Germany is Europe's most industrialised and populous country. Famed for its technological achievements, it has also produced some of Europe's most celebrated composers, philosophers and poets.
Achieving national unity later than other European nations, Germany quickly caught up economically and militarily, before defeats in World War One and Two left the country shattered, facing the difficult legacy of Nazism, and divided between Europe's Cold War blocs.
Germany rebounded to become the continent's economic giant, and a prime mover of European cooperation. With the end of the Cold War, the two parts of the country were once again united, although the economy of the former east continues to lag behind that of the former west.
Germany's competitive television market is the largest in Europe, with some 34 million TV households.
The many regional and national public broadcasters - organised in line with the federal political structure - vie for audiences with powerful commercial operators. Each of the 16 regions regulates its own private and public broadcasting.
Around 90% of German households have cable or satellite TV, and viewers enjoy a comprehensive mix of free-to-view public and commercial channels. This has acted as a brake on the development of pay-TV.
Germany is home to some of the world's largest media conglomerates, including Bertelsmann and the publisher Axel Springer. Some of Germany's top free-to-air commercial TV networks are owned by ProSiebenSat1.
Germany has completed the switch to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting. Public broadcasters ZDF and ARD offer a range of digital-only channels.
While the press and broadcasters are free and independent, the display of swastikas and statements endorsing Nazism are illegal.
There are several national newspapers, but the press market is strongest at a regional level, with more than 300 titles. The Bild tabloid is the best-selling daily.
By 2014, 71.7 million people were online, InternetLiveStats.com reported. The leading social network is Facebook, with more than 25 million users. Its rivals include meinVZ.
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