Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Unionafter London. The city is one of Germany’s 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany’s third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions. Due to its location in the European Plain, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. About one-third of the city’s area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers, canals and lakes. The city lies in the Central Germandialect area, the Berlin dialect being a variant of the Lusatian-New Marchian dialects.
Berlin is a world city of culture, politics, media and science. Its economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, research facilities, media corporations and convention venues. Berlin is home to world-renowned universities, orchestras, museums, and entertainment venues, and is host to many sporting events. Its Zoological Garden is the most visited zoo in Europe and one of the most popular worldwide. The city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts and a very high quality of living. Since the 2000s Berlin has seen the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene.
Berlin has an oceanic climate – degraded by its interior location and farther from the west, the eastern part of the city has a slight continental influence, especially in the 0 °C isotherm, one of the changes being the annual rainfall according to the air masses and the greater abundance during a period of the year. This type of climate features moderate summer temperatures but sometimes hot (for being semicontinental) and cold winters but not rigorous most of the time. Summers are warm and sometimes humid with average high temperatures of 22–25 °C (72–77 °F) and lows of 12–14 °C (54–57 °F). Winters are cool with average high temperatures of 3 °C (37 °F) and lows of −2 to 0 °C (28 to 32 °F). Spring and autumn are generally chilly to mild. Berlin’s built-up area creates a microclimate, with heat stored by the city’s buildings and pavement. Snowfall mainly occurs from December through March.
German is the official and predominant spoken language in Berlin. It is a West Germanic language that derives most of its vocabulary from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. German is one of 24 languages of the European Union, and one of the three working languages of the European Commission. Berlinerisch or Berlinisch is not a dialect linguistically, but has features of Lausitzisch-neumärkisch dialects. It is spoken in Berlin and the surrounding metropolitan area. It originates from a Mark Brandenburgish variant.
The most-commonly-spoken foreign languages in Berlin are Turkish, English, Russian, Arabic, Polish, Kurdish, Serbo-Croatian, Italian, Vietnamese, and French. Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish, Serbo-Croatian are heard more often in the western part, due to the large Middle Eastern and former-Yugoslavian communities. English, Vietnamese, Russian, and Polish have more native speakers in East Berlin.
Tourism and conventions
Tourism figures have more than doubled within the last ten years and Berlin has become the third most-visited city destination in Europe. Some of the most visited places in Berlin include: Potsdamer Platz, Brandenburger Tor, the Berlin wall, Alexanderplatz, Museumsinsel, Fernsehturm, the East-Side Gallery, Schloss-Charlottenburg, Zoologischer Garten, Siegessäule, Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer, Mauerpark, Botanical Garden, Französischer Dom, Deutscher Dom and Holocaust-Mahnmal. The largest visitor groups are from Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and the United States.
The Messe Berlin (also known as Berlin ExpoCenter City) is the main convention organizing company in the city. Its main exhibition area covers more than 160,000 square metres (1,722,226 square feet). Several large-scale trade fairs like the consumer electronics trade fair IFA, the ILA Berlin Air Show, the Berlin Fashion Week(including the Premium Berlin and the Panorama Berlin), the Green Week, the Fruit Logistica, the transport fair InnoTrans, the tourism fair ITB and the adult entertainment and erotic fair Venus are held annually in the city, attracting a significant number of business visitors.