Paper currency might seem to be gradually going out of fashion, but if you plan to visit Germany anytime soon, you'll be better off if you keep some cash in your wallet. According to one research company, 80 percent of all point-of-sale transactions in Germany in 2016 were paid for with cash, and a 2017 bank survey found that the average German carries €103 ($116 USD) in his or her wallet at any given time. Those figures are much higher than anywhere else in Europe. In fact, in some places in Germany, it can be difficult to find vendors willing to take anything but cash. Theories abound regarding this national preference for paper, ranging from a fear of the kind of hyperinflation that devastated Germany during the Weimar Republic era to a distrust of technology in business. And attempts to diminish the popularity of cash have fallen flat, including a much-ridiculed attempt by the German finance minister to limit cash transactions to €5,000 ($5,616 USD). The country didn't buy it.
How Germany stacks up economically:
- Germany boasts the largest economy in Europe and the fifth-largest in the world, based on purchasing power parity.
- All German citizens are entitled to universal health care, a free university education, and a comprehensive social security plan.
- Germany is the world's fourth-largest producer of motor vehicles, as well as the fourth-largest producer of beer.