Berlin, the capital and largest city in Germany is a centre of contrasts: East meets West; past meets future. The city possesses a unqiue beat which echoes through its grand public buildings, glorious museums and theatres, urban restaurants and bustling pubs. The city thrives on change and has made a virtue out of reinventing itself. It has a population of approximately 3.5 million and spands over 889 square kilometers.
Berlin has over 170 museums, making the city one of the world's prime locations for first-rate historical art collections, cultural exhibitions as well as museums of science and technology.
Berlin was the capital of Prussia until 1945 and the capital of Germany between 1871 and 1945 and again since the reunification of Germany on October 3, 1990. Between 1949 and 1990, it was divided into East Berlin, the capital of the German Democratic Republic and West Berlin. It was divided by the Berlin Wall between August 13, 1961 and November 9, 1989.
The city's appearance today is predominantly shaped by the key role it played in Germany's history in the 20th century. Each of the national governments based in Berlin — the 1871 German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, East Germany and now the reunified Germany — initiated ambitious construction programs, each with its own distinctive character. Berlin was devastated by bombing raids during World War II and many of the old buildings that survived the bombs were eradicated in the 1950s and 1960s in both the East and West. Much of this destruction was initiated by municipal architecture programs to build new residential or business quarters and main roads. Berlin's unique recent history has left the city with an eclectic array of architecture and sights.