More information about Germany is available on the Germany Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
Following U.S. independence from Great Britain, the United States established the first Consulate on German soil in Hamburg in June 1790, and the second one in Bremen in 1794, both independent German states at the time. The United States established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Prussia in 1797, then the German Empire in 1871. U.S.-German relations were terminated in 1917 during World War I, and the United States declared war on Germany. Relations were reestablished in 1921 but were severed again in 1941 during World War II when Nazi Germany declared war on the United States. After the war, Germany, and its capital, Berlin, were divided into four zones occupied by Allied powers. In 1955, the United States established diplomatic relations with West Germany, which included the U.S., British, and French zones. The United States established diplomatic relations in 1974 with East Germany, which included the Soviet Union’s zone. West Germany and East Germany were unified in 1990.
Today, Germany is one of the United States’ closest and strongest Allies in Europe. U.S. relations with Germany are based on our mutual and vital relationship as friends, trading partners, and Allies. Our political, economic, cultural, and security relationships, critical to shared prosperity and continued stability, are based on extensive people-to-people ties and close coordination at the most senior levels.
In the political sphere, Germany stands at the center of European affairs and plays a key leadership role as a member of the G-7, G-20, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The United States recognizes that the security and prosperity of the United States and Germany significantly depend on each other. As Allies in NATO, the United States and Germany work side by side to maintain peace, security, and freedom. Germany plays an important role in NATO’s core mission of collective defense, serving as a framework nation for NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, regularly contributing to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing, and taking the lead on NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) for the second time in 2019. U.S. and German troops work together effectively in NATO and UN operations worldwide, including in Mali and elsewhere in Africa, as well as on peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans. Germany was an integral part of the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and is a Framework Nation in the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission. Since 2015, Germany has been an active contributor to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. Germany maintains troops in Iraq as part of the NATO training mission and is a top financial contributor for stabilization in Syria. NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean and the UN Maritime Task Force in support of Lebanon also include German naval assets.
The U.S. and Germany have strong people-to-people relations. More than 40 million Americans of German heritage live in the United States, comprising the largest ethnic ancestry group of the United States. Established in 1952, the U.S.-Germany Fulbright program is one of the oldest, largest, and most innovative Fulbright programs in the world, and the binational German-American Fulbright Commission has created initiatives such as diversity programs and an international higher education administrators seminar, which are emulated by other Fulbright commissions in Europe and around the world. The German government has been consistent in providing exceptionally strong funding for the Fulbright Program, which allows the binational Fulbright Commission to meet our two governments’ priorities. Since 1983, the bilateral Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program has provided almost 28,000 U.S. and German high school students and young professionals with an academic year exchange experience resulting in thousands of new personal and professional connections between the United States and Germany. Each year approximately 9,000 students and 1,200 teachers participate in three-week exchanges across the United States and Germany through the German-American Partnership Program (GAPP). In addition, Germany annually sends an outstanding high school student to the United States on the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship Program. Notable German alumni of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) include four German presidents and five chancellors.
Bilateral Economic Relations
EU Member States are collectively the United States’ biggest trading partner, and Germany, as Europe’s largest economy, is at the heart of that relationship. After China and the United States, Germany is the world’s third-largest exporter. Every fourth job in Germany depends on exports, which accounted for 47 percent of Germany’s GDP in 2019 (almost four times the export share of U.S. GDP).
In 2019, bilateral trade in goods and services totaled nearly $260 billion, with U.S. exports of $96.7 billion and imports of $162.9 billion. All of the $66.2 billion trade deficit in 2019 was in goods. Bilateral trade in services ($71.6 billion in 2019) is roughly in balance with a U.S. surplus of $1.7 billion (down from a $3 billion surplus in 2018). Major U.S. goods export categories to Germany in 2019 were aircrafts and parts ($10.1 billion), vehicles ($7 billion), pharmaceuticals (5 billion), medical equipment ($2.7 billion), and industrial machinery ($2.2 billion), optical and medical instruments ($6.7 billion), and electrical machinery ($5.5 billion). Major categories of German exports to the United States in 2019 were vehicles ($17.9 billion), pharmaceuticals ($17.6 billion), industrial machinery ($6.8 billion), medical equipment ($5.8 billion), and returned goods and reimports ($5.6 billion). Many U.S. imports from Germany are investment goods such as capital equipment, enabling U.S. production and exports. German investments in the United States focus largely on manufacturing, wholesale trade, as well as finance and insurance. Altogether, U.S. affiliates of German firms employ more than 861,000 U.S. workers.
While Americans have invested more than $148 billion FDI in Germany, Germans have invested $522 billion FDI in the United States – 29 percent of all FDI from the EU. The U.S.-German Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation affords U.S. investors national treatment and provides for the free movement of capital between the United States and Germany. Taxation of U.S. firms within Germany is governed by a protocol on the avoidance of double taxation.
Germany’s Membership in International Organizations
Germany and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations in addition to those mentioned above, including the United Nations, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Germany also is an observer to the Organization of American States.
Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
Germany maintains an embassy in the United States at 4645 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007 (tel. 202-298-4000).
More information about Germany is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
DOS Investment Climate Statement 2020
CIA World Factbook Germany Page
History of U.S. Relations With Germany
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies