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Demographics of germany

Germany has many large cities but no really large ones, Berlin being a borderline case; the population is thus much less centralized and oriented towards a single large capital than in most other European countries. The largest cities are Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart. The largest multi-city metropolitan areas are the Ruhr Area, the Rhein-Main Region and the Stuttgart Region.

Germany has about 7.3 million non-citizen residents, including refugees, foreign workers (Gastarbeiter), and their dependents. About 2/3s of these have been in the country for more than 8 years, 20% have been born in Germany; both groups would qualify for citizenship after recent changes in immigration law (2002 data). Germany is still a primary destination for political and economic refugees from many developing countries, but the number of asylum seekers has been dropping in recent years, reaching about 50,000 in 2003. A proper immigration law has been bounced back and forth between the Bundestag and Bundesrat without much success for about five years now, leaving immigration largely ad-hoc and German language classes for immigrants poorly organized small-scale affairs.

An ethnic Danish minority of about 50,000 people lives in Schleswig, mostly close to the Danish border, in the north; a small number of Slavic people known as the Sorbs lives in the states of Saxony (about 40.000) and Brandenburg (about 20.000). The Frisian language, considered the living language closest to the English language, is mother tongue for about 12,000 speakers in Germany, the rest living in the Netherlands. In rural areas of Northern Germany Low Saxon is widely spoken.

Immigration has created a sizeable minority from Turkey (ca. 1.9 million Kurds and Turks), and other smaller minorities including Italians (0.6 million), Serbs (0.6 million), Greeks (0.4 million), Poles (0.3 million) and Croats (0.2 million) (figures from year 2002). Anti-immigrant sentiments are chiefly directed against the largest group of muslims from Turkey, which is perceived as less integrated in the German society than the smaller immigrated minorities.

There is also a large number of ethnic German immigrants from the former Soviet Union area (1.7 million), Poland (0.7 million) and Romania (0.3 million) (19801999 totals), which are automatically granted German citizenship, and thus do not show up in foreign resident statistics; unlike the foreigners they have been settled by the government almost evenly spread throughout Germany. Many of them speak the languages of their former resident countries at home.

Even with the mentioned difficulties, Germany still has one of the world's highest levels of education, technological development, and economic productivity. Since the end of World War II, the number of youths entering universities has more than tripled, and the trade and technical schools of Germany are among the world's best. University attendance still lags behind many other European nations, though. With a per capita income level of about $25,000, Germany is a broadly middle class society. A generous social welfare system provides for universal (but not government-run) medical care, unemployment compensation, and other social needs. Germans also are mobile; millions travel abroad each year, most of their favourite destinations being at the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.