Berlin

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Berlin, city in northeastern Germany, capital of a united Germany from 1871 to 1945 and again since 1990. It lies on the flatlands of the North German Plain at the confluence of several rivers and amid many lakes. The citys slight elevation made it a site for human settlement even in prehistoric times. Berlin has a population of about 3, 454, 200 (1992 estimate) and an area of approximately 889 sq km (343 sq mi). After World War II (1939-1945) Berlin, badly damaged during the war, was situated within the German Democratic Republic (GDR; also known as East Germany). The city was subsequently partitioned into East Berlin and West Berlin.
The divided city not only symbolized the collapse of the German Empire, of which it was the capital, but also became a focus of Cold War tensions between the Communist nations led by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the group of Western nations led by the United States. The Berlin Wall, a barrier separating East and West Berlin built by the East Germans in 1961, blocked free access in both directions until November 1989; during the time it stood, at least 80 people died attempting to cross from East to West Berlin.
By the time Germany was unified in October 1990, much of the wall had been torn down. A few small segments remain as memorials.
Following the division of the city of Berlin in 1949, the economies of the two halves of the city were integrated into the economies of the two newly separated republics of Germany.
The economy of East Berlin was totally integrated with that of East Germany and also benefited from a steady stream of visitors from West Berlin and West Germany.
East Berlin was the hub of East Germanys commercial, financial, and transportation systems, and, although it comprised less than one-half of the former unified city, it was also a huge manufacturing center. Among its principal manufactures were steel and rubber goods, electrical and transportation equipment, chemicals, and processed food. The Spree River, which is connected by waterways with the Baltic Sea, widened in East Berlin to form a major inland harbor. An airport at Schonefeld, just south of the city, served both East and West Berlin.
Much of West Berlins industrial capacity was destroyed in World War II, and its economy suffered again during 1948 and 1949, when the USSR blockaded the area in an attempt to drive out the Western powers. Beginning in the 1950s, however, West Berlins economy was revitalized with a great deal of assistance from West Germany and from the United States, which provided support under the European Recovery Program (Marshall Plan). The city soon became an important manufacturing center, producing electrical and electronic equipment and substantial quantities of machinery, metal, textiles, clothing, chemicals, printed materials, and processed food. The city also developed as a center for international finance, for research and science, and for the important West German film ...


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