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Cultural Overview of Germany

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 2197 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Germany or as called by its people, Deutschland, is also known as the Federal Republic of Germany or Bundesrepublik Deutschland. It is a country that has beautiful landscapes, a rich and colourful history and surrounded by nine countries. Denmark on the north with the North Sea and Baltic Sea on either side, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France on the west, Switzerland at the bottom and the countries of Czech Republic, Poland and Austria on the east side.

Image from https://www.britannica.com/place/Germany/media/231186/208498


 It has lowland plains on the north, forested hills of the urbanized west, agricultural plains of the east and the tall, sheer mountains of the south where the Black Forest can be found. It has a pleasant climate that varies every year from early spring, hot summer, dry autumn to a very cold winter and an overcast in the cool seasons that makes the sun hide for long periods (Sheehan, 2018).

Isar River at its source in the Karwendelgebirge (mountains), Bavaria, Germany.

Image from https://www.britannica.com/place/Germany/images-videos/media/231186/6095


One element of a culture is the health beliefs and practices used in the country. Germany’s health care is a compulsory insurance meaning everyone must get the mandatory state health insurance (SHI) or the (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung” – GKV) on the condition that their income is  under the fixed limit (“Versicherungspflichtgrenze“) or they can choose the private health insurance (PHI) or the (“private Krankenversicherung” – PKV) if their income goes beyond the threshold. (All things Nittany, 2015).

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People who are earning less than EUR56,250 (USD71,564) per year as of 2016 are obliged to get the SHI (Blümel, M and Busse, R, n.d.). This also covers their nonearning dependents. The SHI covers basic care from checkups, medical, dental or for chronic diseases, basic immunizations, prescription medicines, hospital care, mental health, vision, physical therapy, hospice care,  palliative care and sick leave compensation. The statutory health insurance gives everyone the equal right to medical care.  The PHI covers services that the SHI may not cover, access to better facilities, choosing your doctor, extensive dental care and more. You can shop around for the best PHI that suits your needs as you are going to pay a risk-related premium and paying for your dependents separately. It is regulated by the government, but you will not receive any subsidies from them. (Blümel, M and Busse, R, n.d.)

 Another element of culture is the family pattern. Germany’s Basic Law or Constitution recognizes the equal rights of both men and women. A good example of this equality is the woman holding one of the powerful positions in the government as the current Head of Government or Chancellor.


One or two children in the family are the typical German family. Both parents can be working which can be one of the factors why they start family life late. The government is encouraging its people to start family life early. Benefits given to families are allowances for both child and parent, tax incentives, subsidies for low-income families and that education is free. Women especially mothers can still return to work, but most choose to do part-time jobs to spend time with their children. Parents enjoy parental allowance up to 65% of their income for 14 months that some fathers take advantage of this for two to three months (All Things Nittany, 2017, September 5).

 Communication style is another element of culture. Considered as one of the world’s major language, German is also easy to learn as it is comparable to English in grammar and vocabulary.  Germans also use non-verbal communication style like gestures especially when counting, they start with their thumb and uses their little finger to point at things. Eye contact during conversations to show interest, sincerity and character to whomever you are talking to and they reserve their smiles as much as possible for friends and family. They are very formal when addressing other people, especially with higher academic credentials to show respect. They would address their colleagues as Herr (male) or Frau (female) before the person’s last name. Their verbal communication is direct to the point, honest and clear which may cause misinterpretations of other people from a different culture (Turner, n.d.).

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The last element of culture is the death and dying practices. The death and dying practices of Germany are almost the same as the other Western countries but the embalming and cremations are under government responsibility.  All deaths must be verified first by a doctor whether it occurred in the hospital or in a home. When the death is confirmed, the family must get the death certificate or Todesbescheinigung. The next step is to go to the local register and report it. Then to the funeral home to arrange the funeral services. In Germany, they have this Friedhofspflicht or cemetery compulsion law where the deceased must be buried in the cemetery (McLaughlin, 2015).

A small board on a tree trunk reminds in Friedwald in Saxony-Anhalt of people buried there.



There are exceptions to this law, these are the maritime burials, where the ashes are scattered in a body of water such as the sea or river, and the tree burials, with the use of biodegradable urns, the ashes are buried in the root system of a tree (All Things Nittany, n.d., Cemetery Duty).   

The city-state of Bremen passed a new burial law on January 1, 2015, allowing the burial of cremains in their own backyard or garden. There are conditions in effect to do this burial service from special permits, residency in Bremen before death, written wishes of the deceased and legal right to the property.  The state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) allowed the family to take the ashes home to give them time to decide which cemetery grounds would be the resting ground.

Another way to avoid paying the expensive funeral services and restrictions in Germany is to send the body of the deceased to the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, or Switzerland for cremation where it is cheaper. The family then takes the ashes back to Germany for burial in whatever way they choose (All Things Nittany, n.d., The German Way to Death and Funerals).

My conclusion to this assignment is that Germany is one of the countries that is ideal to call home and raise a family. It has good health benefits through its statutory health insurance that covers almost all the basic health needs of its people. It recognizes the equal rights of both men and women, recognizes same-sex marriages. It promotes to its people to have children and supports both the parents and child with allowances, parental leave for 14 months, free education, and tax incentives.  They prefer direct and straightforward communication with people and very formal in addressing people with higher educational attainment. A few choices for your last repose are available when you choose cremation. You can choose from the urn placed in the cemetery, maritime burial, tree burial or garden burial.

Here are some useful links from the website http://www.oecd.org/germany/governmentofgermanyusefullinks.htm with a short description of what information, services and news you can access.

Government Sites:

The Federal Government of Germany (www.bundesregierung.de)
The official Web Site of the German Federal government with helpful information on the current issues and events, ministries and government publications in German, English, French and Spanish.

Ministry of Economy and Technology (www.bmwi.de)
A very comprehensive site with general information on the ministry, economic reports, small business policy, monthly topics and publications in German and English.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.auswaertiges-amt.de/www/de/index_html)
Information on Germany, current events, tourist advice, foreign policy and European policy
in German, English and French.

German Portal Web Site (www.deutschland.de)
The Federal Republic of Germany’s official Web site offers numerous links in the following subjects: education, health, culture, media, sports, State, tourism, economics and science in German, English, French, Spanish and Russian.

Portal to Tourism in Germany (www.deutschland-tourismus.de/d)
A very helpful resource for tourists. Information includes current events in Germany, travel tips, destination guides, culture and more in German and English.



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