Berlin is Germany's capital and similar to some other capitals (but for different reasons) it is also one of the 16 federal states that make up the Federal Republic of Germany. At a population of 3.5 million and 4.5 million if adjacent suburbs across the state line in Brandenburg are counted, Berlin is Germany's biggest city, but the Ruhr area arguably has a bigger metro area population and the focus on and dominance of Berlin is and has historically been far weaker than that of London, Paris or Madrid in their respective countries.
Berlin is unusual among European capitals in many respects and the four decades of partition - 28 years of them being physically separated by a wall - have also left traces. Barely a fishing village in the 18th century, Berlin grew to be one of the most important and biggest cities in the world by the 1920s, only to lose much of its importance and historic architecture through World War II and German partition. The heart of old Prussia and a focal point of the Cold War, Berlin today is coming into its own again as a cosmopolitan capital of one of Europe's wealthiest nations. "Arm aber sexy" (poor but sexy) as a former mayor would have it, Berlin attracts young people, students and a creative bohème like few other cities in the world. With architectural heritage from Prussian monarchism, Nazism, GDR communism and a vast "blank canvas" at Potsdamer Platz which was filled with 1990s and 2000s style glass palaces, Berlin's architecture is as varied as its neighborhoods and its people. And due to its long history as a cosmopolitan capital (first of Prussia and later of Germany) it has attracted immigrants from all over the world for more than three hundred years. Many of them have left and continue to leave a distinctive mark on the city.
Berlin can be seen as a cluster of centres. Berlin has many boroughs (Bezirke), and each borough is composed of several localities (Kiez or Viertel) — each of these boroughs and localities have their unique style. Some boroughs of Berlin are more worthy of a visitor's attention than others. Berlin used to be divided into 23 boroughs, and these boroughs are used in Wikivoyage as they remain foremost in popular conceptions of the city and are generally of a good practical size and cultural division for visitors. In January 2001, the number of boroughs was reduced from 23 to 12 for administrative purposes - mostly by fusing old boroughs together - sometimes across the former inner-Berlin border. The boroughs can roughly be grouped into six districts: Read more