appeared in the early 19th century and achieved prominence during the 1848 revolution. The short-lived Frankfurt Parliament of 1848–1850 proposed the tricolour as a flag for a united and democratic German state. With the formation of the Weimar Republic after World War I, the tricolour was adopted as the national flag of Germany. Following World War II, the tricolour was designated as the flag of both West and East Germany. The two flags were identical until 1959, when the East German flag was defaced with the coat of arms of East Germany. Since reunification on 3 October 1990, the black-red-gold tricolour has remained the flag of Germany.

The flag of Germany has not always used black, red and gold as its colours. After the Austro–Prussian War in 1866, the Prussian-dominated North German Confederation adopted a tricolour of black-white-red as its flag. This flag later became the flag of the German Empire, formed following the unification of Germany in 1871, and was used until 1918. Black, white and red were reintroduced as the German national colours with the establishment of Nazi Germany in 1933.

The colour schemes of black-red-gold and black-white-red have played an important role in the history of Germany and have had various meanings. The colours of the modern flag are associated with the republican democracy formed after World War II, and represent German unity and freedom : not only the freedom of Germany, but also the personal freedom of the German people.

National Anthem of GERMANY :

"Lied der Deutschen" (Song of the Germans)
"Deutschlandlied" (Song of Germany)

Words by : August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben
Music by : Joseph Haydn
Adopted : 1922, abolished 1945, restored 1990

Das Deutschlandlied ("The Song of Germany", also known as "Das Lied der Deutschen" or "The Song of the Germans"), has been used wholly or partially as the national anthem of Germany since 1922. The music was written by Joseph Haydn in 1797 as an anthem for the birthday of the Austrian Emperor Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1841, the German linguist and poet August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote the lyrics of "Das Lied der Deutschen" to Haydn's melody, lyrics that were considered revolutionary at the time.

The song is as well-known by the opening words and refrain of the first stanza, "Deutschland über alles" (Germany above all), but this has never been its title. The line "Germany, Germany above all" meant that the most important goal of the Vormärz revolutionaries should be a unified Germany overcoming the perceived anti-liberal Kleinstaaterei. Alongside the Flag of Germany it was one of the symbols of the March Revolution of 1848.

In order to endorse its republican and liberal tradition, the song was chosen for national anthem of Germany in 1922, during the Weimar Republic. Out of similar reasons in 1952, West Germany adopted the Deutschlandlied as its official national anthem, with only the third stanza sung on official occasions. Upon German reunification in 1990, the third stanza only was confirmed as the national anthem.


The following provides the lyrics of the "Lied der Deutschen" as written by Hoffmann von Fallersleben. Only the third verse is currently the Federal Republic of Germany's national anthem.

German lyrics Approximate translation
First stanza

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt,
Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze
Brüderlich zusammenhält.
Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt,
|: Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt! :|

Germany, Germany above all,
Above all in the world,
When, for protection and defence, it always
takes a brotherly stand together.
From the Meuse to the Memel,
From the Adige to the Belt,
|: Germany, Germany above everything,
Above everything in the world. :|

Second stanza

Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang
Sollen in der Welt behalten
Ihren alten schönen Klang,
Und zu edler Tat begeistern
Unser ganzes Leben lang.
|: Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang! :|

German women, German loyalty,
German wine and German song
Shall retain in the world
Their old beautiful chime
And inspire us to noble deeds
During all of our life.
|: German women, German loyalty,
German wine and German song! :|

Third stanza
(Germany's National Anthem)

Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Für das deutsche Vaterland!
Danach lasst uns alle streben
Brüderlich mit Herz und Hand!
Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit
Sind des Glückes Unterpfand;
|: Blüh' im Glanze dieses Glückes,
Blühe, deutsches Vaterland. :|

Unity and justice and freedom
For the German fatherland!
For these let us all strive
Brotherly with heart and hand!
Unity and justice and freedom
Are the pledge of fortune;
|: Bloom in this fortune's blessing,
Bloom, German fatherland. :|

Location :

Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, between the Netherlands and Poland, south of Denmark.

Maps :

Area :

Total : 357 022 sq km
Land : 348 672
sq km
Water : 8 350 sq km

Coastline :

2 389 km

Elevation extremes :

Lowest point : Neuendorf bei Wilster -3.54 m
Highest point : Zugspitze 2 963 m

Terrain :

Lowlands in north, uplands in center, Bavarian Alps in south.

Natural resources :

Coal, lignite, natural gas, iron ore, copper, nickel, uranium, potash, salt, construction materials, timber, arable land.

Climate :

Temperate and marine ; cool, cloudy, wet winters and summers ; occasional warm mountain (foehn) wind.

Population :

82 329 758 (2010 estimation)

Nationality :

Demonym : German

Ethnic groups :

German 91.5%, Turkish 2.4%, other 6.1% (made up largely of Greek, Italian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish).

Religions :
Protestant 34%, Roman Catholic 34%, Muslim 3.7%, unaffiliated or other 28.3%.

Languages :


Country name :

Conventional long form : Federal Republic of Germany
Conventional short form : Germany
Local long form : Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Local short form : Deutschland
Former : German Empire, German Republic, German Reich

ISO country code :


Government type :

Federal Republic.

Capital :

Berlin (population of city : 3 439 100 -2009- Largest city of Germany)
Former (transitional) Capital City: Bonn

Other major cities :

Bremen, Dortmund, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover , Köln, München, Stuttgart.

Administrative divisions :

16 states (Laender, singular - Land) ; Baden-Wurttemberg, Bayern (Bavaria), Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia), Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate), Saarland, Sachsen (Saxony), Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt), Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringen (Thuringia); note - Bayern, Sachsen, and Thuringen refer to themselves as free states (Freistaaten, singular - Freistaat).

Independance :

18 January 1871 (German Empire unification) ; divided into four zones of occupation (UK, US, USSR, and later, France) in 1945 following World War II ; Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or West Germany) proclaimed 23 May 1949 and included the former UK, US, and French zones ; German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) proclaimed 7 October 1949 and included the former USSR zone ; West Germany and East Germany unified 3 October 1990 ; all four powers formally relinquished rights 15 March 1991.

National holiday :

Unity Day, 3 October (1990).

Constitution :
23 May 1949, known as Basic Law ; became constitution of the united Germany 3 October 1990.

Executive branch :

Chief of state : President Christian WULFF (since 30 June 2010).

Head of government : Chancellor Angela MERKEL (since 22 November 2005).

Cabinet : Cabinet or Bundesminister (Federal Ministers) appointed by the president on the recommendation of the chancellor.

Elections : president elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term) by a Federal Convention, including all members of the Federal Assembly and an equal number of delegates elected by the state parliaments ; election last held on 30 June 2010 (next to be held by June 2015) ; chancellor elected by an absolute majority of the Federal Assembly for a four-year term ; Bundestag vote for Chancellor last held after 27 September 2009 (next to follow the legislative election to be held no later than 2013).

Election results : Christian WULFF elected president ; received 625 votes of the Federal Convention against 494 for GAUCK and 121 abstentions ; Angela MERKEL reelected chancellor ; vote by Federal Assembly 323 to 285 with four abstentions .

Legislative branch :

Bicameral legislature consists of the Federal Council or Bundesrat (69 votes ; state governments sit in the Council ; each has three to six votes in proportion to population and are required to vote as a block) and the Federal Assembly or Bundestag (622 seats ; members elected by popular vote for a four-year term under a system of personalized proportional representation ; a party must win 5% of the national vote or three direct mandates to gain proportional representation and caucus recognition).

Judicial branch :

Federal Constitutional Court or Bundesverfassungsgericht (half the judges are elected by the Bundestag and half by the Bundesrat).

Currency :

Euro (EUR) -

Agriculture products :

Potatoes, wheat, barley, sugar beets, fruit, cabbages, cattle, pigs, poultry.

Industries :

Among the world's largest and most technologically advanced producers of iron, steel, coal, cement, chemicals, machinery, vehicles, machine tools, electronics, food and beverages, shipbuilding, textiles.

Exports partners :
France 10.2%, US 6.7%, Netherlands 6.7%, UK 6.6%, Italy 6.3%, Austria 6%, China 4.5%, Switzerland 4.4% (2009).

Imports partners :

Netherlands 12.71%, France 8.3%, Belgium 7.19%, China 6.89%, Italy 5.88%, UK 4.76%, Austria 4.55%, US 4.25%, Switzerland 4.07% (2009).