Before the eyes of the world, Berlin has just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall. That historical 9th November in the year 1989 was the happiest event in Berlin’s recent history. The city’s two halves, which had been separated for decades, could finally grow together again. But most of all, Berlin has a reason to celebrate because the reunification has released enormous power and given Berlin a strong momentum forward. After the rapid change during the past two decades, Berlin is now globally considered a culturally exciting metropolis. The German capital is again the seat of parliament and government and thus the centre of political decisions and communication in Germany. Numerous organizations in economy and society as well as offices of big companies are located in the capital to be close to the action. Berlin is in the focus of national and international attention.
With the fortunate reunification came also the beginning of a new economic era. Since the reunification Berlin has mastered a far-reaching structural change and laid the foundation for new industries of the future. Today the German capital region is an innovative and competitive economic location with a modern infrastructure. However, the city has also become the “place to be” for creative and talented people from all over the world.
Berlin’s economy has undergone a radical modernization. Due to the unique cumulation of excellent universities and research institutes, Berlin is now one of the most innovative and research-intensive regions in Europe. About 200,000 people from all over the world teach, do research, work and study at four universities, the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, eight universities of applied sciences, three art academies, 18 private universities as well as at more than 60 research facilities.
The universities of Berlin were successful in the excellence competition and they attract more and more talented people. The new “Einstein-foundation” systematically promotes top research in Berlin. Since the reunification Berlin has in addition consistently and successfully relied on the close combination of economy and science to further develop Berlin as an innovative high-tech location. Due to this approach, numerous fields of technological competence could evolve, bringing new industrial power to Berlin. Among these fields of competence are the information and communication technology, traffic engineering, the optical technologies, life sciences (health management, medical engineering, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industries) as well as the area of renewable energies and environmental engineering.
Berlin is already well set up in this field, which pays off more and more in the light of the globally increasing efforts for climate protection. The “green-tech industries” have grown by about 20 per cent in the recent four years. At least 500 companies with about 42,000 employees are now part of the region’s “green economy”. Industrial and technology parks like Adlershof and Buch, but also the area of the Spree, the industrial area of Marzahn, the former Tempelhof airport and in future the airport of Tegel, which will be closed in 2011, after the new capital airport BBI has been commissioned: All these places offer excellent opportunities to invest in an innovative surrounding.
Among Berlin’s strengths is also the cosmopolitan and creative atmosphere of the city. The population of Berlin is characterized by diversity. It has changed significantly since the reunification. About one half of the inhabitants of Berlin are new arrivals. People from more than 180 nations live in the immigration city of Berlin. Internationality and open-mindedness have become the trademark of Berlin.
The number of tourists is increasing every year. The German capital is one of the world’s most popular centres for fairs and conventions.
The international sports events in Berlin regularly attract guests from all over
Germany and the world, too. Due to the Olympic stadium and the new big arena near the Ostbahnhof, Berlin provides the best conditions for international top events.
Berlin is not nearly finished yet. And we hope it will remain a city with many big and small issues to work on, a city that constantly re-invents itself. We hope, that this city will continue to attract people who want to make a change.
Its eventful history gives inspiration and material to creative people but it also offers space to be oneself and, compared with other metropolises, extraordinarily favourable living conditions.
Among others, Berlin has become a Mekka of contemporary art. Many creative people of other areas also feel well in Berlin. The German capital has become a lively place for encounters.
The creative business has become a driving force of Berlin’s economy. About 160,000 people work in booming industries like film, fashion, design and media. With an increase in turnover of 25 per cent in the years from 2000 to 2006, Berlin’s creative economy is very dynamic. It accounts for about 13 per cent of Berlin’s gross domestic product. Berlin is a central location of the creative industry in Germany and its international influence is increasing. A few years ago, the UNESCO added Berlin to the global network of creative cities and awarded it the title “City of Design”. Berlin is the only metropolis in Europe that is allowed to use this title.
But not only the young creative scene is highly esteemed, the high culture of Berlin is also of high renown. Berlin’s operas, theatres and orchestras are recognized worldwide. The architectural complex of the Museum Island is part of the UNESCO World Heritage and the individual museums are the home of unique testimonies of human and cultural history. The central project of the next years is to install a Humboldt forum behind the façade of the historical Stadtschloss (town palace), which will encourage people to altercate themselves with cultures from outside of Europe.
With its central situation in the heart of Europe, the German capital is an ideal location to expand into the European markets. The infrastructure has been systematically modernized in recent years. Outstanding examples are the new central station in the heart of Berlin and the construction of the new capital airport Berlin Brandenburg International in the southeast of the metropolis, which will be opened on 30th October 2011 and offer direct flights in all directions.
Berlin is something like a seismograph for the changes of the past 20 years, since the historical opening of the Wall in 1989, but also a laboratory where many clever people work on solutions for the future. Berlin provides an inspiring surrounding for this. Another strength of Berlin can be added: It’s the quality of living and the high value for experiences and recreation. During the changes of the last 20 years incredibly many new things have come up. And the city’s dynamic force promises more and more new perspectives for the future.
The author, who was born in Berlin in 1953, is a jurist. Between 1984 and 1995 he was in the city council for education and culture in Tempelhof. In 1995 he was elected into the parliament of Berlin, where he was the parliamentary party leader of the SPD. Klaus Wowereit has been the Governing Mayor of Berlin since 2001.