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Since 1990 Berlin once again has become the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, after the reunification of East and West Germany. Since then the city center ("Mitte") has gone through a metamorphosis. Around the Potsdamer Platz, buildings with a daring and modern architecture arose. There are also many theaters, shops, movie theaters and restaurants.
The city lies in the northeast of Germany, about 70 kilometers west of the border with Poland. It is an extensive city, 38 kilometers from north to south and 45 kilometers from east to west. The Spree River flows straight across Berlin.
Since Berlin once again became capital and parliament and the ministries were moved from Bonn to Berlin, the employment in the public sector has increased tremendously. Large companies such as Siemens and Deutsche Bahn have their headquarters in Berlin. Furthermore the city's economy is mainly based on services, growth sectors are media, advertising and IT & communication technology.
Berlin is an important research & development center, the 'Science & Business Park' in Adlershof is one of the largest in the world. Many international congresses and fairs are also organized, the Internationale Congres Centrum ICC is Europe's largest.
The most important airport, Tegel International Airport, lies on the northwest of the city. On the southeast of Berlin is the airport Schönefeld. The former will be extended massively in order to become the city's new international airport by 2011, the airport will then be renamed into Berlin Brandenburg International Airport.
The small city airport Tempelhof was closed in October 2008.
Berlin has an excellent public transport network of buses, street cars, subways and trains. Most visitors mainly use the subway network, the U-Bahn. The subways are fast and comfortable to travel to all the city's places of interest.
The S-Bahn is the city railway that consists of 3 lines, from east to west, and from north to south and a beltway (Ringbahn).
Although U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations are often displayed together on maps, in reality these stations are separated.
Although Berlin, just like other big cities, is troubled by traffic jams during morning and evening rush hours, it is quite easy to drive around the city to discover it. Berlin has a closed network of highways and throughways and the city's places of interest are well indicated on the signs.
The city center is an 'Umweltzone' (low emission zone), where you can only drive around with a specific sticker on the windshield. Parking in the streets is possible, but rather expensive, it is better to park your car in a parking garage.
After the city's reunification many hotels were built in Berlin. Therefore there is ample choice and the hotel rates are favorable compared to other European capitals. There are many four and five-star hotels to offer, besides these there are cheaper guesthouses and bed & breakfasts, and the budget travelers can go to the youth hostels ('Jugendherbergen') and regular hostels.
For more information about Berlin, we recommend Google and the following sources: