Germany (Ger. Dentschland; Fr. Allemagne), formerly a large empire of central Europe, with an area at the time of the first French revolution of 267,714 sq. m., and 26,265,000 inhabitants. From 1806 to 1815 it was dismembered and disorganized. In 1815 the German confederation (Deutscher Bund) was- established in the place of the old German empire, embracing part of Austria (the present Cisleithania, with the exception of Galicia and Bukowina; see Austria), the bulk of Prussia (with the exception of Prussia proper and Posen), the kingdoms of Bavaria, Wiirtemberg, Saxony, and Hanover, the electorate of Hesse-Cassel, and a number of grand duchies, duchies, principalities, and free cities; in all 39 states, which in 1866 had been reduced to 33. The area of this confederation was 243,539 sq. m.; the population in 1865, 46,412,530. In 1866 it was dissolved. Austria was excluded from Germany, and Hanover; Hesse-Cassel, Nassau, and Schleswig-Holstein, with Lauenburg and Frankfort, were annexed to Prussia; the states north of the Main were formed into the North German confederation under the headship of Prussia. The four South German states, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Baden, and Hesse-Darmstadt, were made independent states, but were closely united with the North German confederation by means of the Zollverein and defensive and offensive alliances.
Luxemburg and Liechtenstein were dismissed from all connection with the other German states. Thus the term Germany, from 1866 to 1871, designated the North German confederation and the four South German states, with an aggregate area of 204;719 sq. m., and a population in 1867 of 38,581,522. In January, 1871, the North German confederation and the four South German states united to reestablish the German empire, to which, by cession from France, the Reichsland of Alsace-Lorraine was added. This empire is bounded N. by the North sea, Denmark, and the Baltic sea, E. by Russia and Austria, S. by Austria and Switzerland, and W. by France, Belgium, and Holland (including Luxemburg). Its extreme northern point is on the frontier of the province of East Prussia, in lat. 55° 52' N.; its extreme southern point is in the Bavarian district of Swabia and Neu-burg, lat. 47° 17'. From E. to W. it extends from Ion. 22° 52', on the boundary of East Prussia and Russian Poland, to Ion. 5° 45', on the line dividing German and French Lorraine. The area is 208,738 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 41,-058,139, or 197 to the square mile.-Stretching from the lofty summit of the Alps to the low beaches of the Baltic, from the picturesque and diversified countries of western Europe to the monotonous plains of the east, Germany encloses a rich variety of mountainous regions, terraced country, table lands, and fertile plains.
Though mainly an inland country, it has good outlets to its numerous navigable rivers. Two great river systems, tributary to the North sea and the Black sea, meet in Germany, rendering it the centre of the interior commerce of the European continent. Its climate unites the characteristics of the surrounding countries, holding a mean between the extreme heat of the south and the extreme cold of northern Europe, between the excessive moisture of the western coast countries and the dryness of the eastern plains. Until recently its boundaries were but poorly protected; but the recovery of Alsace and part of Lorraine, in consequence of the war of 1870-171, restored to Germany a very strong position for defence, as now the Vosges mountains form the western frontier, and to the former bulwarks against an invasion from France, Mentz, Coblentz, Saarlouis, Landau, and Germersheim, a number of equally strong fortresses in Alsace and Lorraine have been added: Metz, Strasburg, Diedenhofen (Thionville), Bitsch, and Neu Breisach. On the south and southeast Germany is protected by the Alpine system and the maze of its projecting spurs, and the mountains separating it from Bohemia. The weakest point of Germany is the E. and N. E. frontier toward Russia. There the Russian territory enters like a wedge into the side of Germany, and the defence of its easternmost provinces depends on its military organization rather than on the three fortresses of Posen, Thorn, and Konigs-berg.-The vertical configuration of Germany presents three principal groups: the Alpine region south of the Danube, the elevated and terraced central portion, and the level northern country. 1. By the exclusion of Austria from Germany, the Alps have become the southern frontier, and only two comparatively small branches (the Algau Alps between the Rhine and the Lech, and the Bavarian Alps between the Lech and the Salzach) belong to the German empire. 2. The terraced country of central Germany has its nucleus near the junction of the boundaries of Saxony, Bohemia, and Bavaria, about lat. 50°, in the Fichtelgebirge, the watershed of the tributaries of the Rhine, Danube, and Elbe. Thence a number of mountain chains of the secondary order radiate in all directions.
To the southeast the Bohemian Forest, the frontier between Bavaria and Bohemia, runs nearly 150 m. in parallel rugged chains toward the Danube. Its highest elevation is the Arber, about 4,800 ft. To the northeast the Erzgebirge, the loftiest peaks of which rise to an elevation of 4,000 ft., forms the frontier between Bohemia and Saxony. On the right bank of the Elbe the mountains cluster in a group of sandstone formation (Saxon Switzerland and Lusatia); after which, assuming the name of Sudetic mountains (Riesengebirge, Glatzerge-birge), they turn S. E., dividing Bohemia from Silesia, and extending to the head waters of the Oder, where they meet the Carpathians. They culminate in the Schneekoppe, upward of 5,000 ft. high. S. E. of the Fichtelgebirge the Franconian Jura sweeps to the Danube and along its northern bank in a westerly direction into Wiirtemberg, where its long-stretched, sharply defined ridges and table lands are known by the names of Rauhe Alp, Swabian Alp, Aal-buch, etc. In S. W. Germany (grand duchy of Baden), near the head waters of the Danube, the mountain ridge of the Black Forest sets off at a sharp angle from the Swabian Alp in a northerly direction nearly parallel to the Rhine, and skirting the fertile bottom land of its E. bank.