Berlin Today: Its Government and Organization

Berlin is the capital city and one of the sixteen states of the Federal Republic of Germany. With a population of 3.4 million in its city limits, Berlin is the country's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the ninth most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany, it is the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan area, comprising 4.9 million people from over 180 nations.

Berlin is a major center in European politics, culture, media, and science. It serves as a continental hub for air and rail transport. The city's economy is primarily based on the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, media corporations, environmental services, congress and convention venues. Berlin is the third most-visited tourist destination in the EU. Other industries include traffic engineering, optoelectronics, IT, vehicle manufacturing, health care, biomedical engineering, and biotechnology.


Berlin is the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany and is the seat of the President of Germany, whose official residence is Schloss Bellevue. Since German reunification on 3 October 1990, it has been one of the three city states, together with Hamburg and Bremen, among the present sixteen states of Germany. The Bundesrat ("federal council") is the representation of the Federal States (Bundesländer) of Germany and has its seat at the former Prussian Herrenhaus (House of Lords). Though most of the ministries are seated in Berlin, some of them, as well as some minor departments, are seated in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany. The European Union invests in several projects within the city of Berlin. Infrastructure, education and social programs are co-financed with budgets taken from EU cohesion funds.

City State

The city and state parliament is the House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus), which currently has 141 seats. Berlin's executive body is the Senate of Berlin (Senat von Berlin). The Senate of Berlin consists of the Governing Mayor (Regierender Bürgermeister) and up to eight senators holding ministerial positions, one of them holding the official title "Mayor" (Bürgermeister) as deputy to the Governing Mayor. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) took control of the city government after the 2001 state election and won another term in the 2006 state election.

The Governing Mayor is simultaneously Lord Mayor of the city (Oberbürgermeister der Stadt) and Prime Minister of the Federal State (Ministerpräsident des Bundeslandes). The office of Berlin's Governing Mayor is in the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall). Since 2001 this office has been held by Klaus Wowereit of the SPD. The city's government is based on a coalition between the Social Democratic Party and The Left Party.

Berlin Boroughs

Berlin is subdivided into twelve boroughs (Bezirke), but before Berlin's 2001 administrative reform there were 23. Each borough is subdivided into a number of localities (Ortsteile), which represent the traditional urbanized areas that inhabitants identify with. Some of these have been rearranged several times over the years. At present the city of Berlin consists of 95 such localities. The localities often consist of a number of city neighborhoods (usually called Kiez in the Berlin dialect) representing small residential areas.

Each borough is governed by a Borough Council (Bezirksamt) consisting of five Councilors (Bezirksstadträte) and a Borough Mayor (Bezirksbürgermeister). The Borough Council is elected by the Borough Assembly (Bezirksverordnetenversammlung). The boroughs of Berlin are not independent municipalities. The power of borough governments is limited and subordinate to the Senate of Berlin. The borough mayors form the Council of Mayors (Rat der Bürgermeister), led by the city's Governing Mayor, which advises the Senate.

The localities have no government bodies of their own, even though most of the localities have historic roots in older municipalities that predate the formation of Greater Berlin on 1 October 1920. The subsequent position of locality representative (Ortsvorsteher) was discontinued in favor of borough mayors.

Berlin's Twelve Boroughs and their Individual Localities (Ortsteile)

  • Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf (pop. 315,702 - area 64.72 km2) — Charlottenburg, Charlottenburg-Nord, Grunewald, Halensee, Schmargendorf, Westend, Wilmersdorf
  • Lichtenberg (pop. 258,944 - area 52.29 km2) — Alt-Hohenschönhausen, Falkenberg, Fennpfuhl, Friedrichsfelde, Karlshorst, Lichtenberg, Malchow, Neu-Hohenschönhausen, Rummelsburg, Wartenburg
  • Marzahn-Hellersdorf (pop. 249,802 - area 61.74 km2) — Biesdorf, Hellersdorf, Kaulsdorf, Mahlsdorf, Marzahn
  • Mitte (pop. 326,500 - area 39.47 km2) — Gesundbrunnen, Hansaviertel, Mitte, Moabit, Tiergarten, Wedding
  • Neukölln (pop. 305,691 - area 44,93 km2) Britz, Buckow, Gropiusstadt, Neukölln, Rudow
  • Pankow (pop. 358,073 - area 103.01 km2) — Blankenburg, Blankenfelde, Buch, Französisch Buchholz, Heinersdorf, Karow, Niederschönhausen, Pankow, Prenzlauer Berg, Rosenthal, Stadtrandsiedlung Malchow, Weißensee, Wilhelmsruh
  • Reinickendorf (pop. 242,652 - araea 89.46 km2) — Frohnau, Konradshöhe, Heiligensee, Hermsdorf, Lübars, Märkisches Viertel, Reinickendorf. Tegel, Waidmannslust, Wittenau
  • Spandau (pop. 224,342 - area 91.91 km2) — Falkenhagener Feld, Gatow, Hakenfelde, Haselhorst, Kladow, Siemensstadt, Spandau, Staaken, Wilhelmstadt
  • Steglitz-Zehlendorf (pop. 288,848 - area 102.50 km2) — Dahlem, Lankwitz, Lichterfelde, Lichterfelde, West Nikolassee, Steglitz, Wannsee, Zehlendorf
  • Tempelhof-Schöneberg (pop. 332.140 - area 53,09 km2) — Friedenau, Lichtenrade, Mariendorf, Marienfelde, Schöneberg, Tempelhof
  • Treptow-Köpenick (pop. 236,722 - area 168.42 km2) — Adlershof, Altglienicke, Alt-Treptow, Baumschulenweg, Bohnsdorf, Friedrichshagen, Grünau, Johannisthal, Köpenick, Müggelheim, Niederschöneweide, Oberschöneweide, Plänterwald, Rahnsdorf, Schmöckwitz

Click Here to See Maps of the 12 Berlin Boroughs

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