Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany is a federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe.
With about 82 million inhabitants, Germany is the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany's capital and largest metropolis is Berlin, while its largest conurbation is the Ruhr, with its main centres of Dortmund and Essen. The country's other major cities are Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Leipzig, Bremen, Dresden, Hannover, and Nuremberg. Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Alps in the south to the shores of the North Sea in the northwest and the Baltic Sea in the northeast. The forested uplands of central Germany and the lowlands of northern Germany are traversed by such major rivers as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe. Germany's alpine glaciers are experiencing deglaciation. When thinking of Germany, beer, lederhosen and Alpine hats quickly come to mind, but these stereotypes mostly relate to Bavarian culture and do not represent Germany as a whole. Germany is a vast and diverse country with 16 culturally unique states that have been politically united since 1871. Even within states there is often considerable cultural diversity.