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German Empire

German Reich
Deutsches Reich
Flag Coat of arms
Gott mit uns
"God with us"
Germany on the eve of World War I
States of the German Empire (Prussia shown in blue).
Capital Berlin
52°31′N 13°24′E / 52.517°N 13.400°E / 52.517; 13.400Coordinates: 52°31′N 13°24′E / 52.517°N 13.400°E / 52.517; 13.400
Languages Official:
Religion Whitaker's data for 1890
62.8% Protestant (Lutheran, Reformed, Prussian United)
Government Federal constitutional monarchy
(until October 1918)
Federal Parliamentary constitutional monarchy
(October 1918 to November 1918)
 •  1871–1888 Wilhelm I
 •  1888 Frederick III
 •  1888–1918 Wilhelm II
 •  1871–1890 Otto von Bismarck (first)
 •  1918 Friedrich Ebert (last)
Legislature Reichstag
 •  Federal Council Bundesrat
Historical era New Imperialism/First World War
 •  Unification 18 January 1871
 •  Constitution adopted 16 April 1871
 •  First World War 28 July 1914
 •  German Revolution 3 November 1918
 •  Armistice declared 11 November 1918
 •  Abdication of Wilhelm II 28 November 1918
 •  Treaty of Versailles 28 June 1919
 •  1910 540,857.54 km² (208,826 sq mi)
 •  1871 est. 40,050,792 
 •  1910 est. 64,925,993 
     Density 120 /km²  (310.9 /sq mi)
Currency Vereinsthaler,
South German gulden, Bremen thaler,
Hamburg mark,
French franc,
(until 1873, together)
German gold mark,
German Papiermark
Preceded by
Succeeded by
North German Confederation
Kingdom of Bavaria
Kingdom of Württemberg
Grand Duchy of Baden
Grand Duchy of Hesse
Weimar Republic
Second Polish Republic
Saar Basin
Free City of Danzig
Republic of Lithuania
Today part of  Germany
 Czech Republic
Area and population not including colonial possessions
Area source: Population source:

The German Empire (German: Deutsches Kaiserreich, officially Deutsches Reich) was the historical German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 to the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in November 1918, when Germany became a federal republic (the Weimar Republic).

The German Empire consisted of 26 constituent territories, with most being ruled by royal families. This included four kingdoms, six grand duchies, five duchies (six before 1876), seven principalities, three free Hanseatic cities, and one imperial territory. Although the Kingdom of Prussia contained most of the Empire's population and territory, it played a lesser role. As Dwyer (2005) points out, Prussia's "political and cultural influence had diminished considerably" by the 1890s.

After 1850, the states of Germany had rapidly become industrialized, with particular strengths in coal, iron (and later steel), chemicals, and railways. In 1871 it had a population of 41 million people, and by 1913 this had increased to 68 million. A heavily rural collection of states in 1815, the united Germany became predominantly urban. During its 47 years of existence, the German Empire operated as an industrial, technological, and scientific giant, gaining more Nobel Prizes in science than any other country.

Native languages of the citizens of the German Empire
(1 December 1900)
Language Count Percentage
German 51,883,131 92.05
German and a foreign language 252,918 0.45
Polish 3,086,489 5.48
French 211,679 0.38
Masurian 142,049 0.25
Danish 141,061 0.25
Lithuanian 106,305 0.19
Kashubian 100,213 0.18
Wendish (Sorbian) 93,032 0.16
Dutch 80,361 0.14
Italian 65,930 0.12
Moravian 64,382 0.11
Czech 43,016 0.08
Frisian 20,677 0.04
English 20,217 0.04
Russian 9,617 0.02
Swedish 8,998 0.02
Hungarian 8,158 0.01
Spanish 2,059 0.00
Portuguese 479 0.00
Other foreign languages 14,535 0.03
Imperial citizens on 1 December 1900 56,367,187 100
German name Country Region
Elsaß-Lothringen France Départements of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin (both within Alsace region), and département of Moselle (northeastern part of the Lorraine region)
Eupen-Malmedy Belgium Two towns of Eupen and Malmedy and the municipalities of Amel, Büllingen, Burg-Reuland, Bütgenbach, Kelmis, Lontzen, Raeren, Waimes and St. Vith (all are parts of the province of Liège in Wallonia region on the Belgian-German border)
Duivelsberg/Wylerberg Netherlands Duivelsberg/Wylerberg, an uninhabited hill (as well as some nearby slivers of land) annexed by the Netherlands after WWII
Nordschleswig Denmark South Jutland County (excluding towns of Taps, Hejle and Vejstrup), and the towns of Hviding, Roager and Spandet
Hultschiner Ländchen Czech Republic Hlučín Region, on the Czech-Polish border in Silesia, from which most of Germans were deported following WWII
Schlesien, Ostbrandenburg, Ermland, Masuren, Westpreußen, Provinz Posen, southern Ostpreußen, central and eastern parts of Pommern Poland Northern and western parts of the country, including Pomerania, Silesia, Lubusz Land, Warmia and Masuria, from all of which Germans were deported following WWII
Memelland Lithuania Klaipėda Region from which Germans were deported following WWII
Northern Ostpreußen Russia Kaliningrad Oblast exclave on the Baltic, from which Germans were deported following WWII



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