The travel details that are good to know.
Population of Germany: 81,751,602; Berlin: 3,460,725
Longest river in Germany: Rhine, 1319km. The Spree is 403km.
Highest point of Germany: Zugspitze, 2962m
Highest point in Berlin: Teufelsberg, 114m
Highest natural point in Berlin: Victoriapark Kreuzberg, 66m
Berlin's territory: 900 square kilometers
Drinks & Alcohol
Germans like their beer, drinking about 107 litres per capita per year (down from 136 litres 15 years ago). Unfortunately Berlin's local brew, the slightly sour Berliner Weiße, is only really palatable 'mit Schuss', with a shot of sweet fruit sirup. Cocktails and long drinks of varying quality and price are available in a multitude of places. Non-alcoholic drinks often sipped in Berlin include Apfelschorle, a refreshing mix of apple juice and sparkling water, and Club-Mate ('kloob mah-tea') ice tea, made with extract of the South American maté plant, caffeine and tannins, and is popular with local hipsters as it comes in a screw top bottle so you can hiply tote it around (or drink to just below the top label and top it up with wodka).
Crime & Safety
Berlin is a relatively calm and safe place. Instances of petty crimes are low compared to other Western European capitals, though you shoulds still always keep an eye on your valuables and never leave bags, wallets and mobile phones unattended. Just like anywhere else, be careful when walking in unlit streets late at night. Race-related hassles seldom occur in Berlin's touristed central areas.
Berlin is increasingly geared towards disabled visitors, though many restaurants and bars are srtill difficult to access. Public transport maps indicate which S/U-Bahn stations have elevators, and timetables at tram and bus stops have symbols identyfying services with low floor access. When in confused, ask an young mother with a pram.
Electrical current in Germany is 220v AC, 50 Hz via standard European round, two-pin sockets. Converters can be bought at the airport and large electronics shops, and many hotels will have them at the front desk too.
Germany uses the euro (€). Banknotes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500. Coins, whose design depends on in which country they were minted, come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and €1 and €2. Credit and debit card payment is possible in a wide range of shops, restaurants and nightlife venues, though always have cash on you for small payments just in case. This guide indicates which places do not accept plastic. ATMs can be found everywhere; those that charge for transactions clearly indicate the fee during the process. Exchange offices can be found at the major train stations.
Exchange rates: EUR €1 = GBP £0,86 = USD $1,30 = CAD $1,34 = AUD $1,26 = JPY 128 = CNY 8,1 = RUB 41,3 (per 18 April 2013)
Purchasing power: What your dollars or roubles will get you in Berlin.
Glass of local beer €3
Mineral water (1 liter) €0.50-1
Snickers bar €0.70
Public transport ticket €2,30
250km by train (Hamburg) €60
1 January New Year
18 April 2014 Good Friday
20 April 2014 Easter
1 May Labour Day
29 May 2014 Ascension
8 June 2014 Pentecost
3 October Unification Day
25-26 December Christmas
Visas and entry formalities
EU citizens can stay in Germany as long as they like, though registration at a Bürgeramt office is officially required for stays more than a few months. Citizens of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Mexico USA and a few others can enter Germany without a visa for a maximum of 90 days in any six month period. All other nationals need to apply for a German visa in advance. Note that there's no passport control between Germany and the other 14 European 'Schengen' countries, and visas to any of these are valid for travel in Germany too. All visitors need a passport that is valid for at least fourth months from the date of arrival; EU citizens can enter with a valid EU identity card too. Check the MFA website for the latest immigration details: www.auswaertiges-amt.de.