The World Factbook (1990)/German Democratic Republic

pages 111–112

German Democratic Republic
(East Germany)

World Factbook (1990) German Democratic Republic.jpg

 See regional map V


Total area: 108,330 km²; land area: 105,980 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Tennessee

Land boundaries: 2,296 km total; Czechoslovakia 459 km, Poland 456 km, FRG 1,381 km

Coastline: 901 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: 200 meters or to depth of exploitation
Exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: it is US policy that the final borders of Germany have not been established; the US is seeking to settle the property claims of US nationals against the GDR

Climate: temperate; cloudy, cold winters with frequent rain and snow; cool, wet summers

Terrain: mostly flat plain with hills and mountains in south

Natural resources: lignite, potash, uranium, copper, natural gas, salt, nickel

Land use: 45% arable land; 3% permanent crops; 12% meadows and pastures; 28% forest and woodland; 12% other; includes 2% irrigated

Environment: significant deforestation in mountains caused by air pollution and acid rain

Note: strategic location on North European Plain and near the entrance to the Baltic Sea; West Berlin is an enclave (about 116 km by air or 176 km by road from FRG)


Population: 16,307,170 (July 1990), growth rate -0.6% (1990)

Birth rate: 12 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 12 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -6 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 7 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 71 years male, 77 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 1.7 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—German(s); adjective—German

Ethnic divisions: 99.7% German, 0.3% Slavic and other

Religion: 47% Protestant, 7% Roman Catholic, 46% unaffiliated or other; less than 5% of Protestants and about 25% of Roman Catholics active participants

Language: German

Literacy: 99%

Labor force: 8,960,000; 37.5% industry, 21.1% services, 10.8% agriculture and forestry, 10.3% commerce, 7.4% transport and communications, 6.6% construction, 3.1% handicrafts, 3.2% other (1987)

Organized labor: 87.7% of labor force


Long-form name: German Democratic Republic; abbreviated GDR

Type: Communist state

Capital: East Berlin (not officially recognized by France, UK, and US, which together with the USSR have special rights and responsibilities in Berlin)

Administrative divisions: 14 districts (bezirke, singular—bezirk); Cottbus, Dresden, Erfurt, Frankfurt, Gera, Halle, Karl-Marx-Stadt, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Neubrandenburg, Potsdam, Rostock, Schwerin, Suhl

Independence: self-government proclaimed 7 October 1949, with permission of the Soviet authorities

Constitution: 9 April 1968, amended 7 October 1974

Legal system: civil law system modified by Communist legal theory; no judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Foundation of the German Democratic Republic, 7 October (1949)

Executive branch: Council of State abolished on 5 April 1990, post of president to be created; chairman of the Council of Ministers, Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral People's Chamber (Volkskammer)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State—Acting President of the People's Chamber Sabine BERGMANN-POHL (since 5 April 1990);

Head of Government—Chairman of the Council of Ministers Lothar DE MAIZIERE (since 12 April 1990); Deputy Chairman Peter-Michael DIESTEL (since 16 April 1990)

Political parties and leaders: Alliance for Germany—Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Lothar de Maiziere, chairman; German Social Union (DSU), Hans-Wilhelm Ebeling, chairman; and Democratic Awakening (DA), Rainer Eppelmann, chairman;

Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), Markus Meckel, acting chairman; Party for Democratic Socialism (PDS, former Communist), Gregor Gysi, chairman;

League of Free Democrats (BFD)—Liberals, Rainer Ortleb, chairman; Free Democratic Party (FDP), Bruno Menzel, chairman; and German Forum Party (DFP), Juergen Schmieder, chairman;

Alliance '90—New Forum, Baerbel Bohley, Jens Reich, Sebastian Pflugbeil, spokespersons; Democracy Now, (Conrad Weiss, spokesperson; and United Left, Herbert Misslitz, spokesperson; Greens Party (GP), Vera Wollenberger, spokesperson;

Democratic Peasants' Party (DBD), Guenther Maleuda, chairman

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: People's Chamber—last held on 18 March 1990 (next to be held March NA); results—Alliance for Germany—CDU 40.9%, DSU 6.3%, DA 0.9%; SPD 21.8%; BFD 5.3%; SPD 21.8%; PDS 16.3%; Alliance 90 2.9%; DBD 2.2%; GP 2.0%; NDPD 0.4%; others 1.0%; seats—(400 total, including 66 from East Berlin) Alliance for Germany—CDU 164, DSU 25, DA 4; SPD 87; BFD 21; PDS 65; Alliance 90 12, DBD 9; GP 8; NDPD 2; others 3

Communists: 500,000 to 700,000 party members (1990)


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Dr. Gerhard HERDER; Chancery at 1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20036; telephone (202) 232-3134; US—Ambassador Richard C. BARKLEY; Embassy at 1080 Berlin, Neustaedtische Kirchstrasse 4-5, East Berlin (mailing address is Box E, APO New York 09742); telephone [37](2) 220-2741

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red, and yellow with the coat of arms centered; the coat of arms contains, in yellow, a hammer and compass encircled by a wreath of grain with a black, red, and gold ribbon at the bottom; similar to the flag of the FRG which does not have a coat of arms


Overview: The GDR is moving rapidly away from its centrally planned economy. As the 1990s begin, economic integration with West Germany appears inevitable, beginning with the establishment of a common currency. The opening of the border with the FRG in late 1989 and the continuing emigration of hundreds of thousands of skilled workers had brought growth to a standstill by yearend 1989. Features of the old economic regime that will quickly change: (a) the collectivization of 95% of East German farms; (b) state ownership of nearly all transportation facilities, industrial plants, foreign trade organizations, and financial institutions; (c) the 65% share in trade of the USSR and other CEMA countries; and (d) the detailed control over economic details exercised by Party and state. Once integrated into the thriving West German economy, the area will have to stem the outflow of workers and renovate the obsolescent industrial base. After an initial readjustment period, living standards and quality of output will steadily rise toward West German levels.

GNP: $159.5 billion, per capita $9,679; real growth rate 1.2% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: revenues $123.5 billion; expenditures $123.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $33 billion (1986)

Exports: $30.7 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—machinery and transport equipment 47%, fuels and metals 16%, consumer goods 16%, chemical products and building materials 13%, semimanufactured goods and processed foodstuffs 8%; partners USSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, FRG, Hungary, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Romania

Imports: $31.0 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—fuels and metals 40%, machinery and transport equipment 29%, chemical products and building materials 9%; partners CEMA countries 65%, non-Communist 33%, other 2%

External debt: $20.6 billion (1989)

Industrial production: growth rate 2.7% (1989 est.)

Electricity: (including East Berlin) 24,585,000 kW capacity; 122,500 million kWh produced, 7,390 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: metal fabrication, chemicals, brown coal, shipbuilding, machine building, food and beverages, textiles, petroleum

Agriculture: accounts for about 10% of GNP (including fishing and forestry); principal crops—wheat, rye, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, fruit; livestock products include pork, beef, chicken, milk, hides and skins; net importer of food; fish catch of 193,600 metric tons in 1987

Aid: donor—$4.0 billion extended bilaterally to non-Communist less developed countries (1956-88)

Currency: GDR mark (plural—marks); 1 GDR mark (M) = 100 pfennige

Exchange rates: GDR marks (M) per US$1—3.01 (1988), 3.00 (1987), 3.30 (1986), 3.70 (1985), 3.64 (1984)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 14,005 km total; 13,730 km 1.435-meter standard gauge, 275 km 1.000-meter or other narrow gauge, 3,830 (est.) km 1.435-meter double-track standard gauge; 2,754 km overhead electrified (1986)

Highways: 124,615 km total; 47,214 km concrete, asphalt, stone block, of which 1,913 km are autobahn and limited access roads, 11,261 are trunk roads, and 34,040 are regional roads; 77,401 municipal roads (1985)

Inland waterways: 2,319 km (1986)

Pipelines: crude oil, 1,301 km; refined products, 500 km; natural gas, 2,150 km (1988)

Ports: Rostock, Wismar, Stralsund, Sassnitz; river ports are East Berlin, Riesa, Magdeburg, and Eisenhuttenstadt on the Elbe or Oder Rivers and connecting canals

Merchant marine: 145 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,349,537 GRT/1,733,089 DWT; includes 1 passenger, 89 cargo, 10 refrigerated cargo, 6 roll-on/roll-off cargo, 16 container, 1 multifunction large-load carrier, 2 railcar carrier, 1 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 2 chemical tanker, 1 liquefied gas tanker, 16 bulk

Civil air: 45 major transport aircraft

Airports: 190 total, 190 usable; 70 with permanent-surface runways; 1 with runway over 3,659 m; 45 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 40 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: stations—23 AM, 17 FM, 21 TV; 15 Soviet TV relays; 6,181,860 TV sets; 6,700,000 radio receivers; at least 1 satellite earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: National People's Army, Border Troops, Air and Air Defense Command, People's Navy

Military manpower: eligible 15-49, 7,944,305; of the 4,045,396 males 15-49, 3,243,970 are fit for military service; 91,579 reach military age (18) annually; of the 3,898,909 females 15-49, 3,117,847 are fit for military service; 85,892 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 16.2 billion marks, 5.4% of total budget (1989); note—conversion of the military budget into US dollars using the official administratively set exchange rate would produce misleading results