Sixteen federal states comprise the Federal Republic of Germany, including Berlin, the country's capital. There are 3.8 million people living in Berlin (plus a million more in "suburbs" like Potsdam in Brandenburg across the state line). Because of the federal nature of Germany and the havoc war and partition wreaked on the city, Berlin is and has historically been much weaker than London, Paris, or Madrid as capitals.

Many aspects of Berlin make it unique among European capitals, and the four decades of partition, including 28 years of physical separation, have left their mark. By the 1920s, Berlin had grown to become one of the world's most important and significant cities, only to lose much of its significance and historic architecture to World War II. As a cosmopolitan capital of one of Europe's wealthiest nations, Berlin today is emerging from its Cold War past as the heart of old Prussia. "Arm aber sexy," as one former mayor put it, Berlin attracts young people, students, and a creative bohème like few other cities. Berlin is as varied as its neighborhoods and its people with architecture that reflects Prussian monarchism, Nazism, East German communism, and the 1990s and 2000s-style glass palaces at Potsdamer Platz after the wall had left a "blank canvas." For more than three hundred years, Berlin has attracted immigrants from all over the world, who have left their mark on the city.

Culture, politics, the media, and science all come together in Berlin, a city of a thousand faces. Media corporations, high-tech companies, creative industries, research facilities, and service sectors drive the economy. Significant sectors also include IT, biotechnology, construction and electronics. It is well known for its festivals, nightlife, contemporary arts, and very high quality of living. Many sporting events and universities are held in Berlin, as well as orchestras, museums, and entertainment venues. Among the many zoos around the world, one of the most popular is its Zoological Garden. Because of its oldest large-scale movie studio complex, near Babelsberg, Berlin is becoming a popular location for international film productions.

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