For a region with such modest total land area, it is host to a large number of different languages. There are examples from the Germanic group (German, Dutch, and Danish) and the Romance group (French) (de Blij and Muller, 2004). The large number of languages spoken in Western Europe is somewhat of a hindrance to the unified Europe movement, but the EU seems to be dealing effectively with the heterogeneous nature of its membership. Western Europe has an additional advantage in the area of language: it enjoys one of the highest literacy rates in the world. In the western part of this region, English is perhaps the most common language, but its influence diminishes as one heads east in Europe (MapQuest, 2005).
The most powerful country in the region is Germany. It is the most populous, has the strongest economy, and is influential in the EU. Its geography features northern lowlands, uplands in the central area, and the Bavarian Alps in south Germany led much of the world into war twice during the twentieth century. After each world war, nations of the world were eager to restrict Germany’s industrial power, since it had been so integral in the success of Germany’s military. But in West Germany, the American-led Marshall Plan sought to rescue Germany’s economy so that it would not be faced with the same economic stability that had allowed the Nazional Party to rise. As a result, West Germany was organized into a modern federal state with strong democratic principles. Its economy grew rapidly: from 1949 to 1964, its GNP tripled and industrial output steadily rose (de Blij and Muller, 2004).
West Germany’s political leaders aggressively sought new trade partners, and took advantage of the nation’s central location. Its infrastructure demolished, it built new transportation networks and facilities based on the latest technology (de Blij and Muller, 2004). In 1990, it reunified with East Germany and took on the economic burden of its flagging