Land of Diversity
With 83.1 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous country in the EU and one of the most densely populated; around 77 percent of its inhabitants live in densely and highly populated areas. Around 30 percent of the population resides in big cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, of which there are 80 in Germany, four with more than one million inhabitants, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne. Munich has 4,713 people per square kilometre, Berlin 4,012. Experts believe the ongoing trend of growth and innovation is reflected in the renaissance of cities – with considerable consequences for the housing market, inner-city mobility, and infrastructure.
How the Germans live
Almost 50 percent of people in Germany live in rented accommodation, this is the highest level on a European comparison, and for this reason lots of people are affected by rising rents. People who have moved into a new apartment since 2015 pay on average 7.70 euros per square metre without heating and other running costs. That is around 12 percent more than the average. In cities like Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt/Main the trend is particularly acute. In Berlin, the average rent excluding heating and running costs for apartments recently leased has come to 9.10 euros per square metre. Since 2015 there has been a rent capping scheme in place, which in 2020 the government made stricter. In particular, the 18-to-24-year-old age bracket is showing a pronounced willingness to move to cities. This urbanisation makes Germany part of a global trend.
The cities are also great tourist attractions – Berlin especially is developing into a real magnet and is currently setting one visitor record after another. In the European rankings for the absolute number of overnight stays, Berlin, with its 3.8 million inhabitants, places third behind London and Paris. In 2019, most non-European visitors came from the USA, Israel and China/Hong Kong.
Organic products in trend
At the same time, however, this longing for urban life contrasts with a strong call for things regional – in particular when it comes to what Germans eat. The organic food industry is firmly established in German agriculture and in 2019 generated sales of organic products worth around 12 billion euros. Indeed, 31,713 organic farms, almost 10 percent of agricultural enterprises, cultivate 9.1 percent of agricultural land. The organic products are supported by certifications (more than 82,000 products boast the German state organic seal), extensive consumer protection laws, and comprehensive marking obligations. Efforts for more animal welfare, taking into account all aspects of the life cycle of farmed animals, from breeding them through to slaughter, is a strong social trend. The Federal government would like to make Germany a pioneer in animal welfare and introduce a corresponding animal welfare mark no later than 2020.
In 2016, some 8 million people in Germany referred to themselves as vegetarians; 1.3 million said they live a vegan lifestyle. Gourmets, however, do not miss out, though again there are big differences in regional tastes. More than 3,200 different types of bread alone, wine from 13 regions, and thousands of brands of beer, all brewed according to the German regulation on beer of 1516, the world’s oldest food law still in place, bear witness to this. Gourmets definitely appreciate the 300 or so restaurants in Germany with one or more stars in the 2020 Guide Michelin.